Mary Rowe


Mary Rowe

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Mary P. Rowe is an Adjunct Professor of Negotiation and Conflict Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management and taught these topics for twenty years. She served for almost 42 years as an organizational ombuds reporting directly to five presidents of MIT. As a conflict management specialist and an expert in interpersonal negotiations, Rowe hears from hundreds of people a year about serious conflicts and concerns; she consults widely to corporations, academic institutions, and government agencies.

Rowe’s research and publications encompass a variety of topics encountered in her career—ranging from the role and work of an organizational ombuds to harassment, micro-affirmations, and bystanders. If you are interested in a particular article or topic in Rowe's publications, click here.

Her research interests include the different kinds of power that are used in interpersonal negotiations; harassment; dispute resolution system design; and coping with difficult people and unacceptable behavior. She is especially interested in the role of bystanders and the “bystanders of bystanders” in helping to affirm professional and productive behavior within organizations, and in the power of micro-affirmations to mitigate and even help to prevent the damage caused by micro-inequities of all kinds. Her current writing focuses on providing options for people to have a voice about their concerns and good ideas.

Rowe holds a BA in history/international relations from Swarthmore College and a PhD in economics from Columbia University. 

To learn more about Rowe’s work and writing, read her more detailed Research and Publications biography.


Journal honors Rowe with special issue

November 7, 2023


"A Nobel Prize Winner’s Life of Mentoring."

Rowe, Mary. The Chronicle of Evidence-based Mentoring, July 8, 2023.

"Becoming an Ombuds at MIT."

Rowe, Mary. Conflict Resolution Quarterly Vol. 40, No. 4 (2023): 497-504.

"BELONGING: The Feeling That We 'Belong' May Depend in Part on 'Affirmations'."

Rowe, Mary. Journal of the International Ombudsman Association Vol. 16, No. 2 (2023): 1-7.

"Consider Generic Options When Complainants and Bystanders Are Fearful."

Rowe, Mary. Journal of the International Ombudsman Association Vol. 16, No. 2 (2023): 1-7. Download Preprint.

"“Drafting a Letter” for People Dealing with Harassment or Bullying."

Rowe, Mary. Journal of the International Ombuds Association Vol. 16, No. 2 (2023): 1-17.

"Helping Hesitant Bystanders Identify Their Options: A Checklist with Examples and Ideas to Consider."

Rowe, Mary. Journal of the International Ombudsman Association Vol. 16, No. 2 (2023): 1-12. Download Preprint.

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Recent Insights


Mary Rowe’s 50 Years of Service to MIT and the Organizational Ombuds Profession

2023 has been a noteworthy year for MIT Sloan Adjunct Professor Mary P. Rowe. Among other milestones, the year has marked the 50th anniversary of Rowe's coming to work at MIT as the “Special Assistant to the President and Chancellor for Women and Work”—a role that soon evolved into being an early organizational ombuds, listening to all kinds of workplace concerns, from both men and women, throughout the Institute. Also in 2023, the Journal of the International Ombuds Association announced a special issue in honor of Rowe’s work.

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Journal Plans Special Issue Honoring Mary Rowe’s Contributions to Ombuds Field

The Journal of the International Ombuds Association (JIOA) has announced plans for a special issue focused on the scholarly contributions of MIT Sloan Adjunct Professor Mary P. Rowe and their impact on our understanding of the ombuds profession.

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