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Professor Emma Bell

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Professional biography

Emma Bell is Professor of Organisation Studies at the Open University.  Prior to joining the Open University in 2017, she was a professor at Keele University for five years. Before that she worked as a lecturer and researcher at the University of Warwick, Queen Mary University of London, University of Bath and Exeter University.  Emma is Joint Editor-in-Chief of the journal Management Learning, Associate Editor for Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, and serves on the editorial boards of Academy of Management Learning & Education, Organization, Scandinavian Journal of Management and Human Relations. She is current Co-Vice Chair Research and Publications, British Academy of Management and Past Chair of the Critical Management Studies Division of the Academy of Management. Her early working life included a period as a graduate management trainee in the UK National Health Service. Recently, Emma has been involved in projects that explore craft work and the globalisation of management research. She recently led a project funded by the UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI)  entitled 'Developing Empowering Methodologies in Management Research'. In 2020 she was awarded a Fellowship by the Academy of Social Sciences.

Research interests

Emma Bell’s contribution to organisation studies relies on the use of cultural and social theory to critically analyse complex managerial problems in society. She has published over 40 articles in international peer-reviewed journals in her field, in addition to several authored and edited books, as well as contributing chapters to research handbooks and edited collections.

Much of this work is centrally concerned with understanding how meaning is produced, disseminated and contested in organizations. Previous projects have focused on understanding the importance of religious and spiritual beliefs in shaping organisational cultures and leadership, how popular cultural representations of management and organisation shape perceptions of business in society, and using a practice-based approach to understand embodiment, materiality and learning in organisations. A commitment to qualitative inquiry runs throughout this research.

A key area of Emma’s work concerns the development of research methodology in the UK and internationally. Professor Bell is co-author of the textbook, Business Research Methods, with Alan Bryman and Bill Harley, published by Oxford University Press. This reflects her enduring interest in understanding the politics of academic knowledge production and seeking to expand the practices of doing research by developing more innovative methods. Recent projects in this area have been funded by the British Academy of Management (BAM) and the UK India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI). This work analyses the globalization and core-periphery politics of knowledge production and explores the potential for decolonizing and empowering research methodologies in the Indian context. She is also regularly invited to speak to groups of PhD students in the UK and internationally on topics ranging from visual methods and ethnography to research ethics.

This work is complemented by wider institutional roles through which Emma seeks to influence her profession and the development of her field, including as current Co-Editor-in-Chief of the journal Management Learning, former Chair of the Critical Management Studies Division of US-based Academy of Management (AOM), current Vice-Chair Research and Publications of British Academy of Management, and by serving on a number of journal editorial boards.

Teaching interests

Emma’s teaching is in the areas of organisational behaviour, people management and the role of business in society. She takes a student-centred approach to the analysis of complex managerial problems, encouraging the creative integration of insights from sociology, anthropology, social psychology and management, and using case studies and films to encourage critical, reflexive analysis. She also regularly teaches doctoral students on programs in the UK and internationally, on issues related to research including visual methods, research ethics and qualitative analysis, and has contributed regularly to the Summer School on Research Methods in Management Studies, organized by Italian Academy of Business Administration and Management and the University of Naples.


Provocation Essays Editorial: On the importance of moving and being moved (2020-11-01)
Brewis, Deborah N and Bell, Emma
Management Learning, 51(5) (pp. 533-536)

Dangerous Knowledge? The Political, Personal and Epistemological Promise of Feminist Research in Management and Organization Studies (2020-04)
Bell, Emma; Meriläinen, Susan; Tienari, Janne and Taylor, Scott
International Journal of Management Reviews, 22(2) (pp. 177-192)

Enchantment in Business Ethics Research (2020)
Bell, Emma; Winchester, Nik and Wray-Bliss, Edward
Journal of Business Ethics ((Early Access))

Reading the TED talk genre: Contradictions and pedagogical pleasures in spreading ideas about management (2019-12-01)
Bell, Emma; Panayiotou, Alexia and Sayers, Janet
Academy of Management Learning and Education, 18(4)

[Editorial] Editorship-as-curatorship: Celebrating 50 years of Management Learning (2019-04-01)
Bell, Emma and Bridgman, Todd
Management Learning, 50(2) (pp. 147-151)

Time’s up! Feminist theory and activism meets organization studies (2019)
Bell, Emma; Meriläinen, Susan; Taylor, Scott and Tienari, Janne
Human Relations, 72(1) (pp. 4-22)

Taking a stand: The embodied, enacted and emplaced work of relational critique (2019)
Bell, Emma and de Gama, Nadia
Organization, 26(6) (pp. 936-947)

Theorizing About an AOM President’s Response to Crisis and the Counter Responses It Evoked (2019)
Bartunek, Jean M.; Elsbach, Kimberly D.; Bell, Emma; Markides, Costas; Christianson, Marlys G.; Sutcliffe, Kathleen M.; Pratt, Michael G.; Coyle-Shapiro, Jacqueline A.-M.; Glynn, Mary Ann; Ocasio, William; Burton, M. Diane and Ventresca, Marc J.
Journal of Management Inquiry, 28(3) (pp. 276-282)

Relational Encounters and Vital Materiality in the Practice of Craft Work (2019)
Bell, Emma and Vachhani, Sheena J.
Organization Studies ((Early Access))

Ethics, politics and embodied imagination in crafting scientific knowledge (2019)
Bell, Emma and Willmott, Hugh
Human Relations ((Early Access))

Digital Organizational Storytelling on YouTube: Constructing Plausibility Through Network Protocols of Amateurism, Affinity, and Authenticity (2018-07-01)
Bell, Emma and Leonard, Pauline
Journal of Management Inquiry, 27(3) (pp. 339-351)

Moving Beyond Mimicry: Developing Hybrid Spaces in Indian Business Schools (2018-06-01)
Kothiyal, Nivedita; Bell, Emma and Clarke, Caroline
Academy of Management Learning and Education, 17(2) (pp. 137-154)

Expecting the unexpected in Management Learning (2018-02-01)
Bell, Emma and Bridgman, Todd
Management Learning, 49(1) (pp. 3-7)

Methodology-as-Technique and the Meaning of Rigour in Globalized Management Research (2017-07-11)
Bell, Emma; Kothiyal, Nivedita and Willmott, Hugh
British Journal of Management, 28(3) (pp. 534-550)

Seeing and Being Seen as a Management Learning and Education Scholar: Rejoinder to "Identifying Research Topic Development in Business and Management Education Research Using Legitimation Code Theory" (2016-12-01)
Bridgman, Todd and Bell, Emma
Journal of Management Education, 40(6) (pp. 692-699)

The Corporation 10 Years On: An Interview and an Audience With Joel Bakan (2016-07-01)
Bell, Emma
Journal of Management Inquiry, 25(3) (pp. 344-354)

Bodies, sexualities and women leaders in popular culture: from spectacle to metapicture (2016-04-01)
Bell, Emma and Sinclair, Amanda
Gender in Management: An International Journal, 31(5/6) (pp. 322-338)

Editorial: Management Learning: Legacies and future possibilities (2016-04-01)
Cunliffe, Ann and Bell, Emma
Management Learning, 47(2) (pp. 113-116)

Vernacular mourning and corporate memorialization in framing the death of Steve Jobs (2016-01-01)
Bell, Emma and Taylor, Scott
Organization, 23(1) (pp. 114-132)

Irony as Discipline: Self-Help and Gender in the Knowledge Economy (2014-12-01)
Kenny, Kate and Bell, Emma
Social Politics, 21(4) (pp. 562-584)

'Beasts, burrowers and birds': The enactment of researcher identities in UK business schools (2014-07-01)
Bell, Emma and Clarke, D. W.
Management Learning, 45(3) (pp. 249-266)

Uncertainty in the study of belief: the risks and benefits of methodological agnosticism (2014-04-03)
Bell, Emma and Taylor, Scott
International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 17(5) (pp. 543-557)

Reclaiming eroticism in the academy (2014-03-01)
Bell, Emma and Sinclair, Amanda
Organization, 21(2) (pp. 268-280)

Organizational death (2014)
Bell, Emma; Tienari, Janne and Hansson, Magnus
Culture and Organization, 20(1) (pp. 1-6)

Writing history into management research (2013)
Bell, Emma and Taylor, Scott
Management & Organizational History, 8(2) (pp. 127-136)

Varieties of organizational soul: The ethics of belief in organizations (2012-07-12)
Bell, Emma; Taylor, Scott and Driscoll, Cathy
Organization, 19(4) (pp. 425-439)

Visual Management Studies: Empirical and Theoretical Approaches (2012-04)
Bell, Emma and Davison, Jane
International Journal of Management Reviews, 15(2) (pp. 167-184)

Ways of seeing organisational death: a critical semiotic analysis of organisational memorialisation (2012-03)
Bell, Emma
Visual Studies, 27(1) (pp. 4-17)

Beyond letting go and moving on: New perspectives on organizational death, loss and grief (2011-03)
Bell, Emma and Taylor, Scott
Scandinavian Journal of Management, 27(1) (pp. 1-10)

Politics and power in training and learning: The rise and fall of the NHS University (2010-02)
Taylor, Scott; Bell, Emma; Grugulis, Irene; Storey, John and Taylor, Lee
Management Learning, 41(1) (pp. 87-99)

Organizational Ethnography (2010)
Bell, Emma
Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, 5(2) (pp. 216-219)

The elephant in the room: Critical management studies conferences as a site of body pedagogics (2010)
Bell, Emma and King, Daniel
Management Learning, 41(4) (pp. 429-442)

Business history and the historiographical operation (2009-05-01)
Taylor, Scott; Bell, Emma and Cooke, Bill
Management & Organizational History, 4(2) (pp. 151-166)

The Ethics of Management Research: An Exploratory Content Analysis (2007-03-15)
Bell, Emma and Bryman, Alan
British Journal of Management, 18(1) (pp. 63-77)

Disruptive Religion: The Case of the Catholic Worker-Priests (1943–1954) (2007)
Bell, Emma
Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion, 4(4) (pp. 432-442)

Whose side are they on? Patterns of religious resource mobilization in British industrial mission (2006-11-01)
Bell, Emma
Management & Organizational History, 1(4) (pp. 331-347)

The Promise and Potential of Visual Organizational Research (2006)
Kunter, Aylin and Bell, Emma
M@n@gement, 9(3) (pp. 169-189)

Joining the club: the ideology of quality and business school badging (2005-06)
Bell, Emma and Taylor, Scott
Studies in Higher Education, 30(3) (pp. 239-255)

Investors in People: Market-led Voluntarism in Vocational Education and Training (2005-03-18)
Hoque, Kim; Taylor, Scott and Bell, Emma
British Journal of Industrial Relations, 43(1) (pp. 135-153)

‘From outward bound to inward bound’: The prophetic voices and discursive practices of spiritual management development (2004-04-01)
Bell, Emma and Taylor, Scott
Human Relations, 57(4) (pp. 439-466)

The Elevation of Work: Pastoral Power and the New Age Work Ethic (2003-05-01)
Bell, Emma and Taylor, Scott
Organization, 10(2) (pp. 329-349)

Organizational differentiation through badging: Investors in people and the value of the sign (2002-12-16)
Bell, Emma; Taylor, Scott and Thorpe, Richard
Journal of Management Studies, 39(8) (pp. 1071-1085)

A Step in the Right Direction? Investors in People and the Learning Organization (2002-06)
Bell, E.; Taylor, S. and Thorpe, R.
British Journal of Management, 13(2) (pp. 161-171)

Investors in People and the Standardization of Professional Knowledge in Personnel Management (2001-06-01)
Bell, Emma; Taylor, Scott and Thorpe, Richard
Management Learning, 32(2) (pp. 201-219)

The Social Time of Organizational Payment Systems (2001-03-01)
Bell, Emma
Time & Society, 10(1) (pp. 45-62)

Changing the 'line of sight' on payment systems: A study of shop-floor workers and managers within the British chemical industry (1999-10)
Bell, Emma
International Journal of Human Resource Management, 10(5) (pp. 924-940)

The negotiation of a working role in organizational ethnography (1999)
Bell, Emma
International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 2(1) (pp. 17-37)

Introduction (2018-08-06)
Bell, Emma; Mangia, Gianluigi; Taylor, Scott and Toraldo, Maria Laura
In: Bell, Emma; Mangia, Gianluigi; Taylor, Scott and Toraldo, Maria Laura eds. The Organization of Craft Work: Identities, Meanings, and Materiality (pp. 1-19)
ISBN : 9781315205861 | Publisher : Routledge

Spirituality, Religion and Organization (2015-11-12)
Bell, Emma and Taylor, Scott
In: Mir, Raza; Wilmott, Hugh and Greenwood, Michelle eds. The Routledge Companion to Philosophy in Organization Studies (pp. 550-558)
ISBN : 978-0-415-70286-7 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

An ethic of care within critical management studies? (2015-08-14)
Bell, Emma; Meriläinen, Susan; Taylor, Scott and Tienari, Janne
In: Prasad, Anshuman; Prasad, Pushkala; Mills, Albert J. and Mills, Jean Helms eds. Routledge Companion to Critical Management Studies. Routledge companions in business, management and accounting (pp. 56-68)
ISBN : 9780415501880 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

The not-so-dark side of emotions: anger as a resource in research apprenticeship (2014-10)
Bell, Emma and Shoaib, Haneen
In: Clarke, Caroline; Broussine, Mike and Watts, Linda eds. Researching with Feeling: The emotional aspects of social and organizational research (pp. 66-78)
ISBN : 9780415644358 | Publisher : Routledge

Sustainability and the Spiritual Work Ethic (2012-10-15)
Bell, Emma; Cullen, John and Taylor, Scott
In: Case, Peter; Höpfl, Heather and Letiche, Hugo eds. Belief and Organization (pp. 185-203)
ISBN : 978-1-349-32992-2 | Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan | Published : Houndmills

Managerialism and Management Research: Would Melville Dalton Get a Job Today? (2010-12)
Bell, Emma
In: Cassell, Catherine and Lee, Bill eds. Challenges and Controversies in Management Research. Routledge Advances in management and Business Studies (pp. 122-137)
ISBN : 9780415472173 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : Abingdon

The Organization of Craft Work: Identities, Meanings, and Materiality (2018-08-09)
Bell, Emma
Bell, Emma; Mangia, Gianluigi; Taylor, Scott and Toraldo, Maria Laura eds.
ISBN : 9781315205861 | Publisher : Routledge | Published : New York

Examining Craft Work: Methodological Challenges and Choices (2019)
Blundel, Richard; Koomen, Philip and Bell, Emma
In : 35th EGOS Colloquium, Enlightening the Future: The Challenge for Organizations (4-6 Jul 2019, Edinburgh, Scotland)