Sue Dopson

Sue Dopson

Rhodes Trust Professor of Organisational Behaviour

Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
Park End Street


Sue Dopson is the Academic Director of the Oxford Diploma in Organisational Leadership, a Fellow of Green Templeton College, Oxford, and Visiting Professor at the University of Alberta, Canada. 

    She is a noted specialist on the personal and organisational dimensions of leadership and transformational change.

    Sue’s research centres on transformational change and knowledge exchange in the public and healthcare sectors. She has written and edited many major works on this topic and her research has informed and influenced government bodies such as the Department of Health and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in their thinking on areas such as the dissemination of clinical evidence into practice, medical leadership and the role of the support worker in the NHS. She currently represents the University of Oxford as Non-Executive Director of the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

    Sue formerly worked as a personnel manager in the NHS before pursuing a research and academic career.

    She has a BSc in sociology, MSc in sociology with special reference to medicine MA (Oxon) and a PhD studying the introduction of general management into the NHS.


    • Personal and organisational dimensions of leadership
    • Transformational change
    • Networks
    • Healthcare studies and clinical leadership
    • Implementation of innovation
    • Evidence-based management
    • Leadership Coaching Practice


    Sue’s research lies in the area of innovation, change and healthcare studies. She has led a number of research projects in the health service sector.

    These include the evaluation of work aimed at improving clinical effectiveness, exploring evidence-based medicine, developing the skills of healthcare managers, and investigating the changing role of healthcare assistants within the NHS workforce. 

    Sue investigates the ways in which clinical practice is shaped by medical research. While the publication of government guidelines is intended to direct clinicians on how best to implement research findings, Sue and her colleagues have established that, in practice, the situation is more complex. Clinicians are, for example, highly influenced by other factors such as their personal experience and the experience and knowledge of their colleagues. Sue’s research has highlighted to the Department of Health and NICE the complexities of supporting clinicians as new research evidence is transferred to practice. Issuing guidelines is not, in itself, enough.

    Two key areas of research:

    • Knowledge transfer in healthcare management
    • Changing role of healthcare support workers

    View Sue's research.


    My research is centred on the challenge of changing knowledge into practice.

    Sue Dopson


    Sue’s research on organisational strategy and knowledge transfer within the healthcare sector informs government policy and practice.

    Her studies of the barriers and facilitators to the dissemination of research evidence to healthcare professionals have influenced the way the Department of Health seeks to inform clinicians of changes in practice. Sue's research into the increasing responsibility of Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) has highlighted the need for appropriate training programmes and informed the debate on HCA registration. These issues have been much reported in the press, particularly the nursing press. Sue is an Adviser to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and is a Non-Executive Director of the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

    Her expertise in organisational strategy and executive education has made her a valued adviser to organisations and companies, including the Department of Health, Roche Pharmaceuticals, the Royal Mail, and clients in the Middle East. She has developed customer-driven programmes and undertaken international consultancy tasks.

    She is the author of many major works on the topic of transformational change in the public and healthcare sectors. 'From Knowledge to Action? Evidence Based Medicine in Context' (co-authored with Louise Fitzgerald; 2005, Oxford University Press) was recommended for the 2007 Medical Society Prize. 

    Sue is frequently invited to present papers at international conferences and sits on the international editorial boards of a number of academic journals, most notably Leadership and Public Management.


    Sue is committed to executive education and she is heavily engaged in teaching, tutoring and coaching at all levels.

    Her teaching includes undergraduate and postgraduate courses as well as the MBA and EMBA courses and the Oxford Diploma in Organisational Leadership.

    Coaching and its impact on leadership performance is a particular interest and Sue, who chairs the coaching committee at Saїd Business School, is working with colleagues to evolve an Oxford style of coaching. She is a strong advocate of the benefits of providing executives with the space to examine the leadership challenges of their jobs and sits on the advisory board of the acclaimed Consulting and Coaching for Change course, which equips senior executives to deal with change in organisations and the challenges that poses for individuals. 
    In teaching, Sue's approach is to start with an overview of what is known, discuss her own research in the area and, where possible, build on the expertise in the room. "The power of questions is very important to me", she says. "Questions are immensely important in sharing knowledge and sharing learning, as I’ve learned from coaching." 

    Sue teaches on a range of topics, including: culture, change, leadership, decision making, motivation, working in teams, power and influence, and negotiation.

    She teaches on the following courses:

    • Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme
    • Oxford High Performance Leadership Programme
    • Consulting and Coaching for Change
    • Oxford Transition to Leadership Programme
    • Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Programme
    • Women Transforming Leadership