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Centre for Knowledge in Organisations and Professions

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The Centre for Knowledge in Organisations and Professions (CKOP) brings together researchers from The Open University Business School (OUBS) and The Open University Law School (OULS) who are interested in understanding how knowledge is produced, shared and used within organisations and professions. Researchers in CKOP study a wide range of issues related to organisational knowledge and learning. They are also interested in the production of expert and research knowledge – including methodological considerations. CKOP researchers also explore ethical issues related to knowing and knowledge and focus on the development of critical reflexive pedagogies in management and legal education.

Research Themes

Organisational knowledge and learning
CKOP research involves investigation of the practices whereby individuals and groups constitute and acquire knowledge in a range of organisational and professional settings, and how such knowledge is communicated and applied. This includes practice-based studies of organisation and professions which suggest that knowledge is intersubjective, embodied, enacted and situated. Research also focuses on understanding the nature of expert knowledge, and how this informs organisational and professional practice. This research theme is led by Owain Smolović Jones.

Practices of knowledge production
Research in CKOP addresses processes and practices of knowledge production in, and about, organisations and professions. Professions such as management and law face particular challenges in creating a stable and transferrable body of knowledge which can be formally taught or acquired. The tacit nature of knowledge in these fields of practice introduces challenges related to knowledge sharing and management. Questions addressed through research in the Centre include: what constitutes knowledge in organisations and professions and how is knowledge produced; what are the purposes of producing knowledge and how is the quality of knowledge evaluated; how can knowledge be produced differently and what benefits can arise from this? This research theme is led by Emma Bell.

Critical and reflexive pedagogy
Research within CKOP considers educational and pedagogical practices in management, business and law and incorporates scholarship both for, and of, teaching and learning. The emphasis is on developing critical analyses that take into account diverse historical, cultural and social contexts within which learning occurs. Reflexivity is applied to ensure that research moves beyond evaluations of the efficacy of educational practices and towards investigating questions of identity and ethics in management, business and legal education. Projects also investigate the impact of online learning and the internationalisation of management and legal education. This research theme is led by Emma Jones.

Ethics, knowledge and practice
Researchers in CKOP explore the inter-relationship between ethics, ethical knowledge and practice. This goes beyond typical approaches to ethics in a business school context which tend to be delimited to the field of business ethics. In contrast, this research theme offers a broader space in which to analyse normative questions posed by organisational practice, to explore how ethics and ethical knowledge resonate through systems of action (at societal, organisational, global, inter-organisational, organisational and individual levels). Research covers the constitution and status of ethical knowledge in organisations, the pedagogy of leadership, management and business ethics, and studies of ethical practice within and across organisations and sectors. It is led by Nik Winchester.


‘What is the Future of Professional Knowledge and Learning?’ An Unconference
Wednesday 13 June 2018, 10am - 3.30pm, London

This free unconference is open to anyone who is interested in the future of professional work: 

  • How will we, as professionals, organise our work and learning in the future? 
  • What is the role of expert knowledge in professional work?
  • How are technological and social innovations transforming professional work?
  • How is professional work being shaped by uncertainty, precarity and change?

Invited guests: Ann Cunliffe Professor of Organisation Studies, Fundação Getulio Vargas-EAESP, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Staffan Furusten Associate Professor of Management, Stockholm School of Economics and Director of the interdisciplinary Stockholm Centre for Organisational Research (SCORE), Stockholm University, Sweden; Hilary Sommerlad Professor of Law and Social Justice, University of Leeds, UK

Find out more

Research Development Day
14th June 2018, 10am- 3pm
The Open University, Milton Keynes

This event will include talks from invited guests Ann Cunliffe, Staffan Furusten and Hilary Sommerlad about how their research connects with CKOP. Participants will then work to develop research ideas and projects that align with the objectives of the Centre.


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Professor Emma Bell

Emma Bell is Professor of Organisation Studies in The Open University Business School. Her research focuses on understanding processes of organisational change, learning and culture. She is Joint Editor-in-Chief of Management Learning: the 'Journal for Critical, Reflexive Scholarship on Organisation and Learning'. Recent projects related to CKOP include a study of the organisation of craft work which includes a focus on tacit knowledge and learning. She is also interested in the development and dissemination of innovative research methodologies, such as through the use of visual and embodied methods. A recent project funded by the British Academy of Management focuses on the globalisation of management research and the methodologies that inform knowledge production in Indian business schools.

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Dr Emma Jones

Emma Jones is a Lecturer in The Open University Law School and an Academic Fellow of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple. Her research interests focus on the role of emotion and wellbeing in legal education and the legal profession.  She is currently writing a monograph on the potentially transformative effect of emotion within legal education (based on her PhD), drawing on a range of critical and reflexive pedagogies. She is also working with colleagues from other universities on the development of a therapeutic legal pedagogy. Her current empirical research projects include research into the use of virtual reality in legal education, investigating law student wellbeing (with colleagues in WELS) and exploring the emotional competencies of solicitors.  Emma is dual qualified as both a solicitor and a teacher in post-compulsory education. She is co-editor of the Journal of Commonwealth Law and Legal Education and a member of various legal education committees.

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Dr Owain Smolović Jones

Owain Smolović Jones is a Senior Lecturer in People Management and Organisation at The Open University Business School. His research focuses on leadership and leadership development and he is particularly interested in their political, ethical and aesthetic dimensions. His published work has sought to better understand the dynamics of leadership development programmes, the practice of leadership and the conceptual underpinnings of leadership. He is a member of the Management Learning editorial board. Owain chairs production of the OU’s new undergraduate module on developing leadership and produced two OU courses aimed at developing leadership in the voluntary sector. He has an extensive background in leadership development practice, designing and facilitating leadership development programmes for senior managers across sectors at the New Zealand Leadership Institute, University of Auckland. Prior to gaining his PhD, Owain worked in professional politics for the Labour Party (UK).

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Dr Nik Winchester

Nik Winchester is Head of the Department of Public Leadership and Social Enterprise in The Open University Business School. Nik's current research focuses on business ethics with an interest in both theory development and empirical work. Recent research includes: the development of a theoretical account of business ethics in Inter-Organisational Relations (IOR); the business ethical application of Habermas's social theory; the practice and theory of social justice in global labour markets; and, the business ethics of equity and equality in transnational work environments.

Centre members

Scholarship practitioners

Affiliated PhD students

Olga Andrianova
Marco Distinto

CKOP Affiliates

Lloyd Davies, Collaboration consultant and community builder

Upcoming Events

Sep 5

Critical Legal Conference 2018 Doctoral Workshop

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - 12:00 to 17:00

The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

Sep 6

Critical Legal Conference 2018 - Regeneration

Thursday, September 6, 2018 - 09:30 to Saturday, September 8, 2018 - 15:00

The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

Sep 11

OUBS London Alumni Networking Informal Drop In

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 - 18:30 to 20:30

Champagne Charlie's, The Arches, 17 Villiers St, Charing Cross, London WC2N 6NG

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