Member of


Michael Arena, Ph.D., is the dean of the Crowell School of Business at Biola University. He is also the chief science officer and co-founder of the Connected Commons, a research consortium that brings together business and academic thought leaders to develop and apply organizational network solutions. Arena also continues to teach in Penn’s Masters in Organizational Dynamics program. Prior to joining Biola, he served as the vice president of talent and development at Amazon Web Services (AWS), where he leveraged network analysis to enable employee growth, organizational culture and innovation. Arena was also the chief talent officer for General Motors Corporation where he helped to facilitate a business transformation, which is highlighted in his book Adaptive Space.

Arena also spent two years as a visiting scientist with MIT’s Media Lab researching human networks and acted as a design thinking coach within the Stanford dSchool for three years. In 2020, he was nominated to the Thinkers50 Radar class for his work on network roles in creating adaptive organizations. His research on adaptation and networks also won the 2017 Walker Prize from People + Strategy and has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Sloan Management Review.


  • Named to Top 100 HR Influencers list by Engagedly for 2022
  • Nominated to Thinker 50 Radar List for 2020
  • Board member for Association for Talent Development (ATD)
  • 2017 HRPS Walker Prize for best article
  • Board Chair for the Plexus Institute for complexity science
  • Board member Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • Business Advisory board member for AACSB
  • Board for Innovation Institute at McColl Center for Art & Innovation


  1. Adaptive Space: How GM and Other Companies are Positively Disrupting Themselves and Transforming into Agile Organizations, Arena, Michael, McGraw Hill, 2018.

  2. “Cultivating Culture in a Hybrid Context,” Arena, M., Vicsek, A., Golden, J., Hines, S., Management and Business Review, 2024.

  3. “The Three Cs for Cultivating Organizational Culture in a Hybrid World,” Arena, M., Hines, S., Golden, J., Organization Dynamics, 52 (1), 2023.

  4. “The Adaptive Hybrid: Innovation with Virtual Work,” Arena, M., Carroll, G., O’Reilly, C., Golden, J., Hines, S., Management and Business Review, 2022.

  5. “Use Networks to Drive Culture Change,” Arena, M., Gray, P., Cross, R., MIT Sloan Management Review, 2021.

  6. “Adaptive Space: Shifting from Structural to Social Design,” Arena, M., Management and Business Review, 2021.

  7. “Leadership for organizational adaptability: A theoretical synthesis and integrative framework,” Arena, M., Uhl-Bien, M., The Leadership Quarterly, 29 (1), 89–104, 2018.

  8. “Creating a Framework to Foster Innovation: Tapping the Power of Employee Networks and Providing Adaptive Space,” Arena, M., Cross, R., Sims, J. & Uhl-Bien, M., MIT Sloan Management Review, 58 (4), 2017.

  9. “Complexity Leadership Theory: Enabling people and organizations for adaptability,” Arena, M., Uhl-Bien, M., Organizational Dynamics, 36 (1), 9-20, 2017.

  10. “Organization Chart Gives Way to the Network,” Arena, M. Chief Executive, 72, 2017.


  1. UNLEASH World 2023, de la Prte de Versailles, Paris. Presented on “Building Connections: Nurturing Formal and Informal Relationships.” 2023.

  2. Association for Talent Development Future-Proof Talent Development Summit, Japan. Presented on “The Future of Talent and Development in a Hybrid World.” 2022.

  3. Association for Talent Development Lead Change and Transformation Conference, Taipei, Taiwan. Presented on “The Future of Talent and Development in a Hybrid World.” 2022.

  4. Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Annual Conference, Seattle. Presented on “Scaling Culture by Identifying Influential New Employees.” 2022.

  5. Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Leading Edge Consortium, Atlanta. Presented on “The Agile Hybrid Work Model: Leveraging Bridging and Bonding Social Capital.” 2021.

  6. Academy of Management Meeting, Anaheim. Presented on “Relational Coordination and Complexity Leadership: Enabling the Dynamics of Adaptive Systems.” 2016.

  7. Society Industrial-organizational Psychology Conference, Anaheim. Presented on “Complexity Leadership Theory: Empirical Findings and New Discoveries.” 2016.

  8. Academy of Management Meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia. Presented on “A Complexity Leadership Lens on the Emergence of Innovation.” 2015.

  9. Leadership Development: The Marketing & Management Collection, Henry Stewart Talks Ltd, London. Presented on “Complexity leadership: leadership for a changed world.” 2014.

  10. Leading in Complexity Annual Summit, QUT Graduate School of Business, Brisbane, Australia. 2014.

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