Burke, W. Warner (wwb3) | Teachers College Columbia University

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Burke, W. Warner
Edward Lee Thorndike Professorship of Psychology & Education
Associate Editor, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science
Organization & Leadership

220 Zankel

Office Hours:
By appointment only

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., University of Texas
  • M.A., University of Texas
  • B.A., Furman University

Scholarly Interests

  • Learning agility (for more information about the learning agility measure, please contact gad2125@tc.columbia.edu).
  • Behavioral practices associated with superior leaders and managers and their performance.
  • Multi-rater feedback.
  • Organizational culture.
  • Inter-organizational relations.
  • Leading and managing organization change.
  • Organizational diagnosis and change.

Selected Publications

Burke, W.W. & Noumair, D.A. (2015). Organization Development: A Process of Learning and Changing, 3rd Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education 

Burke, W. W. (2014). Organization change: Theory and practice, 4th Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Burke, W.W. (2011). A perspective on the field of organization development and change: The Zeigarnik effect. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 47, 143-167.

Burke, W. W. (2004). Organization development. In C. Spielberger (Editor in Chief), Encyclopedia of Applied Psychology (pp. 755-772). Oxford, U.K.: Elsevier Ltd.

Burke, W.W. (2004) Contributor for N. Nicholson, P. Audia, & M. Pilluta (Eds.) Encyclopedic Dictionary of Management: Organizational Behavior, 2nd Ed. Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell Publishers.

Burke, W. W., & Trahant, B. with Koonce, R. (2000). Business climate shifts: Profiles of change makers. Boston, MA: Butterworth Heineman.

Burke, W. W. (1998). Contributor for C. L. Cooper & C. Argyris (Eds.), Encyclopedia of management (pp. 432-433). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

Burke, W. W., Coruzzi, C. A., & Church, A. H. (1996). The organizational survey as an intervention for change. In A. I. Kraut (Ed.), Organizational surveys: Tools for assessment and change (pp. 41-66). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Burke, W. W. (Ed.). (1995). Managing organizational change. New York, NY: American Management Association.

Waclawski, J., Church, A. H., & Burke, W. W. (1995). Women and men OD practitioners: An analysis of differences and similarities. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 47(2), 89-107.

Professor Burke is professor of psychology and education and coordinator for the graduate programs in social-organizational psychology. He is also Associate Editor of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. Professor Burke earned his B.A. from Furman University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin. Prior to coming to TC in 1979, he served in senior positions at Clark University, the NTL Institute, and as executive director of the OD Network. Professor Burke's consulting experience has been with a variety of organizations in business-industry, education, government, religious, and medical systems. A Diplomate in I/O psychology through the American Board of Professional Psychology, he is also a fellow of the Academy of Management, the American Psychological Society, the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and past editor of both Organizational Dynamics and The Academy of Management Executive. He has authored over 100 articles and book chapters in organizational psychology and authored, co-authored, or edited 14 books. He has received numerous awards, including in 1989 the Public Service Medal from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in 1990 the Distinguished Contribution to Human Resource Development Award, in 1993 the Organization Development Professional Practice Area Award for Excellence-The Lippitt Memorial Award-from the American Society for Training Society and Development, and in 2003 both the Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award from the Academy of Management and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the OD Network.


Warner Burke's Workgroup

This workgroup is interested in various areas of organizational behavior, particularly leadership, culture and climate, managing change, and multi-rater feedback in the workplace. Recently, the workgroup has been focusing on the concept of learning agility, the capacity to learn flexibly and rapidly in new and different situations. The work consists of establishing a behavioral measure of learning agility, including the requisite requirements of reliability and all forms of validity. 

Also of interest has been a series of studies testing the validity of the Burke-Litwin model of organizational performance and change. These studies have addressed the relationships of culture to climate, leadership behavior and management practices to climate, and leadership behavior to organizational performance. Using multivariate statistics such as regression, linear (and some nonlinear) relationships, and how certain dimensions of the model influence other dimensions are being measured and analyzed.

Students in the workgroup are also working on organizational survey projects, creating new measures of executive leadership, and analyzing large datasets.

Learning Agility

Learning Agility, of burgeoning interest in the field of organizational development, may be used to predict and understand how some leaders learn and develop more quickly than others. In 2012, Dr. Burke, along with several of his doctoral students, published a white paper with the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) outlining their theory on Learning Agility. Since that time, many organizations have come forward and sought out Dr. Burke and his students and asked to use their Learning Agility tool, which is still under development.  Dr. Burke hopes to use the finished Learning Agility tool for leadership development with organizations while also allowing researchers access to the tool in order to continually improve our collective understanding of the construct in the future.  To contact Dr. Burke's research team about the state of the tool as well as potential future collaboration, please contact Ginevra Drinka, a doctoral student researcher, at gad2125@tc.columbia.edu


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W. Warner Burke

Professor of Psychology & Education


3 Questions with Warner Burke

W. Warner Burke is The Edward Lee Thorndike Professor of Psychology and Education and coordinator for the graduate programs in social-organizational psychology in the Department of Organization and Leadership at Teachers College. His research focuses on multi-rater feedback, leadership, learning agility and organization change. Dr. Burke's consulting experience has been with a variety of organizations in business-industry, education, government, religious, medical systems, and professional services firms, including British Airways, SmithKline Beecham, National Westminster Bancorp and the BBC. He has authored over 130 articles and book chapters in organizational psychology, organization change, and leadership, and authored, co-authored, or edited over 15 books. Dr. Burke was the recipient of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Best Practice Institute. He has been member of the TC faculty since 1979.

What first interested you in studying learning agility and its correlation to leadership effectiveness?

What first interested me in studying learning agility was reading an article in which the authors stated that there was a positive correlation between their measure of learning agility and leadership effectiveness. This made intuitive sense to me but I did not think that their measure was adequate. That was over 4 years ago. Since that time, with the help of my doctoral students, we have been on the quest of creating that adequate measure. It has been a long and complicated journey, but we are almost there. We will have it before Thanksgiving, thus having a product that we will be thankful for. Read more...