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Dr Alexandra Bristow

Profile summary

Professional biography

Alex Bristow is a Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour at the Open University Business School and the Deputy Director of Research Degrees for the Faculty of Business and Law. She previously worked at the Universities of Lancaster (where she completed her PhD), Surrey and Birmingham.

Research interests

Alex's research takes a critical approach to management, work and organisation. She is particularly interested in complexity, tensions, and contradictions, and focuses on power and politics, and their relationship with other issues (change, identity, inclusion, knowledge, learning, technology) faced by people in organisations. She is also interested in careers and, in particular, both doing and researching careers differently. Current and recent projects include the role of power and politics within the changing nature of academic labour; power and the experiences, trajectories and identities of early-career professionals; the organisational impact of Brexit, Trumpism and populism; the politics of organisational inclusion in populist times; the politics of knowledge and expertise production in the field of management; power, change and learning in public service organisations; postcolonialism and (dis)empowerment; and the politics of activism and craftivism. Alex is a member of the Research into Employment, Empowerment, and Futures centre and the Centre for Policing Research and Learning (CPRL).

Alex's PhD thesis on 'The Production of Objectivity in Organisation Studies: An Analysis of Some of the Field's Leading Journals' is a winner of the Best Dissertation Award of the Academy of Management CMS Division. She has published in high-quality international journals, including Academy of Management Learning and Education, Ephemera, Human Relations, LeadershipManagement LearningOrganization, and Organization Studies. She is currently co-editing a book on Doing Academic Careers Differently: Portraits of Academic Life (to be published by Routledge) and has also contributed chapters to the edited books on The Future of Management Education (2022), The SSCI Syndrome in Higher Education (2014), and The Dark Side 2: Critical Cases on the Downside of Business (2013).

Alex has supervised eight Doctoral students to successful completion, with three further supervisions currently in progress. She is the Deputy Director of Research Degrees for the Faculty of Business and Law, and is also actively involved in the training and development of Doctoral students and early-career academics at institutional, national, and international levels. She has contributed to the development of the innovative IPhD programme, and designed and led the core Doctoral training module 'Foundations of Management Research' (at Surrey). Alex welcomes interest from potential PhD students in her areas of research, and from current students and supervisors seeking an external examiner.


Teaching interests

Alex has taught at all Higher Education levels (PhD, MBA, MSc and undergraduate, including degree apprenticeships), modes of delivery (full-time, part-time, executive, international, face-to-face, distance learning, online, work-based), and cohort sizes. She has successfully designed, validated, delivered and led modules and programmes in a range of subject areas and levels. She has also supervised over 30 postgraduate taught students (MBA and MSc) to successful completion of their dissertations.

Alex's favourite subjects to teach are tensions and contraditions, power and politics, and learning and change in organisations, organisational meta-theory, the philosophical and theoretical foundations of the management field, and management research philosophies. She contributed to the Research Philosophies and Approaches chapters in the 7th, 8th, and 9th edition of the Saunders et al (2016 and 2019) bestselling Research Methods for Business Students textbook. The chapters are freely available on and have been downloaded a combined 5,500 times by students and researchers around the world.

Alex is currently the Module Team Chair for BXY130 on the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) programme.

Alex is also an external examiner for BSc Business Management at Bayes Business School (formerly Cass), University of London, and for PGT business programmes at Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow.

Impact and engagement

Alex is a founding editor of CMS InTouch, a global digital platform for real-time conversations on critical issues in management and organisations. CMS InTouch works in partnership with the Academy of Management CMS Division and the journal Organization to connect and support critical scholars, activists and practitioners across geographical, political, financial and other boundaries through free and open webinars and online events.

Eventbrite page to register for upcoming events

YouTube channel with recordings of past events

External collaborations

Alex is a member of the International Editorial Board of Organization and has guest co-edited the longest-running Special Paper Series of the journal on 'Populist Responses to Austerity and Cultural Change: Brexit, Trumpism and Beyond'. She is currently co-editing a Special Issue of Management Learning on 'One hundred years of Paulo Freire: Rethinking critical pedagogy, management learning and education' (deadline for paper submissions 1st September 2022), and a book on 'Doing Academic Careers Differently', to be published by Routledge. Alex is also a member of the British Academy of Management Peer Review College.

Alex is an executive member of the Academy of Management Critical Management Studies Division, in the five-year Division Chair track role. In 2021-2022 she is co-chairing the PDW programme - a role she shares with Ghazal Mir Zulfiqar.


A dialectical approach to the politics of learning in a major city police organization (2022-04-01)
Bristow, Alexandra; Tomkins, Leah and Hartley, Jean
Management Learning, 53(2) (pp. 223-248)

Evidence-based Practice and the Ethics of Care: ‘What Works’ or ‘What Matters’? (2021)
Tomkins, Leah and Bristow, Alexandra
Human Relations ((Early Access))

What was, is and will be critical about journal publishing? (2021)
Bristow, Alexandra
Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organizations, 21(4) (pp. 23-55)

Mechanisms of micro-terror? Early career CMS academics’ experiences of ‘targets and terror’ in contemporary business schools (2020-09-01)
Ratle, Olivier; Robinson, Sarah; Bristow, Alexandra and Kerr, Ron
Management Learning, 51(4) (pp. 452-471)

Asymmetries of Leadership: Agency, Response and Reason (2020-02-01)
Tomkins, Leah; Hartley, Jean and Bristow, Alexandra
Leadership, 16(1) (pp. 87-106)

Riding Populist Storms: Brexit, Trumpism and beyond, Special Paper Series Editorial (2020)
Robinson, Sarah and Bristow, Alexandra
Organization, 27(3) (pp. 359-369)

Academic Arrhythmia: Disruption, Dissonance and Conflict in the Early-Career Rhythms of CMS Academics (2019-07-08)
Bristow, Alexandra; Robinson, Sarah and Ratle, Olivier
Academy of Management Learning and Education, 18(2) (pp. 241-260)

Brexiting CMS (2018-09-01)
Bristow, Alexandra and Robinson, Sarah
Organization, 25(5) (pp. 636-648)

Labour pains: Starting a career within the neo-liberal university (2017-11)
Robinson, Sarah; Ratle, Olivier and Bristow, Alexandra
Ephemera: theory & politics in organizations, 17(3) (pp. 481-508)

Beyond the Single Organization: Inside Insights From Gaining Access for Large Multiorganization Survey HRD Research (2017-09-15)
Saunders, Mark N. K.; Gray, David E. and Bristow, Alexandra
Human Resource Development Quarterly, 28(3) (pp. 401-425)

Being an Early-Career CMS Academic in the Context of Insecurity and ‘Excellence’: The Dialectics of Resistance and Compliance (2017)
Bristow, Alexandra; Robinson, Sarah and Ratle, Olivier
Organization Studies, 38(9) (pp. 1185-1207)

Why the epistemologies of trust researchers matter (2015)
Isaeva, Neve; Bachmann, Reinhard; Bristow, Alexandra and Saunders, Mark N.K.
Journal of Trust Research, 5(2) (pp. 153-169)

On life, death and radical critique: A non-survival guide to the Brave New Higher Education for the intellectually pregnant (2012)
Bristow, Alexandra
Scandinavian Journal of Management, 28(3) (pp. 234-241)

[Review] Organizing Words: A Critical Thesaurus for Social and Organization Studies by Yiannis Gabriel, 2008 (2009-11-01)
Bristow, Alexandra
Management Learning, 40(5) (pp. 617-621)

Fragments and Links: Organizational Actor‐World of the Harry Potter Phenomenon (2007)
Bristow, Alexandra
Culture and Organization, 13(4) (pp. 313-325)

Management Education and Early Career Academics: Challenges and Opportunities (2022-04-07)
Ratle, Olivier; Bristow, Alexandra and Robinson, Sarah K.
In: Fellenz, Martin; Brady, Mairead and Hoidn, Sabine eds. The Future of Management Education. Routledge Advances in Management Learning and Education
ISBN : 9780367559717 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : London

Understanding research philosophy and approaches to theory development (2019-05)
Saunders, Mark N. K.; Bristow, Alexandra; Thornhill, Adrian and Lewis, Philip
In: Saunders, Mark N. K.; Lewis, Philip and Thornhill, Adrian eds. Research Methods for Business Students, 8th edition (pp. 128-171)
ISBN : 1292208783 | Publisher : Pearson Education | Published : Harlow

Understanding research philosophy and approaches to theory development (2015-07-23)
Saunders, Mark N. K.; Lewis, Philip; Thornhill, Adrian and Bristow, Alexandra
In: Saunders, Mark N. K.; Lewis, Philip and Thornhill, Adrian eds. Research Methods for Business Students (pp. 122-161)
ISBN : 1292016620 | Publisher : Pearson Education | Published : Harlow

Perishing Confucius: An Analysis of a Rupture Point in the Discourse of Taiwanese "New Higher Education" (2014)
Wu, Li-ying and Bristow, Alexandra
In: Chou, Chuing Prudence ed. The SSCI Syndrome in Higher Education: A Local or Global Phenomenon. Comparative and International Education (pp. 127-140)
ISBN : 978-94-6209-407-9 | Publisher : Sense Publishers (Springer) | Published : Rotterdam

Milk or wine come rain or shine: Culture and politics in a Dutch-Belgian banking group after an international takeover (2013-08-06)
Bristow, Alexandra
In: Fatien Diochon, Pauline; Raufflet, Emmanuel and Mills, Albert J. eds. The Dark Side 2: Critical Cases on the Downside of Business (pp. 187-196)
ISBN : 9781906093976 | Publisher : Greenleaf Publishing in association with GSE Research

Management Research (2009)
Bristow, Alexandra
In: Wankel, Charles ed. Encyclopedia of Business in Today's World
ISBN : 9781412964272 | Publisher : Sage | Published : London

Success in Challenging Times: Generating Social Capital [Summary Report] (2014-05-07)
Gray, David E.; Saunders, Mark N. K.; Bristow, Alexandra and Goregaokar, Harshita
Kingston Smith LLP

Success In Challenging Times: Generating Social Capital [Full report] (2014-05-07)
Gray, David E.; Saunders, Mark N. K.; Bristow, Alexandra and Goregaokar, Harshita
Kingston Smith LLP, London.