Amy C. Edmondson
Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management
Amy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management. 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's research examines leadership, learning and innovation in teams and organizations, and has been published in numerous academic and managerial articles. Her book Teaming: How organizations learn, innovate and compete in the knowledge economy (Jossey-Bass, 2012) emphasizes managing the activities that enable collaborative work across boundaries, rather than designing and managing stable teams. She is currently studying collaboration across boundaries focused on innovation in the built environment.
Professor Edmondson teaches MBA and Executive Education courses in leadership, team effectiveness, and organizational learning, and a doctoral course in field research methods. She has served on 29 doctoral committees and is the author of more than 25 Harvard Business School case studies, including cases on Arup, The Cleveland Clinic, General Motors Powertrain, Prudential Financial, Simmons Mattress Company, YUM brands, IDEO product design, and NASA's failed Columbia mission. In 2003, the Academy of Management's Organizational Behavior Division selected Professor Edmondson for the Cummings Award for outstanding achievement in early mid-career, and in both 2000 and 2012 she received the OB division’s annual awards for the best paper published in the prior year. Her article with Anita Tucker, "Why Hospitals Don't Learn from Failures: Organizational and Psychological Dynamics That Inhibit System Change" received the 2004 Accenture Award for significant contribution to management practice.
Before her academic career, Edmondson was Director of Research at Pecos River Learning Centers, where she worked with founder and CEO Larry Wilson to design and implement organizational change programs in a variety of Fortune 100 companies. In the early 1980s, she worked as Chief Engineer for architect/inventor Buckminster Fuller, and her book, A Fuller Explanation, clarifies Fuller's mathematical contributions for anon-technical audience.
Edmondson received her PhD in organizational behavior, AM in psychology, and AB in engineering and design, all from Harvard University
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. 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.
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.