Karren Knowlton

Karren Knowlton
  • Doctoral Candidate

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3116 SH-DH
    3620 Locust Walk
    Philadelphia, PA 19104

Research Interests: Intergroup relations, diversity and equality, team and group processes, communication and language

Links: CV, Personal Website


A central problem of our time that I aspire to help solve is that of widespread intergroup inequality in the workplace. Changes in recent decades including a greater social urgency for equality, shifting organizational practices, and new opportunities for minorities show promise but also introduce new complexities. In addition, I aim to better our understanding of how groups and teams can come together to achieve challenging objectives and solve complex problems.

My dissertation examines why and how individuals might act as agents toward greater equality, investigating what leads minorities to become trailblazers, rather than tokens. I have also studied how majority group members can become effective allies, the ripple effects of minority role models, and what motivates in-group members to help out-groups. In my second stream of research, I seek to further knowledge of how collaboration and organizing can solve complex problems by investigating the multi-level, micro-dynamic processes of teams and groups. This includes research on how the presence of certain roles on a team can shift other members’ cognition and when creating a group that co-locates can lead to learning across functional silos.

I hold an MBA and a B.S. in mechanical engineering, both from Washington University in St. Louis, and previously worked as an engineer for Nike, Inc.

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I study why, how, and when individuals act as agents toward greater equality in the workplace, as well as how the multi-level, micro-dynamic processes of teams and groups affect collaboration and organizing. Below is a sample of my work; see my CV for more information.


Please see my CV for further teaching information.

Past Courses


    We all spend much of our lives in organizations. Most of us are born in organizations, educated in organizations, and work in organizations. Organizations emerge because individuals can't (or don't want to) accomplish their goals alone. Management is the art and science of helping individuals achieve their goals together. Managers in an organization determine where their organization is going and how it gets there. More formally, managers formulate strategies and implement those strategies. This course provides a framework for understanding the opportunities and challenges involved in formulating and implementing strategies by taking a "system" view of organizations,which means that we examine multiple aspects of how managers address their environments, strategy, structure, culture, tasks, people, and outputs, and how managerial decisions made in these various domains interrelate. The course will help you to understand and analyze how managers can formulate and implement strategies effectively. It will be particularly valuable if you are interested in management consulting, investment analysis, or entrepreneurship - but it will help you to better understand and be a more effective contributor to any organizations you join, whether they are large, established firms or startups. This course must be taken for a grade.


    Student arranges with a faculty member to pursue a research project on a suitable topic. For more information about research and setting up independent studies, visit: https://ppe.sas.upenn.edu/study/curriculum/independent-studies

In the News


Latest Research

Karren Knowlton (Work In Progress), Defying Expectations: The role of trailblazer mindsets in turning low expectations into advocacy for change.
All Research

In the News

Empathic failure and a call to unity
The University of Michigan, Ross School of Business - Center for Positive Organizations - 12/02/2016
All News