Organizations and Social Change (OSC)

The Organizations and Social Change (OSC) track in UMass Boston's Business Administration, PhD Program responds to the growing interest in issues at the intersection of business and society. The interdisciplinary OSC track is distinctive among PhD programs in business schools, in our explicit commitment to diverse perspectives, theories, and methodologies. UMass Boston is guided by a mission of social justice and community involvement, and is an extraordinary place to learn about the relevance of business and organizations in addressing societal issues.

Who should apply?

The Organizations and Social Change program track is designed for students who are interested in pursuing a full-time doctoral program specializing in areas such as:

  • social responsibility and sustainability
  • social entrepreneurship
  • sustainable economic development
  • stakeholder engagement in corporate governance
  • contemporary human resource management, such as diversity and contingent labor
  • cultural and economic impacts of globalization
  • transnational identities of consumers and employees
  • urban redevelopment
  • gender equality and organizations
  • multi-sector partnerships for poverty alleviation and development

Prospective students with prior degrees in management, sociology, economics, political science or other relevant areas are encouraged to apply. Most successful applicants have a master’s degree. Prior research experience (e.g., data analysis, literature reviews, academic writing) is highly recommended. Support of up to $25,000 is available for admitted students without other sources of funding.



The OSC PhD track will prepare students to:

  • apply theoretical frameworks to understand business practices, as well as their economic, social, cultural, environmental, and political impacts
  • conduct qualitative and quantitative research
  • critique policy and articulate policy recommendations on issues at the interface of business, government, and critical social issues; and
  • conduct research on applied business issues with an emphasis on highlighting problems and providing solutions to issues that promote social and economic development in regional economies situated within a global context

Kinds of Research

The OSC track involves close, apprentice-like working relationships with faculty members, and students are introduced early to academic research and publishing. Current and former PhD students of the OSC track regularly publish in highly regarded journals, typically together with faculty, and have been involved in impactful community projects and action-oriented research.

Faculty of the OSC track possess international reputations in their fields and are actively engaged in academic and practice-oriented research, and publishing in highly regarded outlets. Their expertise in organizations and social change brings them into close contact with business, entrepreneurs, government agencies, and nonprofits.

The research interests of our faculty include (but are not limited to):

  • how current business-society interactions challenge existing management and organization theories
  • how companies, communities, and industries strategize for climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • new trends in the workplace relating to diversity, inequality, and employee involvement
  • the causes, characteristics, and consequences of employee ownership for workers, firms, and society
  • how social movements influence corporate behavior and the diffusion of new corporate practices
  • development of labor and sustainability standards, local geographic clusters and global production networks, and local/global governance processes
  • the dynamics and implications of socio-economic crises, financialization, and inequality
  • how entrepreneurs and established firms work to address local and global challenges through their missions, business models, products, and strategies
  • diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship ecosystems, and drivers of inclusive economic development and growth
  • using organization and network theory to understand the emergence, operation, evolution, and sustainability of creative geographic clusters and project networks

Career Opportunities

Students in the OSC track will be positioned to pursue academic careers at universities and research institutions. Graduates from the OSC track have found positions at universities in the U.S. and abroad. However, a PhD degree from the OSC track will also qualify for research-oriented careers at think tanks, research centers and consulting firms.

Graduates will be prepared to:

  • conduct academic research and teach at business schools in fields such as organization theory, strategy, business and society, climate change and sustainability, business ethics, international business, and social enterprise
  • play research-centered leadership roles in government, multilateral agencies, consultancies, NGOs, and think tanks


Sample Program of Study

Year One

Required Courses

BUSADM 700 Business in Context: Markets, Technologies, Societies
BUSADM 750 Foundations of Organization Theory
PPOL-G 604 Stats I

Students with strong quantitative background may start with PSYCH 770 or PPOL-G 6O5 Stats II

Elective Courses

BUSADM 897 Special Topics: Organization Theory
BUSADM Field Research
BUSADM 896 Independent Study
Elective course in topical area

Required Courses

BUSADM 754 Organizations and Social Change
BUSADM 751 Mapping the Landscape of Contemporary Organization Theory
BUSADM 755 Qualitative methods

Elective Courses

BUSADM 897 Special Topics: Organization Theory
BUSADM Field Research
BUSADM 896 Independent Study
Elective course in topical area


Summer Project

Year Two

Required Courses

BUSADM 770 Introduction to Research Methods for the Social Sciences
BUSADM 760 Global and Political Economy & Dimensions of Organizations
PPOL-G 6O5 Stats II
Other course with pre-approval

End of Fall Semester

Admission to Candidacy Exam

Required Courses

BUSADM 775 Teaching and Professional Development
BUSADM 891 Dissertation Seminar

Elective Courses

BUSADM 897 Special Topics: Organization Theory
BUSADM Field Research
BUSADM 896 Independent Study
Elective course in topical area


Proposal Defense


Faculty Profiles

More than a dozen dedicated faculty members are devoted to student learning in the OSC track, with additional faculty serving in supporting roles. Faculty are leaders in their fields who regularly publish scholarly articles in top academic journals on topics such as global poverty, climate change, social entrepreneurship, sustainable enterprise, and diversity, among others. Doctoral students will be paired with faculty advisors based on their area of interest. This intense mentorship program allows students to learn the crafts of research and teaching in a highly collaborative environment.

Current faculty include: