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L. A. Witt, Ph.D.

L. A. Witt

Professor of Psychology (College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences)
Professor of Management (C. T. Bauer College of Business)
Professor of Public Affairs (Hobby School for Public Affairs)
Ph.D, Tulane University

Heyne Building, Room 127B


Teaching Philosophy

Integration of responsibilities: Teaching, research, and public service comprise the mission of university faculty. Accordingly, I apply insights shared with me by students and members of the business community to the development of research questions in my program of research. Moreover, I discuss state-of-the-art advances in the research literature (including in-press findings not yet available to the general public) and current events in the business world during presentations to both students and members of the business community.

Expertise: I serve as instructor only of courses in which I have developed content expertise from practical experience as a former manager in the private sector and as an applied researcher. Moreover, I strive to maintain currency by reading and contributing to the research and lay business literatures as well as by attending professional conferences and communicating regularly with members of the business community.

Relationships: Years ago, a Frenchman was quoted as saying, "You’re not a good lover unless your lover thinks you are." Similarly, I suggest that you are not a good teacher unless your students think you are. A healthy relationship between the teacher and student is essential for an effective learning experience. I view my students as valued customers and future business colleagues and strive to treat them accordingly.

Learning environment: To effectively serve my customers (i.e., students), I proactively and explicitly use as examples in classroom discussion the names of persons reflecting many countries (e.g., Marcus Garvey, Nelson Mandela, MLK, Jr., Carly Fiorini, Alexander Bustamente, M. K. Ghandi, Hugo Chavez, Hu Jiantao, etc.). I also use non-sexist and non-biased language and ask the students to do the same (e.g., reminding students to not always refer to generic managers as "he"). Most importantly, in line with research on interactional justice, I make an effort to respect students, treat them with dignity, and encourage their active participation.

Methods: It has been my experience that employees and managers in the "real world" seldom are asked to prepare research papers on the job. However, managers frequently make presentations in front of others. Therefore, I ask each undergraduate student to make a presentation at least once a semester. Typically, these presentations require the students to demonstrate their mastery of course content as well as insights into work situations of personal relevance. In addition, we often engage in theoretically relevant self-discovery and problem-solving exercises.

Outcomes: I expect my students to be positioned to leverage their newly acquired knowledge and insights to: (1) increase their competitive advantage in the workplace, and (2) enhance their quality of work and non-work life experiences through improved interpersonal effectiveness. Many of my students have cited promotions, improved relationships with others, admission to doctoral programs, and professional awards and recognition as reflecting applications of insights gained from participation in my courses.

Expectations for graduate students: I expect graduate students to maintain the highest level of ethical behavior and to apply considerable effort and demonstrate excellence in terms of: (1) technical and interpersonal competency acquisition through coursework and participation in applied projects; (2) tangible research performance (i.e., conference presentations and top-tier journal publications) through participation in multiple research projects; and (3) professional engagement (i.e., proactive participation in projects, professional association functions, program and departmental activities, and cohort support). Incoming students are expected to “hit the ground running” before arriving in Houston by working with faculty on papers to submit to the SIOP conference in early September.

Research Interest

Strategy-culture alignment
Customer service
Social and political skill
Work performance (e.g., adaptive performance, core task performance, and counterproductive behavior)
Employee selection
Organizational politics and support
Work-family interface

Research Philosophy

Research is the cornerstone of any successful university and is the primary standard by which a university and its faculty are measured. Recognizing my obligations to my students and university to maintain currency, to the academic disciplines of psychology and organizational science to contribute new knowledge, and to managers to help them solve problems, I continuously strive to:

  • Develop and identify theory-based links between management practices and relevant work outcomes, such as organization-level productivity, profit, and turnover and individual-level attitudes and performance.
  • Employ a contingency approach (i.e., methodologically, this translates into "interactional" approach) in conceptualizing and empirically identifying those links in order to demonstrate "what if" scenarios that define options for managers.
  • Develop and identify theory-based links between individual differences and relevant work outcomes.
  • Develop methodological approaches to leverage theoretical advances.
  • Identify opportunities to integrate theoretical and methodological issues across disciplines.
  • Promote collaboration with others not only to enhance self-development but also develop others,while on occasion submitting sole-authored work to maintain academic hardiness.
  • Personally perform all data analyses in every study to ensure accuracy and conduct every analysis with the underlying assumption that a colleague might request the data and check the analyses at any point in the future.
  • Send work to colleagues for peer review for quality control purposes.
  • Share findings widely, including presenting in-press findings during lectures to students in order to expose them to state-of-the-art advances in understanding employees and best practices.

Areas of Research Interest and Example Publications and Papers