Leadership and organisational learning and development

Our research explores the how individuals and groups learn to lead, as well as how they unlearn ineffective behaviours and strategies.

Leadership and management education is a major global industry, with wide variations in approach and effectiveness. Our research explores the mechanisms through which people learn to lead and the relationships between individual, team and organisational learning.

Our expertise in this area includes critical, reflexive and experiential approaches to leadership and organisational development; coaching and mentoring; career transition and liminality; creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, and the evaluation of leadership and organisational development interventions.

We are interested in how individuals and groups learn to lead, as well as how they unlearn ineffective behaviours and strategies. We are at the forefront of developments in the university sector around undergraduate teaching, but our work also goes far beyond the classroom. Our projects explore how practising managers can connect their development to wider organisational structures and processes, and the significance of ‘liminal spaces’ – where people can experiment with new ideas and ways of working.

The Leadership Evaluation Collaboratory, which we have been running since 2015 with support from the NHS Leadership Academy, offers a forum for engagement between those commissioning, delivering and evaluating leadership and organisation development interventions and the sharing of good practice. We also regularly act as an independent evaluator and/or academic partner to external organisations.

Introversion and extraversion in leadership and management learning

In 2013, the British Academy of Management (BAM) launched the Researcher Development Grants Scheme with the aim of advancing management scholarship through empirical research. Two UWE Bristol researchers, Eda Ulus and Inge Aben, developed the project ‘Silence is Golden’ which was successfully selected as one of 13 projects from 125 applications for a Researcher Development Grant. The project will explore individual experiences of introversion in higher education.

Following this project, Inge Aben was rewarded a PhD scholarship in 2018 to continue and expand her studies into “introversion at work” at the University of Bath, School of Management. She was supervised by Professors Nancy Harding, Juani Swart and Russ Vince.

The findings of the research will be shared with professionals in reports and academic journals and used to inform best practice in teaching and best practice in organisations.

Leadership Evaluation Collaboratory

The Leadership Evaluation Collaboratory was a network of practitioners and academics that promoted learning and experimentation around different approaches to evaluating leadership development and organisational change. Its aim was to support the development of evaluative capacity amongst professionals who work in complex environments, where multiple-stakeholders collaborate across boundaries in order to address systemic issues and where outcomes may not be readily discernible.

Meeting regularly for four years between 2015 and 2019, the collaboratory was supported by funding from the NHS Leadership Academies of the South West and the Thames Valley and Wessex regions. The experience of co-chairing the Collaboratory is currently being written up as a research paper by Dr Gareth Edwards (UWE Bristol), Dr Simon Smith (University of Winchester), Dr Adam Palmer (University of Winchester), Professor Richard Bolden (UWE Bristol) and Emma Watton (Lancaster University).

To find out more, please contact: Dr Gareth Edwards.

Organisation and leadership development for malaria elimination and HIV prevention in Southern Africa

Professor Peter Case is leading teams of researchers in the design and delivery of leadership and organisation development programmes to improve service delivery for malaria elimination and HIV prevention in southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Namibia).The key collaborative partner for this work is the Malaria Elimination Initiative (a research centre based at the University of California, San Francisco and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), but Peter also works closely with ministries of health in the region, the Clinton Health Access Initiative and Population Services International to bring about changes in operational practice and improved performance.

A key aspect of ensuring sustainability of the work is providing accredited training via UWE Bristol’s postgraduate certificate in Professional Practice in Change Leadership to cohorts of health professionals in the region. The teams work with local stakeholders to find ways of improving healthcare services. Participants in the studies include national programme directors, heads of specialist medical services at provincial and district levels, middle management and frontline staff (doctors, nurses, environmental health officers).

To date, this has resulted in improvements in the reporting of malaria cases by health facilities; increased collaboration between the malaria programme, schools, and community organisations; a decrease in health facility stock-outs of key malaria treatments drugs and an increase in malaria case investigation rates.

To find out more, please contact: Professor Peter Case.

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