Skip to content Skip to Programs Navigation

Michael Christian

Professor of Organizational Behavior, Bell Distinguished Scholar and Area Chair of Organizational Behavior


4723 McColl, CB 3490 Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490

Mike Christian is an award-winning teacher and researcher. Poets & Quants named him a “Best 40 Under 40 Professor” and the Association for Psychological Science honored him as a “Rising Star.”

Dr. Christian aspires to help people to be their best at work. He also aspires to create an inclusive culture that values the potential of human differences across various levels, including within his academic field, within his university and within the Organizational Behavior Area’s team of faculty, post-doctoral researcher and PhD students.

His goals with research, service and teaching are to create scientific and social impact.

Dr. Christian’s teaching interests include human energy optimization, resilience, leadership coaching, leading effective teams and organizational change.

His research focuses on understanding the mind-body connection at work. He examines how somatic states such as sleep, pain and sickness affect energy, work engagement and self-control at work. He studies how these factors dynamically relate to unethical behavior as well as desirable work performance.

Dr. Christian has examined how mindfulness helps employees to cope with unfairness at work by reducing anger, rumination, and reducing retaliation behaviors. He also has studied how daily fluctuations in human energy resulting from somatic pain lead to ebbs and flow in engagement and withdrawal at work. Another line of inquiry is the effects of  sleep deprivation on deviant and unethical behavior in the workplace, and how caffeine might reduce these effects while unethical social influence exacerbates them. He also has examined the “slippery slope” of unethical behavior, identifying the regulatory role of moral disengagement in leading people to commit increasingly larger ethical transgressions.

He is area chair for the Organizational Behavior Area and the Director of Academic Leadership at UNC Kenan-Flagler. He also is an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Administrative Science QuarterlyThe Academy of Management JournalThe Journal of Applied PsychologyAmerican PsychologistOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision ProcessesPersonnel Psychology and The Journal of Management have published his research.

He has received research grants from the National Science Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation.

Dr. Christian received his PhD in management from the University of Arizona, his master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Tulane University and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

News & Research