Master of Philosophy in Organizational Dynamics Theses

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Submitted to the Program of Organizational Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania

Steven Finn, M.Phil, Reader

Amrita Subramanian, MS, Reader

Syd Havely, PhD, Reader

Rod Napier, PhD, Reader


This capstone is a result of four questions formulated around a central theme focused on understanding what it is that makes teams and environments high performing today, and additionally, how leaders connect with others in order to set high performing environments. In the first question (Chapter 2), exploration of our human biology shows our genetics are wired for connection and collaboration although this may be in contradiction with many aspects of American society today. The second question (Chapter 3) explored human motivation. Instead of understanding the individual, we have to look further to understand how the cues from the environment are impacting motivations. With focus on creating better environments—those rooted in purpose and fulfilling human needs—performance improves. Question 3 (Chapter 4) examined examples of leaders who create high quality motivational environments and how it impacts people and teams. In the final chapter (Chapter 5), Question 4 there are some applied ideas for leaders to begin to understand how to better build teams. Through this Capstone, it becomes clear that in order to perform at a high level, leaders have to create environments where individuals are connected to both a strong purpose and the people around them. In order for this connection to occur individuals must be willing to accept vulnerabilities and take risk. Psychologically safe environments (created by leaders) encourage individuals to show up authentically as themselves and perform to their potential.


teams, individuals, human biology, high performance



Date Posted: 04 December 2018