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Advancing Together: The PhD Project and AOM's Collective Impact on Representation in Management

25 Jan 2024
The PhD Project has been responsible for sextupling the number of historically underrepresented professors, administrators, and academic leaders at an extensive list of academic programs in the U.S.

Since 1997, The Academy of Management (AOM) has partnered with The PhD Project, a national nonprofit organization that works to increase diversity in the business world. Through its unique model, The PhD Project’s Black/African American, Latinx/Hispanic American, and Native American members pursue business PhDs with the intent to become university faculty, teaching, guiding and mentoring historically underrepresented business students. Since its inception in 1994, The PhD Project has been responsible for sextupling the number of historically underrepresented professors, administrators, and academic leaders at an extensive list of academic programs in the U.S.

Twenty-six PhD Project members have served in leadership roles at AOM over the years, including Ian O. Williamson, Dean at University of California, Irvine –The Paul Merage School of Business. As the newly elected AOM Board of Governors’ Representative-at-Large, Ian explains the partnership between both organizations serves as a key piece in developing individuals’ understanding of the profession.

“It helps create important network ties and helps individuals understand the breadth of career options available within the academy. For AOM, The PhD Project represents an important pipeline of talent that will continue to rejuvenate the professorial ranks. The PhD Project is also an extremely successful innovation in doctoral education. The participants in The Project have higher than average completion rates, job placement outcomes and research outcomes. Thus, The PhD Project can help the AOM continue to evolve doctoral education.”

Quinetta Roberson, the John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor of Management and Psychology at Michigan State University, got involved with AOM in 1997 and became the first underrepresented minority to serve as president in 2020. Quinetta says the collaboration between the organizations is critical for academia and business, especially as DEI efforts face challenges across the country.

“AOM is providing its diverse membership with indispensable value characterized by extensive professional services, vibrant volunteerism, interactive communities and reimagined governance,” Quinetta said. “The PhD Project helps AOM advance this mission by expanding its dynamic and supportive community to embrace the full diversity of the backgrounds and experiences of management scholars.”

Quinetta was the first PhD Project member to serve as president of AOM, and others have followed in her footsteps. Herman Aguinis, the Avram Tucker Distinguished Scholar and Professor of Management at The George Washington University School of Business, was president from 2021 to 2022. And Sharon Alvarez, the Thomas W. Olofson Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies at the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at University of Pittsburgh, started her term in August 2023. These PhD Project members bring their unique experiences and diverse perspectives to AOM, which strengthens the organization and, in turn, the management field.

“Being the president of AOM is probably one of the most important roles I have had in my life,” Sharon said. “I can influence the field of management by showing how institutions, such as the Academy of Management and The PhD Project, empower individuals to reach their potential and achieve their aspirations regardless of their background or ethnicity. I can also help pay back the investments these institutions have made in me over the years that have enabled me to have a fulfilling career.”

Herman echoed Sharon’s comments about the opportunity to make a difference. “I’ve been an AOM member since 1992 and a PhD Project faculty member since 1995. The AOM-PhD Project partnership is critical because our field and our research should reflect society and address issues of importance to society,” Herman said. “So, inclusion and diversity are crucial for the future sustainability of the management field and everything we do – including teaching and research.”

If you’re interested in joining The PhD Project, please consider applying to its invitation-only annual conference. During The Project’s flagship event, prospective doctoral students get a realistic look at every phase of the PhD journey as well as an opportunity to network with current doctoral students, business school representatives, professors and partner organizations—all in one place.

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