Conference members

Research in Leadership and Management

We have a rich heritage within the Department of using action learning and action research approaches and we have significant expertise in this area as well as drawing upon a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Conference group

Our Research

Research in the Department of Leadership and Management focuses on three broad areas: how employees learn, how leadership is developed, and how organisations can learn and develop over time. In our work, we engage with contemporary debates in a wide range of disciplines, including organisation studies, education, cultural studies and sociology, to address key theoretical challenges as well as practitioner and policy issues in management.

Members of the department have been highly successful in obtaining research grants over the last decade, with income from UK and European sources totalling over £3 million. This includes ESRC funding and large-scale research projects managed and conducted on behalf of the Learning and Skills Improvement Service.

Research Areas

Individual staff research activities within the department cover a wide variety of areas, organised around key and overlapping themes as below. This department is also home to the Centre for Leadership Studies and Practice, the Academy for Gender, Work and Leadership, the Lancaster Leadership Collaboratory and a number of other initiatives.

International Management and Cross-cultural Studies

The work of this group is focused primarily on foregrounding alternative paradigms that emerge from different ontologies of human practice and thought in the intellectual traditions of Chinese, Indian and Islamic philosophies. 

Each of these is unique in their own way but all emphasise relational and processual ontologies of practice. These alternate discourses offer rich alternatives to the dominant paradigms in management studies.

This group also strongly encourages interdisciplinary studies that draw upon sociology, philosophy and psychology. Developing these alternative perspectives from interdisciplinary studies, research within this theme is focused on topics such as leadership, HR, organisational behaviour and psychology, learning, business ethics, corporate social responsibility, strategy and entrepreneurship.

Watch our video for more details of this research area.

Cross-cultural discussion group

Management Learning and Action Research

Our research explores the relationship of learning to international, cultural, economic and political processes, organisational learning, work-based learning, life-long learning, leadership development and developing understandings of how organisation design and culture impact on learning.

Taking a critical approach to learning we aim to develop theory and practice as a result of our research. Two externally funded applied research projects are currently held by this group (Carolyn Downs); one of these, Helpcare, has been selected by the UK National Agency, a partnership between the British Council and Ecorys UK, as a high-impact longitudinal case study. Uzair Shah has been awarded LUMS pump-priming funding for research which explores contextual influences on international management education and learning experiences.

Publications in leading academic journals and conference papers are part of our regular research dissemination activity, alongside media engagement. Policy briefings and transfer of innovation activities ensure our group has a consistently high impact on policy and practice. Visit our video on Management Learning and Action Research for more information.

Our interests and expertise lie in the following areas:

  • Critical approaches to learning
  • Informal, experiential and reflective learning
  • Social learning theories
  • Forms of collective, discursive and systemic learning
  • Engagement with learning
  • Self-learning
  • Contextual aspects of learning
  • Gender and diversity within workplace learning
  • Social networks (online and real) and learning
  • Action and distance learning
  • Applied research

Leadership learners

Leadership Studies and Follower Dynamics

Within this research group, we critically engage in the study of leaders, leadership and followership, and the theory and practice of organisational leading – past, present and future. Our interests and expertise lie in drawing from sociological, psychological and philosophical approaches to the study of leadership practice. 

Some of our key areas of specialisation are:

  • Critical approaches to leadership, management and organisation – in particular, leadership and followership, power and identities, dualisms and dialectics, conformity and resistance
  • Leadership and emotions, psychoanalytic perspectives on leadership, the dark side of leadership, and exploring leader dysfunctions and leader–follower relations
  • Ontological premises that underpin leadership practice in comparative cultural settings
  • International dimensions of leadership
  • Empirical quantitative studies on the antecedents and outcomes of leadership in relation to organisational behaviours and human resource management
  • Leadership and entrepreneurship
  • Cultural, political and economic processes and relations that create, enable and constrain leadership
  • The semiotic and linguistic properties of leadership and leadership discourse
  • Leadership as emotional labour and the dissonance arising from the juxtaposition of emotional labour and the requirements of authenticity
  • The relationships between gender, women’s leadership practice and women’s leadership learning
  • Leadership and strategic options in organisations

Leadership studies staff workshop

Sociologies of Work and Gender Studies

Our research explores relationships between the theory and practice of management within organisational settings. From a variety of perspectives, including socio-cultural, strategic and international, our research shapes knowledge and understandings of how human relations and cultures impact on management policies and practices.

Publications in leading academic journals and conferences are part of our regular research dissemination activity, alongside media and public engagement. Policy and practitioner engagement ensure our group has a consistently high impact on workplace policies and practices.

Our interests and expertise lie in:

  • Critical approaches to management
  • Work–life balance, health and well-being and work-family relations
  • Strategy as practice and communities of practice
  • Human capital, human resource management and development
  • Policy in public and private sector management
  • Power, politics and emotions in organisations
  • Gender, diversity and inclusion within organisations
  • Social and media networks (online and face-to-face)
  • International management
  • Management cultures
  • Identities and work
  • The body and work

Our recent research includes:

  • The impact of the media on psychological contracts
  • The interrelated significance of power, context and identity
  • Sociological and business-based approaches to gambling
  • Owner-managerial self-concept and dynamic capabilities
  • Prioritisation of child care and income earning among UK fathers: gender and flexible working
  • Managing the value of talent (new frameworks for human capital management)
  • Researching dark emotions and stories of envy
  • The process of identity construction
  • Representations of women in the business press
  • Social network perspectives on relationship management in the HR outsourcing network

Gender conference

HRD, Consulting and Organisational Behaviour

The research of this group explores the issues in human behaviours and human resource development within contemporary organisations. The topics we study are intended to address issues both in theory and practice. 

We focus on taking critical and comparative approaches to critique the normative theories in these areas and investigate alternative understandings of HR practice and organisational behaviours that challenge existing ontological and epistemological assumptions. Both qualitative and quantitative methodologies are employed in our group.

Our expertise lies in:

  • Strategic human resource management
  • Work-family interface
  • Human capital and development
  • Leadership and leadership development
  • Business ethics
  • Psychological contracts, trust, and organisation-based self-esteem
  • Creativity and organisational learning
  • The study of emotions and depth psychology – organisational and social psychology approaches

Woman presenting

Lancaster Leadership Collaboratory

The Lancaster Leadership Collaboratory is currently working on a range of projects, connecting with The Global Consortium of Leadership Centres to tackle pressing challenges. It connects academic staff from Lancaster and from a network of 15 leadership centres from across the world together with companies, social innovators, topical experts, and stakeholders from the public and private sectors.

The collaboration works over a period of time focusing on social innovation to develop and test solutions for addressing societal challenges.

By leveraging energies and resources to address these issues from multiple perspectives, a Collaboratory approach enables leadership to help address these challenges. But here’s the thing – evidence shows that business value is enhanced through such partnerships in innovative corporate social responsibility.

What is a Collaboratory?

A collaboratory is a space for concerned stakeholders e.g. academics, managers and policy makers to meet on an equal basis to co-create new solutions for society. A collaboratory is comprised of two components. The first is one of collaboration. The second aspect comprises of a laboratory; an organised and continual process of experimenting with, testing, and revising approaches to help address significant societal challenges. A collaboratory approach facilitates a learning environment for all stakeholders to learn from each other to help address the specific and pressing challenges facing business and society today. 

Recent and Current Projects

Youth leadership with the Princes Trust, YMCA, Francis Scott Trust and Emerging Leaders; refugees and displaced people with the Danish Red Cross and Copenhagen Leadership Collaboratory (Copenhagen Business School); NATO sponsored, ‘Leading sustained co-operation in fragile environments’ with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) and the Centre for Creative Leadership (CCL) leadership alliance and  GCSP Peacebuilding Cluster.

Find out more

For further information please contact Professor Steve Kempster



Eliemental Project

Eliemental is an applied research project funded by the European Union that will work with people who have barriers preventing them from taking the first steps towards developing their own enterprise.

Research findings through the EU-funded Elie Project, which worked with 200 immigrant entrepreneurs across four countries from 2010-2012, demonstrated that there are many social factors and barriers that can impede success.

This project aims to create easily accessible learning materials to help our target groups identify their own personal barriers, to manage them effectively, and realise their own potential in creating their own business. The target groups include ethnic minorities and unemployed young individuals and women over the age of forty, whose access to education and/or wide social networks is often limited.

In collaboration with universities and research centres, higher education institutions, business organisations, and charities, the Eliemental Project will work within local communities throughout the UK, Poland, Greece and Romania.

Through such work, the Eliemental Project will identify invisible personal and communal social and structural barriers, and the effect such barriers have on the target audience and their access to enterprise. In response to this, the Eliemental Project will encourage enterprise and innovation through where social and community barriers restrict self-employment, and develop an accredited qualification in Enterprise Education available for target groups within these countries.

If you live in one of the four project countries and would like to take part as a co-researcher or trainee entrepreneur, or think your organisation could host the Eliemental qualification, we'd like to hear from you. Also, if you are outside of project countries but would like to be involved please get in touch. All details can be found on the Eliemental project website



Quadruple-accredited world-ranked