Susan A. Mohrman

Senior Research Scientist

Research

Dr. Susan Mohrman is widely known for her research in the area of organization design and effectiveness and on large-scale change. She has focused on the design of knowledge-based firms and knowledge creating systems and complex laterally linked organizations. She has led a series of studies and a collaborative multi-university and multi-company consortium focusing on the design of complex collaborations to foster sustainability. Most recently, she has been a leader of a collaborative consortium generating knowledge about the design of digitally enabled work systems.  She also examines the research process itself, and how to create academic/company partnerships to yield useful knowledge.

Research Partners & Clients

Dr. Susan Mohrman has been actively involved as a researcher and/or consultant to a wide variety of organizations instituting innovative management systems and organizational designs. She has studied and consulted to redesign processes in organizations such as Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Pratt and Whitney, Lockheed Martin, Medtronic, Texas Instruments, 3M, Xerox, Pfizer, Kaiser Permanente, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Allstate, The Hartford, Driscoll’s, and Mondelēz International. She has helped install innovative production and management systems in organizations such as James River Paper, Amoco (now BP), Shell Oil, General Mills, and Johnson & Johnson.

Professional Work

Dr. Mohrman has served on the Board of Governors of the Academy of Management and the Board of Directors of The Human Resource Planning Society. She is on the editorial board of The Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences and Human Resource Management. She is an academic advisor to the Board of the Organization Design Forum.


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Education


BA – Stanford University

MEd – University of Cincinnati

PhD – Northwestern University

Contact Information


smohrman@marshall.usc.edu

Recent Research


Socio-Technical Action Research Lab Design Lab Description and Process

The STARLab acronym “Socio-technical Action Research Lab” points to a specific type of lab which is designed to create socio-technical action research. This paper outlines the distinctive features of the socio-technical action research lab. First, it outlines the ideas that provide a foundation for STARLab, along with the essential concepts of tacit knowledge and design thinking. Next, it provides a brief background of the origin of the design lab methodology. Last is a description of how the lab works – planning, environment, and process. STARLab Consortium

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Designing from the Future: Building Prototypes for Digitalized Organizations

The STARLab (Socio-Technical Action Research Laboratory) addresses the gap between the rapid advances in digital technology and the slower evolution of the social systems that are being impacted. Technology advances carry the potential to fundamentally change the nature of work, of the employment relationship, of organizations, and of societies. STARLab’s goal is to accelerate the generation of knowledge about how to design socio-technically integrated organizations to simultaneously address economic and human needs. STARLab Consortium

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Digital Organization Design Challenges: Prototype Solutions and Integration

This document summarizes eight specific organization design challenges facing companies attempting a digital transformation, and describes prototype solutions and responses to seven3 of these challenges. It also presents an integrated reflection on these solutions and an induced design scenario. STARLab Consortium

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Fast Scaling— A Practitioner’s Guide

The STARLab “Scaling” Community of Practice met virtually (Zoom video conferencing) on three separate occasions during the first quarter of 2018. During these discussions, company examples and research findings were shared. A documented case was presented representing a successful “fast scale” approach to enterprise-wide adoption of a new business model and organization design. Community of Practice members found the case interesting and relevant but requested the journal article be leveraged into a fast scale methodology guide for the practitioner. This paper first discusses key points made in the scale community of practice, and then follows with a practitioner-based methodology for fast scale based on the case study. The appendix describes the initial STARLab research finding from members companies identifying scale as a key organizational challenge in driving digital transformation. A brief perspective is provided to the challenge. STARLab Consortium

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Design a Prototype of Digitally Enabled Ecosystem Organization Design

The primary focus of business models and organization design has been on the enterprise or business unit. Organizations were defined as systems of activity or work that were deliberately structured and coordinated, boundary maintaining, and goal oriented. Boundaries were an important element of that definition, defining what was “in” the organization and what was “outside” the organization, and allowing managers to control work activities that created value. In particular, intellectual property, property rights, production processes, and employees were sources of competitive advantage and profits. STARLab Consortium

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