Emeritus Professor

B.Soc.Sc., Ph.D., FFCS


Contact Details

Telephone: +44 (0)1224 273236


Patrick Dawson is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Aberdeen.  He holds a PhD in industrial sociology from the University of Southampton and he has held positions in Universities in Australia, England, Sweden, Denmark and Scotland.  As an international expert on change and temporality, Patrick has worked on a number of Australian Research Council (ARC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded projects in collaboration with scholars at other universities. He has examined change and innovation in a number of organizations including: LG Electronics, Pirelli Cables, BHP Billiton, Royal Dutch Shell, British Rail, General Motors, Hewlett Packard, TNT and the CSIRO. 

With an extensive publication list of over 60 refereed journal articles, 12 books, 50 book chapters, an Hindex of 23 and i10 index of 40, his is an international leader in Management research. His reputation has led to frequent invites to chair conference streams as well as regular keynote speaking appearances. In addition he has worked on the Editorial Board of several learned and special edition journals and In 2003, was made a Research Fellow of the Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM), and in 2005, was awarded the ongoing position of Distinguished Member.

Research Interests

My main research interests centre on organizational change, time and temporality, creativity and innovation.

Underpinning my research and theoretical development has been the refinement and elaboration of a process approach to understanding change.  This perspective originally formulated in my 1994 book Organizational Change: A Processual Approach promotes the importance of viewing change as a non-linear dynamic rather than as a simple progressive series of stages commonly advocated in the mainstream literature.  The approach stresses the importance of examining movements as-they-occur from a current position (when possible at the initial conception of a need to change) through processes of change (the planning and implementation of change) to a period of review and evaluation (a post-change period).  Examining changes as-they-happen is central in building knowledge of complex change processes rather than linear models that focus on after-the-event accounts.  Data are collected throughout these processes from stakeholders and employees at all levels (not just management) and examined within a broader contextual frame that takes account of the past (historical and retrospective analyses) and the future (analyses of future expectations before and after the event), as well as the current ongoing processes of change (Dawson, 2013: 252). It is based on the assumption that change is complex and at times chaotic (Alvesson & Sveningsson, 2016).  It recognizes that the unplanned, unforeseen and unexpected will occur and that consequently, organizational change should not be reduced to a list of simple sequential steps (Dawson, 1994).

This processual perspective highlights the importance of temporality and context (the history and culture of organizations), political processes, power plays and decision-making that engages people in negotiations, in communications that may be misinterpreted or reinterpreted in various ways that create further uncertainties, ambiguities and confusion.  It spotlights how forms of ‘equivocality’ (where multiple interpretations exists) may be progressively resolved through collective sensemaking processes, whilst also sustaining conflicting interpretations between different groups that may be further reinforced through processes of change (Dawson, 2003).  Attention is given to the temporal reconstitution of practices (management strategy, change interventions and workplace reconfigurations) and how people give and make sense of the way social and material processes, activities and actions unfold over time.  In short, change is viewed as a complex, dynamic, non-linear, temporal process (see also, Dawson and Skykes, 2016).


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