Karen Brown, Ph.D.

Professor of Operations Management
Areas of Expertise: 

Operations management, project leadership, supply chain management, international benchmarking


Managing Projects, Operations Management

Professional Bio: 

Karen Brown is a professor of operations and project leadership at Thunderbird School of Global Management, where she has been a member of the faculty since 2006. For the past decade, she has spent a significant amount of time in China working with executives from a wide range of enterprise types and delivering Executive MBA classes and executive seminars on operations management and project leadership. She also has spent considerable time studying managerial practices within and outside the U.S.

Prior to her arrival at Thunderbird, she taught at the University of Washington, Seattle University, IESE in Barcelona, Spain, and the China-Europe International Business School in Shanghai and Beijing.

Brown’s research, executive seminar, and consulting activities have been in large-scale manufacturing operations, health care, not-for-profit organizations,  medical devices companies, electric utilities, military facilities, and government agencies. Clients have included Boeing, Medtronic, the U.S. Navy, St. Gobain, Emerson, Sony, Philips, Maersk, PACCAR, Degussa, Seattle Public Library, Shanghai Media Group, Shanghai Stock Exchange, Eli Lilly, and others.

Brown has received recognition for excellence in teaching on numerous occasions, and she was selected as the first-place winner of the Decision Sciences Institute’s international award for instructional innovation.

Brown’s research interests focus on socio-technical systems, examining the links between human and technical factors in operating environments. Her work has appeared in California Management Review, Interfaces, Journal of Operations Management, International Journal of Production Research, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Project Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Human Relations, Business Horizons, PIM Journal, and other outlets. She is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Operations Management, and has served as a member of the editorial review boards of  Academy of Management Journal, Decision Sciences Journal, and Operations Management Review. Her teaching cases have been published by Harvard Business School, Thunderbird, and the European Case Clearing House, as well as appearing in several textbooks.

Brown’s new book, co-authored with Nancy Lea Hyer at Vanderbilt University, is titled Managing Projects: A Team-Based Approach, and was published by McGraw Hill in 2010.

Brown holds B.S., M.B.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington and has been certified as a PMP by the Project Management Institute.