Gelaye Debebe


Gelaye Debebe

Associate Professor



Room 302, 600 21st Street NW Washington DC 20052

Areas of Expertise

  • Cross-cultural competence
  • Women’s leadership development
  • Authentic talent development
  • Qualitative research methods

Gelaye Debebe is an Associate Professor of Organizational Sciences at the George Washington University. She is also a Faculty Affiliate at the Center for Gender in Organizations at Simmons Graduate School of Management and the George Washington University Women’s Studies Program. She holds a B.S. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, an M.S. in Human Resource Development from the American University, and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from the University of Michigan. Her research is concerned with how people learn individually and jointly in the face of potentially-inhibiting social norms and inequalities. She has explored this question in the context of how individuals representing culturally dissimilar and unequal groups achieve coordination in their interactions, how women learn and develop as leaders in the context of limiting societal gender norms, and how individuals successfully craft talent trajectories in the context of social identity ascription. Among others, her work has appeared in Research in Organizational Behavior, Journal of Management Education, Advancing Women in Leadership Journal, International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Human Resources Development International, Cogent Business and Management, and Development in Practice. She is also author of two books:  Navigating Power: Cross-cultural Competence (Lexington Books) and Women’s Leadership Development: Caring Environments & Paths to Transformation (Routledge).


Ph.D., Department of Organizational Behavior, School of Business, University of Michigan, 2002

M.S., Human Resource Development, American University, 1992

B.A., Government and Politics, University of Maryland, School of Government and Politics, 1986

Selected Professional Experience

Associate Professor, George Washington University, 2014 to present

Program Director, Organizational Sciences Graduate and Undergraduate Programs, Department of Organizational Sciences and Communication, The George Washington University, 2015 to 2017

Assistant Professor, George Washington University, 2003 to 2014

Research Assistant, University of Michigan Business School, 1994 to 1998

Program Coordinator, Programs in Professional Education, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, 1992 to 1993

Program Director, Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program, American University, 1991 to 1992

Program Manager, Office of Continuing Studies, American University, 1991 to 1992

Program Coordinator, Office of Continuing Studies, American University, 1988 to 1991



Debebe, G. (2019). Women’s Leadership Development: Caring Environments & Paths to Transformation, Routledge.

Debebe, G. (2012). Navigating Power: Cross-Cultural Competence and Coordination in Navajoland, Lexington Books.

“A must-read for those committed to realizing true multiculturalism and educating others about it.”
— Stella M. Nkomo, University of Pretoria, South Africa

“A terrific synthesis and extension of theories and concepts that help explain the success or failure of coordination projects between Anglo and Navajo participants. Inter-cultural differences in power and culture, as well as the history and cultural memories of the groups and how these differences are handled, prove to be very useful in accounting for success. Debebe's study uses a variety of qualitative data sources and has implications for many other multi-cultural projects.”
— Mayer N. Zald, University of Michigan

“A very worthwhile book” that “adds substantial value to the field of organizational studies.... It will be of interest to scholars in cross-cultural communication, interorganizational learning, multi-party dispute resolution, and the development of dialogue among discrepant communities of practice.”
Administrative Sciences Quarterly

Edited Special Issue

Debebe, G., Deirdre, A., Bilimoria, D., and Vinnicombe, S. (2016) Special issue on “Women's Leadership Development Programs,” Journal of Management Education, 40:3.

Journal Articles

Debebe, G. (2017) "Authentic Leadership and Talent Development: Fulfilling Individual Potential in Sociocultural Context," Advances in Developing Human Resources, 19(4): 420-438.

Debebe, G. (2017) "Navigating the double bind: Transformations to balance contextual responsiveness and authenticity in women’s leadership development," Cogent Business & Management, 4(1).

Reinert, K.A., Reinert, O.T., and Debebe, G. (2016) “The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises: Better But Not Enough,” Development in Practice, 26(6): 816-823.

Debebe, G., Anderson, D., Bilimoria, D., Vinnicombe, S. (2016) “Women's Leadership Development Programs: Lessons Learned and New Frontiers,” Journal of Management Education, 40(3): 231-252.

Debebe, G. (2011) “Creating a Safe Environment for Women’s Leadership Transformation,” Journal of Management Education, 35(5): 679-712.

Academy of Management Best Paper 2010

Featured in Journal of Management Education podcast

Featured in Sage Publications, Management INK

Debebe, G. (2011) “Creating Cross-Cultural Knowledge: Process, Relationship, and Task Aspects,” Issues in Intercultural Communication, 3(1): 1-20.

Debebe, G. (2010) “Fostering Receptivity in Cross-Cultural Coordination: The Practices of Civic Virtue,” Human Resource Development International, 13(4): 443- 461.

Debebe, G. (2009) “Transformational Learning in Women’s Leadership Development Training,” Advancing Women in Leadership Journal, 29(7): 1-12.

Debebe, G. (2008) “Cross-Cultural Competence and Power-Based Rules: A Native American Case Study,” International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 32(5): 399- 414.

Wrzesniewski, A., Dutton, J.E., and Debebe, G. (2004) “Interpersonal Sensemaking and the Meaning of Work,” Research in Organizational Behavior, 25: 93-135.

Received over 670 Google Scholar citations

Subject of an Academy of Management session entitled “Interpersonal Moments at Work,” 2010

Debebe, G. (2002) “Guest Learning and Adaptation in the Field: A Navajo Case Study,” Development in Practice, 12(3): 355-369.

Contributions to Edited Volumes

Reinert, K.A. Reinert, O. T. and Debebe, G. (2020) “Voluntary Standards for Multinational Enterprises.” In K.A. Eliott (Ed.), Handbook of Labour Standards. Edward Elgar.

Debebe, G. (2017) “Global Organizations,” K.A. Reinert (Ed.), Handbook of Globalisation and Development, Edward Elgar.

Dutton, J.E., Debebe, G., and Wrzesniewski, A. (2016) “Being Valued and Devalued at Work: A Social Valuing Perspective,” in K. Elsbach (Ed.), Qualitative Organizational Research: Best Papers from the Davis Conference on Qualitative Research, Volume 3, Information Age Publishing.

Debebe, G. and K.A. Reinert (2014) “Leading With Our Whole Selves: A Multiple Identity Approach to Leadership Development, in M. Miville and A. Fergeson (eds.), Handbook of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in Psychology, Springer.

Debebe, G. (2009) “Cross-Cultural Knowledge Creation: A Native American Case Study,” in Frank H. Columbus (ed.), Cultural Diversity: Issues, Challenges, and Perspectives, Nova Science Publishers.

Debebe, G. (2009) “Brain Waste,” in K.A. Reinert and R.S. Rajan (eds.), Princeton Encyclopedia of the World Economy, Princeton University Press.

Debebe, G. (2003) “Guest Learning and Adaptation in the Field: A Navajo Case Study.” In J. Pettit and L. Roper (Eds.), Development and the Learning Organization. Oxfam and Institute for Development Studies. Translated into Spanish, French and Portuguese .

Wrzesniewski, A., Dutton, J.E., and Debebe, G. (2002) “Help from Unexpected Places: Access and Assistance from within an Organization.” In M. Feldman, J. Bell, and M. Berger (Eds.), Gaining Access to People and Organizations. Altamira Press .

Quinn, R.E., O’Neill, R., and Debebe, G. (1996) “Finding the Path to a Balanced Academic Life,” in P. Frost and S. Taylor (eds.), Rhythms of Academic Life, Sage Publications.

Classes Taught


Introduction to Organizational Behavior

Managing Cultural Diversity in Organizations

Qualitative Methods in Action Research

Organization Theory

Global Organizations


Faculty Speaker, The George Washington University, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Master’s Graduation Ceremony, 2019.

Nominee. Deloitte Ellen Gabriel Chair for Women and Leadership. Simmons Graduate School of Management. 2012.

Best Paper Proceedings. Academy of Management. 2010.

Davis Conference on Qualitative Research Best Paper Award (with Jane Dutton and Amy Wrzesniewski). 2009.

Gil Whitaker Fellowship. University of Michigan. 1997.

Member. American University Chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha, Public Affairs Honor Society. 1992.

American Society for Training and Development Scholarship for Graduate Students in Human Resource Development. 1991.