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.


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Area of Expertise

  • Processes of creativity, innovation and change in organisations
  • Leadership in performative processes
  • Methods of inquiry for process research
  • Pragmatist philosophies in process research

Prize And Awards

Fellow of the RSA
Santander Mobility Fund
George and Ann Cameron Fellowship
Best Paper Award

More prizes and awards


1998 PhD in Management & Employment Relations (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
1992 Certificate in Company Direction (Institute of Directors of New Zealand and Victoria University Wellington)
1981 PGDip in Groundwater Hydrology (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)
1978 MSc (Hons) in Physics (University of Auckland, New Zealand)
1975 BSc in Physics (University of Auckland, New Zealand)

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Keynote : Doing process research
Simpson Barbara
AIMS/EURAM Methodology Workshop (2023)
Educating for uncertain futures : a pragmatist response to the crisis of education
Rylander Eklund Anna, Revsbaek Line, Simpson Barbara, Arneback Emma
39th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) (2023)
Collaborative leadership : a processual approach
Buchan Linda, Simpson Barbara
The Routledge Critical Companion to Leadership Studies (2023) (2023)
Keynote: Controlling as practising
Simpson Barbara
Control as practice workshop (2022)
Doing Process Research in Organizations : Noticing Differently
Simpson Barbara, Revsbaek Line
Doing Pragmatism in teaching
Simpson Barbara, Eklund Anna Rylander, Revsbaek Line, Arneback Emma
2nd Colloquium on Philosophy and Organization Studies (2022)

More publications

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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 2023/24 I am teaching and coordinating the following classes:

  • Leadership for change and innovation (for Masters of Business Management students

I also contribute to Strathclyde Business School's Research Methods and Research Philosophy classes for postgraduate researchers, and I teach similar topics at Aalborg University in Denmark and IAE Lyon in France.

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Research Interests

My 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. The main object of my research is Leadership, which I conceive not as a quality or attribute of talented individuals, but rather as a dynamic movement that is generated in the social 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 to develop process ontology as an alternative to conventional Humanist or critical studies.

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 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

Lancaster University
Visiting researcher
39th European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS)
PhD Viva Examination
Academy of Management Annual Conference 2022
2nd Colloquium on Philosophy and Organization Studies
37th European Group for Organizational Studies Colloquium 2021

More professional activities


Externally funded PhD Studentship - Public Leadership as robust collaborative action
Simpson, Barbara (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 30-Jan-2021
REA Studentship - Public leadership as robust collaborative action
Simpson, Barbara (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 30-Jan-2021
GCHSCP Studentship for Public Leadership
Simpson, Barbara (Principal Investigator)
01-Jan-2018 - 30-Jan-2021
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
01-Jan-2017 - 01-Jan-2018
The Leadership Studio: Learning together about public leadership
Simpson, Barbara (Principal Investigator) Wilson, David (Principal Investigator) McAra-McWilliam, Irene (Co-investigator)
A SUII-funded collaboration with the Glasgow School of Art
01-Jan-2017 - 28-Jan-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
01-Jan-2017 - 01-Jan-2017

More projects

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Professor Barbara Simpson
Work, Employment and Organisation

Tel: Unlisted