The Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning



The Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning is part of the Department of Management in the School of Business at The George Washington University. The program focuses on the interaction between ideas and society and the design of ideas as a way of transforming organizations and societies.


The mission of the Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning is:

to contribute to our knowledge of social systems,
to help individuals and groups improve their skills in making use of current social science knowledge,
to assist organizations in adopting an experimental approach to their operations and hence to facilitate organizational learning,
to advance the interdisciplinary fields of systems theory and cybernetics,
to expand the philosophy of science so it can more effectively guide social science research.
As a way of focusing our efforts, we concentrate on “the design of intellectual movements.”


The Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning conducts research with scholars in many countries. We host visiting professors under government exchange programs. We have received grants to hold conferences from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. We have received research grants from the Center for the Study of Globalization at GWU and the European Union Research Center at GWU.


A Center for Social and Organizational Learning was established at GW in September, 1993, with the aid of $3,000 from Don Lehman, Vice President for Academic Affairs. In 1998 the name was changed to the Research Program in Social and Organizational Learning. Since it was founded, the Research Program has hosted many visiting scholars and arranged many lectures and symposia. The Research Program has employed many students as website builders and as research assistants. Quite a few faculty members have served as mentors of visiting scholars. The members of the Research Program have published many papers and abstracts.


The activities of the Research Program are intended to advance transdisciplinary social science, through philosophy, theory and practice. Our primary interest is the interaction between ideas on society and the creation and diffusion of ideas that, if widely adopted, we believe will have a beneficial impact on society. We are currently working on several projects.

Visiting Scholars
We host visiting professors mostly from the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia under several programs sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. These scholars improve their knowledge of the Western literature in their fields and become familiar with American research and teaching methods. We also introduce them to process improvement methods and group facilitation methods, since we believe these methods will help them in introducing changes in their home universities. (link)

Systems Theory and Cybernetics
The theoretical and philosophical perspective underlying our activities is systems theory, cybernetics, and complexity. The members of the Research Program: conduct research in these fields ; arrange conferences; manage a listserve on Cybernetics Communication, called CYBCOM; and arrange occasional lectures. (link)

Reflexive Systems
We arrange a University Seminar on Reflexive Systems. It meets approximately once a month. (link)

Technology of Participation
We use group facilitation methods in our work. We find that these methods are very effective in helping people to work together to do planning and problem-solving.

Quality Improvement Methods
We teach and use quality improvement methods. In particular we have developed the method of Quality Improvement Priority Matrices.


1993-1994 Ji-Xuan Hu
1994-1995 Ji-Xuan Hu, Lucas Kuo
1995-1996 Remo Chami, Rob Sable
1996-1997 Wendy Jogashura
1998-1999 Anurag Chowdhury, Vikram Dave, Sunil Dudi, Ali Husain, Aashish Kohli, Farasi Moktadar
1999-2000 Omar Huk, Mustafa Lazkani, Manoj Ramnani
2000-2001 Bucky Green, Mohamad Lazkani
2001-2002 Mohamad Lazkani, Mustafa Lazkani, Lucy Lim
2002-2003 Naveen Hariprasad, Saadia Khilji, Amir Raminfar
2003-2004 Naveen Hariprasad, Chingiz Sharshekeev
2004-2005 Daniel Le, Helen Lee, Sang Kil (Samuel) Kim
2005-2006 Firdu Bati, Sang Kil (Samuel) Kim, Said Yakhyoev
2006-2007 Firdu Bati, Elizabeth Corona, Walter Sandi, Paul Williams, Said Yakhyoev
2007-2008 Katrina Burkgren, Elizabeth Corona, Walter Sandi, Afrora Strinqi, Lei (Bill) Yu
2008-2009 Min (Mike) Cho, Mateo Ruggia, Lina Safronova
2009-2010 Nikhil Marathe, Tanuj Joshi, Harald Fuchs, Lukas Gehwolf
2010-2011 Vitaliy Aretinsky
2011-2012 Vitaliy Aretinsky, Emre Demirci, Ramsey Opp Mitali Sukhi
2012-2013 Mitali Sukhi, Zola Javzmaa, Malathi Garbham, Xiaohui (Sharon) Wu
2013-2014 Zola Javzmaa, Xiaohui (Sharon) Wu, Yuan Xue
2014-2015 Yuan Xue
2015-2016 Xiaohui (Sharon) Wu
2016-2017 Boer Feng, Elise Hughes, Xiaohui (Sharon) Wu
2017-2018 Biyi Chen, Boer Feng, Elise Hughes
2018-2019 Boer Feng, Elise Hughes, Mingran Wu