Tom Lawrence

Professor of Strategic Management

Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
Park End Street


Tom's areas of expertise include strategic management, organisational change, social innovation, institutional theory, and social change.

He is a leader in developing research strategy and organisation theory that integrates cultural understandings of organisations, industries and fields with a concern for the role of individuals and organisations in creating change. This work has appeared in the leading organisation and strategy journals, including Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Organization Studies, Journal of Management Studies, Human Relations, and the Journal of Management. He is also a co-editor of the Sage Handbook of Organization Studies, Second Edition, Institutional Work: Actors and Agency in Institutional Studies of Organizations, and the Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, Second Edition.

Before joining Saïd Business School, Tom was the W. J. VanDusen Professor of Management at the Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University. Prior to that, Tom held permanent or visiting positions at the University of Victoria, University of British Columbia, Cambridge University, McGill University, St. Andrews University, and Chulalongkorn University. He received his PhD in organisational analysis and BComm in finance from the University of Alberta.


  • Strategic management
  • Institutional theory
  • Social innovation
  • Power and politics in organisations
  • Language and culture in organisations

Read Tom's CV.


Tom’s research focuses on how organisations and individuals effect major change in highly contested domains. Examples of these domains include healthcare, the natural environment, addiction and homelessness.

His work examines how change and innovation results from the interplay of politics, language and social networks. In particular, Tom’s research shows the importance of social institutions - widely held beliefs and values - in both facilitating and constraining social innovation and change.


  • Emilio Marti,
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  • Nelson Phillips
  • Annmarie Ryan,
  • Susi Geiger,
  • Helen Haugh,
  • Oana Branzei,
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  • Tim Cresswell,
  • Alastair Anderson,
  • Sarah Jack,
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Tom Lawrence has been studying and teaching change and innovation for more than twenty years, with a particular emphasis on social innovation.

At the Beedie School of Business, Tom was the founding Director of the CMA Centre for Innovation, which conducted research on social, technological and organisational innovation. The Centre for Innovation supported research on social innovation in areas including corporate environmental responsibility, Aboriginal education, housing, addictions treatment, public health, and Aboriginal entrepreneurship. It launched the CMA Centre Social Innovation Case Competition for SFU undergraduate students, and supported the injection of social innovation into the Beedie School of Business curriculum.

Tom’s research has focused on social innovation in highly contested domains. In particular, he has examined the roles of power, language and institutions in fostering social change in domains such as HIV/AIDS treatment, ecotourism, drug policy, refugee systems, coastal forestry, and indigenous entrepreneurship. This work has been published in the most prestigious academic and practitioner publications, including Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal and Academy of Management Review.

Tom’s engagement with change and innovation includes working with a wide range of private, public and voluntary sector organisations. Currently, he sits on the board of Mindset Foundation.


Tom teaches strategy, management, innovation and entrepreneurship on MBA, Executive MBA, PhD and Executive Education programmes.

His aim is always to foster strategic thinking, so that students are better able to make complex organisational decisions and engage in effective strategic action.

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