Imperial College London


Business School

Abu Dhabi Chamber Chair in Innovation and Strategy



+44 (0)20 7594 1699n.phillips




Ms Donna Sutherland-Smith +44 (0)20 7594 1916




296Business School BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Institutional Theory

My work in this area has focused on connecting conventional approaches to understanding institutional process to new theoretical perspectives such as discourse analysis or to new empirical areas of study such as entrepreneurship and technology. Much of my work currently focuses on understanding how institutions change and the implications of institutional change for organizations. This research area has led to a number of publications in top journals including publications in Academy of Management Journal and Academy of Management Review.


Entrepreneurship, Family Business and Social Entrepreneurship

I have been increasingly engaged in a program of research looking at a range of different but related issues in entrepreneurship, family business and social entrepreneurship. My interest here lies in applying social theory to developing deeper understandings of these important forms of organization. In one subtheme, I have been researching various topics around family business and entrepreneurship in emerging markets. I have also been working on a project applying institutional theory to understanding social enterprise. Papers from this stream of my research have been published in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Organization Science, and Strategic Organization.


Technology Strategy and Innovation

I have been working for the last few years on various aspects of technology strategy and innovation. In particular, I am interested in the social dynamics of technology adoption and the ramifications of these dynamics for technology strategy and innovation. I am particularly interested in the dynamics of adoption of digital consumer devices such as the iPod and 3G mobile telephony and have carried out a large study on the introduction of texting. More recently I have become interested in platform technologies more generally and their role in organizational fields. I am also currently involved in a project looking at the effect of virtual world technology on the innovation processes of IBM. I have published several articles on these themes and have two papers under review at the moment in this area.


Qualitative Methods

I have a strong interest in qualitative research methods and I have published a number of papers and book chapters on various topics in this area. In particular, I am interested in the application of discourse analysis, narrative analysis and other related methods in the study of organizations. In 2002, I completed a book with Cynthia Hardy (University of Melbourne) on the topic. Papers on discourse analysis in Academy of Management Journal,  Organization Science, Organization Studies, Organization Research Methods, and Human Relations are being cited with increasing frequency as interest in linguistic approaches to organization studies increases. I am currently working on a book on linguistic methods in management research with Roy Suddaby (University of Alberta).

External Grants Awarded

  • 2000/02 SSHRC Strategic Research Grant with Fred Bird and others to study social justice and the activities of multinationals in developing countries (C$254,000). I am a co-researcher on this grant
  • 2000/01 Universitas 21 Project Grant from the Teaching & Learning Committee to develop web based teaching technologies to enrich cross-cultural case analysis in studies in Organisational Politics Education (A$44,000). Project team consists of Bill Harley, Cynthia Hardy, and Lea Waters at the University of Melbourne and myself
  • 1999/00 Citigroup Behavioral Science Research Council Grant with Steve Maguire to study the dynamics of trust & identity in intraorganizational relations (US$13,528). I am the principal investigator on this grant
  • 1997/00 SSHRC Standard Research Grant with Thomas Lawrence and Steve Maguire to study the Dynamics of Collaboration ($110,000). I am principal investigator on this grant
  • 1997/00 SSHRC Standard Research Grant with Thomas Lawrence and Michael Mauws to study Management in Cultural Industries ($55,000). I am principal investigator on this grant
  • 1996/99 FCAR Standard Research Grant with Cynthia Hardy to study collaboration ($60,00). I am a co-investigator on this grant
  • 1994/96  SSHRC Strategic Research Grant with Cynthia Hardy and Thomas Lawrence to study Collaboration ($159,000). I am a co-investigator on this grant