Sep 14 • 3 min read
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Crystal Harold

As the demand for reform in higher education continues to grow more robust, and an obligation to an advanced degree program more daunting, students may be wondering: What will the Fox PhD do for me?  How, exactly, will it enhance my personal and professional life?  

Crystal Harold, the new managing director of PhD programs, recently sat down with the Fox Editorial team to shed some light on this question. She discusses why answering the call for effective research, how a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and coursework based on solving real-world issues set the Fox School apart, and what is crucial to a successful education and career.  

What are your research interests? 

My research career started with a focus on issues related to employee staffing and understanding how applicants make job-related decisions. As I studied applicant decision-making, the importance of person-environment fit and fairness perceptions became apparent. I expanded my research portfolio to examine the roles of fit and fairness beyond the applicant stage, to better understand how these factors also affect employees’ attitudes and behaviors at work. More recently, I’ve become interested in counterproductive work behaviors to better understand why employees and organizations behave badly and what happens when they do. 

What distinguishes the Fox PhD program from other PhD programs? 

Our location. Aside from access to amazing food, arts and history, Philadelphia offers unique opportunities. A short train ride up north will put you in the financial capital of the world and a short train ride south puts you in the seat of the world’s most influential government. Our disciplines are calling on us to conduct research that has impact and proximity to leaders from diverse industries offers us the opportunity to gain insight into pressing real-world problems and  conduct research to help solve them.  

How will you help the Fox PhD programs progress to meet the need for change in higher education? 

I would love to see more opportunities for research faculty and PhD students to interact with industry leaders to learn about the trends and pressing issues in their industry and create opportunities for research collaboration and partnership. Over the last few years, we’ve also seen institutions of higher education place greater emphasis on issues surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion and increased awareness. At the Fox School, we’re actively engaging in discussions related to inclusion and have identified it as a key pillar of our Strategic Plan.  

Translating our plan into action will require looking inward and asking whether our programs, including the PhD programs, are helping to fulfill our promises related to diversity and inclusion. If the answer is that we can do better, then we must be prepared to do the work of critically evaluating the systems and processes that we have in place to attract, select and develop our students—and be willing to make changes where needed.  

As someone who has written extensively on effective organizational leadership, what advice can you offer students as they prepare to become leaders in their field?  

Network! Form bonds with others in the PhD program, with your faculty, and with other students and faculty in your career field. When scholars visit, ask questions or make comments during their presentation and find time to meet with them. Go to conferences, attend sessions and make connections.  

Research leadership requires a network of support and collaboration; no one advances in their career without a strong cadre of collaborators and support network. You never know who may become a collaborator, who may wind up leading the faculty search committee for a job you really want or who might be asked to write you a tenure letter.  

Crystal HaroldDEIOrganizational leadershipPhDResearchResearch Leadership