Dr Anthony Hesketh
Management Learning and LeadershipCharles Carter Building
Other affiliations: CPERC - Cultural Political Economy Research Centre , Institute for Advanced Studies
- the construction, articulation and evaluation of executive strategy making
- the relationship strategy, leadership & organizational performance
- business process outsourcing (BPO);
- measurement of the performance of BPO
- the management of talent, especially examination of human capital management architectures and measurement
- Cultural Political Economy, Semiotic Materialism, Critical Realism and related methodologies
- managerial labour markets, including graduate recruitment and development
Editor: The Human Resources Business Review
Editorial Board: theHR DIRECTOR Magazine
Course Director and Course Lecturer and Tutor in BBA M110
- MA in Management Learning & Leadership (MAMLL)
- PhD (See possible project list below)
- MA in HR & Consulting (Strategy, Leadership & Consulting)
Current Lancaster Roles: I currently sit on the Management School's External Relations Committee, and am currently my Department's Director of Undergraduate Studies.
BSc Econ, PhD (Lancaster)
Ongoing and Recent Research Grants:
£1.4 million for the Centre for Performance-Led HR, from 12 HR function directors of leading organizations including RBS, Vodafone, Royal Mail, Shell, McDonals, Hanson, IBM, United Utilities. NWDA, BNFL & The Cabinet Office.
Graduate Employability in a Knowledge Economy
With Phil Brown (Cardiff University)
An Examination of the Stocks and Flows of Graduate Labour in the North WestNorth West Development Agency and ESF
My pathway back to Lancaster, after having been a student here in the early 1990s, has been largely achieved by following a deep ineterst in examining the different ways in which individuals and organizations value - and subsequently measure - the contribution of what I call people-specific interventions. Work during post-doctoral research at Southampton University, and a lectureship in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University has enabled me to lay the foundations for a new theoretical framework exploring how performance is articulated at individual, organizational and now strategic levels.
I take the practical relevance of my work seriously. To illustrate this I list the companies I have recently worked with: Accenture, Arup, Allen & Overy, Astra Zeneca, BAE Systems, Barclays, BBC, B&Q, BOC, Britannia, BT, Cabinet Office, Citigroup, Corus, Civil Service, Croda, CSC, Centrica, Debenhams, Deutsche Bank, European Transaction Bank, EP-First Saratoga, GKN, GlaxoSmithKilne (GSK), Hanson, Hewitt, HSBC, IBM, Inland Revenue, JP Morgan Stanley, KPMG, Logica, Lovells, McDonalds, Marks & Spencer, Microsoft, National Grid, NHS, Peugeot, PWC, Quinetiq, Royal Bank of Scotland, Royal Mail, SAP, Shell, Standard Chartered Bank, Standard Life, Tesco, UBS, Unilever, United Utilities, Xchanging
Office HoursStrictly By E-Mail Appointment
Biography for Conference Organisers: Dr Anthony Hesketh, BSc, PhD is Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor in the Management School at Lancaster University. His research focuses on capturing the impact of leadership and strategy on organizational performance. Anthony researches and consults with some of the world’s leading organisations on strategy formulation, outsourcing, human capital management and its measurement. Recent books include The Mismanagement of Talent (Oxford University Press, 2004), Explaining the Performance of HR (Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Leading HR (Palgrave, 2010)
Anthony was the founding Director of the Centre for Performance-Led HR at Lancaster – which has amongst its members some of the Europe’s most influential HR Directors. In the outsourcing space, Anthony is a founding member of the HROA Board, and for which he heads the Global Research & Publications Committee. Anthony regularly speaks at international conferences and sits on a number of advisory boards in the workforce analytics space. He is the founding editor of the new Human Resources Business Review (HRBR) and sits on the editorial board of The HR Director.
My Research Interests
In short: My work focuses on how organizational leaders understand and capture the impact of the activities and processes through which people enable the realization of organizational strategy and its impact upon performance.
I have become interested in leadership not through a fascination with the academic literature (which I view to have serious limitations) but because of my work’s hardwiring into the practical day-to-day existence and operational lives of executives or ‘leaders’. I have studied at close hand the emergence, construction and reconstruction of business strategies at this level of the organization and have become fascinated in several distinct aspects, which themselves form what might be described as discrete fields of academic interest. These are:
1. Leading performance: This has been the central area of concern for me for the last several years (half a dozen papers and a book on performance and its measurement published by Cambridge University Press, 2010), where I have been deconstructing how organizational leaders engage in and are influenced by methodological thinking surrounding the measurement of performance inside organizations, the development of an alternative perspective for understanding performance and the ramifications of this for organizational leaders and their concomitant strategy formulation. Empirical work in this strand of my work ranges from exploring financials (such as my work on outsourcing) to thinking through a new ontology of performance. The concepts of reflexive performance, generative ensembles and enablement are important and are now feeding into my work on what I refer to as competitive intangibles (my latest paper in the journal Strategic Sourcing, 2008 outlines this new conceptual breakthrough). This is essentially a meta-theoretical toolkit for organizational leaders in understanding and evaluating the performance of their organizations and how to report performance.
2. The politics of leading: There is a long tradition in the leadership literature devoted to this line of inquiry, although here again, I have adopted a particular slant, focusing on what I call “The Golden Triangle” between CEO, CFO and other significant functional directors.
3. The discursive construction of strategy: in which narratives and storytelling play a major role in how strategies are formulated, adopted and ultimately evaluated by c-suite players. I view strategy formulation to be a far from straightforward, highly contested and deeply politicised process. Empirical work here focuses on the role of executives on strategy formulation. A new book capturing my theoretical development in this field is underway.
4. Talent Management: My work in this area explores how executives’ conversations over the value of their people and the contribution they make to organizational performance can be better facilitated. Recent work here has explored how talent can be introduced into boardroom analytics, most notably by a new metric I have been developing called the Return On Investment to Talent (or ROIT). This work was recently released as a white paper on the Centre’s web page and was the main topic of a recent keynote address delivered in Brussels at the Human Resources Outsourcing Association’s Annual Conference (download paper). Previous work has been captured in a book, The Mismanagement of Talent (Oxford University Press), jointly authored with Phil Brown of Cardiff University and bringing together our work on what was a major piece of ESRC-funded work.
Current PhD Students and Applying To Be Supervised By Ant Hesketh
I have successfully supervised a number of PhD students, several of whom have won funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). I welcome enquiries from students wishing to undertake doctoral studies under my supervision. The current topic areas in which I would be interested in developing PhD proposals with prospective students are:
The discursive construction of strategy by executives: current students include Sue Russell (jointly with Ruth Wodak) exploring new discourses of capitalism and Santiago Leyva (jointly with Bob Jessop) exploring the discursive construction of strategies in the knowledge economy. Kamran Hashmi is working on a new field of strategy articulation and competitive advantage with a particular emphasis on M&As and Amie Ramanath's work is exploring the dynamics of strategy formulation.
The impact learning has on organizational performance: current students include Angela Mulvie (capturing the impact of executive coaching on performance), and David Simm (ESRC funded) on the impact of the learning organization on Rover plc.
And Something Else?! I welcome truly blue-skies/innovative research proposals in a new field, although I do insist on it being (vaguely) related to my research themes identified above. Should you be in this category, your challenge is to convince me of this relevance to my own work! I am open to being convinced but expect to be challenged to justify your research proposal!
Do please feel free to contact me should you wish to explore the possibility of working together. Before doing so I would strongly recommend you read the Management School’s advice to prospective doctoral students. The trick is to construct and then email me with a one page summary of your work enabling me to establish the following principles of your proposed work:
What’s the question? An obvious point, perhaps, but you should have a clear idea of what your research will be about, why it is important and the theoretical contribution it will make to existing research in the area you have chosen. I will expect you to be familiar with the key texts and latest thinking in the relevant field and to be clear about why your work represents an exciting project for me to supervise!
Methodology: Many students confuse their chosen research methods with their methodology. Research methods are the instruments you will use to collect your data. Your methodology is the process through which you will both articulate and justify your chosen methods and the claims you make from your interpretation(s). In short: why should we believe what you (will) have to say? The most common reason for my rejecting applications from students is because they have not thought-through this essential aspect of their work. A good place to start thinking through your methodology is via Alvesson and Skolberg’s Reflexive Methodology. Expect to be challenged about your chosen methodology during interview! I am happy supervising either quantitative or qualitative research. As a rule, my quantitative work is set more in pure financial as opposed to applied statistical techniques. Here again, I need to be persuaded by the logic of your proposed research.
Funding: I have been successful in the past at securing research monies from the ESRC, various national governments and LUMS-funded scholarships. These funding opportunities are time sensitive with important deadlines. You should consult these bodies for their respective deadlines before making an application. Again, further information can be obtained from LUMS’s own excellent web information on this subject.
- Introduction: performance-led HR
Sparrow, P R., Hesketh, A J., Hird, M. & Cooper, C L. 2010 In: Leading HR. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan p. 1-22. 22 p.
- Using Business Model Change to Tie HR into Strategy: Reversing the Arrow
Sparrow, P R., Hesketh, A J., Hird, M., Marsh, C. & Balain, S. 2010 In: Leading HR. Sparrow, P R., Hird, M., Hesketh, A. & Cooper, C. (eds.). Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan p. 68-89. 22 p.
- The golden triangle: how relationships between leaders can leverage more value from people
Hesketh, A J. & Hird, M. 2010 In: Leading HR. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan p. 103-135. 33 p.
- The future scenario for leading HR 2020
Hesketh, A J., Sparrow, P R. & Hird, M. 2010 In: Leading HR. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan p. 253-278. 26 p.
- Explaining the Performance of Human Resource Management
Fleetwood, S. & Hesketh, A J. 2010 Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.