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Professor Barbara Simpson

Work, Employment and Organisation

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.



Pragmatism : a philosophy of practice
Simpson Barbara
SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research MethodsSAGE Handbook of Qualitative Business and Management Research Methods, (2018)
Using linkography to compare creative methods for group ideation
Hatcher G., Ion W., MacLachlan R., Marlow M., Simpson B., Wilson N., Wodehouse A.
Design Studies Vol 58, pp. 127-152, (2018)
Studying leadership-as-practice : a process perspective
Buchan Linda, Simpson Barbara
34th European Group for Organizational Studies Colloquium, (2018)
Travelling concepts : performative movements in learning/playing
Simpson Barbara, Tracey Rory, Weston Alia
Management Learning Vol 49, pp. 295-310, (2018)
Pragmatism and Leadership (as practice)
Simpson Barbara
Co-Lead Net Conference, (2018)
Evolving improvised ideation from humour constructs : a new method for collaborative divergence
Hatcher Gillian, Ion William, MacLachlan Ross, Sheridan Marion, Simpson Barbara, Wodehouse Andrew
Creativity and Innovation Management Vol 27, pp. 91-101, (2018)

more publications


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)

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.

Professional activities

34th EGOS Colloquium
Organization Studies (Journal)
Guest editor
David Boje
Firestarter Festival 2018
Nancy Harding
Preparing for the post-PhD job market

more professional activities


Externally funded PhD Studentship - Public Leadership as robust collaborative action
Simpson, Barbara (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2018 - 30-Sep-2021
REA Studentship - Public leadership as robust collaborative action
Simpson, Barbara (Principal Investigator)
Period 01-Oct-2018 - 30-Sep-2021
The Leadership Studio: Learning together about public leadership
Simpson, Barbara (Principal Investigator)
A SUII-funded collaboration with the Glasgow School of Art
Period 01-Mar-2017 - 28-Feb-2018
The leadership studio: Learning together about public leadership
Simpson, Barbara (Principal Investigator) Buchan, Linda (Co-investigator)
Period 01-Feb-2017 - 28-Feb-2018
Review of Clinical Leadership in Pharmacy (CLIP) Programme, Pharmacy Management, Scotland 2016-17
Simpson, Barbara (Principal Investigator) Buchan, Linda (Post Grad Student)
Evaluation the the Leadership Development programme provided by Pharmacy Management in Scotland, 2016-17
Period 01-Mar-2017 - 01-May-2017
Developing the Mauritius Leadership Brand - Assessment of Leadership Development needs in the Mauritius public service
Simpson, Barbara (Principal Investigator)
A preliminary exploration of leadership practice and development opportunities in the Mauritian public service
Period 01-Nov-2017 - 01-Mar-2018

more projects


Work, Employment and Organisation
Stenhouse Wing

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