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Dr Peter McInnes


Work, Employment and Organisation

Personal statement

Peter is a graduate of Strathclyde’s prestigious Masters in Business Administration programme who discovered through his studies that the most interesting thing about studying management, is studying management! The enduring question which drives his research is in what ways do our ideas of who we are (compared to who they are) inform shape what self and other can and cannot be. For instance, in a study of an acquisition by a national retailer, Peter traced the sharpening of divisions between the two organizations, and between the departments which became the focal point for integration activities. As was the case in this research project Peter’s prefers to work alongside of local management as a way of checking his understanding, and in formulating ways of intervening in problematic situations. In a study within the National Health Service this took the form of a series of workshops in which different professional groups were encouraged to recognise the contribution each other made to the success of a change project.

Peter’s intellectual contribution has been to the field of Identity studies, publishing material on identity work, professional identity and change dynamics in a variety of journals including the Scandinavian Journal of Management and the International Journal of Public Administration. He is currently collaborating on work examining the way in which inquiry reporting represents those who engage with the process, and how employees respond and adjust to strategic change. Peter is part of the Department of Strategy and Organization’s Leadership research grouping, employing his understanding of the processes of identity construction to explore the way societal ideas of ‘leadership’ constrain and enable those holding formal roles. His current research focus is on the challenges emerging organizational practices, such as computer-mediated groups and those working in Agile project management teams, throw up for these individuals. Further details, including those topics and approaches in which Peter can supervise research students can be found on his research interests page.

Internally, Peter has held roles including Director of Teaching and Learning for is department. This saw him manage postgraduate programmes including the MBA.  Building on his success with postgraduate degrees, Peter is currently Coordinator for the Management degree programme. Externally, Peter is an elected member of the British Academy of Management’s (BAM) decision making Council. This sees him contributing to policy as well as to events organized by the Capacity Building sub-committee.  He has, for many years, been part of the organizing committee of the BAM Special Interest Group in Identity. This group enjoys an excellent reputation as an active developmental community who organize frequent workshops on different aspects of identity, and conference streams in identity at conferences including BAM, Critical Management Studies (CMS) and the European Academy of Management (EURAM).


Exploring the registers of identity research
Corlett Sandra, McInnes Peter, Coupland Christine, Sheep Mathew
International Journal of Management Reviews Vol 19, pp. 261–272, (2017)
Emotions and the spatialization of social relations in text-based computer-mediated communication
Baralou Evangelia, Mcinnes Peter
New Technology, Work and Employment Vol 28, pp. 160–175, (2013)
Conversational identity work in everyday interaction
Mcinnes Peter, Corlett S.
Scandinavian Journal of Management Vol 28, pp. 27-38, (2012)
"But I thought we were friends?" Life cycles and research relationships
Beech Nic, Hibbert Paul, MacIntosh Robert, McInnes Peter
Organizational Ethnography: Studying the Complexities of Everyday LifeOrganizational Ethnography: Studying the Complexities of Everyday Life, (2009)
Introduction: exploring the impacts and processes of identity change
McInnes P.A., Beech P.N.H., MacIntosh R.
International Journal of Public Administration Vol 31, pp. 953-956, (2008)
Identity work : processes and dynamics of identity formations
Beech P.N.H., MacIntosh R., McInnes P.A.
International Journal of Public Administration Vol 31, pp. 957-970, (2008)

more publications


With ten years managerial experience in the manufacturing and service sectors, Peter’s teaching is designed to enhance the acumen and critical thinking skills that are the bedrock of effective management. Bringing together his research interests and experience Peter delivers challenging classes including ones on Change Management, Strategic Facilitation and Management Practice for the school’s postgraduate and executive education clients. In all his teaching Peter encourages thought and reflection on the complexities of managing through techniques appropriate for the audience. This includes observation and discussion through case studies and video in the early stages of education; analysis and conversation with practitioners in intermediate stage; simulation and experience in the latter stages; and, in the final stages, through intervention and research. The success of Peter’s approach is reflected in his having received nominations for Teaching Excellence in four or the past five years.

Research interests

Peter’s research investigates the personal and interpersonal dynamics created by issues of identity in organizational settings. By examining who people say they are, and how they understand others to be acting, affords insight to the types of activities and attitudes that shape the-way-things-are-around here. Peter’s social constructionist stance allows him to study identity as a dynamic negotiation of relations occurring at a variety of a levels (individual, collective, professional etc.). Unifying his work, however, is his preference for ‘engaged research’ where dialogue with research sponsors shapes the direction of a longitudinal qualitative study.  

Often what Peter focusses upon in his work are the way in which thematic ideas circulating within the social setting drive the way in which people believe self and other should relate to each other. This has, for instance, seen him examine the relationship between medical professionals and those they advise. More recently he has critically examined the way in which government inquiry reports contained contradictory portrayals of the citizens they engaged in the process.

As an extension of his discursive approach, Peter has turned his attention to investigating how ideas of ‘leadership’ inform, and in what ways they constrain, organized activities. What type of people do we become through leadership discourse?  And, to what extent are these appropriate for the rapidly evolving practices of today’s organizations?  He is currently working with doctoral researchers on these questions, and welcomes enquiries from those who share his interests and might wish to take up doctoral studies.  

Professional activities

BAM Joint SIG event on Identity and Inter-organizational Collaboration
Invited speaker
Good, good, good, good relations: Exploring identity in accounts of professional work
BAM - Joint SIG workshop on Identity in Inter-organizational collaboration
Performing identity work in organization talk: analysing and theorising from meeting data
British Academy of Management (External organisation)
BAM workshop on Discourse Analysis methods

more professional activities


Leadership in distributed Agile project management teams
McInnes, Peter (Principal Investigator) Smith, Marisa (Co-investigator)
The proposed research examines ‘leadership’ in the practice of distributed Agile project teams. Agile is a project management methodology that claims to deliver a functioning service/product more quickly than traditional ‘waterfall’ methodologies (Cobb, 2011; Wysocki, 2011). Accordingly it has been adopted in sectors including, software, pharmaceuticals, engineering and manufacturing (Collyer and Warren, 2009; Kerzner, 2004). It operates by having a ‘Product Owner’ prioritise the features a product should have. Semi-autonomous development teams (Scrums) are then given a sequence, or ‘track’, of features to deliver over short periods ‘sprints’. Led by a Scrum Master, these teams meet daily to review progress and identify issues. Under Agile, then, the product evolves rather than being worked upon to completion (Chin, 2004). As our letters of support indicate, leadership is a live issue for practitioners of Agile. The literature is confused, oscillating between those advancing a shared or distributed model of leadership (Augustine et al., 2005; Moe et al., 2009), and those insisting on the relevance of the individual leader’s skills and traits (Adkins, 2010; Mersino, 2013; Muller and Turner, 2010). Experience in an unrelated research project suggests this confusion springs from contrasts between the rhetoric and the material practices of distributed Agile teams. The first contrast is between tight integration and proximity implied by the ‘scrum’ metaphor and the geographically dispersed nature of distributed Agile teams (Cottmeyer, 2008). Team members may sit at the next desk, but may equally be on the other side of the world. This lends emphasis on the individual ‘leader’ communicating the group’s approach and direction as members cannot necessarily debate and decide these collectively. A second contrast can be found in the contrast between Agile teams’ purportedly self-managed status and their embeddedness within a larger development project. Agile teams are often described as containing a cross-section of disciplines capable of completing a discrete package of work pertaining to a single product in each sprint (Cobb, 2011; Wysocki, 2011). This is rarely the case, with current work affecting and being shaped by work on other packages or tracks (Chin, 2004). Likewise, while different disciplines may work in co-located scrum teams they might equally draw on, or pass their work to, others. This interdependence with those within and beyond their track adds both complexity and politics to their activity (Adkins, 2010; Cottmeyer, 2008). The challenge, then, shifts from group members leading by maintaining a team dialogue on approach and direction, towards individual leaders negotiating and defending these with others. A third compromise on Agile’s collective ideal lies in the visibility slippages or errors gain through the intense nature of Sprints. Rather than the aspiration for collective responsibility and joint problem solving, it is a rhetoric of traditional hierarchical models in which ‘leaders’ become the focus of direction setting and accountability that dominates. The issues above see Agile’s ideals of distributed leadership dissipate such that a ‘leader’ becomes vested with authority and responsibility. We would argue this is less a consequence of imperfections in Agile per se, but rather emanates from the entitive assumptions embedded in traditional dualistic understandings of self and organization / leader and led. It is only by moving beyond individualistic questions of who should do ‘leadership’ to examine what is being required in its name, that we can grapple with the questions of why, how, and with what consequences, these crystalize upon a particular individual. Hence our research questions are: • How can we understand the dynamics of 'leadership' in distributed Agile project management teams? o Around what matters do we see a move between distributed and individual understandings of where ‘leadership’ rests in distributed Agile teams? o Through what process(es) is the negotiation of shared purpose, direction and approach undertaken in temporally and geographically distanciated Agile teams? o In what ways are teams’ ongoing sense of collective self-determination shaped by the interdependence of different parts of the project? o To what extent do issues of accountability shape team members’ perceptions of who is individually and/or collectively responsible for outcomes?
Period 30-Sep-2016 - 28-Sep-2019
Leadership in practice
McInnes, Peter (Principal Investigator) Simpson, Barbara (Co-investigator) McConn-Palfreyman, William (Post Grad Student)
The field of leadership studies is arguably undergoing a revolution. Researchers are increasingly moving away from investigating the traits that leaders have, the capabilities and competencies they possess, and the processes through which particular individuals came to be ‘great leaders’. Instead researchers are drawing on a number of theoretical advances to explore where in social situations leadership emerges in order to understand the situationally-responsive leader-ful behaviours that occur in diverse cultural settings. This application seeks cluster funding for two research projects that help will position the School at the leading-edge of three complementary debates on leadership. The first concerns a re-thinking of leadership as a movement that emerges from, and is performed through, relationships. Viewed in this way, leading becomes an emergent quality of what passes between people, as they negotiate who they are and how they should act on an ongoing basis. The second strand of research takes up this question of how the role of ‘the leader’ is changing. Responding to a rising interest in embodiment, leadership studies have moved to examine the changing norms affecting the performance of roles in contemporary, increasingly trans-national, organizations. There is, for instance, renewed interest in exploring the way women are called upon to perform leadership, and an active concern with examining the implications of the body’s absence from relations predominantly undertaken online. The third theoretical development reflects the wider practice turn in organization studies. As elsewhere, notably in strategy, the move to consider leadership-as-practice has been embraced by a number of leading international scholars keen to explore what a focus on the everyday practices of organizational participants might tell us about where and when leadership emerges.
Period 25-Sep-2015 - 28-Sep-2018
The interrelationship between strategic change and the emotional autonomy of employees: A Strategy-as-Practice view
Mittra, Pallavi (Post Grad Student) McInnes, Peter (Principal Investigator) Sminia, Harry (Academic)
We know little about how the unfolding process of strategic formulation and implementation impacts upon the individuals’ understanding of what they should, and can, do. Such questions are central to the internationally important field of strategy-as-practice. Here strategy is not seen as something organisations “have”, but as something people “do”. The focus is less, then, the techniques used to formulate business policy, and more the way individuals enact, and react to, the formulation, dissemination and implementation of strategy. While the literature suggests subjectivity is linked to the interpretation and enactment of strategy, the individual’s sense of place and value within the business has not been considered. Consequently, the recurring question in the literature concerns how ‘strategy’ reflects in the intangible embodied perceptions and practices that shape what gets done in organizations. Addressing this gap, this proposed research asks: What are the implications of strategic change on individual actors’ sense of ‘emotional autonomy’ as they formulate and respond to changes in strategy?
Period 01-Oct-2013 - 30-Sep-2016

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Work, Employment and Organisation
Stenhouse Wing

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