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Thunderbird professors honored for research, achievements

Mansour Javidan, G.L.A. Harris recognized for lifelong dedication to research, academic impact

Side-by-side portraits of G.L.A. Harris and Mansour Javidan.

G.L.A. Harris (left), professor of global affairs at Thunderbird, and Mansour Javidan, director of the Arizona State University F. Francis Najafi Global Mindset Institute

December 08, 2023

Several professors at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University have been recognized recently for their dedication to impactful research, lifelong academic work and significant achievements. Among them are Mansour Javidan, director of the Arizona State University F. Francis Najafi Global Mindset Institute, and G.L.A. Harris, professor of global affairs.

"We are so proud of Professor Harris on her well-deserved appointment as a fellow to the National Academy of Public Administration, and of Professor Javidan for his International Leadership Association Lifetime Achievement Award," said Sanjeev Khagram, director general and dean of Thunderbird. "Their dedication to their fields of global and comparative governance and public administration, and global leadership and cross-cultural communication, respectively, have truly inspired others, igniting a path for future innovation and progress, globally and digitally."

Mansour Javidan

Javidan received the International Leadership Association (ILA) Lifetime Achievement Award during the grand finale of the 25th annual ILA conference this fall in Vancouver, Canada. 

Javidan, who joined Thunderbird in 2004, leads the F. Francis Najafi Global Mindset Institute, spearheading two large research projects. The first, GLOBE, is the Global Leadership Organizational Behavior Effectiveness project, focusing on cross-cultural leadership that spans over 144 countries and cultures.

“Our interest in this particular project is to understand cultural practices of countries,” Javidan said. “We want to know such things as how do people live their life in these countries? What is their understanding of outstanding leadership? And finally, what does it take to build trust in these cultures? These are the three key topics of this particular project.”

The other project Javidan leads is the Global Mindset Project, which seeks to understand the individual characteristics that help a manager be successful in an increasingly diverse workplace.

“So, the GLOBE project shows the world there's a lot of diversity in terms of cultural practices, leadership expectations and trust-building mechanisms,” he says. “In the Global Mindset Project, we focus on the individual, including characteristics that would help you influence people who come from these different backgrounds and different parts of the world.”

According to Javidan, the Global Mindset Project is now focusing on a "global digital mindset," exploring how to manage relationships in the face of the worldwide digital transformation.

He also noted that the award was a surprise, but that he’s especially honored by the International Leadership Association.

“It is really important to me because the International Leadership Association is a very unique organization,” he said. “It is an association of teachers, researchers and participants of leadership across the world. This is a very unique association that brings and bridges different types of expertise and background. 

“I don't do research just because I want to publish papers. I do research because I can help people. And ILA is exactly that kind of an organization.”

Javidan told of a time when his teaching paid practical benefits for a student in one of his classes.

“I was teaching a course called Cross-Cultural Communication,” he said. “Four weeks into the course, a student came to me with teary eyes and said, ‘I just want you to know you saved my marriage.’”

The student was having a difficult time understanding the way his Russian wife and her family communicated because of cultural differences. The student said he could never understand her family, and they could never understand him.

“He always blamed and criticized them until he took the Cross-Cultural Communication course,” Javidan said. “He said the course had made him a better person — not a better manager, not a better professional, but a better person. That is my goal.”

G.L.A. Harris

Harris was named a National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) Fellow. The academy produces independent research and studies that advance the field of public administration, and names fellows to honor outstanding individuals who are shaping its future.

Of the honor, Harris said it “marks the culmination and formal recognition of my body of work to date as a scholar.” She pointed to her research, publications, teaching and service endeavors surrounding the recruitment, promotion and retention patterns and treatment of women and underrepresented minorities in the U.S. military, the Canadian Armed Forces, and NATO countries and its partner nations.

“This recognition is especially meaningful as an immigrant and naturalized U.S. citizen, given its global impact. And I remain one of the few, if still not the only, scholar in the fields of public administration, public policy and public affairs to conduct such research,” she said. 

Harris said her seminal work on the U.S. military has resulted in state and federal legislation that prompted colleges and universities to support military veteran students. It also produced the creation of the Veterans Resource Centers (VRCs) on campuses across the United States and on U.S. military installations.

Harris joined Thunderbird in 2021 with an established national and international reputation as a scholar, most notably on issues regarding the military and veterans.

“Even as an administrator in both the private sector and the military, I have always been an academic at heart,” she said. 

“Whether I am teaching about human resource management in a global context, strategic planning for leaders, managing employee performance or women as global leaders at multiple levels, I instill in students their responsibility as future leaders,” Harris said. 

Harris reflected on her honor as a NAPA Fellow.

“I never actively pursued this coveted recognition,” she said. “It was the work of my three nominators who, themselves as preeminent scholars in their respective fields, voluntarily elevated my portfolio for such consideration. This fact alone speaks volumes in that these scholars not only believe that I will positively represent the disciplines but will also act as a steward in advancing the legacy of the academy.” 

Additional faculty honors

Other faculty of Thunderbird also received recent recognitions, including Landry Signé, who was named one of Apolitical’s 100 Most Influential Academics in Government; one of the 100 Most Influential Africans of 2022 and designated a “thought leader extraordinaire” by New African magazine; one of the 2023 Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) with the nonprofit project Africa House; and one of the World Economic Forum's “foremost future-oriented thought leaders” to “introduce fresh ideas that can inspire greater collaboration and advance progress on the critical global challenges we face.”

Andrew Inkpen and Siegyoung Auh were listed by Stanford University as among the top 2% of scientists in the fields of business and management. Javidan was also named to that same list for the fourth consecutive year.

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