Deborah O'Neil, Ph.D.


Deborah O'Neil, Ph.D.

Position: Associate Professor
Phone: (419) 372-5222
Email: oneild@bgsu.edu
Address: 3021 Business Administration

Dr. Deb O'Neil's research is focused on the processes by which individuals and organizations develop. Her fundamental questions of interest are those related to growth and progress; what processes assist individuals and organizations in being effective, successful, and productive? Within this broader area of research, she also investigates gender dynamics in organizations and the facilitators of and barriers to women's career and leadership development.

Currently Dr. O'Neil is working on a number of research studies examining leadership and career development, three of which are described below:

  • The first is being conducted with colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic and is part of a multi-study research design on leadership in health care. It is a qualitative study investigating the indicators of successful leadership for physicians in the current health care environment. The intent of this research is to inform incumbent and emerging physician leaders as well as medical schools and physician training programs about the critical factors that result in successful physician leaders.
  • The second is a conceptual piece. Drawing on the literature in environmental sustainability and career development, she is working to develop a framework for career sustainability which incorporates three specific elements: the interdependent relationship between individual careerists and their ecosystems which consist of families, organizations, communities and society; the necessity for a focus on both short and long term career development strategies; and the notion of holding a balanced perspective between economic, environmental, and social concerns, the career triple bottom line, when establishing and sustaining careers.
  • The third is a study on the underlying forces in organizations and society that cause executive women to deny the existence of gender-related barriers, despite their continued experience of them. Using a grounded theory approach on interviews conducted with 50 executive women in financial services, the research examines this individual-level phenomenon, which we refer to as "gender blindness", and contrasts it with the dissatisfaction these same women express with women's advancement overall within their company, which we refer to as "generic dissatisfaction".

One important research achievement Dr. O'Neil is proud of is being invited to present her research at an International Seminar on Women in Leadership: Between Corporate Reality and Research Agendas, held at the British Academy of Management, in London, UK in June 2010.

A teaching achievement would be working with the EMOD (Executive Masters of Organization Development) classes in the capstone Mastering Change class every summer (ORGD 6070X). The EMOD classes work with local non-profit organizations to help them focus their energies and efforts on becoming more effective organizations. The students do a masterful job of providing comprehensive consulting services targeted at each organization’s specific needs. Dr. O’Neil finds it a true joy to work with these executive students in service of the non-profit community.  

Dr. O'Neil says she became a professor because, in her words, "I love working with individuals to help them discover their talents, develop their skills and knowledge, and create their ideal lives. I was fortunate to do this kind of work in the corporate world and figured as an academic I would have the opportunity to interact with a broader cross-section of individuals (students, colleagues, organization members) as well as conduct research on these developmental processes. Whether I work with executive, graduate, undergraduate students, or members of for profit and not for profit organizations, I have the opportunity to assist in the personal and professional development of others. What could be better than that?"

Besides research, faculty members bring business experience to their classrooms. Prior to returning to school to pursue her doctorate, Dr. O'Neil was a senior consultant with Citibank in New York, working in sales, credit, training, leadership, and organization development, in the Retail, Real Estate, and Business & Professional Banking groups.

Dr. O'Neil has also been an executive coach and organizational consultant for 15 years. Her recent executive coaching and consulting work has focused on leadership and emotional competency development, career development, mentoring programs, and strategic change management. A sample list of organizations with which she has worked includes Alcoa, Cleveland Clinic, the Cleveland Municipal School District, Developers Diversified Realty, Ernst and Young, Goldman Sachs, KeyCorp, McKinsey & Company, Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, Roadway Express, and Sherwin Williams.

On a personal note, one of the most interesting places she has visited is Berlin, Germany, because of the history it invokes. "It was fascinating to see the site of the former Berlin Wall and reflect back on the starkly different lives of those on the Western side of the wall versus those on the Eastern side. After WWII, Berlin was a city in ruins, and then the wall divided its citizens for almost thirty years. Today, it is a vibrant city that has risen from the ashes of a dark time in history. It was a fascinating place to explore." She is also a huge fan of Florence, Italy because of the art and history that are such a vital part of the city’s identity.


Ph.D., Organizational Behavior, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University
M.S., Organization Development/Human Resource Development,  American University
B.A., Journalism, English, Secondary Education, University of Rhode Island

Academic Positions:

Associate Professor, Bowling Green State University, 2013-present
Assistant Professor, Bowling Green State University, 2007-2013
Visiting Professor, Bowling Green State University, 2006-2007
Adjunct Professor, Bowling Green State University, 2005-2006
Senior Lecturer, Case Western Reserve University, 2004-2007


Hoover, K.F., O’Neil, D.A. & Poutiatine, M. (2014). Gender and leadership: A frame analysis of university home web page images. Journal of Academic Ethics, 12(1), 15-27.

McFillen, J.M., O’Neil, D.A., Balzer, W.K. & Varney, G.H.  (2013). Organizational Diagnosis: An Evidence-Based Approach. Journal of Change Management, 13(2), 223-246.

O’Neil, D.A., Hopkins, M.M., & Bilimoria, D. (2013). Sprinters, Marathoners, and Relay Runners:  Profiles of Women’s Career Development over Time. In R. Burke, S. Vinnicombe, L. Moore & S. Blake Beard (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Promoting Women’s Careers, 87-105. UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

O’Neil, D.A., Hopkins, M.M., & Bilimoria, D. (2013). Patterns and Paradoxes in Women’s Careers. In W. Patton (Ed.) Conceptualising Women’s Working Lives: Moving the Boundaries of our Discourse, 63-79. Career Development Series, Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Hopkins, M.M. & O'Neil, D.A. (2012). Nurse leaders:  Partners in health care leadership.  In P.C. Spurgeon, C. Cooper & R. Burke (Eds.). The innovation imperative in health care organizations:  Critical role of human resource management in the cost, quality and productivity equation, 137-152. UK:  Edward Elgar Publishing.

O’Neil, D.A. & Case, Susan S. (2012). Reconnections for Life Enhancement:  Daughters after Mother Loss. In A. Deakins, R. Lockridge & H. Sterk (Eds.) Mothers and Daughters:  Complicated Connections Across Cultures, 21-45. University Press of America.

O’Neil, D.A., Hopkins, M.M. & Sullivan, S.E. (2011). Do Women’s Networks Help Advance Women’s Careers? Differences in Perceptions of Female Workers and Top Leadership.  Career Development International, 16(7), 733-754.

Casile, M., Hoover, K., & O’Neil, D.A.  (2011). Both-and, not either-or: Service-learning as a tool for moral development and intellectual learning. Education and Training, 53(2/3), 129-139.

O’Neil, D.A. (2011). The value of emotional intelligence for high performance coaching:  A commentary. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, 6(3), 329-331.

Hopkins, M.M., O’Neil, D.A., FitzSimons, K., Bailen, P. & Stoller, J.K. (2011). Leadership and Organization Development in Healthcare:  Lessons from the Cleveland Clinic.  In J. Wolf, H. Hanson, M. Moir, L. Friedman & G. Savage (Eds.) Organization Development in Healthcare:  Conversations on Research and Strategies. Advances in Health Care Management, Volume 10, 151-165. Emerald Group Publishing LTD.

Bilimoria, D., O’Neil, D.A., Hopkins, M.M., & Murphy, V.  (2010). Gender in the Management Education Classroom: A Collaborative Learning Journey.  Journal of Management Education, 34(6), 848-873.

O’Neil, D. A., Hopkins, M. M., & Bilimoria, D. (2009). Developing Women Athletes: Insights from Business and Management.  Annual Review of High Performance Coaching and Consulting. Multi-Science Publishing Co. Ltd., 73-96.

O’Neil, D.A. & Sharp, E. (2009). Hit or Miss? Assessing the Fit between Learning Outcomes in OD&C Graduate Programs and Organizational Requirements for OD&C Practitioners. Organization Development Journal, 27(2), 69-83.

Hopkins, M. M., O’Neil, D. A., Passarelli, A. & Bilimoria, D. (2008). Women’s Leadership Development:  Strategic Practices for Women and Organizations. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 60(4), 348-365.

O’Neil, D. A., Hopkins, M. M. & Bilimoria, D. (2008). Women’s Careers at the Start of the 21st Century:  Patterns and Paradoxes. Journal of Business Ethics, 80(4), 727-743.

O’Neil, D.A. (2008). The Importance of Organizational Diagnosis. OD Practitioner, 40, 51-54.