Dr. Deborah Hurst is the Dean, Faculty of Business for Athabasca University. She joined AU in 1995 as an academic coach for the executive MBA and became an Associate Professor in Organization Studies, January 2001. Since that time she has held various roles in addition to faculty member including Associate Dean and MBA Program Director. Prior to joining AU, Deborah worked for Acadia University as a faculty member.

Deborah obtained her BA from the University of Toronto, and her MA and PhD from the University of Alberta. Prior to obtaining her graduate education, she worked for 10 years at General Motors of Canada Limited in roles located within the departments of Traffic, Material Control, Parts Distribution and Export Operations. During her MA studies, Deborah work for the non-profit, Edmonton Social Planning Council and later between her MA and PhD, the Alberta Public Service as a Human Resources Consultant and Manager. These private, non-profit and public sector work experiences inform her research, teaching and administrative duties.

Deborah’s guiding career vision and goals have always been focussed on improving the human experience of the workplace through a better understanding of the cultural aspects of organization life. She considers how leadership capability is developed through mechanisms of knowledge creation/transfer as well as during cultural organization change through the lens of institutional theory. Her work draws from organization behaviour/theory and management/leadership education literatures. She is concerned with how student’s knowledge, identity and professional skills are created in learning environments that directly support and mirror current work environments, how inclusive leadership practices and workplace cultures are created and led, and how educational programs can better prepare workplace ready graduates. In her role as Dean, Deborah endeavours to put her learning and experience to work more directly to deal with challenges that impact employees daily.

MBA Core Courses
Strategy and Organizational Analysis

MBA Electives – Online
Making Sense of Organizational Change
Learning and Knowledge Management
Strategic Leadership

MBA Electives – In Residence
Fundamentals of Program Evaluation
Global Strategy
Developing Leaders
Business Design: Collaboration, Knowledge Deployment, Performance & Risk Management (under development)

Leadership and Management Development courses
Strategic Supply Chain Management

Selected Publications

  • Ana Azevedo, Deborah Hurst, Rocky Dwyer. “Competency-Based Training Program for International Students” in International Business Research Journal, Vol 8, No. 3 2015 pages 1-10.
  • Hurst, Deborah, Martha Cleveland-Innes, Pamela Hawranik and Sarah Gauvreau. “Online Graduate Student Identity and Professional Skills Development” (Canadian Journal of Higher Education (CJHE) vol 43, No. 3, 2013, pages 36-55.
  • Deborah Hurst, Helen Lam and Anshuman Khare. “Internationalizing MBA Curriculum through Overseas Experiential Learning Courses: Insights on Strategies, Design, Implementation and Outcomes” Journal of International Business Education (2013), vol 8, pages 49-74.
  • Azevedo, Ana, Gerhard Apfelthaler, Deborah Hurst, “Competency Development in Business Graduates: An Industry Driven Approach for Examining the Alignment of Undergraduate Business Education with Industry Requirements” in International Journal of Management Education, 10 (2012) 12-28.
  • Kondra, Alex and Deborah Hurst, “Institutional Processes of Organizational Culture” in Journal of Culture and Organization, March, 2009, Vol 15:1, pages 39-58.Redpath, Lindsay; Hurst, Deborah & Devine, Kay,  “Contingent knowledge worker challenges,”  Human Resource Planning (in press). Awarded the best careers paper for the Western Academy of Management. 2007.
  • Hurst, Deborah and Shelley MacDougall, “Surviving the transience of knowledge: Small high-technology business parting ways with their knowledge workers,”  Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.Volume 20, No. 2, pages 283-200. 2007.
  • Hurst, Deborah and Shelley MacDougall, “Knowledge transfer by teaming: Mixing core and contingent professionals,” International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management Volume 4 ISSN 1447-9524, pages 1035-1050 2004/2005.
  • Hurst, Deborah and Shelley MacDougall, “Identifying tangible costs, benefits and risks of an investment in intellectual capital:  Contracting contingent knowledge workers,” Journal of Intellectual Capital, Volume 5, No. 4, 2004.
  • Hurst, Deborah and Scott Follows, “Building intellectual capital through virtual team development” in M. Beyerlein (ed.) The Collaborative Work Systems Fieldbook, University of North Texas, Josey-Bass/Pfeiffer, San Francisco, March 2003.
  • MacDougall, Shelley and Deborah Hurst, “For better or worse?  Assessing the costs and benefits of contingent knowledge work as an investment in intellectual capital”, Chapter 6 in World Congress on Intellectual Capital Readings, edited by Nick Bontis, KMCI Press, Butterworth and Heineman, November, 2001.
  • Hurst, Deborah, editor of “Proceedings: Organizational theory, taking stock, ASAC/IFSAM 2000,” Administrative Sciences Association of Canada, Montreal, Quebec.
  • Hurst, Deborah “Pro-net business connections” Case study and teaching note, Acadia Institute of Case Studies, Wolfville, Nova Scotia (1999)


  • Considering Culture through Institutional Theory
  • De-institutionalizing the Psychological Employment Contract
  • Collective Action as Dramaturgy


  • Assessing the Organizational Costs and Benefits of Contracting Contingent Knowledge Workers
  • Valuation of contingent intellectual capital investment decisions

New Projects

  • Virtual learning, development  and cultural change
  • Technological impacts on intellectual capital development in the Financial Services Sector
  • Technologically mediated Intra-Organizational Knowledge Transfer
  • Developing collaborative work relationships virtually

Hurst, Deborah and Shelley MacDougall, “Culturally aligned teaming as the key knowledge transfer method,” The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations, University of Greenwich, London, August 2004.

Course Development

  • Change Management and Leadership – elective
  • Managing Diversity for Strategic AdvantageThe New Economy – Managing Intellectual Capital – weekend program
  • Co-developed new elective on-site courses: The Human Side of Mergers and Acquisitions with Carol MacKinnon
  • Doing Business in the UK (on-site format) and Europe and the New Economy (weekend format) with Peter Carr

Committees/Professional Memberships

  • Chair, Research Ethics Board, Athabasca University
  • Member, European Group for Studies in Organizations
  • Member, Administrative Science Association of Canada

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