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Poole received his BA in Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1973, his MA in Communication at the Michigan State University in 1976, and back at the University of Wisconsin-Madison his PhD in Communication Arts in 1980 with a minor in Management. 
Poole started his academic career in 1979 as assistant professor in the Department of Speech Communication of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 1985 he moved to the University of Minnesota, where he started as assistant professor, became associate professor in 1987, and professor at the Department of Speech-Communication from 1991 to 1995. From 1989-1993 he was also adjunct professor at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Policy of the University of Minnesota. In 1995 he moved to the Texas A&M University, where he was professor of communication from 1995 to 2006, and also professor of information and operations management from 2001 to 2006. In 2006 he returned to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as professor of communication and senior research scientist in the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.
Poole authored and co-authored many publications. Books, a selection:
- Marshall Scott Poole, Andrew H. Van de Ven, and Kevin Dooley (2000) Organizational Change and Innovation Processes: Theory and Methods for Research. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Marshall Scott Poole and Andrew H. Van de Ven (eds.) (2004) Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation. New York: Oxford University Press.
Articles, a selection:
- DeSanctis, Gerardine, and Marshall Scott Poole. "Capturing the complexity in advanced technology use: Adaptive structuration theory[permanent dead link]." Organization science 5.2 (1994): 121-147.
- Van de Ven, Andrew H., and Marshall Scott Poole. "Explaining development and change in organizations." Academy of management review 20.3 (1995): 510-540.
- Van de Ven, Andrew H., Harold L. Angle, and Marshall Scott Poole, eds. Research on the management of innovation: The Minnesota studies. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
- Marshall Scott Poole at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign