Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Organization Development

The award-winning, internationally respected Ph.D. in Organization Development (OD) program at Benedictine prepares you for high-level careers in human resources, health care, higher education, consulting, research or business and public administration. The accelerated program provides the critical-thinking skills and abilities to create high-performance organizations, drive change, mobilize a workforce and emphasize social responsibility. We have been a leader in OD for more than 50 years.

The Ph.D. program in O.D. at Benedictine University was one of the first graduate O.D. programs in the country. It is currently one of the largest behaviorally-oriented management programs I the nation and one of the top-rated graduate O.D. programs internationally. In the first 10 years, Ph.D. program students and faculty published and presented more than 400 articles, papers, presentations and seminars in O.D. academic and professional journals and at associations, including conferences in Europe, Australia, India, Denmark, Mexico, Norway and Ireland. Students attend class only one weekend per month in Central Illinois and complete the program in about two years.


The Ph.D. program is committed to providing its students with the most current information on the timeliest of O.D. topics, mirroring the trends and activities apparent in management today. As a result, specific topics and coursework in the curriculum may vary.

Coursework is designed for organization development professionals who perceive the management of change and the creation of high-performance organizations as a central part of their career. It is designed as a full-time program (approximately eight credit hours per quarter) to be integrated with and complementary to full-time work activities.

The first year of the curriculum is devoted to context courses, including Philosophy of Science and Organization Research and Theory. The introductory context courses are concentrated on setting the tone and developing sensitivity to the role of organization development in terms of its social responsibilities in the national and global arenas. The courses review the nature of emerging problems and the role of organizations and organization development in responding to these problems.

The intent of the second set of context courses is to place organization development within management and to understand its strategic role. The second-year curriculum is devoted to the development of O.D. knowledge and selected advanced topics courses covering state-of-the-art interventons. In the first and second years of the program there are qualifying examinations to achieve candidacy status in the Ph.D. Program.

The third year consists of completion of the dissertation. The third year also includes participation in an international seminar.


The program is designed to provide a forum for exposure to a wide range of contributors to the field and approaches to Organization Development. A core of permanent full-time Benedictine University faculty and Visiting Distinguished Scholars staff the program. Visiting Distinguished Scholars, noted for their contribution to the field, are teamed with regular faculty, particularly in advanced seminars.


As a Ph.D. program, research is central to the curriculum. Consequently, the dissertation is designed to be an integral part of the program. Students are encouraged to begin reviewing dissertation possibilities upon being accepted into the program and to continue to explore and develop their dissertation topic throughout their coursework. It is suggested that students select topics consistent with the major research themes of the program.

It is expected that research topics be selected during the first year as part of the initial research course. During the second year, it is expected that papers be presented at local or regional professional meetings as part of the learning and feedback process. In the final years of the program during completion of the dissertation, students are expected to present at national meetings and submit papers for publication.

Class Schedule

The scheduling of classes (approximately 14 weekends per year) is designed to combine full-time study with continued full-time employment. Class sessions are held on designated weekends (Friday night, Saturday and Sunday) approximately every third weekend. The specific time period for completing the dissertations varies by topic and type of study. On average, cohort members are expected to complete their dissertation within a three-year period from the start of the program.


Tuition remains fixed for the first three years of the program. If the research phase continues beyond the candidate's third year, degree candidates will be charged half tuition annually until the dissertation is successfully defended. Tuition does not terminate until the degree is completed. Tuition is due at the beginning of each academic year.

The program is designed to provide a forum for exposure to a wide range of contributors to the field and approaches to organization development. The program is staffed by full-time Benedictine University faculty members, complemented by a core of adjunct faculty and invited scholars. Invited, distinguished scholars, noted for their contribution to the field, are teamed with faculty when appropriate, particularly in advanced seminars.

The O.D. program is designed to provide broad-based theory and research with the intent of creating scholar-practitioners capable of extending the knowledge horizons of the field. Individuals who successfully complete the program will consistently demonstrate professional competence and excellence through:

  • knowledge of the history and development of the field of organization development as a scientific-applied discipline;
  • knowledge of emerging concepts and theory in the field, knowledge of and commitment to the concept of the practitioner-scholar and its role in the further development of the field;
  • knowledge of the current and projected global trends and problems, and the responsibility and role of the field in relationship to these trends in a global culture;
  • a demonstrated command of theoretical and applied research methodologies, including but not limited to: action research, diagnostic research, evaluation research and theory building research;  
  • a capacity to create and use innovative intervention strategies to enhance the ability of organizations to better manage their resources and cope with turbulent and unpredictable environments;  
  • knowledge of and demonstrated abilities in data collection and analysis, including but not limited to: interviewing, participant-observer methods, questionnaire design, unobtrusive measures and quantitative and qualitative data analysis supported through relevant information, technology, knowledge and skill;
  • demonstrated ability in general consulting and interpersonal skills, including organizational assessment, intervention strategies, process consultation, entry and contracting integrity, personal centering, active learning, trust, rapport building and modeling of behaviors in concert with the O.D. Code of Ethics;
  • knowledge of and commitment to the O.D. Code of Ethics and the role of the O.D. practitioner-scholar in creating and fostering the ethical organization;
  • knowledge of and demonstrated contribution to the field of organization development through: (a). appropriate membership and leadership roles in professional organizations, (b). regular contributions to the knowledge and critique of the field through submission to, and publication in, peer-reviewed journals and, (c). consistent presence and participation in regional and national conferences through the presentation of both scholarly and practitioner-oriented research.


While the program is a three-year initiative, the dissertation is designed to be integrated throughout all years of study. Students are encouraged to begin reviewing dissertation possibilities upon being accepted into the program and to continue to explore and develop dissertation topics throughout their coursework. Students are encouraged to select topics consistent with the major research themes within the program. It is expected that research topics be selected during the first year as part of the initial research course. During the second year, it would be expected that papers be presented at local or regional professional meetings as part of the learning and feedback process. In the final year of the program, during completion of the dissertation, students would be expected to present their work at national meetings and submit papers for publication.


PHDOD 731: Environmental Trends - Global (4) This course reviews major global environ mental trends including economic, demographic, political, legislative as well as other global trends influencing organizational effectiveness. The course focuses on the identification of major global problems and the role of organization development.

PHDOD 732: Environmental Trends - Evolution (4) This course reviews current major environmental trends including economic, population demographic, political, and organizational as well as other work environment factors shaping the current and projected future. The course focuses on the role and potential contribution of the field and practice of organization development.

PHDOD 734: Organization Strategy (4) This course integrates O.D. into the concept of organizational strategy. The focus on the role of O.D. in the development and implementation of organization strategy. The course reviews traditional management strategy concepts and approaches along with O.D. approaches including Integrated Strategic Management (ISM), Open Systems, Planning and Transorganizational Development.

PHDOD 735: Philosophy of Science (6) This course is devoted to understanding the construction, development, and refinement of knowledge in the social organizational sciences. It seeks to help students strengthen conceptual skills in advancing knowledge in the social sciences, to navigate through the process of structured inquiry, to understand the different goals of scientific inquiry (understanding, explanation, generativity, and prediction).

PHDOD 736: Org Research and Theory (6) This Organization Theory (OT) seminar is a doctoral level introduction to some key perspectives (both traditional and contemporary) in organization theory and research. Organization Theory is closely intertwined with Organization Development in the sense that it provides the theoretical fodder for the practice of change. The aim of the course is to examine a number of perspectives in OT, consider the strengths and weaknesses of each, and to look at the comparative ability of these models to explain a variety of organizational phenomena and examine their implications for practice.

PHDOD 791: Lecture Series Seminar (2) This series brings to campus top national academicians and consultants to address state-of-the-art issues in Organizational Behavior, Organization development and Human Resources Management.

PHDOD 812: Qualitative Methods (4) This course explores the philosophical roots of qualitative research such as phenomenology, hermeneutics, deconstructionism and postmodernism. Emphasizes grounded theory, participant observation and case study.

PHDOD 813: Quantitative Methods (4) This course emphasizes the understanding of the connection between research design, measurement, data reduction and analysis. Focuses on the evolution of a quantitative study from research questions, hypotheses and conceptual understanding top variable operationalization, data collection, data reduction and the resulting data files used in statistical analysis.

PHDOD 880: Group Process (4) This course uses group experience to help students become more aware of how their actions affect and are affected by others. Studies major concepts in group and interpersonal relations, including perceptions, leadership, trust, and power dynamics.

PHDOD 881: Organizational Change & Design (4) This course focuses on organization change, with a particular emphasis on social constructionism and the emerging area of positive approaches to change. Revisits the social constructionist paradigm and compares/contrasts it with the social cognitivist view. Reviews practical implications for organization change of both the

PHDOD 884: Organization Consultation (4) This course is an overview of organizational consultation tools and methods. Emphasizes assessment, diagnosis, style, techniques, strategies, approaches, knowledge base and power.

PHDOD 891: Advanced Topics (4) Advanced Topics Seminar: These seminars are advanced courses which faculty offers independently or in collaboration with a visiting scholar depending on contemporary research/theory interests. Content topics and convening faculty may change from cohort to cohort. These advanced seminar topics may involve new theoretical frameworks, methodological innovations, and/or intervention activities. Previous seminars have included topics such as International Organization Development and Advanced Socio-Technical Systems Theory.

Peter F. Sorensen Jr., Ph.D.

Professor and Department Chair

Ph.D. in Organization Development

Phone: (630) 829-6222  |  Send Peter F. an Email  |  Office: Goodwin Hall 471

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Award-winning scholar. Distinguished educator. World-recognized pioneer.

For nearly a half-century, Peter F. Sorensen Jr., Ph.D., has been a leader in the field of Organization Development. The director of the Ph.D. in Organization Development (OD) and the Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior programs at Benedictine University, Sorensen was instrumental in developing one of the first master's-level programs in OD at George Williams College in 1967 and one of the first Ph.D. programs in OD at Benedictine in 1996.

A prolific author and editor, Sorensen has written more than 300 articles, papers and books, including a number of best paper selections. His work has appeared in the Academy of Management Journal, Group and Organization Studies, Leadership and Organization Development Journal, Journal of Management Studies, and Organization and Administrative Sciences.

He has worked with more than 100 organizations including the U.S. Food and Drug Agency, U.S. Steel, DuPage County Health Department, Commonwealth Edison and CNA. He has been chair of the Organization Development and Change Division of the Academy of Management, and is a past recipient of the "Outstanding OD Consultant of the Year Award" from the OD Institute.

Sorensen, who still calls teaching his greatest joy, earned a Ph.D. in Management from the Stuart School of Management at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Therese F. Yaeger, Ph.D.


Ph.D. and M.S. in Organization Development

Phone: (630) 829-6207  |  Send Therese F. an Email  |  Office: Goodwin Hall 472

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Therese Yaeger, Ph.D., has been breaking down barriers, defying stereotypes and rewriting the rules for nearly two decades.

Yaeger is a former Division Chair for the Management Consulting Division of the National Academy of Management, has served as Executive Board Member of the Southwest Academy of Management, and is a registered consultant through the International Society for Organization Development.

She frequently presents at national and international conferences such as the Academy of Management, the OD Institute and the American Psychological Association, is a recipient of numerous awards such as the Best Paper Presentation at the OD Institute's Annual Conference, and was a team member of three Outstanding ODI Project Awards.

The author of more than 50 papers and articles including three books on Appreciative Inquiry with Peter Sorensen, Thomas Head and David Cooperrider, Yaeger is an active member of the Academy of Management, the Midwest Academy of Management, the OD Network, the OD Institute and the American Society for Training and Development.

She has been teaching in the Benedictine’s Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior and Ph.D. in Organization Development programs since 2001.

Ramkrishnan V. Tenkasi, Ph.D.


Ph.D. in Organization Development

Phone: (630) 829-6212  |  Send Ramkrishnan V. an Email  |  Office: Goodwin Hall 473

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Ramkrishnan (Ram) V. Tenkasi (Ph.D., Organizational Behavior, Case Western Reserve University) is currently a professor with the Ph.D. program in Organization Development at Benedictine University. He started his academic career as an assistant professor with the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, Los Angeles in 1993 and joined Benedictine University in 1998 as an associate professor. His research and practice interests are in the areas of organizational knowledge, learning and change and their mediation/moderation by organizational design choices including the role of information technologies in facilitating/inhibiting these processes in organizations. He approaches the study of these issues from both interpretive and positivist frameworks usually combining these traditions to draw on their unique strengths.

Multiple grants from federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and Department of Defense, and several corporations such as Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, Lucent Technologies, Texas Instruments, Allied Signal, Merck, Pfizer, Pratt and Whitney, and Procter and Gamble have funded Tenkasi's research in the above areas. He serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Organizational Change Management and has been a program review panel member for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, and is currently part of a core team brought together by the National Cancer Institute to assist in the identification of effective implementation systems for tobacco control in the United States. Tenkasi is also the Division/Program Chair-Elect for the Organization Development and Change Division of the National Academy of Management. His more than 50 articles and book chapters appear (or are scheduled to appear) in both academic and practitioner outlets such as Organization Science, Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences, Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, International Journal of Technology Management, Journal of Organizational Change Management, Employee Relations, Acquisition Review Quarterly, Research in Organization Change and Development, Advances in the Interdisciplinary Study of Work Teams, and the OD Journal. He is also a reviewer for several leading journals of the field such as the Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Information Systems Research, Organization Studies, Human Relations, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Sloan Management Review, and Journal of Organizational Change Management.

James Ludema, Ph.D.

Professor and Program Director

Center for Values-Driven Leadership

Phone: (630) 829-6229  |  Send James an Email  |  Office: Goodwin Hall 487

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James D. Ludema, Ph.D., (Organizational Behavior, Case Western Reserve University) is the Co-founder and Director of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership and a Professor of Global Leadership at Benedictine University. He is Past Chair of the Academy of Management's Organization Development and Change Division and is the author of two books and dozens of articles on leadership, strategy and organizational change. His book The Appreciative Inquiry Summit: A Practitioner's Guide for Leading Large-Scale Change is widely considered a classic in the field.

Dr. Ludema has lived and worked in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America and has served as a consultant to a variety of organizations including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, BP, McDonald's, John Deere, USG, U.S. Cellular, the US Navy, World Vision, and many local and international NGOs. Dr. Ludema received his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Case Western University and a B.A. in Philosophy from Calvin College.

Research interests: Global leadership; values-driven leadership at the individual, organizational, and societal levels; appreciative inquiry and positive organizational scholarship; the link between culture and profit in small and mid-size businesses.

The Ph.D. Office receives many inquiries about the program and uses the following criteria to admit students. Program selection criteria include:

  • Quality and quantity of relevant work experience emphasizing significant background in a position of major responsibility as and O.D. consultant, human resources, line management or in other relevant positions of responsibility.
  • Level of professional involvement in the field including professional memberships, positions held in professional associations, professional recognition, publication and awards.
  • Level of position responsibility including major administrative position, full-time external or internal consultant work, human resource position, etc.
  • Master’s degree in O.D., management or related area.
  • Students will also be selected for the program based on their potential to model the objectives of the program in terms of providing leadership in the field.