2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Margaret Luciano, Smeal College of Business, Penn State University

Congrats to Margaret Luciano of the Smeal College of Business, Penn State University for being named a 2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor.

Margaret Luciano

Smeal College of Business, Penn State University

“Professor Luciano had a remarkable impact on me and my classmates.  The course content and her ability to challenge our thought process from a team perspective set the foundation of our Executive MBA cohort/class.  The team concepts were often supported by group activities such as Lego Builds, Crack the Code, and communication Squares, making this the most interactive learning environment we have been in thus far. Her teaching style allowed for diverse thought and discussions that leaned on our own work experiences that pushed us to think critically of our EMBA team, as well as our teams at work. Conducting a project debrief is a concept I immediately applied to my work. Thinking critically of a project after completion has allowed my team at work to improve, course correct, and be a more effective partner to our internal stakeholders – I owe this to Dr. Luciano!”Matt Dockstader

Margaret Luciano, 35, is an associate professor of management & organization and BNY Mellon Faculty Fellow at Smeal College of Business, Penn State University.

Her research delves into the dynamics and effectiveness of leaders, teams, and complex systems, with an emphasis on enabling organizations and their employees to thrive in complex, dynamic, and hybrid environments. Her work has been funded by corporate and government grants and has been published in leading peer-reviewed academic journals such as the Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, and Journal of Applied Psychology; and featured in media outlets such as Harvard Business Review, and HR People + Strategy

She is the winner of the 2022 INGRoup Early Career Award and the 2022 Research Methods Division Early Career Award for her exceptional contributions to the study of team dynamics and innovative research designs. 

Prior to joining academia, she worked as an accountant. 


At current institution since what year? 2021


  • Ph.D., Management, University of Connecticut, 2015
  • MBA, Management, Clark University, 2010
  • BA, Psychology, Clark University, 2009

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Team Processes and Performance 


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I took Dr. Priscilla Elsass’ undergraduate organizational behavior class. I had been trying to figure out a career path somewhere between psychology, business, and education – and that is where it all came together.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My current research focuses on how to improve team effectiveness. My research team’s most significant discoveries have been in two domains. We’ve been helping hybrid teams to improve their flexibility (flex-time, flex-place) while maintaining productivity and helping emergency response teams to work together effectively while responding to mass shootings.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I’d be trying to do the same thing in industry – perhaps as a Chief Learning Officer, project consultant for major change initiatives, executive coach, or training lead of a program with fun activities and great snacks.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? The diverse and interactive team activities. Who doesn’t want to come to class on Lego Cross-Team Collaboration Day? More specifically, over the years I’ve developed a set of activities to illustrate core concepts, build transportable team skills, and enable students to “level up” their interpersonal skills (e.g., providing feedback, conflict management). For example, the mini-case I wrote titled “Team in Trouble” builds team cognition and significantly reduces variance in peer evaluations.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Adventure

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: The free coffee isn’t great – but there is nothing better than being surrounded by the energy and enthusiasm of your students.

Professor I most admire and why: The professors I most admire are committed to their own continuous learning and growth, as well as that of their students. They are the ones who show up every semester well-prepared and excited about incorporating new activities, cases, or other engaging teaching methods. They uphold high standards for learning and integrity while remaining approachable and supportive.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Business students are often eager to learn and excited to build their skills. I enjoy getting to witness their growth and success – and getting to teach people who find interpersonal challenges in the workplace as fascinating as I do.

What is most challenging? Preparing students to adapt their newly advanced team skills for an increasingly wide variety of work arrangements.

In a word, describe your favorite type of student: Hungry (to learn – not because they skipped breakfast)

In a word, describe your least favorite type of student: Arrogant

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Fair 


What are your hobbies? Pilates, yoga, and hiking with my dog Bentley.

How will you spend your summer? Unlocking how to craft team and organizational structures that are more malleable and moveable, prepping a new course, and enjoying more time outside.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Kauai, Hawaii is my current favorite. I also love the opportunity to go somewhere new where I can have unique experiences.

Favorite book(s): Teams that Work: The Seven Drivers of Team Effectiveness by Scott Tannenbaum and Eduardo Salas. It honors the science of teams in all their complexity, while also being accessible and actionable by my students.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? My favorite show is “The Voice.” I enjoy watching people get the opportunity to craft their skills and chase their dreams.  

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? If you had an office next to mine, you might guess that my favorite type is ambient study music. In reality, I enjoy most types of music – it depends on the mood and setting.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Opportunities for personal coaching and interdisciplinary collaboration. These opportunities would help accelerate learning and better equip students to address complex societal challenges beyond the scope of common business challenges.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Creating and maintaining a space where people can be different – different both in terms of beliefs and perspectives and in terms of where and when they work best. They should also work on enabling the coevolution of external, organizational, and internal factors – basically learning to ride the waves of change rather than being eroded by them.

I’m grateful for… my family and friends, occasionally getting to sleep in, and being a part of the Penn State faculty.



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