Amy C. Edmondson

Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management

Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School. The Novartis Chair was established to enable the study of human interactions that lead to the creation of successful business enterprises for the betterment of society. 

Edmondson is the author of Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy (Jossey-Bass, 2012), Teaming to Innovate (Jossey-Bass, 2013), and more than seventy articles on leadership, teams, innovation, and organizational learning.  Number 15 on the 2013 Thinkers50 list of the worlds’ most influential management thinkers, Edmondson teaches on topics including leadership, teamwork, and innovation at HBS and around the world.

She has received numerous awards, including the Cummings Award for mid-career achievement from the Academy of Management in 2006, the Accenture Award for significant contribution to improving the practice of management in 2004, for her article with Anita Tucker, “Why hospitals don't learn from failures,” and selection as one of the 20 Most Influential International Thinkers in Human Resources (#7) by HR Magazine in 2013. 

Before her academic career, she was Director of Research at Pecos River Learning Centers, where she worked with founder and CEO Larry Wilson to design change programs in large companies. In the early 1980s, she worked as Chief Engineer for architect/inventor Buckminster Fuller, and her book A Fuller Explanation: The Synergetic Geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller (Birkauser Boston, 1987) clarifies Fuller's mathematical contributions for a non-technical audience. Edmondson received her PhD in organizational behavior, AM in psychology, and AB in engineering and design, all from Harvard University.   



  1. Overview

    by Amy C. Edmondson

    My research focuses on understanding and improving processes through which organizations learn and innovate. I study the dynamics in work groups through which organizational learning occurs. Understanding how and under what conditions groups learn is an important part of explaining why some organizations learn so much better than others. In a series of field studies, I have investigated how teams learn and how their learning affects the organizations in which they work. Learning involves interpersonal risk--particularly in the workplace, where image and reputation are highly salient. My research has explored these issues in organizational contexts ranging from the cardiac surgery operating room, to the factory, to the executive suite. One current stream of my work is investigating collaboration across organizational boundaries in projects involving innovation in the built environment. Another stream of my research investigates senior management teams and the relationship between team process and the nature of the issue or decision the team faces. Lastly, I am also developing new case materials on dynamic forms of teaming in contemporary organizations. I am also studying innovation for sustainability in the built environment. Various innovations are occurring in the design and construction sector to improve economic, design, and sustainability outcomes. This sector had undergone relatively little innovation for decades even as other industries have transformed through combinations of new technologies, changing customer demand and laws and regulations. Buildings produce 30-40% of CO2 emissions and have broader sustainability implications as well, both environmental (such as use of water) and social (such as impact on the local communities and the productivity and quality of life of the people who work in them). This research is field-based, and examines some innovative approaches that are multidisciplinary in nature. One of the first studies we have done is on the iconic Water Cube building in Beijing, built for the Olympic swimming competition. A second was the Lake Nona Medical City in Florida.