While MBI: Business Fundamentals covers a wide variety of topics in business, we’re zooming in on organizational behavior and the role it plays in the certificate program’s curriculum. Hear from David Lehman, Associate Dean for the Undergraduate Program and Professor of Commerce, about how he came to start teaching the subject, what he enjoys about it, and why it is a part of MBI.
What is organizational theory, and why is it important?
Organizational theory is a set of theories and concepts that all seek to understand what an organization is, how organizations differ from one another, and what makes organizations more effective. Everyone “goes into” organizational behavior. That is, anyone who will be working with or for people can benefit from learning about how people interact in the workplace.
How did you come to study and teach about organizational theory?
My fascination of the people side of business led me to the study of organizational behavior. Equally important, my desire to teach prompted me towards this vocation. I taught courses in a corporate setting prior to graduate school and found these teaching moments to be the highlight of my workday.
What is your favorite part about teaching this discipline?
My favorite part of teaching organizational theory is creating opportunities for experiential learning. Most organizational behavior theories seem rather obvious on the surface; however, it is when we act in unexpected ways that the theories become most instructive.
What skills and concepts will students take away from this unit? How does it better prepare students for their future?
Most of our time in the MBI classroom is focused on decision making. I mostly use cases and experiential exercises. I know that my students have fully grasped organizational concepts once they are able to recognize real-life problems and apply organizational theories appropriately to those problems. These concepts will help students make better decisions that are less prone to bias, both in their professional and personal lives.
How does MBI foster a unique classroom experience?
MBI’s back-to-back class schedule is great because I feel like I am able to make deeper connections with my students. In addition, I enjoy the diversity within each MBI class: Students range in age and have different educational backgrounds, goals, and career aspirations. Regardless of their reason for participating in MBI, I believe all my students can benefit from learning how to understand and apply organizational theories.