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Organisation Studies research

Research projects involving members of the Organisation Studies group include:

Global Leadership Challenges

In partnership with the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, this project explores what it takes to lead global corporations in complex and hyper-connected environments, and how leaders develop these competences. Initial results, based on interviews with over 150 CEOs from around the world were presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 2015, and published in the CEO Report (Tim Morris, Michael Smets et al.)

View the full CEO report.

Internationalisation and cross-border work in global law firms 

Using ethnographic and other qualitative methods, this project studies the personal, organisational and professional implications of cross-border work in global law firms. Focusing specifically on mergers between English and German law firms, this study explains mechanisms for the seamless integration of international professional collaboration, as well as its regulatory consequences across different fields of law. (Michael Smets, Tim Morris, Royston Greenwood (University of Alberta, School of Management))

Integrative Models of Service Delivery

The world over people are increasingly demanding more integrated, holistic services. For the worlds service organisations offering this integration is a fundamental challenge. In meeting this challenge these organisations are combining aspects of their services with those of other organisations, either in the same or different sectors (e.g. public, private, voluntary). This is being done either physically, through co-location, or virtually, through online platforms. These ‘service integrations’ are expected to change the way (or ‘mode’) that services are delivered to clients, customers, patients or students. This, in turn, is likely to influence the management and design of services, as well as the day-to-day work of professionals (Sue Dopson, Angela Aristidou)

Read more about this research project

Careers and innovation capacity in Professional Service Firms

This project studies changing careers structures in PSFs and their impact on firms' innovation capacity. Specifically, it explores how the introduction of new roles and promotion policies affects the time, energy and motivation staff have available to invest in innovation. Insights from this study help PSFs create a win-win situation for staff and management by leveraging positions introduced to address work-life balance concerns to enhance their innovation capacity. (Tim Morris, Namrata Malhotra (Imperial College Business School), Michael Smets)

Making wicked problems governable, the case of managed networks in health care

This National Institute of Health Research funded project investigates whether managed networks are an effective way of dealing with the sort of enduring, complex problems that are threatening to overwhelm health care. Several managed networks in different areas of health care were studied. Although they have a mixed record of success to date, the study draws conclusions about the important role that managed networks can play in health care governance. (Sue Dopson, Louise Fitzgerald, et al.) 

Facilitated patient feedback can improve the quality of nursing care

This study involves working with nurses to harness patient feedback effectively as a tool for improving the quality of nursing care. (David Barron)

Business and state relations in the nuclear waste industry

This study (funded within the Centre for Corporate Reputation) examines the changing perception of risk by owners, managers and other parties over the period from the mid-1990s to 2010. It considers how this changing perception of risk, triggered by a series of events both external and internal to the industry, affected decisions about the ownership structure of the industry, moving from planned privatisation to the existing owner-operator model. (Tim Morris & Namrata Malhotra (Imperial College Business School))

Responding to trauma at work

The research in this area examines the some of the processes that enable recovery, resilience and sometimes even growth in the face of traumatic and other highly adverse experiences at work. For example, one study investigates musicians and dancers who have experienced a traumatic injury that prevents them from pursuing their life’s work. Gathering data through repeated narrative interviews, this research explores how individuals’ understandings of themselves and their work changes following injury and over time, and identifies the sensemaking and relational processes through which they can recover and grow (Sally Maitlis). Another study investigates how front line employees make sense of and respond to challenges that they encounter in their day-to-day work, revealing the importance of how individuals interpret and enact these challenges for the development of a sustainable or depleting work life (Sally Maitlis and Kira Schabram (University of British Columbia, Canada)).

Emotional dynamics in organisational processes

Projects in this area investigate how emotions shape and are shaped by key organisational processes such as decision making, strategising, and sensemaking. Rather than treating emotion as a problematic force to be managed or eliminated, these studies highlight the many different roles emotion plays in organisations, and the often generative impact it can have on how work is done (Sally Maitlis and Feng Liu (St Mary’s University, Canada)). This research stream also includes collaborative work with scholars across North America on employees’ experiences of care and compassion in organisations, and the effects of these practices on individual, team, and organisational health and resilience (Sally Maitlis & other members of the Compassion Lab). 

Organisational behaviour in the cultural and creative industries

This body of research examines the experience of work for individuals, teams and at the organisational level in the arts and other creative sectors. Studies here include research with musicians (in orchestras and freelance), dancers, game studio teams, and film directors, amongst others (Sally Maitlis). 

Innovations in Organisational Capability and Design

This research explores linkages between strategy, organisational design and the development of distinctive organisational capabilities for sustained advantage in highly competitive industries. Using applied research frameworks and methods, our study seeks to synthesise new principles for organising work in cost, customer, collaboration and innovation intensive environments. A key focus is how organisations realise value through complementary investments in organisational structure, processes, culture and people (Jonathan Trevor, Scott Snell, Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia).

Strategic Human Resource Management

It is received wisdom in journals and boardrooms that the strategic management of human capital is critical to firm competitive advantage. However, aligning people to strategic objectives and securing high performance remains a critical challenge for many organisations. This research addresses potential barriers to aligning valuable human capital – employee effort, skills and behaviours - to strategic priorities. It attempts to identify further innovative approaches to people development, deployment, performance and reward in the context of large, complex and fast moving corporations (Jonathan Trevor, Philip Stiles, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge). 

Future of Work

How will we organise work in future? In responding to Information Age pressures, managers face an unpalatable choice of organising work between two extremes. A tired but tested bureaucratic approach emphasising strict rules, elaborate procedures, prescribed roles and highly formalised structures. Alternatively, faddish ‘post-bureaucratic’ principles extolling collaborative networks, high informality, ad hoc working, emergent strategies and employee self-direction. Many organisations will need to be hybrids of both modes of organising to be capable of being simultaneously efficient and innovative. This research seeks to help managers understand and overcome the complex trade-offs in organisational design, development and leadership in order to ‘do both’ (Jonathan Trevor).

Research showcase

Our research showcase highlights a selection of our best-in-class research at Saïd Business School. 

All Impact Case Studies

View all of our Impact Case Studies to learn more about the research impact at Oxford Saïd.

Research projects

Academics are engaged in new research projects ranging from tax policies, social innovation in health care, to Global Cyber Security.