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Deborah Ellen Gibbons

Associate Professor

Phone: (831) 656-1842


Deborah E. Gibbons holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Washington, and master’s and doctoral degrees in organizational behavior and theory, with a statistics minor, from Carnegie Mellon University. As an associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, she teaches organizational analysis, team-building, leadership, intercultural collaboration, and a variety of managerial topics. She specializes in integration of social psychological principles with data analysis and system modeling. Her research addresses networks that support collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and community-building; humanitarian aid and disaster response; concurrent effects of personality and social context on cognition and behavior; and diffusion of information, attitudes, and behaviors in multi-cultural environments.

Deborah’s theoretical research involving network evolution, function, and overall performance appears primarily in organizational journals (e.g., Administrative Science Quarterly and Academy of Management Journal) and psychology journals (e.g., Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Applied Social Psychology). Her practical work appears mainly in books. She works with military, humanitarian aid, and public health organizations to identify strengths and weaknesses in communication and coordination networks, then strategize appropriate interventions. She has partnered with colleagues from Latin American countries to develop curricula for UN peacekeepers on protection of civilians and on integration and protection of women during peacekeeping.

At present, Deborah is developing a series of case studies with the theme, Feet on the Ground: Humanitarian Work across Cultures. These cases offer first-person accounts from aid workers, peacekeepers, and local people who collaborate in pursuit of humanitarian and peace-building goals. Complementing her field research, she has developed agent-based models that apply to disaster response, diffusion of innovations, public health crises, collaboration within organizations, and the stabilization and reconstruction processes that occur during and after governmental or natural crises. The most recent of these models address the design of communication networks for rapid response during emergencies.
  • PhD - Carnegie Mellon University 1996
    Major: Organizational Behavior and Theory
NPS Experience
  • 2004 - current: Associate Professor
Other Experience
  • 1997 - 2004 Assistant professor of Management, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia
  • 1994 - 1997 Instructor, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Research Interests
Socio-cultural effects on attitudes and behaviors
Social psychology and networks
Inter-organizational networks that support collaboration, knowledge-sharing, community-building, and disaster response
Leadership and communication during humanitarian crises and peacekeeping
Diffusion of innovations
Integration of women in military organizations
Concurrent effects of personality and social context on individual cognition and behavior
Teaching Interests
Organizational behavior and theory
Design and leadership of groups and teams
Negotiation and consensus building
Intercultural leadership
Crisis management and humanitarian aid
Protection of civilians during military operations


  • 2001 - Fulbright Faculty Exchange, Cairo, Egypt

Boards, Memberships, & Certifications

Professional Memberships
  • 2009 Editorial Board Member, International Public Management Journal

Scholarly Work

  • Book Chapters
  • Gibbons, D. E., Nelson, A. E., & Suchan, J. E, (2017). Integrating Men and Women within Naval Special Warfare Combat Teams.
  • Gibbons, D. E., & Zolin, R, (2015). Studying relationships in project management through social network analysis. Gower.
  • Zolin, R., & Gibbons, D. E, (2015). Studying trust relationships using social network analysis. Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Gibbons, D. E, (2014). Foundations for Cross-Cultural Success.
  • Conference Proceedings
  • Aros, S. K., & Gibbons, D. E, (2018). Developing an Agent-based Simulation Model of the Use of Different Communication Technologies in Inter-Organizational Disaster Response Coordination.
  • Gibbons, D. E., & Suchan, J. E, (2015). What Kinds of Message Frames Influence Sailors to Intervene to Prevent Sexual Assault?
  • Journal Articles
  • Gibbons, D. E., & Baho, S. M, Building Skills to Integrate, Protect, and Empower Women during Peacekeeping. Journal of Business Diversity.
  • Aros, S. K., & Gibbons, D. E, Exploring communication media options in an inter-organizational disaster response coordination network using agent-based simulation. European Journal of Operational Research.
  • Thomas, G. F., Gibbons, D. E., & Baho, S. M, (2022). Prevention is better than the cure: The development of gray-zone situational judgment tests to deter sex and gender discrimination. Military Behavioral Health, 4(10), 368-378.
  • Gibbons, D. E., & Freeman, M. E, (2022). Decision-making challenges: Group dynamics and boundary spanning in the CyberStrike game. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 1-13.
  • Zolin, R., & Gibbons, D. E, (2014). How Emergent Roles and Structures Create Trust in Hastily Formed Interorganizational Teams. SAGE Open, 2(4), 2158244014533555.
  • Research Reports
  • Gibbons, D. E., & Aros, S. K, (2015). Communication Structures and Processes Among Responding Agencies During Disaster Response Operations.
  • Gibbons, D. E., & Nelson, A. E, (2015). In Their Voices: Integrating Men and Women within Naval Special Warfare Teams.
  • Suchan, J. E., & Gibbons, D. E, (2015). Bystander Intervention Messages: Framing Strategies for U.S. Navy Communities.
  • Lectures
  • Gibbons, D. E., Seminario "Mujer, Paz y Seguridad", "Several sessions on skill-building for peacekeepers," SOUTHCOM, ENOPU, Uruguay. (July 28, 2017).
  • Oral Presentations
  • Gibbons, D. E., WIMCON 2017, "Women's Roles in Peacekeeping (Panel Discussion)," SOUTHCOM, Guatemala. (July 1, 2017).
  • Gibbons, D. E., 2017 Navy FAO/Joint FAO Phase II Course, "Conflict Resolution: Small Group Dynamics," SOUTHCOM, SOUTHCOM Headquarters, FL. (May 1, 2017).
  • Gibbons, D. E., Chilean Ministry of Defense: Women, Peace, and Security, "Skill-building for WPS in Peacekeeping". (July 1, 2016).
  • Gibbons, D. E.,& Aros, S. K., Intra-organizational Networks Conference, "FEMA's Resource Mobilization Network," University of Kentucky. (April 1, 2016).
  • Papers
  • Aros, S. K.,& Gibbons, D. E., Winter Simulation Conference, "Developing an Agent-based Simulation Model of the Use of Different Communication Technologies in Inter-Organizational Disaster Response Coordination," Sweden. (December 1, 2018).
  • Aros, S. K. (Author & Presenter), & Gibbons, D. E. (Author), Production and Operations Management, "Exploring Communication Media Options in an Inter-Organizational Disaster Response Coordination Network using Agent-Based Simulation". (May 5, 2017).