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John Austin

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Boston College/PhD, Johns Hopkins University/BA

I believe in the power of merging scholarship and practice. My career has been one of seeking theories, research, and practical techniques to help us break out of conventional mindsets.  I've done this as professor, executive, entrepreneur, and consultant. In my keynotes, workshops, and customized leadership training sessions, I work to blend insights from all those roles.



Dr. Austin is the P.D. Merrill Endowed Chair of the Business Department at The University of New England. He maintains a private practice as an executive development consultant. He is an experienced facilitator and an award-winning teacher who has worked with practicing executives on six continents. 


Prior to joining the faculty at The University of New England, he was a faculty member at Fielding Graduate University, Penn State University and The University of Washington. He has taught executives in programs at Duke CE, The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania), Georgetown University, Thunderbird School of International Management, The University of North Carolina, and Penn State University. 


Privately, he has worked with numerous global Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and professional associations. There, he develops leaders and leads long-term projects in the areas of change management, scenario planning, team performance, strategic decision-making, and strategy execution. A wide experience with individuals at all levels of organizations enables him to translate broad strategies and concepts into actionable, engaging programs.​He is a frequent conference speaker.

Dr. Austin holds a BA in economics from The Johns Hopkins University and a PhD in management from Boston College. He has conducted research on team leadership, organizational change implementation, and strategic decision-making. His research on knowledge-based decision-making teams is widely cited in the academic literature, as is his work on the strategic actions of internal change agents. 


Dr. Austin's research has been published in leading management and applied psychology journals including Journal of Applied Behavioral ScienceJournal of Applied Psychology, and Organization Science, as well as practice-oriented publications such as HR Magazine and The OD Practitioner. His work has been recognized with three Best Paper awards from the Academy of Management. 


He is the author of Leading Effective Change: A Primer for the HR Professional published as part of the SHRM Foundation’s Effective Practice Guidelines Series (2015). His book, Unquestioned Brilliance: Navigating a Fundamental Leadership Trap, was published in fall 2015.



Selected Clients

American Health Information Management Association

Arch Insurance

Aresty Institute of Executive Education

Bank of America

Booz Allen Hamilton

Bristol-Myers Squibb


Coca Cola




Financial Industry Regulatory Authority

General Electric


Guardian Glass

Hewlett Packard

The Honor Foundation

Institute for Management Studies

Johnson Controls

Johnson & Johnson

Lee Hecht Harrison


Lincoln Financial


MFS Investment Management


Navy Federal Credit Union

New York Life


Professional Convention Management Assn.

Rio Tinto

Royal Bank of Scotland

Sandia National Laboratory

Schneider Electric

Selective Insurance


Society for Human Resource Management


Standard Bank

United States Federal Reserve System

United States Army

United States Navy

University of Pennsylvania


Veeco Instruments

Visiting Nurse Service of New York

West Penn Allegheny Health System



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Google Scholar Link
Articles, Book Chapters, & Reports

Austin, J.R. 2017. Jean Bartunek and the power of working across boundaries: Dualities and the missing voice. In Szabla, D., Pasmore, B., & Barnes, M., The Palgrave Handbook of Organizational Change Thinkers, Palgrave Macmillan


Austin, J. 2015. Leading Effective Change: A Primer for the HR Professional. A report for the SHRM Foundation’s Effective Practice Guidelines series, SHRM Foundation: Alexandria, VA.


Austin, J.R. 2013. Making knowledge actionable: Three key translation moments. Journal of Organization Design, 2(3): 29-37.


Austin, J. R., & Bartunek, J. M. 2012. Organization Change and Development: In practice and in theory. In The Handbook of Psychology: Volume 12 Industrial and Organizational Psychology, (pp 390-411), New York: John Wiley & Sons.


Austin, J.R. 2009. Initiating controversial strategic change in organizations. OD Practitioner, 41(3): 24-29.


Austin, J.R. 2009. Mapping out a game plan for change. HR Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management.


Bartunek, J.M., Austin, J.R., & Seo, M. 2008. The conceptual underpinnings of intervening in organizations. In T.G. Cummings (Ed.) Handbook of Organization Development, (pp 151-166) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.


Austin, J. R., & Bartunek, J. M. 2003. Theories and practices of organization development. In W. Borman, D. Ilgen, & R. Klimoski, Ed., The Handbook of Psychology: Volume 12 Industrial and Organizational Psychology, (pp 309-332), New York, NY: John Wiley &Sons.

*Reprinted in Organization Development: A Jossey-Bass Reader, J. V. Gallos (Ed.), 2006.


Austin, J. R. 2003. Transactive memory in organizational groups: The effects of content, consensus, specialization, and accuracy on group performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5): 866-878.


Austin, J. R. 2002. Measuring cross-functional team expertise at Outdoor Living Company. In Stroh, L.K., Northcraft, G.B., & Neale, M.A. (Eds.) Organizational Behavior: A Management Challenge, (p. 169), Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc: Mahwah, NJ.


Creed, W. E. D., Scully, M., & Austin, J. R. 2002. Clothes make the person? The tailoring of legitimating accounts and the social construction of identity. Organization Science, 13(5): 475-496.


Austin, J. R. 1997. A method for facilitating controversial social change in organizations: Branch Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 33(1): 101-118.


Austin, J. R. 1997. A cognitive framework for understanding demographic influences in groups. The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 5(4): 342-359.


Austin, J. 2015. Unquestioned Brilliance: Navigating a Fundamental Leadership Trap, Fisher Baldwin Press


Reviews of Unquestioned Brilliance

Unquestioned Brilliance: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Fortunetellers, at Small Business Trends (5 star review)


BOOK REVIEW: How to Sidestep Leadership Traps, at fin24


Techniques for Re-Framing Issues to Improve Decisions, at Leading Business Books (5 star review)


Selected Online Articles

3 Science-backed Strategies to Manage Underperforming Employees

Three Small Actions to Make Better Decisions

4 Questions to ask before Implementing Someone Else’s Plan

The Five Actions of the Strategic Leader

What if you are wrong? Make this Question a Habit

Why We Don’t Innovate: The Challenge of Dropping our Tools

Football, Baseball, Basketball…What’s your Team?

What’s your 10 Percent? Winning by Giving

4 secrets of Great Critical Thinkers

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