Nottingham University Business School
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Tony Watson, Emeritus Professor

BA (London), MSc (Loughborough), PhD (Nottingham)
Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Work and Org.

Department: Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management

Tony Watson an organisational sociologist whose work focuses on 'real practices' in the organisational and managerial world with a significant proportion of his research and consultancy having been carried out by actually joining management teams in organisations.

He started his business career in Rolls-Royce, carrying out academic research at the same time as co-ordinating a major organisational change. Later, in the 1990s, he worked on secondment for a y ear as a senior manager in GEC-Plessey Telecommunications. This led to the writing of the highly influential and much cited participant-observation ethnography, In Search of Management (1994) - which has sold well over 10,000 copies. Alongside research articles and the other research monographs The Personnel Managers (1977) and The Emergent Manager (1999), there have been several textbooks, including Organising and Managing Work (2nd edition 2006) and Sociology, Work and Organisation, 7th edition 2017).

Recent work focuses on applying the four concepts of self-identity, social-identity, persona and identity-work to people's involvement in work organisations. Stress is put on the advantages of setting these and other issues within pragmatic realist and emergent-relational methodological and theoretical frames of reference

Areas of Expertise
Organisation theory and the sociology of work; Managerial, entrepreneurial, strategic and human resourcing behaviour in organisations; Organisational culture, discourse, identities and narratives; Ethnographic research.

There is a strong continuity between my research, my writing and my teaching. For me, research is about developing knowledge, and writing and teaching are two ways in which this research is communicated to audiences - whether these be students, other researchers or practitioners. And there is an especially close relationship between research and teaching in supervising student dissertations (which I do across the range from PhD to undergraduate). My teaching at Nottingham includes the leadership of a large undergraduae module on 'Organising and Managing in Practice', and contributions to the MBA, the Executive MBA, Executive development work and the doctoral programme.

The emphasis has been integrative and innovative. Integration comes in the linking of societal, organisational and 'personal identity' levels of work organisation and experience in modern societies. The work has been innovative in method (developing ethnographic techniques), theory (developing a distinctive 'pragmatist' and 'relational' perspective) and presentation (developing, for especially sensitive research material, a novel 'ethnographic fiction science' technique and making a film, 'It's not your business'). The aim, across research publications, has been to bring a distinctive methodological and theoretical approach to areas 'beyond OB': making significant contributions to thinking on strategy, HRM, management learning, ethics, entrepreneurship, methodology (esp. epistemology and ontology), and methods (esp. ethnography).

The following lists my publications from 2014 to the present day.

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