Michael Earl is Emeritus Professor of Information Management and Honorary Fellow of Green Templeton College and of Harris Manchester College.
Michael’s expertise is in the management of IT and strategic management. His current and recent work has been on IT in post-merger integration and on rethinking information as a strategic resource.
Michael’s research and teaching have been mainly in the strategic management of IT and of Information. It has been based mostly on fieldwork in large organisations and he has a leaning towards evidence-based research: what really works in strategic management of IT, and on how policies and practices can be improved. This work not only has led to high citation counts but also to the adoption of adjusted policies and practices in businesses – plus advisory work with CIOs, CEOs and CFOs. Michael’s prior significant work has been on information systems strategic planning, leadership roles in information management, international management and the deployment of IT, and non-technological forms of information processing.
Michael has held a series of leadership posts in academe. Most recently, he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Development and External affairs) at Oxford, responsible particularly for overseeing most of the active phase of Oxford’s £1.3bn fundraising campaign, “Oxford Thinking”. Prior to that, as Dean of Templeton College, Oxford, and working with the late Anthony Hopwood, Dean of Saïd Business School, he led the restructuring of business management studies in Oxford. This involved redesigning the role of Templeton College and creating one integrated Oxford business school, Saïd Business School. This was followed by initiating and driving the first-ever merger of Oxford colleges, namely of Templeton College and Green College to form Green Templeton College.
Michael returned to Oxford in 2002 from London Business School where he was Professor of Information Management and variously Chair of the Strategic and International Management Group, Director of the Centre for Research in Information Management, Deputy Principal, and Acting Principal. During this time he also coordinated all the e-business activities of the School and LBS was ranked Number One in the world for e-business.
From 1976 to 2000, Michael had his first spell at Oxford and was much involved in pioneering undergraduate teaching of management studies. He also created and directed the Oxford Institute of Information Management, a leading research group working on the management, application and impact of IT.
Michael was Visiting Professor at The Stockholm School of Economics for several years and also has taught for INSEAD, Harvard, MIT and Columbia among others.
Michael has a BA Hons from Newcastle University, an MA from Oxford University and an MSc from Warwick University.
Michael’s research has been based mostly on fieldwork in large organisations and he has a leaning towards evidence-based research: what really works in strategic management of IT, and on how policies and practices can be improved. For example, his research on IT strategy formulation cast doubt on formal and technocratic methods and suggested that participative team-based methods within the business were superior. Likewise his research on knowledge management, while recognising the potential of data-, system- and process-based investments in knowledge creation, sharing and use of knowledge, indicated that design of social spaces and embracing knowledge as a strategic thrust paid off handsomely. This ‘putting the business and organisation into IT’ mindset was seen to be beneficial in a cross-cultural study of IT management practices and also in his several studies of the role of CIO (Chief Information Officer). This work not only has led to high citation counts for his publications but also to the adoption of adjusted policies and practices in businesses – plus advisory work with CIOs, CEOs and CFOs.
IT in Mergers and Acquisitions (with Bushra Khan, Research Associate, Green Templeton College, Oxford)
It is recognised that many mergers fail and that often it is post-merger integration that is most demanding – and where things go wrong. The decision on whether to integrate IT and information systems, and how, is crucial and frequently goes wrong to costly effect. From case study research across different sectors, four different IT integration strategies were derived and these are driven by the particular strategic intent of the merger and the IT infrastructure choices made. There is no one best strategy; the choice is situation-dependent. However, each strategy should be managed differently.
Information Strategy (with Jeff Sampler, Adjunct Professor at CEIBS)
The ever-decreasing cost of data storage and processing, the ever-increasing realisation that information rather than IT is a valuable source of competitive advantage, and new concepts like ‘big data’ suggest that organisations need strategies for information. This research project is developing ways of conceptualising and pursuing how information can create value in business.
Michael consults for large, multinational organisations on business strategy and on IT strategy, governance and leadership. He has been a non-executive director for oil companies and for a property company and has served on Advisory Boards for IT companies. He has been on a government task force for e-commerce and speaks at or chairs business conferences around the world.
Currently, Michael is helping in the organisation and design of the annual Emerging Markets Symposium at Green Templeton College, Oxford (with Ian Scott, Associate Fellow of Green Templeton). He also mentors CIOs, CFOs and CEOs. He is involved in working in the arts and charity sectors.
Michael has appeared on radio and TV on matters to do with IT and IS and he writes occasional articles for the serious press. As well as papers in scholarly journals, he has written several articles in impact journals, such as Harvard Business Review and Sloan Management Review. He is a past winner of the Society of Information Management case study research paper (with J Sampler and J Cross) and was winner of two teaching awards while at LBS.
Michael has designed and directs the CIO Academy, a joint Saïd Business School-Gartner Group programme. This is a programme on strategy and leadership for Chief Information Officers which has been running for 10 years. Michael teaches sessions on the new digital context and on success factors for CIOs.
He has also designed and directs the CEO Leadership Programme, a one-week programme for CEOs from around the world sponsored by CEO Organisation. Its focus is on 21st century challenges and life as a CEO and beyond.
Michael’s style is presentational with collective discussion interludes; he also employs case study teaching – typically nowadays using very short mini-cases. He has written business case studies for Oxford, LBS, Harvard and INSEAD.
Previously, Michael has taught on the EMBA, the DPhil Programme, on undergraduate courses and extensively on open and company-specific executive education programmes.
Saïd Business School
University of Oxford