Research themes

Research at Bristol Leadership and Change Centre (BLCC) explores the assumptions and processes that inform and shape leadership and change for individuals, groups, organisations, communities and societies. There are four main inter-connected areas of expertise and interest that run through our work, as outlined below.

1. Leadership and followership in a complex and changing world

We live in volatile and uncertain times, where individuals, groups and organisations are expected to collaborate across boundaries to address ‘wicked’ problems in the face of competing expectations and demands. Our research in this area draws on a range of concepts and ideas, including:

  • distributed, shared and systems leadership
  • sense-making, ambiguity and paradox
  • psychodynamics
  • power
  • responsibility, ethics and sustainability.

2. Cultures of leading and organising

A tendency to seek ‘global’ theories masks huge variability in how processes of leading and organising are understood, experienced and enacted in different contexts. Our research engages with issues of place, space, language and time in order to reveal how culture and identity inform and shape organisational practices and processes. Our expertise includes:

  • cross-cultural studies of leadership and language
  • international development
  • ethnographic and anthropological approaches to leadership
  • organisation and change
  • place-based leadership
  • diversity
  • the spatial, temporal and symbolic dimensions of organisational life.

3. Leadership and organisational learning and development

Leadership and management education is a major global industry, with wide variations in approaches and their effectiveness. Our research in this area explores the mechanisms though 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 transitions and liminality
  • creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship
  • the evaluation of leadership and organisational development interventions.

4. Behaviour change and social influence

Wide-scale change requires mobilising processes of social influence and behaviour change. Our work in this area considers the role of social practices, social marketing and social movements in producing responsible, effective and sustainable change.  Specific interests include:

  • contributions to social practice theory and its application to behaviour change
  • critical perspectives on commercial marketing and its effects on societal norms in terms of health and sustainability
  • the use of social marketing in generating social movements and public activism in areas such as road safety, active travel, obesity, end-of-life care and alcohol harm reduction.

Find out more about our projects

For details of specific projects relating to themes one to three, take a look at our current and recent research projects.

For information on specific projects relating to theme three, please refer to our behaviour change projects.

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