Go to the Undergraduate section
Go to the Postgraduate section
Go to the MBA section
Go to the Student Life section
Go to the Research section
Go to the Employers section
Go to the About section
MBA (Open), MEd (Cantab), BA (Cantab), FRSA
Business and Management
Oxford Brookes Business School
My interests emerge from taking a people-oriented perspective on organizations; I am fascinated by 'alternative' forms of organization, and the co-transformative power that digital technologies have over how we experience life and work. My current research explores the phenomenon of surprise and uses a qualitative digitial methodology to interogate original data from across the organizational ecosystem of a community of practice.
Surprising alternative organizations: an investigation into the phenomenon of ‘surprise’ within ‘alternative’ organizations.
Think of ‘surprise’ as a discrepant event which triggers the need for explanation. It has been demonstrated that ‘surprise’ is a phenomenon of central importance to organizations, because it challenges some fundamental assumptions that are made about how organizations attempt to exert control over control people, activity, and wider environments. Much of what we know about ‘surprise’ exists in the context of traditional organizations, and we know much less about ‘surprise’ within ‘alternative’ organizations. And whilst it isn’t always easy to articulate what is ‘alternative’, and for the purpose of this investigation, we understand them to be open to a wider range of possibilities in respect of the decisions they take and the choices they make in the pursuit of organizing.
The principal aim of my research is to explore how ‘surprise’ is experienced within, responded to, and impacts upon ‘alternative’ organizations.
A popular explosion in ‘alternative’ organizations suggests that there are implications pertaining to ‘surprise’ across a broader spectrum than has previously been considered. There are two important clusters of thinking on ‘alternative’ organizations: (i) in the practice-oriented, organization literature (which seeks to advance the conditions of workplace); and, (ii) in the critical management literature (which challenges conceptualisations of work, employment, and society, often from a post-neoliberal perspective). From this, we commonly understand that solidity, permanence, and orderliness are characteristics of mainstream organizations, whilst positions of greater autonomy, solidarity, and responsibility are better indicators of ‘alternative’ organizations.
My research posits that the phenomenon of ‘surprise’ may have a potential which is as yet untapped, and which may be best uncovered within the ‘alternative’.
‘Surprise’ is often cast in a negative light, and this investigation seeks to address this by reevaluating the dominant discourse which emphasises rules and rationality at the expense of the transient and imperfect nature of organizations. This taps into a number of practical and theoretical debates which challenge dominant ideas about organizations, particularly in respect of how organizing can appear at odds with the prevailing discourse around the rights, capacities, and agency of individuals, and wider socio-environmental issues.
I gratefully acknowledge the support of Oxford Brookes University as a recipient of one of the fully-funded research studentship offered in celebration of its 150th anniversary.
"'How dirty is your digital data?' The role of researcher reflexivity in legitimating online qualitative inquiry in cha(lle)nging times." Paper accepted for presentation at Ethnography Symposium 2018, (Il)legitimacy, Copenhagen Business School, 29-31 Aug 2018.
"Constraining complexity? The impact of external actors on the enactment of surprise." Paper accepted for presentation at 34th EGOS Colloquium, Tallinn 2018 (Sub-theme 51: The Surprising Nature of Resilient Organizations).
"Re-imagining a sense of belonging: shared stories of liminal professionals." Paper presented at the 23rd Organizational Storytelling Seminar, University of Roehampton, 16 Feb 2018.
"Gigs, gifs, and gizmos: repurposing the Internet for research." Paper presented at the 4th PG HR Research Conference, Oxford Brookes University, 19 Nov 2016.