Supervising postgraduates on an innovative management course

As faculty on an interdisciplinary course, I supervise postgraduates undertaking a doctorate in management at the University of Hertfordshire Business School. Conventional leadership and management programmes tend to concentrate on the predictable and idealised aspects of strategy and organising. In contrast, we encourage our students to take a critical perspective on these approaches and focus on how widespread change emerges as people interact in everyday local situations. Faculty have backgrounds in management, psychology, sociology/anthropology and philosophy, while students are senior managers or consultants from around the world.

Students look at relationships, meaning-making and practices within their own workplace with topics ranging from communication and power to identity and conflict. They write projects based on a mix of narrative, ethnography and analysis – it is intellectually demanding but the support students receive is unparalleled. We meet at four residential weekends a year as a community of researchers and their supervision is given at and between residentials in both learning sets of up to four students as well as one-to-one supervision. 

My students are currently looking at:

  • shame and power in facilitation in the voluntary sector
  • improvisation during change processes in the public sector
  • recognition and politics in international development 
  • perceptions of success and failure in consultancy
  • belonging in the workplace
Doctoral students discussing their research, 2019

My PhD students:


  • Tali Avignor, Practising Talent Management: processes of judgement, inclusion and exclusion, University of Hertfordshire (awarded 2017).
  • Graham Curtis, Functional collusion in a UK Non-Government Organisation: Processes of Shame and Exclusion from the Perspective of an Organisational Development Practitioner (awarded 2018).
  • Deborah Smart, Processes of improvisation in change management: from the perspective of a UK management consultant, University of Hertfordshire (awarded 2018).
  • Helle Stoltz, Getting myself heard. Processes of negotiation and compromise in international development from the perspective of a consultant (awarded 2019).


  • Sune Larsen, Are you Impressed? Exploring interweaving intentions from the perspective of an organizational development consultant in Denmark (on-going since 2017).
  • Rikke Horup, Negotiating identity and taking a stand in leadership development in Denmark (on-going since 2017)
  • Nama Sidi, Taking sides in conflicts within organisations in Israel (on-going since 2018)

For more information contact our Director, Chris Mowles c.mowles@herts.ac.uk.