1st Edition

Complexity and Organisations Researching Practice

Edited By Chris Mowles, Kiran Chauhan Copyright 2025
    320 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    320 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Virtually everyone accepts that workplaces are complex but there is little insight into how we might engage with complexity more skilfully. If complexity isn’t something that managers can control and leaders cannot harness, then what does a complexity perspective offer?

    This fourth book in the complexity series describes how taking complexity seriously can inform approaches to understanding organisations. It focuses on the ways that managers and researchers can engage with their own histories to better understand their working lives, how they may be participating in maintaining the very processes they are trying to change, and how research methods can shed light on politics of working together. The chapter authors work in a wide variety of sectors and draw on their experience to produce vibrant writing which will resonate with managers and leaders who want to explore how they might understand their working lives differently, and to students who are using first-person reflexive research methodologies.

    Drawn from contemporary research in a wide variety of organisations, the book makes a valuable contribution to manager-researchers wanting to think differently about their intractable and enduring everyday dilemmas.

    Series preface: The Complexity and Management series Chris Mowles,  1. Introduction Kiran Chauhan and Chris Mowles,  Part 1: Decentring subjectivities,  2. Histories of sociality: the challenge of seeing our own eyes Kiran Chauhan,  3. Narrating oneself as another: reflexive autoethnographic inquiry Sune Bjørn Larsen, 4. Diffraction and the mobilisation of cross-cultural identities in practice research Sophie Wong, 5. Reflexivity and its limitations Chris Mowles, Part 2: Exploring practice and its breakdowns, 6. Experiential learning, reflexivity and the productive use of doubt Karina Solsø, 7. Process and politics: negotiating the roles of human and non-human actors Mikkel Haugsted Brahm, 8. Compromising in research processes Helle Therkelsen Stoltz, Part 3: Good enough endings, 9. The politics of endings: dilemmas of making contributions in organisation and management studies Jannie Rasmussen, 10. The ethics of writing about experience: a dialogue Tobit Emmens, Kiran Chauhan, Chris Mowles, 11. In the beginning is already the end Maj Karin Askeland, 12: Concluding notes Chris Mowles and Kiran Chauhan


    Chris Mowles is Professor of Complexity and Management, and Director of, and a supervisor on, the innovative Doctor of Management programme at the University of Hertfordshire.

    Kiran Chauhan is an organisational consultant at a health policy think tank in the UK, and a supervisor on the Doctor of Management programme at the University of Hertfordshire.

    “This book provides fascinating and timely insights into alternative forms of management education as pioneered and developed on the University of Hertfordshire’s Doctor of Management programme, which provides a person-centred approach that takes account of the complexity of human interaction and feeling in organisations. The chapters, written by staff and graduates from the programme, remind us of the significance of paying attention to the intersections of subjective, organisational and political levels of experience in the world of work, whilst at the same time, raising important moral questions about the importance of kindness in the life of contemporary organisations that are often beset by the ethos of individualism and competition”. 

    Candida Yates, Professor of Culture and Communication, Bournemouth University, UK

    “We come into the world as humans, living beings, and we leave the world in the same way. In between, curiously, we spend large spells thinking of ourselves as 'workers', 'managers', 'leaders', 'executives' - categories in which it somehow seems important to deny the humanness not only of ourselves but of others, too.

    This book shows what - and how - we might learn when we scratch the thin veneer of those categories, and does so from a deeply informed, rigorous academic perspective, from a tradition dedicated to taking experience seriously. Therefore it's important for business, for public service, and for all of us who seek to build the capacity to think more humanly about the experience.”

    Benjamin Taylor, Chief Executive, the Public Service Transformation Academy, UK

    “This book draws on the authors’ outstanding reputation, alongside the long-standing ambition of the University of Hertfordshire’s Doctor of Management programme, to reinstate management inquiry as an applied discipline. It’s a core resource for managers, scholars, methodologists and educators in management education who want to understand management practice through the prism of human complexity. The authors make a compelling case for challenging orthodoxy, and more than that, provide accessible means and methods for engaging critically with the managerialist paradigm through reflexivity and creativity, providing honest accounts of journeying from innovators in this space.”

    Hannah Hesselgreaves, Professor in Organisational Learning, Northumbria University, UK