Prof. Zeynep Aycan

Founder and prıncıpal Investıgator

Zeynep Aycan is the Koç Holding Chair of Management and Strategy. She is a Professor with dual appointments in the Department of Psychology and School of Management of Koç University. She is the former Graduate Dean directing MA and Ph.D. programs in social sciences and humanities. Aycan received her Ph.D. at Queen’s University and conducted postdoctoral studies at McGill University. Her research focuses on leadership, cross-cultural management, and work-life balance. She has published 6 books and more than 85 book chapters and research articles in journals such as Journal of Applied Psychology, Science, Annual Review of Psychology, Journal of International Business Studies, and Human Relations.
Aycan has visited Harvard University, Aston University (UK), Oxford European School of Management (UK), Bordeaux University (France), Tartu School of Management (Estonia), and Renmin University of China as a scholar or lecturer.

Among the awards and recognitions Aycan received, the followings are the most notable:

o TUBITAK Science Award
o Best Book Award in Management and Leadership, Chartered Management Institute (CMI)
o American Psychological Association Ursula Gielen Global Psychology Book Award
o Outstanding Young Scholar Award, the World Economic Forum, Interacademy Panel
o Outstanding Young Scholar Award, Turkish Academy of Sciences
o Best Paper Award, Applied Psychology: An International Review
o Alumni Member, Global Young Academy
o Research Fellow, Center for Global Workforce Strategy, Simon Fraser University
o Outstanding Faculty Award, Koç University, CSSH
o Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Award (co-recipient)
o Outstanding Teaching Award, Renmin University of China
o Elected Fellow, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)
o Elected Fellow, Association for Psychological Sciences (APS)

Artwork by Nancy J Adler ©     

Graduate Students


Muaz Özcan

PhD Candidate

Hi! I am a doctoral candidate in Social/Industrial and Organizational Psychology at Koç University Graduate School of Social Sciences.
My research interests are broadly about agentic and social cognitive perspectives on leadership emergence. Specifically, I investigate how perceived similarity with existing leaders and the perceived fit with shared leadership structures in various collectives and settings are associated with followers’ motivations and worries about their prospects of becoming future leaders (perceiving the self as fitting for leadership).

“People want an authority to tell them how to value things, but they choose this authority not based on facts or results. They choose it because it seems authoritative and familiar.’
— Michael Burry


Yasemin Paçacı

PhD Candidate

Hello everyone! I am a PhD Candidate in the Management and Strategy department at Koç University. I have a bachelor’s degree from Yeditepe University with a major in Business Administration and a minor in Economics. I completed my master’s thesis on “Effect of Trust and Justice on Contextual Performance” at Marmara University, during which I worked as an assistant for three years. My research interests include mindfulness, change management, and well-being in the workplace. To me, leadership is not about holding power but empowering others. I believe that everyone should be mindful of their strength and be their self-leader in our ever-changing world.

In line with this idea, I would like to share my favorite quote from our greatest leader to all future leaders of the world:

“Muhtaç olduğun kudret damarlarındaki asil kanda mevcuttur.”

“The power you need is in the noble blood in your vessels.”


Dilem Cinli

PhD Student​

Hello! I am Dilem, a PhD student of Organizational Psychology at Koç University. I have a bachelor’s degree from Middle East Technical University with a major in Psychology and a
minor in Business Administration. I obtained my master’s degree in Social and Organizational Psychology from Koç University. After one-year experience in corporate experience in Human Resources, I decided to come back to university as a doctoral student. My current research interests include environmental leadership, and my favorite quote about leadership is:

“True leaders do not create followers, they create more leaders.”

– Ziad K. Abdelnour


Bahar Moralıgil Kağıtçıbaşı

PhD Student

Hi everyone! I am a Phd Student in the Management and Strategy department at Koç University. I have a bachelor’s degree from Istanbul Bilgi University with a double major in Business Administration and Media and Communication Systems. I started my career in Human Resources at UPS. Later, I continued my ten years of work experience in Deloitte and women empowerment networks, TurkishWIN and Wtech. Whether working as an HR Professional in corporate, managing a global community of women leaders at TurkishWIN or initiating a new network like Wtech, I was reminded again and again that the most important factor for success is an effective leadership. And this is exactly why I have an eager interest in conducting research on leadership to further explore this dynamic. My favorite quote about leadership is:

“A boss has the title, a leader has the people”

– Simon Sinek


Sevi Ceren Özdemir

PhD Student​

Hello there! I am a PhD student of Psychology at Koç University. I hold bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and International Finance from İstanbul Bilgi University, and a research master’s degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences with a minor in Social Psychology from Tilburg
University. I am curious about the effect of power on moral decision-making. It is often said that power corrupts. My goal is to further understand the said relationship between power and corruption, as well as the underlying mechanisms behind it.

I would like to end with a quote that I find to be quite relevant and encouraging:

“Nobody is as powerful as we make them out to be.”

– Alice Walker


Pelin Sürmeli

PhD Student

Hello visitor! I am Pelin, a PhD student of Management and Strategy at Koç University Graduate School of Business. I completed my MA at Boğaziçi University, Graduate School of Social Sciences where I conducted qualitative research on defining social impact assessment and sustainable local development. After 4 years of corporate experience, I had the chance to personally experience the ‘leadership crises’ within the traditional business models and its effects. I have a keen interest on sustainable decision-making and sustainable business models, and I hope to research on better, alternative business models with respect to the changed needs and goals of 21st century.

“Many are the strange chances of the world and help oft shall come from the hands of the weak when the wise falter.”

– J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion

Seyit Can Bahar

Seyit Can Bahar

MA Student

I graduated from Middle East Technical University. I’m a first year M.A. student in the field of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  Up to now, my research was focused on personality –specifically Big Five and Dark Triad- and its outcomes at workplace. In my academic career, I’m willing to study the interaction between Big Data and I/O psychology. I want to investigate possible ways to improve the methodological issues in I/O psychology with innovations provided by data science and informatics. When I think about leadership, the first thing that comes to my mind is innovation. I believe leaders are the ones who pursue new ways to improve their organizations. However, these new ways should be developed by analyzing current state of the organization and provide maximum utility to

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson


Ege Eskin

MA Student

I did my internship in LeadLab during my bachelor, then I graduated from Izmir University of Economics and I’m currently a MA student in Koç University. My research interest is about the approaches to leadership in different cultural contexts. I am also looking forward to study about the female role in the organizational world.

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

– Peter Drucker


Nihan Çaldır

MA Student

Hello everyone! I am an MA student in Clinical Psychology. I completed double-major in Psychology and Economics at Koç University as an undergraduate programme. I have a curiosity in behavioral science and motivation to understand human mind with its effects on relationships, responsibilities and life satisfaction. I am specifically interested in investigating the effect of family issues and problem-solving abilities on self-initiated leader emergence that includes the one’s motivation and worries about own leadership.

“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”

– William James

Undergraduate students

Hüseyin Tayyip Göktaş
Undergraduate Student  / Senior
Psychology & Business Administration
Koç University


Elif Selva Oruç
Undergraduate Student / Senior
Business Administration
İstanbul University

Çağlar Arı

Undergraduate Student / Senior
Psychology & Business Administration
Koç University



  • Mehmet Eskin
    (Prof. of Clinical Psychology, Koç University)
  • Taru Feldt
    (Prof. of Work and Organizational Psychology at University of Jyväskylä)
  • Arzu Karakulak
    (Ass. Prof. of Psychology at Bahçeşehir University)
  • Esra Ersayan
    (Lecturer at Koç University)
  • Mustafa Özbilgin
    (Prof. of Organisational Behaviour at Brunel University)



  • Elif Gizem Demirağ (PhD, 2022)  
  • Aybike Mutluer (PhD, 2022)  
  • Didar Zeytun (PhD)  
  • İlayda Arslan (MA, 2022)  
  • Çağdaş Kılıç (MA, 2022)  
  • Seniha Özden (PhD)  
  • Eyüp İlker Camgöz (MA, 2021)  
  • Malina Scheuer (MA, 2019)
  • Gülşah Kurt (PhD)
  • Salome Shelia (PhD, 2019)
  • Sena Arslan (MA, 2019)
  • Begüm Bilgin (MA, 2019)
  • Burçin Erarslan Başkurt (PhD, 2017)
  • Özlem Yürekli (MA, 2015)
  • Ceyda Kuvancı (MA, 2015)
  • Cemre Sandal (MA, 2015)


  • Ali Barbaros Küçüknane
  • Sinem Korkmaz
  • İlke Uysal
  • Buse Nur Caba
  • Zeynep Çobanoğlu
  • Faruk Yılmazlar
  • Ege Eskin
  • Elif Çisil İnan
  • Eda Kurtoğlu
  • Zeynep Özakay
  • Gülbey Balım Keskiner 
  • Bedriye Kuyumcu
  • Duygu Kızılkaya
  • Nesrin Naz Aydın
  • Özge Gezer
  • Özge Nur Yağlı
  • Ege Bıçaker
  • Beril Aydıngör

Artwork by Nancy J Adler ©

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