University of Pittsburgh
May 9, 2007

University of Pittsburgh Professors Awarded The Sloan Industry Studies Best Paper Prize for A Two-Year Study Conducted in Pittsburgh Public Schools

Research concludes that the importance of social interaction amongst teachers is underestimated in the effort to improve schools and student achievement
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PITTSBURGH-Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business faculty members

Carrie R. Leana, professor of business administration, and Frits K. Pil, associate professor of business administration and research scientist, received the Sloan Industry Studies Best Paper Prize on April 26 for their research on Pittsburgh Public Schools. Awarded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the prize recognizes outstanding research in the area of industry studies. Their paper, titled "Social Capital and Organizational Performance: Evidence From Urban Public Schools," was published in the May-June 2006 issue of Organization Science. The researchers looked at improving student performance by considering the question, "What is it like to work here?"

Leana, the lead author of the paper, and Pil examined internal social capital (relationships among teachers) and external social capital (relationships between the principal and external stakeholders) in 88 Pittsburgh public schools to determine their effects on student achievement. The results of the research indicate that positive relations within the groups (social capital) can predict improved student achievement in mathematics and reading. The researchers concluded the pursuit of improving schools and student achievement has over-emphasized teaching skills and experience, and not given enough attention to social interaction amongst teachers.