Skip to main content
What is Organizational Behavior? Construing the Field from MBA Syllabi
Annual Meetings of the Academy of Management (2012)
  • Steven D. Charlier, Georgia Southern University
  • Andrew Hosmanek, University of Iowa
  • Sara L. Rynes, University of Iowa
  • Kenneth G. Brown, University of Iowa
Numerous scholars have raised concerns that organizational behavior (OB) – having originated from various disciplines such as industrial and organizational psychology, sociology, social psychology, communications, anthropology, and general management – has not yet coalesced into a coherent field. The present study seeks to examine how OB is construed by examining what is being taught in required OB classes in full-time MBA programs. Two hundred and forty-one OB and OB-related courses (e.g., leadership; management) from 333 accredited full-time MBA programs were coded for information about content coverage, readings, cases, and assessment. Inductive coding of syllabi was combined with archival data on institutional characteristics. Results reveal only a small core of content across all courses but four distinct types of courses showing greater homogeneity in content, assessment, and terminology. Among these four, leadership courses emerged as most distinct, suggesting an emerging “secondary” core in OB of leadership discussed prescriptively and assessed via writing assignments. Implications of these findings for the field of OB are discussed, along with suggestions for future research.
  • Field of OB,
  • Organizational behavior,
  • MBA programs,
  • Institutional characteristics
Publication Date
August 6, 2012
Boston, MA
Citation Information
Steven D. Charlier, Andrew Hosmanek, Sara L. Rynes and Kenneth G. Brown. "What is Organizational Behavior? Construing the Field from MBA Syllabi" Annual Meetings of the Academy of Management (2012)
Available at: