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Heather Maiirhe Caruso

Associate Dean, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Adjunct Associate Professor of Management and Organizations and Behavioral Decision Making
“My goal is to help people make the most of opportunities to grow, inspire and work effectively together.”
(310) 825-6729
Areas of Expertise:
  • Choice Architecture
  • Communication
  • Diversity
  • Constructive Conflict
  • Equity
  • Improvisation
  • Inclusion
  • Leadership
  • Team Dynamics


Heather Maiirhe Caruso (HEH-thur MY-ee-ray kah-ROO-soh) joined UCLA Anderson in 2018 as assistant dean for equity, diversity and inclusion. A scholar and researcher of organizational behavior, she teaches in the Management and Organizations and Behavioral Decision Making areas.

Caruso’s passion for facilitating collaborative success runs deep in her life and work. “My formal interests in organizational and social psychology developed when I was an undergraduate at Stanford doing cross-cultural negotiation research with Jared Curhan and Lee Ross,” she says. These interests deepened during her years as an engineer and executive in a multinational Silicon Valley startup. “I was fascinated with the real-world experiences stemming from differences in cultural identity. Interpersonal problems could derail even the most talented individual performers, and effective collaboration skills could not only prevent such problems, but raise individual contributions to new heights.”

Layering rigorous academic training on top of practical experience, Caruso grounds her interests in the areas of: effective collaboration (especially for cross-functional and multicultural teams); skilled improvisation in leadership; management of identity, power and influence; and strategies for optimal choice, judgment and decision making. She focused on these topics in over a decade of teaching, research administration and scholarship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and has moved to UCLA Anderson to enrich and expand her work.

“Propelled by our outstanding research in these areas, we are connecting to pioneers and pathbreakers, building bridges between research and practice to best accelerate innovation in the digital age.”

Caruso stays connected to the everyday priorities and challenges of the workplace by consulting for private- and public-sector organization leaders across the globe, as well as by teaching classes in leadership, team dynamics and power and influence. In addition, Caruso partnered with Chicago’s Second City to co-found the Second Science Project, which offers skill-building leadership workshops at the intersection of robust behavioral research and professional improvisational practice.

Caruso is a strong proponent of lifelong learning for management excellence, and encourages students to make the most of their professors’ knowledge, not only while they are pursuing their degrees, but also throughout their careers. “As a preeminent public university, UCLA has a a distinctive opportunity to advance equity, diversity and inclusion,” she says. “It is an honor to help UCLA Anderson seize that opportunity by creating the kind of challenging and rewarding educational climate that can benefit leaders from every walk of life.”


Ph.D. Organizational Behavior – Social Psychology, 2008, Harvard University

A.M. Social Psychology, 2006, Harvard University

B.A. Psychology, 1999, Stanford University



Clair, J.A., Humberd, B.K., Caruso, H.M., & Morgan Roberts, L. Marginal memberships: Psychological effects of identity ambiguity on professionals who are demographically different from the majority. Organizational Psychology Review, 2, 71–93 (2012).

Greer, L.L., Caruso, H.M., & Jehn, K.A. The bigger they are, the harder they fall: Linking team power, conflict, congruence, and team performance. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 116, 116–128 (2011).

Caruso, H. M. , Rogers, T., & Bazerman, M.H. Boundaries need not be barriers: Leading collaboration among groups in decentralized organizations. In T. Pittinsky (Ed.), Crossing the Divide: Intergroup Leadership in a World of Difference. Boston: Harvard Business School Press (2009).

Caruso, H. M., & Woolley, A. W. Harnessing the power of emergent interdependence to promote diverse team collaboration. In E. A. Mannix, M. A. Neale (Series Eds.), & K. W. Phillips (Vol. Ed.), Research on managing groups and teams: Vol. 11. Diversity and groups. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press (2008).

Polzer, J. T., & Caruso, H. M. Identity negotiation amidst diversity: Understanding the influences of social identity and status. In A. Brief (Ed.), Diversity at work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2008).

It’s Not Just What You Say or How You Say It

Warren Olney and assistant dean of equity, diversity and inclusion Heather Caruso discuss how listening to understand is the key to averting conflicts, particularly among people of different backgrounds and cultures.

Featuring:  Heather Caruso, Assistant Dean, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; Adjunct Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations and Behavioral Decision Making