Advances in organising and leadership

In times of strife it is perhaps wise to look for examples of organising and leadership amongst people who resist the status quo and who propose novel alternatives for the future. Such organisations may be innovative businesses driven by a strong sense of social mission, trade unions or activist organisations more broadly.

REEF research particularly focuses on the use of technology for the purposes of organising workers and activists, exploring how technology is being repurposed to connect, foster responsiveness and to cement relationships of solidarity. Our research is driven by a desire to understand the kind of leadership required to address the climate crisis – be it the leadership of activists or the collective leadership of a number of groups working together (activists, government, trade unions business, civil society).

REEF research explores uses of technology in management and HR that promise more autonomy and better working conditions in a future where old models of economic growth may be less valid and where the transition to knowledge work will likely intensify exponentially. Finally, we focus on ‘advances’ more generally, incorporating conceptual innovations in relation to leadership and organising, such as a focus on post-humanism and aesthetics, but also advances in practice.

Gendered organisational practice

REEF research provides a space in which feminists of any gender can share insights and knowledge from academic study and practice. It has a supportive approach to exploring the issues of gender in relation to workplace exploitation and activism for emancipation in a context of ever intensifying neoliberal norms and precarity. Our research takes a particular interest in how gender can intersect with issues of climate justice and the implications of such intersections for future organisational and governmental solutions.

REEF also includes a gendered working bodies focus, which studies the intersections between material bodies and the workplace, including the difficulties experienced by workers who menstruate, who have gynaecological conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS and PMDD and who are going through the menopause.

Empowering ethics

Researchers in REEF explore the inter-relationship between ethics, ethical knowledge and practice in an era of climate emergency,  technological change and uncertainty. Our research particularly focuses on notions of just transition to a green economy, how societies can do so in purposive ways that also protect the wellbeing of poorer and working-class people. It is also interested in ethics for a post-human world: what hope for ethics in an era when managers are algorithms? This theme 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.

Methods and practices of knowledge production

Research in REEF explores methods of social science research and societal engagement that are accessible to all and contribute towards enhancing social justice. A key aim is to explore new ways of thinking about knowledge and knowing in contexts of employment and the benefits that can arise from this. Research is also oriented towards better understanding the purposes of producing knowledge about organisations and management and the practices whereby knowledge is produced.

Topics relevant to these discussions include collaborative and action research; feminist and decolonizing methods; empowering methodologies; materialist research; reflexive methodologies; ethics and politics in research; methods for achieving engagement and impact.

The future of organisational learning

REEF research investigates how the future of work will require new modes of training and learning, an issue of paramount importance if communities and nations are to move away from reliance on carbon intensive industries and as AI and robotics become ever more significant workplace actors. The use of technology and games as a means of constituting and acquiring knowledge in a range of organisational settings is an important area for research.

The theme also focuses on any form of learning that is innovative – particularly in international contexts - and pushes the boundaries of present theory and practice, with a particular focus on the intersubjective, embodied, enacted and situated. We focus on the impact of technology on how people learn but also how learning is co-constituted through human and machinic assemblages. Research also focuses on understanding the nature of expert knowledge, and how this informs organisational and professional practice.