I am a Professor and Research Lead in the Dept. of Organization Studies and Human Resource Management. I specialise in the 'people' dimensions to work and management with a particular interest in the emotional, sensory and aesthetic aspects to wellbeing and motivation at work. I have held previous Professorial posts at Cardiff University, and Uni of Essex. I am co-chair of the Association of Electronic Music's Diversity and Inclusion working group, joint series editor for the Palgrave Series in Business, Arts and the Humanities, an editor of the journal Organizational Aesthetics and the Routledge Companion to Visual Organization. I have held research grants from the ESRC, British Academy and am currently a Leverhulme Trust Fellow
I am University of Portsmouth alumni, graduating from the BA(Hons) Business Studies programme with first class honours in 1999, after spending ten years in sales, marketing and service jobs which fuelled my research interest in employment issues for those working at the emotionally demanding 'sharp end' of the economy. I then studied for a PhD on worklpace fun, while raising my two sons, which was awarded in 2005. After completing five years as a Lecturer at Portsmouth Business School, I held a Senior Lectureship at Uni of Surrey where I led the ESRC funded 'International Network for Visual Studies in Organization' (2008-2013) before taking up a Chair and Associate Dean Research position at Uni of Essex Business School, followed by a Professorship at Cardiff University. I am currently a Leverhulme Trust Fellow uncdetaking research on gender imbalance in digital-creative industries.
My research centres on the relationships between aesthetics and organizations at conceptual, methodological and empirical levels. Conceptually I am interested in how work, and management can be seen as aesthetic endeavours - fulfilling (or not) emotional needs through sensory experiences in the worklpace. My early research focused on investigating 'an aesthetic ethic' of work - how and why modern day workers value excitement and 'cool' experiences from their occupations, and the range of management techniques that have arisen to meet those demands. Empirical projects have included generative office design and organizational space management's role in producing cultures of fun and play in the workplace, how early career accountants use fun and excitement as tools to resist traditional stereotypes of the 'dull, boring accountant', and the role of smell and 'olfactory management' in office culture.
In practice, research on aesthetics needs more 'sensually complete' methodologies than the traditional tools of academic research (surveys, statistics and language) and to date, the majority of my work has been at the forefront of developing visual techniques for undertaking qualitative management research. Much of this work was funded by the ESRC (2008-2012). I have published more than 27 books and articles on sensory methodology am an editor of the journal Organizational Aesthetics, and a series editor for the Palgrave Series in Business, Arts and Humanities. I have taught countless doctoral and early career students how to utilise visual methods in their research and most recently (2018-2020) have been using Instagram as a social research tool to undertake a year long 'sensory post-occupancy evaluation' of a new university building.
Empirically, I have always been fascinated by occupations that require aesthetic labour. From service workers whose conditions of employment dictate that they look a certain way, to office employees 'required' to have fun on the job, to the creative and cultural industries where my current research project lies. In 2014 I began interviewing club DJs and electronic music (self) producers about how they combined their aesthetic musical craft with making a living. The dance music industry is rife with free labour and blurs the lines between work and lesiure in a way that is quite unique. It is also highly technology dependent as a musical career - which has meant that women are very under-represented. 90-98% of music producers and audio engineers are male.
My current project (funded by a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship) is investigating the career experiences of female electronic music (self) producers through interviews, the production of radio shows, and my own experiences of learning to DJ and produce music. I am Co-chair of the Association for Electronic Music's 'diversity and inclusion' group through which the findings from the project will feed directly into initiatives to improve gender balance and diversity in the industry. My work aims to show how to increase womens' visibility at festivals, events, in the media, normalising them as producers of electronic music rather than as 'novelties' in a male world. This project is due to complete in the summer of 2021.
I am currently seconded to a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship for the majority of my time (until summer 2021) and so am only teaching a few sessions on the final year u/g module 'Managing Equality and Diversity at Work'. I was previously the module leader for this module, along with leading the final year u/g 'business research project' and teaching on the first year u/g 'Managing People in Organizatons'.
During my career I have taught most employee-related business studies subjects (change management, motivation, HRM, wellbeing, careers etc.) and have always been very involved in teaching research methods and supervising student research.
I am available for comment on any of my research interests in any media, including print, radio or television. Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org