University of Leicester eBulletin

New Head Announced for University of Leicester Management Centre

April 2003
No 105

Former student to spearhead innovation and investment

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The University of Leicester has announced the appointment of a former student to head its successful international Management Centre.

At the beginning of April 2003 Professor Gibson Burrell took over as Director of the University of Leicester Management Centre and as Professor of Organisation Theory.

Formerly Professor of Organisation Theory at the University of Essex, Professor Burrell is originally from Ashington, Northumberland. He spent five years at Leicester as a student between 1966-71. 

A Sociology graduate, his Leicester years were, he says, “a very good time. Many of the great and the good in the sociology world were at Leicester and I was asked to stay on to do a research degree in the department.”  He went on to do a PhD at the Manchester Business School.

Gibson Burrell’s first post was as Lecturer in Behaviour in Organisations at the University of Lancaster, where he spent 11 years and was head of department from 1983-86. He moved to the University of Warwick, where he spent the next 14 years as Professor in the Industrial Relations and Organisational Behaviour Group, being Head of Group twice during that period. He was Associate Chair (Academic Development) in Warwick Business School and was Chair of the Faculty of Social Studies from 1995-97.

Speaking of his move to Leicester he said: “I grew very fond of the place while I was a student. The prospect of taking over as Head of the Management Centre is exciting because there are substantial resources there to enable the Centre to expand. I see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help build something different from the conventional type of management centre or business school. It is very unusual to have the means to do that. We are looking to employ another 16-20 academics within the next 12 months to undertake a collaborative attempt at seriously developing the field.”

He hopes to recruit people who are interested in all of the management specialisms including critical accounting, critical human resource management and critical marketing – 'critical' being a term he feels should be clearly defined within management studies.

“This project is not something that will be achieved in two or three years,” he explained.   “There needs to be a lot of debate with and about more conventional approaches and Leicester could play a role in this. A neo-conservatism is stalking the land in terms of what is deemed to be progressive in management research. The field seems to be returning full circle to the position of the 1970s, when American positivism was seen as the way forward and quantitative techniques were seen as unquestionably superior to qualitative methods. The deep-seated problems with these scientistic approaches seem to have been conveniently forgotten in the desire to mimic what is currently fashionable across the Atlantic.

Our aim will be to build up critical management studies, widely conceived, in a way that looks at generating knowledge about management in the face of a rising tide of intellectual neo-conservatism so discernible in the way that much British management research is now undertaken”.

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Last updated: April 2003
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