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Organising as Practice Research Group

  • Unit(s) of assessment: Business and Management Studies
  • School: Nottingham Business School


The Organising as Practice group is composed of members who have an interest in practice-based approaches to the study of organisational life. Treating organisations as ongoing accomplishments, current thinking on processual approaches, the centrality of discourse / talk and identity-work informs the research of the core members. Consistent with Feldman and Worline (2016:305) practice-based approaches as employed by group members offer a practicality that “helps managers see and understand the ordering of activities in everyday life with greater clarity…in ways that enable new actions and questions”.

The research members have developed innovative research methodologies such as ethnomethodology, auto-ethnography and archival business history. The group have consistently published in leading journals in the field including Organization Science (ABS 4*), Organization Studies (ABS 4), Human Relations (ABS 4), Management Learning (ABS 3) and Organization (ABS 3). The group has developed a strong supportive culture to enable the development of early career researchers.

The research group had a strong presence in the last REF, in particular contributing the World Leading Impact Case Study (Lead by Professor Alistair Mutch). Research members have also developed links with Industry (e.g. King and Hay having recently delivered consultancy work to two regional Social Media companies) and with Civil Society organizations.

The research group has also already contributed two successful research projects with prestigious funders (ESRC and British Academy / Leverhulme). The group also ran a highly successful BAM Identity SIG event which attracted a strong audience from across the UK.

Three core members of this group are Editorial board members for Organization Studies (ABS 4), Academy of Management Review (ABS 4) Organization (ABS 3) and Management Learning (ABS 3). All group members are Peer Reviewers for relevant leading journals in the field.

The Organising as Practice Research Group is developing a distinct and growing reputation as home for innovative, theoretically driven but applied research. The work of the group can be grouped into two distinct domains/projects:

The nature of everyday interactionally-derived effectiveness and inherent forms of learning on-the-job as well as formal learning:

Drawing on ‘real-time’ empirical materials from fieldwork observations, a number of current writing projects are underway and which are underpinned by a series of publications in leading journals since 2000. In addition to a focus on informal, everyday learning on the job, members of the group also adopt processual approaches to examine formal learning in management education, as well as approaches to curriculum design. Underpinned by previous publications in leading journals which focused on MBA programmes, current projects provide novel insights into the increasingly significant but under researched DBA programme and the identity work students engage in.

Developing alternative and democratic forms of organizing:

This research interest rests on examining the variety of alternative, innovative and creative new organisational forms which empower workers in ways that are more agile and responsive than traditional bureaucratic organizational forms. The work is underpinned by a number of funded research projects (British Academy / Leverhulme ; ESRC Seminar Series; ESRC Future Leaders Project) and has already generated publications in Organization Studies, Human Relations and Organizational Research Methods.


Bell, E and King, D (2010) The Elephant in the Room: Critical Management Studies Conferences as a Site of Body Pedagogics, Management Learning, 41, 4, pages 429-442.

King, D (2009) Journeys into critical thinking; intersecting Foucault into the organizational practice debate, Critical Management Studies at Work, Wolfram Cox, J, LeTrent-Jones, T, Voronov, M and Weir, D (eds), Cheltenham, Edward Elgar, p130-143

Hay, A. (2013) "I don’t know what I am doing": Surfacing struggles of managerial identity work Management Learning, Pre-published 13th May 2013, DOI: 10.1177/1350507613483421

Hay. A. and Hodgkinson, M. (2008) More success than meets the eye: a challenge to critiques of the MBA. Possibilities for Critical Management Education? Management Learning, 39 (1):21-40.

Samra-Fredericks D (2012) 'Getting to the 'heart' of leaders doing emotional labour: A methodological, theoretical and empirical contribution'. In M Iszatt-White (Ed) Leadership as emotional labour: Management and the 'managed heart' . Oxon: Routledge

Samra-Fredericks D (2003) 'Strategizing as lived experience and strategists everyday efforts to shape strategic direction'. Journal of Management Studies. 40(1):141-174

MUTCH, A., 2013. Sociomateriality - taking the wrong turning? Information and Organization, 23 (1), pp. 28-40.

MUTCH, A., 2012. Theology, accountability and management: exploring the contributions of Scottish Presbyterianism. Organization, 19 (3), pp. 363-379

TANSLEY, C., 2011. What do we mean by the term 'talent' in talent management? Industrial and Commercial Training, 43 (5), pp. 266-274.

TANSLEY, C. and TIETZE, S., 2013. Rites of passage through talent management progression stages: an identity work perspective. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 24 (9), pp. 1799-1815.

Tansely, C., Kirk, S. & Tietze, S. (2013) 'The currency of talent management - A reply to "talent management and the relevance of context: Towards a pluralistic approach". Human Resource Management Review.

Related projects

Group members have undertaken a range of projects including the following.

  • The complex and subtle ways in which management education is seen to contribute to management practice and managerial careers. Building on this, current work is examining the ways in which learning is enacted in programmes such as the MBA and DBA, as well as, learning as an everyday accomplishment or practical coping.
  • There is an ongoing research programme that explores the organising principles and practices of alternative, consensus-based ways of operating. The group organised a workshop on 'Organizing Otherwise' which attracted speakers and participants from the academia as well as practitioners from the Voluntary and Community Sector.
  • Another long standing research project has sought to examine the key capabilities for senior management teams to develop strategic direction across a range of sectors, including FTSE100 companies. As part of this, the processes and practices for effective strategic decision making are centralised.
  • Funded by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), ground-breaking research on talent management has been undertaken and entailed conducting 100 interviews to generate nine case studies. The organisations taking part spanned a range of sectors and included companies such as PricewaterhouseCooper, Gordon Ramsay and Standard Chartered Bank.
  • Members have organized the 4th electronic HRM Conference at Nottingham Business School where academics from across the globe attended to present papers on the nature of technologies-in-use in the field of human resourcing.

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