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My Research

My PhD explores the overlap between organizational identity and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Core to both concepts are a number of underlying philosophical assumptions about what an organization is that drives empirical and theoretical research. Some scholars claim that organizations are socially constructed phenomena constituted only through the convergence of stakeholder interests. Meanwhile, those coming from a realist stance claim that organizations are rendered independent social objects largely through psychological processes of perception and attribution. Neither perspective appears to adequately capture what an organization is, leading to a lack of conceptual consensus in both organizational identity and CSR research.

Drawing on the stratified ontology of critical realist philosophy, my thesis will consider the possibility that an organization can embody both an independent ontological status as a socio-cultural entity with a core enduring identity, while simultaneously be changeable and relationally constructed by interpretive agents who may be constrained by, transform or reproduce such a core enduring organizational identity over time. In turn, interactions between culture, structure and agency are likely to determine change or stability in organizational identity at an observable level and normative organizational beliefs about social responsibility. Since temporality is critical to this conception, I will be using historical method in conjunction with a critical realist framework and archival data primarily sourced from Alliance Boots (formerly Boots the Chemist). This organization was particularly suitable since it has a long history, an extensive archive and a strong CSR legacy. Thus, Alliance Boots as a case study will offer an empirical base from which to develop a theoretical contribution.

My broad research interests include applying critical realist philosophy, organizational psychology, social and cultural identity, critical management studies, CSR and developing interdisciplinary discourses.

Main Supervisor:

Professor Graeme Currie

Scarman Building - WBS


Dr Kevin Morrell