Nottingham University Business School
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Tony Watson, Emeritus Professor

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

Division: Management

Academic research began almost immediately upon graduating in the form of a participant observation study of organisational change carried out whilst working as an employment relations specialist in Rolls-Royce (Aero Engine Division). After moving to a full-time academic post, a sociological study of the personnel management occupation was carried out (The Personnel Managers 1977). This was followed with Sociology, Work and Industry (1980), a text which has become (over five editions) the main British industrial sociology textbook. After several years concentrating on developing MBA and doctoral programmes, supervising other people's research work and writing textbooks, a return was made in1990-91 to participant observation research within the world of industrial management and to the craft of writing ethnographically about the work, lives and identities of managers (In Search of Management, 1994 and 2001). A series of articles, books and further research projects have all been part of a project of critically applying social science thinking to the ways in which people's lives and the work enterprises with which they associated are continuously being shaped and reshaped in a world of change and uncertainty.

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

Current Research Activities
My current research continues a longstanding fascination with the relationship between how managers and owner-manager/entrepreneurs shape their personal lives, identities, biographies, anxieties and emotions and how they shape their work activities, relationships and enterprises. Within this, I am interested in the role of culture, language, narrative and discourse in the ways that people make sense of and manage work tasks, enterprises and life careers. These interests are currently being pursued in work focusing on entrepreneurial action in a variety of settings and how this relates to the life orientations, organisational endeavors and identity work of the people involved in it.

Publications prior to 2005

Publications prior to 2005

Journal Articles

Watson, T.J. (2004), "Human Resource Management and Critical Social Science Analysis", Journal of Management Studies, Vol.41 (3), pp.447-467.

Watson, T.J. (2004), "Managers, Managism and the Tower of Babble: Making Sense of Managerial Pseudo-Jargon", International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Vol.166, pp.67-82, US.

Watson, T.J. (2003), "Strategies and Strategy-Making: Strategic Exchange and the Shaping of Individual Lives and Organisational Futures", Journal of Management Studies, Vol.40 (5), pp.1035-1023.

Watson, T.J. (2003), "Ethical Choice in Managerial Work: The Scope for Managerial Choices in an Ethically Irrational World", Human Relations, Vol.56 (2), pp.167-185.

Watson, T.J. (2002), "Professions and Professionalism: Should we Jump Off the Bandwagon Better to Study Where it is Going?", International Studies of Management and Organization, Vol.32 (2), pp.94-106, US.

Watson, T.J. (2001), "Beyond Managism: Negotiated Narratives and Critical Management Education in Practice", British Journal of Management, Vol.12 (4), pp.385-396.

Watson, T.J. (2001), "The Emergent Manager and Processes of Management Pre-Learning", Management Learning, Vol.32 (2), pp.221-235.

Watson, T.J. (2000), "Ethnographic Fiction Science: Making Sense of Managerial Work and Organisational Research Processes with Caroline and Terry", Organization, Vol.7 (3), pp.31-38.

Watson, T.J. (2000), "Discourse and Organisation", Human Relations, Vol.53 (4), pp.559-597.

Watson, T.J. (2000), "Managerial Practice and Interactive Social Science", Science and Public Policy, Vol.27 (3), pp.31-38.

Watson, T.J.; Tansley, C. (2000), "Strategic Exchange in the Development of Human Resource Information Systems", New Technology, Work and Employment, Vol.15 (2), pp.108-122.

Watson, T.J.; Watson, D. (1999), "Human Resourcing in Practice: Managing Employment Issues in the University", Journal of Management, Vol.36 (4), pp.483-504.

Watson, T.J.; Bargiela-Chiappini, F. (1998), "Managerial Sensemaking and Occupational Identities in Britain and Italy", Journal of Management Studies, Vol.35 (3), pp.285-301.

Watson, T.J. (1997), "Theorising Managerial Work: A Pragmatic Pluralist Approach to Interdisciplinary Research", British Journal of Management, Vol.8 (1), pp.3-8.

Watson, T.J. (1997), "Human Resource Management, Industrial Relations and Theory - Standing Back and Starting Again", New Zealand Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol.22 (1), pp.7-21.

Watson, T.J. (1996), "Motivation: That's Maslow, isn't it?", Management Learning, Vol.27 (4), pp.447-464.

Watson, T.J. (1996), "How do Managers Think? - Morality and Pragmatism in Theory and Practice", Management Learning, Vol.27 (3), pp.323-341.

Watson, T.J.; Harris, P. (1996), "Human Resources are Strategic Too: Managerial Career Strategies, Planned or Realized", Strategic Change, Vol.5 (6), pp.1-12.

Watson, T.J. (1995), "Shaping the Story: Rhetoric, Persuasion and Creative Writing in Organisational Ethnography", Studies in Cultures, Organizations and Societies, Vol.1 (2), pp.301-311.

Watson, T.J. (1995), "In Search of HRM: Beyond the Rhetoric and Reality Distinction or the Dog that didn't Bark", Personnel Review, Vol.24 (4), pp.6-16.

Watson, T.J. (1995), "Entrepreneurship and Professional Management: A Fatal Distinction", International Small Business Journal, Vol.13 (3), pp.33-45.

Watson, T.J. (1995), "Rhetoric, Discourse and Argument in Organisational Sense-Making: A Reflexive Tale", Organization Studies, Vol.16 (5), pp.805-821.

Watson, T.J. (1994), "Managing, Crafting and Researching: Words, Skill and Imagination in Shaping Management Research", British Journal of Management, Vol.5 (Special Issue), pp.77-87.

Watson, T.J. (1994), "Management "Flavours of the Month": Their Role in Managers' Lives", International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol.5 (4), pp.889-905.

Watson, T.J. (1982), "Group Ideologies and Organisational Change", Journal of Management Studies, Vol.19 (3), pp.259-275.

Watson, T.J. (1979), "Industrial Sociology: Theory, Research and Teaching", Journal of Management Studies, Vol.16 (2), pp.117-138.

Watson, T.J. (1976), "The Professionalisation Process", Sociological Review, Vol.24 (3), pp.599-608.


Harris, L.; Watson, T.J.; Leopold, J. (2004), ed The Strategic Management of Human Resources, London, FT Prentice Hall.

Watson, T.J. (2003), Sociology, Work and Industry, (4), London, Routledge.

Watson, T.J. (2002), Organising and Managing Work: Organisational, Managerial and Strategic Behaviour in Theory and Practice, Harlow, FT Prentice Hall.

Watson, T.J. (2001), In Search of Management, (Reissued Edition), London, Thomson Learning.

Watson, T.J. (2001), W Poszukiwaniu Doskonatego Zarzadzania, Poland, International Thomson Publishing.

Leopold, J.; Harris, L.; Watson, T.J. (1999), ed Strategic Human Resourcing: Principles, Perspectives and Practices, London, Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Watson, T.J.; Harris, P. (1999), The Emergent Manager, London, Sage.

Watson, T.J. (1995), Sociology, Work and Industry, (3).

Watson, T.J. (1994), In Search of Management: Culture, Chaos and Control in Managerial Work, London, Routledge.

Watson, T.J. (1994), Trabajo y Sociedad: manual introductorio a la sociologia del trabajo, industrial y de la empresa, Barcelona, Hacer.

Watson, T.J. (1987), Sociology, Work and Industry, (2), London, Routledge.

Watson, T.J. (1986), Management, Organisation and Employment Strategy, London, Routledge.

Watson, T.J. (1980), Sociology, Work and Industry, (1), London, Routledge.

Watson, T.J. (1977), The Personnel Managers, London, Routledge.

Chapters in Books

Watson, T.J. (2004), "Shy William and the Gaberlunzie Girl", in Gabriel, Y. (ed) Myths, Stories and Organizations: Postmodern Narratives for our Times, pp.223-235, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Watson, T.J. (2004), "Organisations, Strategies and Human Resourcing", in Leopold, J.; Harris, L.; Watson, T. (ed) The Strategic Management of Human Resources, pp.6-33, London, FT Prentice Hall.

Watson, T.J.; Leopold, J.; Watling, D. (2004), "Strategic Choice in Patterns of Employment Relationship", in Leopold, J.; Harris, L.; Watson, J. (ed) The Strategic Management of Human Resources, pp.406-433, London, FT Prentice Hall.

Watson, T.J.; Watson, D. (2004), "The Beehive, the Pig and the Spotted Cow", in Harrison, S.; Thrift, N.; Pile, S. (ed) Patterned Ground, pp.17-21, London, Reaktion.

Watson, T.J. (2002), "Speaking Professionally - Occupation Anxiety and Discursive Ingenuity among Human Resourcing Specialists", in Whitehead, S.; Dent, M. (ed) Managing Professional Identities, pp.99-115, London, Routledge.

Watson, T.J. (2001), "Formal and Informal Organization", in Smelser, N.; Baltes, P. (ed) International Encyclopaedia of the Social and Behaviour Sciences, pp.10907-10910, Amsterdam, Elsevier.

Watson, T.J. (2001), "Negotiated Orders, in Organisations", in Smelser, N.; Baltes, P. (ed) International Encyclopaedia of the Social and Behaviour Sciences, pp.10965-10967, Amsterdam, Elsevier.

Watson, T.J. (2001), "Management: An Activity in Search of Itself", in Antonocopoulou; Bresnen; Burrell; Collinson; Corbett; Dale; Legge; Morgan; Swan (ed) Organisational Studies: Critical Perspectives on Business and Management. Volume 1: Modes of Management, London, Routledge.

Watson, T.J. (1999), "Human Resourcing Strategies: Choice, Chance and Circumstances", in Leopold, J.; Harris, L.; Watson, T. (ed) Strategic Human Resourcing: Principles, Perspectives and Practices, pp.17-38, London, FT Management.

Watson, T.J.; Leopold, J.; Newsome, K. (1999), "Conflict and Co-Operation in Employment Relations", in Leopold, J.; Harris, L.; Watson, T. (ed) Strategic Human Resourcing: Principles, Perspectives and Practices, pp.362-390, London, FT Management.

Watson, T.J.; Rosborough, J. (1999), "Teamworking and the Management of Flexibility: Local and Social-Structure Tensions in High Performance Work Design Initiatives", in Procter, S.; Mueller, F. (ed) Teamworking, pp.162-179, Basingstoke, Macmillan.

Watson, T.J. (1998), "The Labour of Division: The Manager as "Self" and "Other"", in Hetherington, K.; Munro, R. (ed) Ideas of Difference, pp.139-152, Oxford, Blackwell.

Watson, T.J. (1998), "Ethical Codes and Moral Communities: The Gunlaw Temptation, the Simon Solution and the David Dilemma", in Parker, M. (ed) The Ethics of Organisation, pp.253-268, London, Sage.

Watson, T.J. (1997), "Languages Within Languages: A Social Constructionist Perspective on Multiple Managerial Discourses", in Bargiela-Chiappini, F.; Harris, S. (ed) The Language of Business, pp.211-227, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press.

Watson, T.J. (1996), "Managing Work - Managing Self", in Wetherell, M. (ed) Identities, Groups and Social Issues, pp.293-298, London, Sage.

Watson, T.J. (1994), "Towards a Managerially Relevant but Non-Managerialist Organisation Theory", in Hassard, J.; Parker, M. (ed) Towards a New Theory of Organizations, pp.209-224, London, Routledge.

Watson, T.J. (1980), "Understanding Organisations: The Practicalities of Sociological Theory", in Dunkerley, D.; Salaman, G. (ed) The International Yearbook of Organization Studies, pp.36-51, London, Routledge.

Publications from 2005 to the present day

Journal Articles

Spedale, S.; Watson, T.J. (2014), "The emergence of entrepreneurial action at the cross-roads between institutional logics and individual life-orientation", International Small Business Journal, Vol.32, pp. 759-776, DOI: 10.1177/0266242613480376.

Watson, T.J. (2013), "Entrepreneurial action and the Euro-American social science tradition: pragmatism, realism and looking beyond "the entrepreneur"", Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, Vol.25 (1-2), pp. 16-33.

Watson, T.J. (2013), "Entrepreneurship in action: studying entrepreneurial action in its personal, organisational and institutional context through ethnographic field research", Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, Vol.25 (5-6), pp. 404-423.

Watson, T.J. (2012), "The entrepreneur's proposal: a small drama", Tamara: Journal of Critical Postmodern Organization Science, Vol.10 (1), pp. 73-75.

Watson, T.J. (2012), "Making Organizational Ethnography", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol.1 (1), pp. 15-22, Highly Commended Award Winner at the Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2013.

Watson, T.J. (2012), "Entrepreneurship: a suitable case for sociology", Sociology Compass, Vol.6 (4), pp. 306-15.

Watson, T.J.; Watson, D.H. (2012), "Narratives in society, organisations and individual identities:pubs, indentity work and the pursuit of the real", Human Relations, Vol.65 (6), pp. 683-704.

Watson, T.J. (2011), "Ethnography, reality and truth: the vital need for studies of 'how things work' in organisations and management", Journal of Management Studies, Vol.48 (1), pp. 202-217.

Watson, T.J. (2010), "Critical Social Science, Pragmatism and the Realities of HRM", International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol.21 (6), pp. 915-931.

Watson, T.J. (2009), "Narrative life story and the management of identity: a case study in autobiographical identity work", Human Relations, Vol.62(3), pp. 1-28.

Watson, T.J. (2009), "Work and the sociological imagination: the need for continuity and change in the study of continuity and change", Sociology, Vol.43 (5), pp. 861-77.

Watson, T.J. (2009), "Entrepreneurial action, identity work and the use of multiple discursive resources: The case of a rapidly changing family business", International Small Business Journal, Vol.27(3), pp. 251-274.

Watson, T.J. (2008), "Managing Identity: Identity Work, Personal Predicaments and Structural Circumstances", Organization, Vol.15 (1), pp. 121-143.

Watson, T.J.; Fletcher, D. (2007), "Entrepreneurship, Management Learning and Negotiated Narratives", Management Learning, Vol.38 (1), pp.9-26.

Watson, T.J.; Fletcher, D. (2007), "Voice, Silence and the Business of Construction", Organization, Vol.14 (2), pp. 155-174.

Watson, T.J. (2006), "The Organization and Disorganization of Organization Studies", Journal of Management Studies, Vol.43 (2), pp. 367-382.


Watson, T.J. (2013), Management, Organisation and Employment Strategy, Routledge Revival, Routledge Library Edition.

Watson, T.J. (2012), Sociology, Work and Organisation, Routledge.

Watson, T.J. (2011), The Personnel Managers: a study in the sociology of work and employment, Routledge, Revival (first published 1977.

Watson, T.J. (2008), Sociology, Work and Industry, (5), London, Routledge.

Watson, T.J. (2006), Organising and Managing Work, (2nd Edition), Harlow, Prentice-Hall.

Chapters in Books

Watson, T.J. (2014), "HRM as a Profession", in Wiley Encyclopedia of Managemen, London: Wiley. forthcoming 2014.

Watson, T.J. (2014), "Organizations as Negotiated Orders", in International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Amsterdam: Elsevier. forthcoming 2014.

Watson, T.J. (2013), "Pragmatism, organisations and getting to grips with reality", in Keleman, M. and Rumens, N (ed) American Pragmatism and Organisations: new directions in theory and practice, London: Gower..

Watson, T.J. (2012), "Entrepreneurship, pragmatism and getting to grips with reality", in K. Mole and M. Ram (ed) Perspectives on Entrepreneurship, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Watson, T.J. (2012), "Pragmatism, reality and entrepreneurship: entrepreneurial action and effectuation perspectives", in K Mole, M Ram (ed) Perspectives in Entrepreneurship, Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.

Humphreys, M.; Watson, T.J. (2009), "Ethnographic practices: from 'writing-up ethnographic research' to 'writing ethnography'", in Ybema, S; Yanow, D; Wels, H; Kamsteeg, F. (ed) Organizational ethnography: Studying the complexities of everyday organizational life, London, Sage Publications.

Watson, T.J. (2009), "In Search of McManus: mystery, myth and modernity", in Kostera, M (ed) Organization Olympians: heroes, heroines and villains of organizational myths, p.142-54, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.

Watson, T.J. (2008), "Organization and management studies: an end in itself or a means towards better informed choices in the administration of social and economic life?", in Barry, D.; Hansen, H. (ed) The Sage Handbook of New Approaches to Management and Organization, London, Sage Publications Ltd.

Watson, T.J. (2008), "Identity Work, Managing and Researching", in Pullen, A.; Beech, N.; Sims, D. (ed) Exploring Identity Concepts and Methods, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.

Watson, T.J. (2008), "Social Construction of Reality", in Gabriel, Y. (ed) Organizing Words: a critical thesaurus for social and organization studies, p.7-71, Oxford University Press.

Watson, T.J. (2008), "Field Research", in Thorpe, R.; Holt, R. (ed) The Sage Dictionary of Qualitative Research Methods, London, Sage Publications.

Watson, T.J. (2007), "Organization theory and HRM", in Boxall, P., Purcell, J. and Wright, P. (ed) Oxford Handbook of Human Resource Management, 108-127, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Watson, T.J. (2007), "HRM, ethical irrationality, and the limits of ethical action", in Pinnington, A.; Macklin, R.; Campbell, T. (ed) Human Resource Management: ethics and employment, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Watson, T.J. (2007), "Work Orientations and Managerial Practices: an Experiential and Theoretical Learning Experience", in Vince, R.; Reynolds, M. (ed) Handbook of Experiential Learning and Management Education, pp. 376-387, London, OUP Oxford.

Fletcher, D.; Watson, T.J. (2006), "Entrepreneurship, Shifting Life Orientations and Social Change in the Countryside", in Steyaert, C.; Hjorth, D. (ed) Entrepreneurship as Social Change, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.



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