Professor Michael Fischer is a Visiting Scholar and was previously a senior research fellow at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. He is Research Professor in Organisational Behaviour and Leadership at Australian Catholic University, and an Associate and Programme Director at Melbourne Business School. He holds a PhD in organisational behaviour from Imperial College London, University of London.
Trained as a business school social scientist and clinical group analyst, his research has a strong empirical focus on the practice-level microsociology of organisational change in research-intensive settings, especially in healthcare. He specialises in ethnographic and comparative case studies, analysing intersubjective relations, emotions and power, and their potential to mobilise organisational change. He has a particular interest in executive education and the role of business schools in a rapidly developing knowledge economy.
Michael’s research is published in leading international journals in the Financial Times 'top 50' and Chartered Association of Business School 4* lists, including Accounting Organizations and Society, Human Relations, Organization Studies, Public Administration, and Social Science and Medicine. He has led major competitive research grants as principal and co-investigator, including funding by the National Institute of Health Research, the University of Oxford and King’s College London. In his research at the University of Oxford, he conducted a longitudinal study of global leadership development focused on Saïd Business School’s flagship leadership programmes: High Performance Leadership and the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme.
His international career in public services focuses mainly in the healthcare sector where he has held senior clinical, managerial and policy adviser roles. Before joining academia, Michael had an accomplished career as a Lead Consultant Psychotherapist in leading teaching hospitals in Manchester, Liverpool and London, most recently at St Thomas' Hospital, London. He is a noted expert in the group and intersubjective relations that influence contemporary organisations and can powerfully mobilise organisational change.
He is an elected member of several international learned societies, including Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He is also an active member of the Academy of Management, the European Group for Organizational Studies, and a Life Member of Oxford University Anthropological Society.
Professor Michael Fischer is a highly active researcher with a strong focus on practice-level processes of organisational change, especially in research-intensive settings. His research draws on sociomaterial perspectives to analyse dynamics of influence and change in complex organisations. By focusing on the 'backstage' work of everyday emotions, affect and politics, he analyses their effects in mobilising ideas, material practices and technologies that can dynamically stimulate major organisational change.
In his original ethnographic research at Imperial College London, he examined a Government healthcare policy from inception to its implementation and subsequent collapse. The policy’s increasing formal risk management systems had unintended consequences on organisational life, undermining organisational functioning and leading to policy collapse. He later investigated the impact of professional regulation on healthcare professionals, analysing how embedded practices of self-regulation may be undermined by regulatory transparency, performance metrics and sanctions. His research highlights the role of supportive 'formative spaces' and forms of self-regulation which may be more effective in supporting good practice. His related publications include:
Fischer, M.D., & McGivern, G. (2016). Affective overflows in clinical riskwork. In Power, M. (ed.) Riskwork: Essays on the organizational life of risk management. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/riskwork-9780198753223.do
Fischer. M. D., and Ferlie, E. (2013). Resisting hybridisation between modes of clinical risk management: Contradiction, contest, and the production of intractable conflict. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 38(1): 30-49. http://doi:10.1016/j.aos.2012.11.002.
Fischer, M. D., (2012). Organizational turbulence, trouble and trauma: Theorising the collapse of a mental health setting. Organization Studies, 33(9): 1153-1173. http://doi:10.1177/0170840612448155.
McGivern, G., & Fischer M. D. (2012). Reactivity and reactions to regulatory transparency in medicine, psychotherapy and counselling. Social Science and Medicine, 74(3): 289-296. http://doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.09.035.
In his related second research theme, Michael examines how micro-sociological dynamics operate to produce effective knowledge leadership. His longitudinal research on organisational leadership provides an in-depth analysis of how leaders interpret and 're-assemble' ideas, techniques and materials, and utilise these in their leadership practices. Through a series of longitudinal case studies focused on research-intensive settings, he has analysed how the most effective leadership practices assemble and mobilise organisational change. This research has been published in the following publications, along with a forthcoming research monograph published by Oxford University Press.
Fischer, M. D., Dopson, S., Fitzgerald, L., Bennett, C., Ferlie, E., Ledger, J., & McGivern, G. (2016). Knowledge leadership: Mobilising management research by becoming the knowledge object. Human Relations, 69(7): 1563-1585. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0018726715619686.
Ferlie, E., Ledger, J., Dopson, S., Fischer, M.D., Fitzgerald, L., McGivern, G., Bennett, C., (2016). The political economy of management knowledge: Management texts in English health care organizations. Public Administration, 94(1): 185-203. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/padm.12221.
McGivern, G., Dopson, S., Ferlie, E., Fischer, M.D., Ledger, J., Bennett, C., and Fitzgerald, L. (2016). 'Epistemic fit' and the mobilization of management knowledge in healthcare. In Swan et al. (eds) Mobilizing knowledge in healthcare: Challenges for management and organization. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/mobilizing-knowledge-in-healthcare-9780198738237.do
Professor Fischer’s international career in public services has a track record of engagement with policymakers, senior managers and clinical leaders in the healthcare industry. With an enduring passion for translating academic research into real-world impact, his engagement work has a particular focus on the role of Academic Health Science organisations in transforming healthcare.
He has worked as an expert advisor with healthcare, financial services, management consultancies, higher education and not-for-profit organisations. His research into the unintended effects of healthcare regulation has gained international recognition, influencing policymakers and regulators in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.
Professor Fischer’s teaching specialises in senior leadership development and organisational change. As a highly experienced group analyst, psychoanalytic psychotherapist and executive coach, he is an accomplished teacher and facilitator of personal and organisational development. He has extensive experience designing and delivering executive education and postgraduate programmes in the UK and Australia.
Michael’s approach to teaching is strongly evidenced by his longitudinal ethnographic study of High Performance Leadership and the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme over a period of two years. In his in-depth study, based on approximately 500 hours of observation, 200 interviews, and six years’ of archive data, Michael and his team analysed at first hand how personal aspects of leadership develop before, during and after such programmes.
Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
Park End Street