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Personal profile

Scholarly biography

Dr Francis (Dave) is the author or co-author of 32 books, 7 book chapters, 6 second-editions of books, 4 articles in management magazines, 11 journal articles in refereed publications, 10 conference papers and 9 films. His books have been translated into 12 languages. One book (the Unblocked Manager) was included in the Economist's list of Key Books for Managers. An article, written with Professor John Bessant, was selected for the Emerald Hall of Fame. His academic work focuses on innovation skills, innovation capability development, continuous improvement and, recently, innovation for poverty alleviation in the third world.

Dave has been active in professional associations for many years, including the Group Relations Training Association, the Strategic Planning Association, and the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (of which he is a Fellow). Amongst other activities, he was the conference chairman for the Association of Management Development Annual a speaker at the Strategic Planning Society, the Hong Kong Asia Pacific Conference (keynote), the CIPD Annual Conference and the Pacific Resources Development Conference in New Zealand (keynote), and the Human Capital Conference, Foundation Chile.

Knowledge exchange

Dave brings 30 years of commercial experience into his research and teaching activities. He taught sociology to business students following his post-graduate studies but decided that it was important to become practically involved in the reality of organisational life. He worked for several organisations and became an early advocate of the then new field of practice known as Organisation Development. He wrote a number of books on topics such as Personal Development for Managers, Team Building, Value Clarification and Practical Competitive Strategy. 

Using a sociological perspective, he investigated the organisational capabilities needed to be efficiently and effectively innovative, recognising that organisations need use innovation selectively to assist them to become requisitely agile, meaning that they are highly situationally responsive, prudently opportunistic, able to mitigate threats and prepared to thrive in a different future.

Dave's recent research has focused on innovation and agility in social enterprises and in developing young prople so that they are capable of leading agile entreprises, having been developed using the Team Academy learning model.

Supervisory Interests

Dave is an enthusiastic supervisor who believes that the analytical skills developed whilst undertaking academic research will be of great value whatever career the student undertakes in the future. His orientation is sociological and he has specialised in systematic use of qualitative methods, especiallly those using Layder's adaptive theory. In a supervisory role Dave views PhD research as an opportunity to develop a capacity to undertake a variety of scholarly tasks with professional competence.

Specific areas in which Dave specialises in providing supervision include: organisation development, agility-intensive organisations, action-learning, management development, innovation management and ecosystem development.

Research interests

Dave's research interests are focused on using evidence-based theory to improve managment practice. His overall theoretical orientation is Organisational Sociology and he draws extensively from the practice area known as Organisation Development. His study of highly innovative organisations supplied the insights used in the Managing Innovation Training Programme that has been experienced by more than 10,000 managers in 19 countries. He has undertaken research into the role of open innovation in not-for-profit organisations and he is exploring the interdependencies between entrepreneurship, change, organisation development and innovation managment. He has completed a study of the styles used by Change Agents and is preparing this study for publication. For more than two decades he has investigated the competencies required for an organisation, and its leaders, to be effectively agile and his latest book 'Exploiting Agility for Advantage' was published by De Gruyter in Berlin in September 2020.

Approach to teaching

Having spent much of his career either being a manager or advising on organisation development, Dave seeks to use academic research to improve the quality of managment. He draws from the discipline of Sociology (his first degree) but has been highly influenced by humanistic personal development methodologies. He was one of the first to practice as an Organisation Development Change Agent in the UK and worked with more than 500 organisations as a strategy coach before undertaking his PhD studies in CENTRIM in the 1990s.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University of Brighton

Award Date: 5 Jul 2000

PhD, International Management Centres Association

Award Date: 19 Jun 1988

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Award Date: 16 Oct 1985

Award Date: 6 Jul 1964

University of Leicester

Award Date: 6 Jul 1964

External positions

Chairman: SOFIA GLOBAL Advisory Board, SOFIA Global

2015 → …


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