The Smith School’s Center for Human Capital, Innovation and Technology (HCIT)
explores issues at the intersection of these three key management resources and
leverages this knowledge to help organizations develop their leaders to their
“The center is interested in how human capital, technology, and innovation
come together to provide competitive advantage. This may take many
different forms, such as how knowledge workers’ expertise and skills are brought
together collaboratively through technology, how organizations can create a
climate and culture that supports innovation, and how organizations use
technology to fuel and drive innovation,” says Paul Tesluk, professor of
management and organization, chair of the management and organization department
and co-director of HCIT with Susan Taylor, Smith Chair of Human Resource
Management and Organizational Change and the Smith School’s senior associate
dean. Most of the center’s research projects have a human capital component, an
innovation component or outcome, and a technology component.
HCIT draws on the technical expertise of Smith’s management faculty, as well
as faculty from across the Smith School and the University of Maryland, and
partners with organizations in both the private and public sectors. One fruitful
long-term relationship has been with the Maryland Department of Public Safety
and Correctional Services. An HCIT team working with the department’s Division
of Parole and Probation Services developed a front-line leadership development
program for the Division’s first- and second-level supervisors. The goal of the
program was to provide front-line leaders of the division with leadership skills
to enable much-needed innovation and change to the state’s parole and probation
system, by moving away from merely monitoring the convicted felons for whom the
officers were responsible to a more engaged type of management.
Large-scale organizational change is one of the most difficult processes for
leaders to manage, and working with organizations that are moving through such
changes has provided interesting sources of data for the center.
For the past several years HCIT has also conducted a multi-element leadership
program with Anne Arundel Medical Center, working with their top leadership team
through in-class sessions, executive coaching, and action learning projects
within the organization. “That project focused on leadership in the midst of
large-scale organizational change as the organization has grown and expanded to
move from a local to regional major healthcare provider,” says Taylor.
Through working with these organizations, the center has gained insights into
key factors that affect how organizations deal with change, such as employee
resistance to change and how leader behavior can affect employee resistance
across the entire organization, not just within the top management group.
Tesluk and Taylor have found the Smith School’s executive coaching program,
which is part of the Executive MBA curriculum, to be a ready-to-hand source of
data about an increasingly important tool in the leadership development arsenal.
When executives enter the program they are given an extensive set of
assessments—skills, personality, videotaped simulations of their presentation
and problem-solving styles—and then work with their coaches on personal
development plans. Between 60 and 80 executives who are taking part in the Smith
School’s Executive MBA program participate in executive coaching.
This has allowed intensive data gathering on coaching, which Tesluk and
Taylor are using in current and future research projects. “Coaching is one of
the more effective tools organizations can invest in to develop leadership
capabilities within their organizations. But we understand very little about how
it works: how do you structure coaching, what kinds of coaching behaviors are
most critical to helping leaders develop difficult-to-acquire leadership skills,
what kinds of things make for a good fit between an executive and a coach? The
center has a good combination of people who both provide executive coaching but
who are also interested in studying it,” says Tesluk.
On November 14, 2008, HCIT will hold an all-day executive conference on
leading radical change from all levels of an organization, featuring Jim Parker,
former CEO of Southwest Airlines, as a keynote speaker. In spring 2009 the
center will hold its first conference on executive coaching intended for both
academics and practitioners.
For more information about the center’s research and conferences, please
visit www.rhsmith.umd.edu/hcit, or contact Taylor at
firstname.lastname@example.org and Tesluk