Workforce Science Project

The Workforce Science Project examines the emerging field that is at the intersection of Big Data and the academic study of the workforce. The rapid expansion of workforce science is driven by the ever-increasing proportion of corporate value that consists of human capital and by the emergence of "Big Data," which is poised to increase dramatically the accuracy of human capital measurement.

Better human capital measurement will have four major consequences. First, human resource management (HRM) will become more data-driven, just as financial and operations management are today. The increased use of data will improve the quality of human capital metrics, helping companies develop better HRM practices. Second, as new metrics become available, firms will begin to disclose human capital metrics in financial reporting. Financial markets will then accelerate improvements in HRM by focusing managerial attention on preserving and increasing human capital. Third, better human capital measurement will reduce some of the social problems caused by current labor market imperfections. Fourth, better workforce science will provide a foundation for improvements in the legal regime governing human resources. The regulation of the employment relationship today is often based on unsubstantiated assumptions. In the future, the legal system will be able to incorporate more evidence about the effects of various HRM practices.

The goal of the Project is to promote this four-pronged evolution by sponsoring and disseminating research through business-academic collaboration and by encouraging dialogue on policy issues through conferences that include regulatory groups and stakeholders. Because the areas touched by the growth of workforce science are wide-ranging, the Project draws on experts in different disciplines including economics, psychology, management, and the law.

A critical element of WSP is collaborative research, conducted on a non-profit basis, between academics and business partners using data supplied by partners. Our process is designed to produce useful analysis for business partners. Typically this research results in academic publication, with extensive safeguards for the confidentiality concerns of business partners. Businesses and other organizations interested in research collaboration should contact Deborah M. Weiss.

This project is under the direction of Deborah M. Weiss, Director, Workforce Science Project.

Please read more about "How workforce science can help workers (and firms, too!)"


We strongly encourage all organizations interested in human resources to become involved in the efforts to create international standards for Human Resource Management (HRM). These standards are currently in development under the auspices of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and have been designated ISO TC 260. Please see the following link for instructions for further involvement.

Membership in ISO 260 HRM Standards Setting Group

Workforce Science Fellows

  • Laurie Bassi, CEO, McBassi & Company
  • Nicola Bianchi, Assistant Professor of Strategy, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
  • Dean Carter, Vice President of Human Resources and Shared Services, Patagonia
  • David M. Condon, Assistant Professor in Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Michael Housman, Worforce Scientist in Residence, hiQ Labs
  • Jörg L. Spenkuch, Assistant Professor of Managerial Economics & Decision Sciences, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University


Research Roundtable on Workforce Science
November 2, 2013

Leadership Roundtable on Talent Analytics and Workforce Science
October 23-24, 2014

Research Roundtable on Women in the Workplace: Perspectives from the Academic and Corporate World
March 12-13, 2015

Second Annual Leadership Roundatble on Talent Analytics and Workforce Science II
October 1-2, 2015

Third Annual Leadership Roundatble on Talent Analytics and Workforce Science III
November 17-18, 2016