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 invite students to experience the complex dynamics of organizations using a variety of experiential methods and reflective activities (journaling, Case-in-point, learning memos, digital stories). I encourage students to consider the role of power and influence in groups and organizations, the challenge of communication across organizational, political and cultural barriers, and the importance of self-reflection in understanding the adaptive challenges that they will face in the workplace. I am deeply committed to management education and am an Associate Editor for the Essays section of the Journal of Management Education, a top business-education journal. 


With regard to my research, I am doing work on social innovation and food security, the role of place in understanding organizational issues, and identity and sensemaking in organization.   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 founded two WPI global project centers (Nantucket in 2007 and New Zealand in 2011) and am currently the Co-Director for the New Zealand Project Center in Wellington, NZ.  I spent 6 months in Wellington, New Zealand in 2005 as a Fulbright Scholar.

Research Interests

  • Social innovation and food systems
  • Place and organization studies
  • Food justice and organization studies
  • Organizational sensemaking and identity


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

Featured Publications

  • Guthey, G., Whiteman, G. and Elmes, M. 2014. Place and sense of place: Implications for organizational studies of sustainability. Journal of Management Inquiry, Vol. 23(3), pp. 254-265.
  • Elmes, M. and King, K. 2012. Moral sensemaking through digital storytelling. Journal of Business Ethics Education, Vol. 9, pp. 259-280.
  • Elmes, M. Jiusto, S., Whiteman, G., Hersh, R. and Guthey, G. 2012. Social entrepreneurship and innovation from the perspective of place and place making. Academy of Management Learning and Education, Vol. 11(3), pp. 533-554. (Awarded Outstanding Article in AMLE for 2012).
  • Elmes, M. and Loiacono, E. 2009. Project-based service learning for an unscripted world: The WPI IQP experience. Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 17(1), pp. 23-39.
  • Elmes, M. and Frame, B. 2008. Into hot air: A critical perspective on Everest. Human Relations, Vol. 61 (2), pp. 2013-241.
  • Volkoff, O., Strong, D. and Elmes, M. 2007. Technological embeddedness and organizational change. Organization Science, Vol. 18(5), pp. 832-848.

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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