Richard Normann Lecture

Richard Normann, who died in 2003, was one of the most profound and sophisticated management thinkers of our time.

The annual Richard Normann Lecture is a collaborative initiative between Green Templeton College and NormannPartners AB, which aims to honour and extend the work of Richard Normann by furthering outstanding insights in strategy, business innovation and change, value co-production, and the service economy.

Please find below details of previous Richard Normann Lecture speakers and subjects:

2019: Processes of organizational innovation and change stimulated by Richard Normann

Speaker: Andrew H. Van de Ven, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Wednesday 13 November 2019, 18:00-19:30
EP Abraham Lecture Theatre, Green Templeton College

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Professor Andrew H. Van de Ven will review some of the seminal ideas of Richard Normann that stimulated subsequent theory and practice of organizational innovation and change.  These ideas include temporal processes of change, knowledge development, growth stages, social learning, entrepreneurial leadership, and situational organizing.

2018: Process Thinking in Four Modes

Speaker: Professor Ann Langley, Chair in Strategic Management in Pluralistic Settings, HEC Montréal.

Process thinkers and scholars understand organising and managing in terms of movement, activity and flow rather than in terms of success factors, best practices and static relationships between inputs and outcomes: in other words, they are interested in “how” questions, rather than “what” questions, and they take time and temporality to be central. However, there are a variety of ways of considering what a process perspective might mean, each involving different assumptions and each demanding different approaches to research and intervention. In this lecture, the speaker examined four different modes of thinking about process (as development; as narrative; as activity; and as withness) and considered their implications for managing and researching organizations.

>> Watch this lecture here.

2017: Simplifying the Complex

Speaker: Dr Gareth Morgan, Saïd Business School

Climate change; inequality; genetic engineering; cryptocurrency; internet and social media impacts; roboservices; political discourse; systemic risk. They’re all issues where debate and policy action often get buried in diversionary detail. In this lecture, ‘Simplifying the complex – focussing attention and strategic decision-making on what really counts’, Dr Morgan examined whether there is a way of getting beneath the surface and reshaping the logics of change underpinning these and many other global, environmental, economic and social problems. 

2016: Innovation at Work

Speaker: Dr Raghu Garud, Smeal School of Business, Pennsylvania State University

Dr Garud provided a narrative-infused design perspective on innovation at work. Sustaining ongoing innovation is essential for the growth and survival of organisations. Whereas many scholars advocate the separation of activities associated with innovative from the rest of the organisation, Dr Garud argued for their integrating into everyday work. Drawing on literature from design and narratives, he offered a perspective on how innovation can be sustained through the cumulative synthesis of distributed yet interconnected experiments. He explored the implications of this narrative-infused design perspective, and offered avenues for future research.

2015: Reframing: A look at the subjective side of the street

Speaker: Larry Hirschhorn, principal and founder of CFAR, Philadelphia, United States

In his summative work, Reframing business: when the map changes the landscape, Richard Normann highlighted the subjective elements of decision-making.

In this lecture, Larry Hirschborn explored the dynamics of this mental process; how cognitive, emotion and group dynamics shape the decisions executives make to reorient their business. This focus on the mental is fundamental to understanding business decision making because, as many consultants have learned to their sorrow, presenting the most suitable strategy to an executive team in the most effective possible manner may not persuade them to make any change to their current practices and strategies. We can’t treat the decision making process as a black box any longer.

2014: Organising the World

Speaker: Professor Nils Brunsson, Chair in Management at Uppsala University

In our contemporary world, people interact and communicate at greater distances than ever before, and interaction and communication reinforce and are reinforced by strong global similarities. An increasing number of categories are now being used worldwide. States, firms and unions, for example, can be found virtually everywhere, and they tend to nurture similar ideas and behave in similar ways. Their very similarity makes it possible to differentiate among them according to status – there are global status orders providing world champions in sports, universities and cities.

Much of this global order is best understood as the result of organisation, although not always the type of organisation that has been the object for organisation theory. Organisation is a phenomenon that takes place not only within but also outside and between formal organisations. Global organisation comes in many forms, including multinational corporations, international meta-organisations, standardisation and ranking systems.

2012: Imagination in Management

Speaker: Professor Per Olof Berg, Head of Marketing Section, Stockholm University School of Business

In this lecture, Professor Berg showed how imagination over the years has become increasingly important in order to understand business and manage organisations. The lecture referred to Richard Normann’s early work on the importance of  business logics, and his later recognition of the existing of multiple logics, such as the service dominant logic in the eighties and the concept of innovative value constellations in the nineties. In all of his work, Richard Normann emphasised the importance of imagination as a driving force behind business strategies.

The second part of the lecture examined the challenges businesses are facing today, and proposed a complementary perspective based on the managerial efficacy of imagination. The consequences of this ‘imagination perspective’ for business and management was then examined.

2011: In Defence of Management

Speaker: Professor Barbara Czarniawska, Professor of Management Studies, Gothenburg Research Institute, School of Business, Economics & Law at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden

It is estimated that management will continue to increase in relation to other occupations. This fact, far from producing joy or gratefulness, is met with an increasing hostility towards the occupation. This hostility is not produced by our colleagues in critical management studies – like every art, management needs its critics – but by its often thoughtless enthusiasts.

After having reviewed some of the most blatant examples from what Nigel Thrift called ‘cultural circuit’, comprising business schools, management consultants, management gurus and business media, Professor Czarniawska suggested a way of building an old-new alliance, necessary in order to retrieve the positive meaning of management.

2010: Empowering Theories in Management Studies

Speaker: Professor Pasquale Gagliardi, Secretary-General, Giorgio Cini Foundation, Professor of Sociology of Organisation at the Faculty of Political Sciences, Catholic University, Milan

In this lecture, Professor Gagliardi analysed the relationship between thinking and experiencing in the production of knowledge before going on to hypothesise the distinctive traits of an ’empowering’ theory.

It is argued in organisation and management studies that the development of expert knowledge is hampered by the poverty of interactions between theory and practice, and that academic theories do not seem to significantly affect management practice. The historical and cultural reasons for this distance and the role of problem-driven research in filling it were also examined.