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Wagner studies organizational life and has published broadly, winning awards for his work. He is an associate editor of the Administrative Science Quarterly and has served on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Review. As associate dean, he has worked to implement the sophomore admissions curriculum and the Residential Business Program to acclimate business-preference freshmen to campus.

John Wagner

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs
Professor of Management


Associate Dean John Wagner grew up believing he’d one day helm the iron foundry his family owned in central Illinois.

But by the time he enrolled in college to study business, trade journals were talking about the need to make cars lighter and more efficient – which didn’t bode well for iron.

“I could see there wasn’t a future in the family business, and I’d always been attracted to getting my doctorate,” Wagner says. “It was the idea of doing research. So I merged my developing interest in business with my interest in research, which seemed like a cool thing to do.”

He was drawn to MSU, he says, because of the strong relationship between the Management and Industrial/Organizational Psychology Departments. He has stayed, he says, because of the university’s support for research and the collaborative atmosphere.

“It’s very familial,” Wagner says. “A lot of schools have single classes as large as our whole program, and you really get lost as a person. Here we teach that management in particular and business in general is a team sport – not something you do alone, but something you do with other people. The hallmark of this program is the cooperative way of approaching the MBA enterprise.”

Wagner has four children, ranging in age from teens to 40s, and four grandchildren, and ice sports run deep in his family.

“My son is a hockey player, so my hobby has been driving him to the rink for the past several years,” he says. “The weekend comes and we’re at the rink. Before that, two of my daughters were competitive figure skaters. There’s always a kid at the hockey rink.”

Wagner has published broadly; he is an associate editor of the Administrative Science Quarterly and has served on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Review. He’s also a recipient of the John D. and Dortha J. Withrow Endowed Teacher-Scholar Award.

Over the course of his career, he says, “there have been some very significant generational shifts. I’ve seen three generations come through the college, so it’s been interesting to watch that process.”

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