Michael L. Williams, Ph.D.
What makes the Graziadio School distinctive?
We believe that effective leaders are not only knowledgeable about the fundamentals of business, but they are people of integrity. From their first weeks at Pepperdine, students are pushed to think deeply about their values, personalities, and unique attributes that can make them effective values-centered leaders. From beginning to end, the Graziadio experience is unique because it is focused on educating the whole person. Teaching the science of management, and the art of becoming a values-centered leader.
How do you build relationships with your students?
What I like to do is just be transparent. I establish upfront a rule that they don't have to call me Dr. Williams or Professor Williams.
I also have a practice of having the students over for dinner every semester. That gives them a chance to meet my wife and my children, and that's such an important thing, especially for business students, to see, “Hey, you can have a balanced life where you continue to honor your family and honor your commitments to those things and yet work hard and achieve success in many ways.” So those things help me create a rich soil for the relationship to grow.
What research are you currently working on?
I'm currently studying how Web 2.0 tools such as Facebook, blogs, and Twitter affect social networks.My primary interest is in how these technologies affect relationships.For instance, do Facebook friends replace "real" friends, or do they facilitate a broader social network not limited by temporal and geographic boundaries? These questions are important as we move more towards global organizations with numerous modes of employment. I hope this research will lead to some guidelines for businesses seeking to optimize their workforce policies.I'd also like to pursue the implications of this research for volunteer organizations. For instance, how can churches use Web 2.0 technologies to foster a deeper sense of community despite increasingly fragmented urban living? Or, how can Web 2.0 technologies help grassroots movements build synergy and speak truth to power?