Barbara Simpson


Academic / Professional qualifications

1998 PhD in Management & Employment Relations (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
1992 Certificate in Company Direction (Institute of Directors of New Zealand and Victoria University Wellington)
1981 PGDip in Groundwater Hydrology (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)
1978 MSc (Hons) in Physics (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
1975 BSc in Physics (University of Auckland, New Zealand)

Personal Statement

I joined Strathclyde Business School in 2004, a move that saw me relocating to Scotland from the University of Auckland Business School in my native New Zealand. My research activities at that stage were focussed primarily on the processes of technological learning in small manufacturing businesses, but I also maintained an interest in scientific and hi-tech innovation and the management of professionals, especially scientists.

My move to Scotland was just one of many major turning points in my career, which originally started out in geothermal hydrology, and then proceeded through international consultancy and the management of large multi-national science projects, before finally turning to my current academic focus. Along the way, I also started up two small companies, one in London and the other in Auckland, and I was appointed as a non-executive Director on the boards of two New Zealand science companies. This prior experience continues to inform my interests in organisational practice, whether this be in business, science or the arts. It has also been helpful in my empirical work, giving me the vocabulary to engage effectively across disciplines.


Research Interests

I belong to a vibrant group of academic and postgraduate researchers in the Department of Strategy & Organisation who share a fascination with new perspectives on Leadership - find out more about us at My own particular research interests revolve around the social practices that shape creativity, innovation, and change in organisations, where these practices are continuously emerging from, and reproduced in, complex intersubjective engagements. I conceive Leadership then, not as a quality or attribute of talented individuals, but rather as a dynamic movement that is generated in the processes of organising. My work is deeply informed by the Pragmatist Philosophers, especially George Herbert Mead, who brings a richly processual perspective to bear upon the social dynamics of organisational practices. My recent publications have pursued these themes in philosophical, theoretical and empirical formats, and my current projects continue these developments.

I very much enjoy supervising postgraduate researchers and welcome inquiries from potential students who have interests that resonate with my ongoing research agenda. I am currently supervising a variety of doctoral-level projects that explore leadership work, the notion of e-leadership, and the dynamics of creativity. I am particularly interested in attracting students who wish to take a fresh look at Leadership as an emergent organisational practice.

Teaching Interests

My teaching experience encompasses undergraduate, postgraduate, and post-experience levels of student learning, as well as executive education and coaching. I also have extensive experience teaching across disciplines, especially between science/engineering, the performing arts, and business. The common goal of all of my teaching practice is to encourage students to see their world in new and challenging ways.  My aim is always to develop independent and reflexive critical thinkers who, above all else, have learned how to learn for themselves. I see the two-way exchange between teacher and student as a fertile ground for the development of creative and innovative ideas.  While I endeavour to incorporate my research activities into my teaching at all times, I also recognise the importance of grounding my teaching in the practical realities of my own experience as a manager, an entrepreneur, and a company director. I have been the recipient of a Universitas 21 Teaching Fellowship and an Outstanding Teaching Excellence Award.

In 2016/17 I am teaching and coordinating the following classes:

  • Strategy & Leadership (BA in Management)
  • Research Philosophy (MRes)
  • Leadership for change and innovation (MBM, PMI, and MBA)

Expertise & Capabilities

  • Processes of creativity, innovation and change in organisations
  • Leadership-as-Practice and the performativity of leadership
  • Methods of inquiry for process research
  • Pragmatist philosophies in process research

    Research areas

  • Leadership-as-Practice, Creativity and leadership, Performative leadership, Organisational learning, Leading innovation , Organisational change
  1. Pragmatism: a philosophy of practice

    Research output: ResearchChapter

  2. Studying leadership-as-practice: a process perspective

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewPaper

  3. Travelling concepts: performative movements in learning/playing

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

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  1. 34th EGOS Colloquium

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventOrganiser of major conference

  2. Organization Studies (Journal)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial workJournal or guest editorship

  3. David Boje

    Activity: Hosting a visitorHosting an academic visitor

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  1. REA Studentship - Public leadership as robust collaborative action

    Project: Research - StudentshipResearch Studentship (Internally Allocated)

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  1. George and Ann Cameron Fellowship

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

  2. Santander Mobility Fund

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)

  3. Fellow of the RSA

    Prize: Election to learned society

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Barbara Simpson

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