Prof Kevin Morrell


Management Academic and Coach

Professor Morrell researches how organization and individuals can contribute to the public good. His interests branch out to different fields such as Strategy, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Leadership. Professor Morrell is known globally as the leading critic of the “evidence-based” approach to business research and also for his work on understanding careers.

Recent career achievements:
• 2015 awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. There were 35 of these awards across all the Social Sciences and Humanities.
• 2014 the Academy of Management Learning & Education, the leading journal for management education invited Professor Morrell to write an Exemplary Contribution. This was judged runner up for best paper of 2015.
• 2013 his paper on “Governance in the Public Interest” coauthored with Nicola Harrington, of the United Nations Development Programme, was awarded the Haldane Prize in the journal Public Administration.
2017- Professor of Strategy, Associate Dean for Postgraduate Research, Director of the Doctoral Programme, Director of the Centre for Organizations and Society, Durham University Business School.
2012-17 Professor of Strategy, British Academy Mid-Career Fellow, Head of the Strategy and International Business Group, Director of the Multicultural Scholars Programme, Warwick Business School.
2007-12 Reader in Organizational Behaviour, Director of the Doctorate in Business Administration, University of Birmingham, Business School.
2003-7 Principal Research Fellow in Governance, WBS.
2003-4 Research Officer, King’s College London (p/t).
2002-4 ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Loughborough University, The Business School.
1999-2002 PhD in Organizational Behaviour, University of Loughborough.
1998-9 MSc in Human Resource Development, Sheffield Business School.
1995-8 Xerox and a Technology Startup: Business Analyst and Consultant.
1992-5 BA, MA in Philosophy, Jesus College, Cambridge.


JOURNAL ARTICLES & BOOKS – Please see relevant pages on this site


For more on: Administration, Supporting Learning, Widening Participation, Public Engagement, Impact, Esteem, Funding, Reviewing – Please use the contact form for a detailed CV



refereed journal articles
International Conference Papers
  • Uotila, J. and Morrell, K. ‘Can Strategy Be “Evidence-Based”? The Search for Actionable Knowledge in Strategy’ 77th Academy of Management Conference ATLANTA, August 5-9 2016.

  • Fernandes, O. J., Heracleous, L. and Morrell, K. ‘Bridging cognitive and sociopolitical legitimacy judgments: A host policymaker’s perspective on base erosion in Multinational Enterprises, 33rd EGOS Colloquium COPENHAGEN. July 6–8, 2017.

  • Ozcan, P., K. Gurses, B. Yakis-Douglas and Morrell. K. “Who Owns The Airwaves? Using Cases Of Disruptive Communication Technology To Teach “Public Interest”. DRUID17, NEW YORK, June 12-14 2017.

  • Learmonth, M. and Morrell, K ‘Evidence based management and the Medicine as Management Motif’. 76th Academy of Management Conference ANAHEIM, August 5-9 2016.

  • Morrell, K. and Javid, B. How do we measure Public Confidence in Policing? Analysis of large scale survey data targeting Public Administration Review. 76th Academy of Management Conference ANAHEIM, August 5-9 2016.

  • Morrell, K. and Lockett, A. ‘Organizational Identification In Start-Ups: An Existential Perspective’ 75th Academy of Management Conference VANCOUVER, August 7-11 2015.

  • Heracleous, L. and Morrell, K. ‘Space and Speech Act Theory’ 75th Academy of Management Conference VANCOUVER, August 7-11 2015.

  • Kravcenko, D. and Morrell, K. ‘A Narrative perspective on Materiality in Temporal Organizing’ 75th Academy of Management Conference VANCOUVER, August 7-11 2015.

  • Morrell, K. ‘Just how Impossible are ‘Impossible Jobs’? The case of riot policing’ 74th Academy of Management Conference PHILADELPHIA, August 1-5 2014.

  • Morrell, K. ‘Civilianization and its Discontents? Explaining the differential effects of organizational change on middle managers’ 74th Academy of Management Conference PHILADELPHIA, August 1-5 2014.

  • Cooper, S., Currie, G. and Morrell, K. ‘Influencing top tier internal and external executives: the case of the middle manager in shaping strategic decision making’, 30th European Group of Organization Studies Colloquia, ROTTERDAM, July 3-5 2014

  • Morrell, K. ‘Ballet to Bolshevism’, 73rd Academy of Management Conference FLORIDA, August 9-13 2013.

  • Morrell, K. ‘Corporate Governance and the Desperate Need for Mumbo-Jumbo’, 73rd Academy of Management Conference FLORIDA, August 9-13 2013.

  • Morrell, K. and Tuck, P. ‘Professions and Identity during Austerity: An Archaeological, Discursive Practice Perspective’ 7th Asia Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting Conference KOBE, July 26-28 2013.

  • Morrell, K. and Tuck, P. ‘Global Crisis: Professions and Identity in Austerity’ 7th International Conference on Accounting, Auditing and Management MILAN, September 4-6 2012.

  • Morrell, K. ‘Policing Contested Space’, 7th Organization Studies Workshop, RHODES, May 24-26 2012.

  • Morrell, K. and Tuck, P. Tax and Fairy Tales’, 7th Triennial Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference FLORIDA July 10-12 2011.

  • Morrell, K. ‘Governance as Narrative’, ‘Governing good and governing well’: The first global dialogue on ethical and effective governance, AMSTERDAM May 28-30 2009.

  • Jayawardhena, C. and Morrell, K. ‘Purchasing Behavior’, 38th Academy of Marketing Science Conference “Marketing for a Better World”, (reviewed Poster) BALTIMORE, May 20–23 2009.

  • Morrell, K. ‘Communication, Ethics and Leadership’, Confederation of Indian Industry (practitioner conference on leadership) NEW DELHI, October 8 2007.

  • Hartley J., Rashman L., Radnor Z. and Morrell, K. ‘Rich aunts and poor cousins’, 9th International Research Symposium on Public Management, BOCCONI University, Italy, April 6-8 2005.



(2018) Policing and the Public Good: Governance, vices and virtues.

The list of policing’s contemporary woes is long and has led many to question whether the organization and practice of policing can endure in their present form. Yet few alternatives have been put forward, because to do so requires returning to, questioning, and re-imagining the fundamentals. Morrell and Bradford do exactly that, in a remarkable work that draws on high theory, inter-disciplinary insights, and a wide-ranging empirical grounding to deliver a new and compelling understanding of the meaning of good policing and how to bring that public good into being. Professor Nigel Fielding, Emeritus Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Surrey.

This engaging book provides a new and valuable analysis of what we mean by police legitimacy, public good and how this impacts on the ethics of the police. By offering new insights into this complex and changing topic the authors provide a thought provoking examination into how governance is managed through these complexities. Emma Williams, Deputy Director Canterbury Centre for Policing Research, Canterbury Christ Church University.

Policing and Public Management fills a much needed gap in understanding policing from a governance and organisation viewpoint. It is theoretically sophisticated but also engaging and accessible. Frontline police will recognise the account of their work, at the same time academics will draw upon its theoretical insights. Professor Graeme Currie Professor of Public Management, Warwick Business School.

(2012) Organization, Society and Politics: An Aristotelian Perspective.

Relates Aristotle’s analyses of politics and ethics to the power, rhetoric and ethics of contemporary organization. Some of this has been done before, but rarely, if ever, has it been done so competently, critically, constructively and compellingly. Weaving together insights from several disciplines in arguing for Aristotle’s continuing importance, Kevin Morrell here establishes himself as an incisive voice in contemporary Aristotelianism. Dr Kelvin Knight, Director, Centre for Contemporary Aristotelian Studies in Ethics & Politics (CASEP).

Amply demonstrates the relevance of Aristotle’s thought to the twenty-first century world, suggests fresh approaches to the problems of modern organizations and of society at large. Richard Stalley, Professor of Ancient Philosophy, University of Glasgow.

An original and conceptually rigorous contribution to Management and Organization Studies. Iain Munro, Professor in Business Administration, Innsbruck, Austria.

It is common that texts about management pretend to be clever, and decorate themselves with a little philosophy in order to do so. In Kevin Morrell’s book, we see the reverse, the intelligent and subtle use of Aristotle’s philosophy to try to understand the nature of the challenges which management and governance presents us with. This is an important work. Martin Parker, former Editor in Chief of Organization: The Critical Journal of Organization, Theory and Society, University of Leicester School of Management.

Other books

(2013) The Realities of Work.


(2010) The Ethical Business.

Selected Book Chapters and Reviews
Morrell, K. (in Public Administration). Review of Ian Dunt’s book: Brexit, What the Hell Happens Now? – Ian Dunt is a prominent Brexit commentator, said of this review, “Means a lot when someone notices the core thing you were trying to achieve, but did not state. It’s one of the things that makes the entire gruelling process worthwhile.”
Morrell, K. and Learmonth, M. (2017). ‘Evidence based management’ in A. Wilkinson, Armstrong, S and Lounsbury, R. (Eds), The Oxford Handbook of Management, OUP: Oxford.
Morrell, K. and Heracleous, L. (2014). ‘Is Shareholder Empowerment a ‘good thing’?’ in M. Goranova and L. Ryan (Eds) Shareholder Empowerment, New York: Palgrave.
Morrell, K. (2014). ‘Organization as Koinōnia’ in A. J. G. Sison (Ed) Handbook of Virtue Ethics in Business and Management, New York: Springer.



Finish Your Thesis or Dissertation – ebook edition

Finish Your Thesis or Dissertation – paperback edition

Designed to help students with the major project of their degree this takes an unconventional approach that still covers the fundamentals. It collects for the first time proven tips and hacks developed over 15 years of supervising Dissertations. Currently free if you take out a trial of kindle unlimited (remember to cancel). Or just £2.98 (ebook) or £7.99 (paperback + free ebook). Companion YouTube videos (eg below) are free.

Free YouTube Series - Example Videos
MYTHS people have about phds

There are plenty of myths associated with doing a Dissertation and a PhD in particular. These can be harmful because although they might have some truth, they are extremely unhelpful if you believe they are wholly (or even largely) true. If you don’t recognise the dangers of these myths, you will not have realistic expectations which will make you less effective and is likely to lead to disappointment.

At best these slow you down, at worst they become excuses for not finishing. If you believe in them, you avoid trying to find more helpful behaviours (for example forcing yourself to write something, no matter what it looks like at first). In the worst case scenario, they may be a justification for why you ‘can’t’ do a Dissertation (when you actually can).

Believing in some of these myths is actually convenient at one level, because it means you aren’t responsible for delays, or for failing to finish, but it is a real problem if finishing is what you really want. Everyone who completes any Dissertation has doubts at some stage: e.g. ‘they must have let me in by mistake’; ‘everyone else doing one is cleverer than me’ etc. Below are some common myths, as well as counterarguments to each of them. You may find it useful to think about whether these or similar myths may be holding you back.

Myth 1 - You need to be a genius

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS> It's an impossible standard to live up to!

COUNTER> Many, many people have done PhDs, it is not possible that they are all 'geniuses' (whatever that means anyway). In completing one you follow a fairly systematic procedure applied to many different people and the quality of PhDs varies (look at some).

Myth 2 - You have to do something no-one has ever done before.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS> This misunderstands the nature of a 'contribution' to knowledge.

COUNTER> What you do is build on other people's work in a rigorous, precise way - you have to do this or else how are you adding to the existing state of knowledge? If no-one has done anything like what you're studying before then maybe it's not such a great idea! Of course what you do has to be your own work and it is original and new in that sense, but one common problem is overestimating what 'counts' as a contribution to knowledge. Precisely what that means for you and for your PhD is something you need to work on with your supervisor.

Myth 3 - This is going to be your life’s work and a masterpiece OR It will be the best thing you ever do.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS> Again, it's an impossible standard to reach.

COUNTER> Remember when you are doing a Dissertation you are learning (by definition). The idea of a masterpiece may be helpful if you think of it as an 'apprenticeship' - i.e. when you've finished you should be ready to start as a professional researcher. But - if you stop and try to get a longer term perspective - it's actually quite discouraging to think it will be your best work (though it may be your longest). For one thing, one of the things you learn is how you could have done it better and how you would improve in future projects (you are very likely to get asked a version of that question at your viva).

Myth 4 - The PhD will revolutionise or shake the foundations of your discipline.

WHY IS THIS DANGEROUS> Like myth 2 this misunderstands what is required. You need to finish a time-bound project, not win a Nobel prize.

COUNTER> You have to do what a competent PhD student could do in 3-4 years (doesn't sound so bad put like that does it?). As a PhD student it is a nice and noble intellectual dream to think you can change the way the academic community thinks because of your research. The last think I would want to do is discourage anyone from having dreams or from thinking big. However, if you think you have to do that in order to be awarded a PhD you are wrong, plain and simple. Most genuinely groundbreaking research comes after not during people's PhDs.


"you can't see the picture when you're in the frame" Les Brown


Many successful business professionals wonder whether they could make the move into academia. Professor Morrell coaches people who are either definitely looking for a career change or at least want to know whether academia is a realistic option.

His approach is based on the principle that the best outcomes will be to help you to find the answers for yourself. Depending on your needs this can target a very particular situation or problem. Or it can help with more general concerns and “bigger” questions.

Relevant Academic Research

Professor Morrell has published extensively on how scripts can be used to understand careers – specifically on how and why people leave jobs – the subject of his PhD, finished in 2002 (for instance here). This work has been cited around 750 times in journals in Applied Psychology, Career Studies, Counselling, Higher Education, Human Resource Management & Development and other fields.

Professor Morrell’s 2004 paper in the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling (download a copy here) has been cited in Coaching: an International Journal of Theory, in Research and Practice, in Evaluation & Career Assessment Professionals Journal, in the International Journal for Educational and Vocational Guidance and in the British Journal of Guidance and Counselling. Other work on questioning styles used for coaching has been cited in Teaching and Teacher Education, the Global Education Journal, the International Journal of Communication and The Oxford Handbook of Lifelong Learning.

More recently, having been dissatisfied with a lot of the books designed to offer help to people working on their Dissertations. Professor Morrell self-published a new, unconventional “work smarter” guide specifically to support people with their Masters and PhD Dissertations: Finish Your Thesis or Dissertation: Tips and Hacks for Success (click to visit). Together with this is a companion YouTube video series (click for intro).

Relevant Experience

Having worked at 4 Russell Group Universities in roles such as Head of Department and a Director of both PhD and DBA Programmes, Professor Morrell offers impartial 1-1 coaching to help navigate your way into or around academia. He has supervised and published with mature students from the private and public sectors and also coaches Research students and Peers (in Business and Management).

Professor Morrell is an Academic Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (FCIPD) and as such follows their Code of Conduct (here) in his Coaching Practice. This also means he maintains a programme of Continuing Professional Development and he regularly uses a specialist, professional coach as well as being supported by several mentors.

Common Topics

Below are topics Professor Morrell has advised people on – if you would like anonymised testimonials or references please ask for this when using the contact form:

Second Careers – Have I got what it takes / can I succeed in academia / I want to teach – is that enough / can I get a place on a PhD course / can I get a Masters place / funding opportunities / framing a research proposal / having realistic expectations / finding a supervisor / building a network / is my CV good enough / how long would it take / what would it cost

Research students – Publishing / understanding journals / improving writing / topic choice / methods / problems with your supervisor / procrastinating / motivation / time management / setting goals / goals, habits, routines / finishing / publishing / conferences

ECRs & Peers – Publishing / reviewers / promotion / funding / teaching / academic interviews / conferences / time management / personal effectiveness / interpersonal relationships / goal setting / coping with rejection / why are other people doing better / work-life balance


To ask about coaching, please use the contact page to give as much detail as you can – only Professor Morrell sees this, it is in total confidence. He will let you know if he believes he can help and if so share with you a plan for a first session. He may suggest a referral if he feels another coach in his network is better placed to help.

Sessions are online via Skype, 50 minutes @£160, paid in advance.

To avoid COI this is not available to colleagues or students at Professor Morrell’s institution, or people wanting to apply to his institution. He does not act as an examiner or referee to anyone he has coached.

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Story-structures underpin how we make sense of thing like change and leadership. Understanding stories can help organizations find and communicate their purpose.

Professor Morrell is intrigued by the role stories play in helping people to translate the complex social world. He has published in many leading peer-reviewed journals on this topic.

The images above illustrate that although stories can vary in terms of their detail and colour, there are often structural similarities to them. In these examples, the “hero” is being transported to an object they are searching for.


Professor Morrell is a globally recognised authority on employee turnover. Through collecting hundreds of stories on why people quit their jobs, he has built on a radically new approach to thinking about turnover – the ‘unfolding model’. His consultancy translates what one senior executive described as a “million dollar model” into actionable strategies to help any organization manage turnover more effectively.

If you have ever fully costed what happens when a good employee leaves, you will know what value can be realised from preventing just one person quitting. Understanding this is particularly important during times of change. If you want Professor Morrell to translate the main model from his award-winning paper (below), and apply it to your organization get in touch.


Depending on the topic and having sufficient expertise, Professor Morrell occasionally acts as a knowledge broker: offering bespoke briefings for organizations that make “frontier” insights accessible. For individuals, these briefings can help people ensure they have a steady stream of new ideas and insights.

How it works:

  1. Framing: an interview or series of interviews to design the scope of the briefing
  2. Goal-setting: scope out expectations and agree desired outcomes
  3. Delivering: meeting desired outcomes with an accessible report, briefing and/or vodcast

Learn more