Dr Karen Handley


Reader in Work & Organisation

Oxford Brookes Business School

Karen Handley


Career and education background:

Karen is a Reader in Work & Organisations at the Business School. She gained her first degree in International Relations from the University of Sussex, then worked in the financial services sector before studying for an MBA at Cranfield School of Management. She subsequently joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as a management consultant in the financial services division. Her interest in the potential of e-learning at PwC led to doctoral research at Imperial College, University of London, and she completed her PhD in 2003. After a post-doc position at Imperial College, Karen joined Brookes in 2006. More recently, Karen took a career break in 2013-4 to do an MA in Social and Political Thought at the University of Warwick, for which she was awarded the John Rex prize.

Teaching and supervision

Modules taught

  • Work, Employment & Globalisation
  • Critical Enquiry Research Project
  • PhD Qualitative Research Methods
  • MBA Dissertation

Karen teaches Undergraduate, Masters, and Doctoral students


Research background:

Karen's current research interests include the changing dynamics of the workplace, and broader issues relating to work, worker identity, employment and organisations. Karen's current research investigates issues of diversity at work, focusing on the experiences, aspirations and difficulties of young graduates and older workers as they navigate a changing labour market. She is an associate at the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice. Her recently-completed project on the work narratives and aspirations of knowledge workers in their 50s, funded by the British Academy, has just been published.

Previous research projects investigated client-consultancy projects and relationships. Karen was involved in the ESRC-funded project, Knowledge Evolution in Action: Client-Consultancy Relationships, which was part of a programme of research on the Evolution of Business Knowledge. A key theme of the research was to explore how clients and consultants share knowledge and generate new ideas. Karen's pedagogic research interests include student engagement, and staff identities and forms of participation in communities of practice.

Karen has published in Work, Employment & Society, Journal of Management Studies, Management Learning, Organization, Journal of Organizational Behaviour, Studies in Higher Education, Higher Education Research & Development, and Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education

Centres and institutes


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