DBA Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Margaret Luciano

Meet Dr. Margaret Luciano, Associate Professor of Management & Organization and BNY Mellon Faculty Fellow at Smeal. Explore her expertise in team dynamics, leadership effectiveness, and complex systems in healthcare contexts. Discover the Seminar in Management course she teaches, covering a broad range of management subjects from micro to macro perspectives. Learn about her goals to help Penn State Smeal Executive DBA students develop foundational knowledge and skills, including diagnosis, integration, application, and translation. Gain insights into her research approach, focusing on mixed methods and collaboration. Visit her Smeal Directory profile for more information.

Dr. Margaret Luciano, Associate Professor of Management & Organization, BNY Mellon Faculty Fellow.



Some of the best and brightest minds in business call Smeal their professional home. Our faculty's contributions to teaching and research are heard around the world. And their commitment to partnering with our students is seen, heard, and experienced in our classrooms and beyond. 

Here, we introduce you to Dr. Margaret Luciano, Associate Professor of Management & Organization, BNY Mellon Faculty Fellow

What DBA course(s) are you teaching?

MGMT 548: Seminar in Management

What are you excited to cover/explore and why?

I am excited to delve into a broad range of subjects encompassed by the field of management from both micro and macro perspectives. Throughout the course, we will explore various concepts such as organizational structure and context one week, while diving deep into motivation theories the next. We will examine topics across different levels of management, ranging from front-line leadership to CEOs. We will also study how general theories of organizational change intersect with studies of individual training and implementation of specific change interventions, such as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. Not only will this allow us to develop a comprehensive understanding of management, but it will also enable us to explore the boundaries and connections between different ideas – which is often where novel insights are born.

What are some of your main goals/expectations as a professor to DBA students?

My course is taught during the first semester of the program, so an important goal is to help students build the foundational knowledge and skills they will need to be successful in the program. Some skills will be very basic foundational research skills (e.g., how to find relevant articles, how to digest and assess articles, how to combine information across articles), but big picture we are targeting the development of diagnosis, integration, application, and translation skills. 

  • Better diagnosis – Ask better questions. Find the most current science on the topic. Go deeper, consider alternatives, and appreciate the limitations.
  • Better integration – Make sense of a set of articles. Integrate different bodies of knowledge into a coherent and sufficient perspective on the situation.
  • Better application – Take general principles and apply them appropriately to the specific context. Avoid the “it won’t work here” or “we are unique” biases.
  • Better translation – Identify the insights that are the most relevant to and useful for a specific context. Communicate the insights in a way that touches on how and why.

To accomplish this, students will need to show up to class ready to learn and contribute to each other’s learning process.

How would you summarize your research expertise?

My core areas of expertise relate to dynamics within and among teams, with a special interest in healthcare contexts. More broadly, my research explores the dynamics and effectiveness of leaders, teams, and complex systems, with an emphasis on enabling organizations and their employees to thrive in complex, dynamic, and hybrid environments. This means I like to explore complex phenomena and find the underlying patterns so we can see the simplicity that exists on the other side of complexity.

Why is it important to you?

Work is a huge part of people’s lives. Indeed, most people spend more time working than on any other activity.

I have the privilege of my work being figuring out how to make other people’s work better – both in terms of the work quality and their experiences at work (e.g., conflict). The importance of real-world impact is part of what draws me to work in the healthcare domain where impact directly expands beyond the employees to their patients and families.

How would you describe your research approach?

Inquisitive and collaborative. I love mixed methods research that combines quantitative and qualitative approaches to gather different information and address complex problems from multiple perspectives. I also appreciate being on research teams with multiple perspectives – such as those with members from academia and industry. Whenever possible I prefer to be close to the action (e.g., personally conducting observations and implementing interventions).

What was the most helpful advice you’ve received from a professor/manager that still holds true?

Read the syllabus. Although this advice came from a professor, it also applies across management positions. In the workplace and the classroom, it is important to understand what is expected of you, what is available to you, and the broader “rules of engagement.” In the workplace, this information can be tricky to compile – in the classroom, it is neatly compiled for you into a syllabus (with additional instructions available on the Canvas platform).

View Margaret's Smeal Directory profile