Faculty Directory

Contact Information

Washburn Shops, 203
Phone: +1-508-831-5182
Fax: +1-508-831-5720

Michael B. Elmes

Teaching: Interpersonal and Group Dynamics in Complex Organizations, Leading Change, Leadership Ethics.

With regard to my teaching I believe in designing systems and processes into all my courses that invite students to experience the complex dynamics of organizations, the role of power and influence in how they evolve, the challenge of communication across political and cultural barriers, and the importance of self-reflection in understanding the adaptive challenges that our students will face in the workplace. I believe that students are primarily responsible for their own learning. As such, I see my role as a designer of the classroom-as-organization, facilitator when conflict arises or the class gets stuck, and as mentor in providing feedback in the students’ digital stories that reflect on what they have learned in the context of the course.

With regard to my research most recently I have started to look at food security issues to better understand leadership and governance of the commons from a place-based perspective. Other scholarly work has drawn on critical, critical realist, narrative, aesthetic, and communications perspectives to investigate IT implementation as it pertains to paradox and organizational change, forms of resistance in organizations, the May ’96 Everest climbing disaster, mentoring in organizations, and the hegemony of “pragmatism” in environmental management discourse. I have also written on strategy as narrative, diversity management, resistance to management training, the historical origins of empowerment in religious and spiritual beliefs in the United States, as well as the psychodynamics of group and intergroup behavior in organizations. 

In 2005, I spent six months in New Zealand as a Fulbright Senior Scholar studying stakeholder views about biotechnology. Taking into account New Zealand’s unique natural history, I examined how competing constructions of “nature” and “place” in New Zealand informed by the attitudes, hopes, aspirations and concerns about the role of genetic engineering in New Zealand’s cultural, economic, and political future. 

Research Interests

  • The role of place in business research and education
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Workplace governance, control, and resistance
  • Business education including ethics and social entrepreneurship
  • Leading organizational change
  • Organizational resilience


  • B.S., Union College, 1975
  • M.S., Colgate University, 1979
  • Ph.D., Syracuse University, 1989

Featured Publications

  • 'Project-Based Service-Learning for an Unscripted World: The WPI IQP Experience' (M. Elmes and E. Loiacono), Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 17(1), 2009, 23-39.
  • 'Into hot air: A critical perspective on Everest' (M. Elmes and B. Frame), Human Relations, Vol. 61(2), 2008, 213-241.
  • 'Technological embeddedness and organizational change' (O. Volkoff, D. Strong and M. Elmes). Organization Science, Vol. 18(5), September-October 2007, 832-848.
  • 'Understanding Enterprise Systems-enabled integration' (with D. Strong, O. Volkoff, and M. Elmes), European Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 14(2), 2005, 110-120.
  • 'In the name of the practical: Unearthing the hegemony of 'pragmatism' in the discourse of environmental management' (P. Prasad and M. Elmes), Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 42(4), June 2005, 845-867.

Professional Highlights

  • Editor of "First Person" section of Organization Management Journal (OMJ) focusing on first person accounts of scholarship and teaching, 2005 – present
  • Editorial Review Boards
    • Organization Management Journal (OMJ), 2003 – present
    • Group and Organization Management (GOM), 2002 – 2008
  • Special Issue Co-editor of Group and Organization Management, Music at Work (with Craig Pritchard and Mark Korczynski, 2007)
  • Visiting Scholar, Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1997)
  • Ad Hoc Journal Reviewer (1989 – present): Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Business and Society, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Journal of Management Education, Journal of Management Inquiry, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Organization Change Management, Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Management Communication Quarterly, Organization, Organization Management Journal, Organization Studies, Small Group Research
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