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Prof Jackie Ford


Professor of Leadership and Organisation Studies Director of Durham DBA

Jackie joined Durham University Business School in September 2017. She has held various professorial posts since 2008 at the Universities of Leeds and Bradford. She has over 24 years experience of working in Higher Education, having spent the previous 10 years in a range of managerial roles in the British NHS, culminating in an Executive Board-level Human Resources Director post in an acute hospital Trust. 


Jackie has a long-established international reputation for her work in critical leadership studies and in gender and organization theory, and as former 50th Anniversary Chair in Leadership and Organization Studies at Bradford School of Management and before that Professor of Leadership and Organization Studies at Leeds University, she founded an interdisciplinary research centre and led an active research group in critical leadership studies. She has been instrumental in developing this research field, informed by her interests in critical, poststructural and psychosocial research methods and approaches that enable rich interpretive accounts of experiences of working and organizational life. Over the past 24 years, she has conducted empirical research on a range of leadership and management practices and contexts.

Research interests:

Jackie’s research includes the study of working lives, notably in exploring critical approaches to leadership; gender, diversity and inclusion; ethics, management and organization studies. Current research projects include: Discourses and materialities of leadership; diversity and inclusion within the retail sector; working lives of senior professional women in late career; the under-representation of women as leaders in varying contexts; and researching talent management from a critical perspective.

Jackie’s research plan for the next five years centres on three main work streams, all of which are attached to funded or planned research activity and international publications. These work streams are (i) the future of Critical Leadership Studies, which will include publications around the theme of ‘Leadership as a failure of the 20th Century: towards a 21st Century successor’; (ii) Gender, diversity and inclusion, incorporating her current 3-year ESRC award (‘Raising the ceiling on diversity and inclusion: a corporate retail case study’) together with a new bid entitled ‘women and work in late career’; and (iii) studies of working lives, including friendships at work.

Jackie supervises doctoral students who are keen to explore critical approaches to working lives, in particular, within Critical Leadership Studies. There is mounting fascination with more critical leadership studies that focus on leadership as process rather than position, on power asymmetries and on plurality rather than homogeneous forms, presenting new opportunities to understand leadership from within much richer, qualitative and contextual empirical studies.

Potential students need to be interested in researching critical approaches to leadership, which may include considerations of gender, ethics and working lives. Applicants must be self-motivated, well organized and with a consistently excellent academic track record.


    Authored book

  • Ford, J., Harding, N. & Learmonth, M. (2008). Leadership as identity: constructions and deconstructions. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Book review

  • Ford, J (2017). Leadership and the public services sector: a poststructural analysis. 157-175.
  • Chapter in book

  • Ford, J. (2019). Rethinking relational leadership: recognising the mutual dynamic between leaders and led. In After Leadership. Carroll, B, Wilson, S & Firth, J Routledge. 10: 157-174.
  • Taylor, S. & Ford, J (2017). Critical Leadership. In The Routledge Companion to Leadership. Storey, J. Hartley, J. Denis, J-L. ‘t Hart, P & Ulrich, D. London: Routledge.
  • Ford, J. (2016). Gendered relationships and the problem of diversity in Leadership-as-Practice. In Leadership-as-Practice, Theory and Application. Raelin, J. London: Routledge.
  • Carroll, B. Ford, J. & Taylor, S (2015). Introduction: The power of leaders. In Leadership Contemporary Critical Perspectives. London: Sage. xvii-xxvii.
  • Ford, J. (2015). Leadership, post-structuralism and the performative turn. In Leadership: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Carroll, B. Ford, J. & Taylor, S. London: Sage. 233-254.
  • Ford, J. & Harding, N. (2010). What is to be done? On the merits of micro-revolutions. In Making Public Management Critical. Currie, G., Ford, J., Harding, N. & Learmonth, M. London: Routledge. 250-258.
  • Ford, J. (2010). Leadership and the public services sector: a poststructural analysis. In Making Public Management Critical. Currie, G., Ford, J., Harding, N. & Learmonth, M. London: Routledge. 157-175.
  • Lawler, J. & Ford, J. (2010). Conversations, learning and practice. In Handbook of Leadership and Management. Gold, J., Thorpe, R. & Mumford, A. London: Gower.
  • Ford, J. (2004). A feminist critique of leadership and its application to the UK NHS. In Unmasking Health Management. Learmonth, M. & Harding, N. New York: Nova Publishers. 41-56.
  • Ford, J. (Published). Leadership and Identities: Towards more critical relational approaches. In The Oxford Handbook of Identities in Organizations. Brown, Andrew D. Oxford University Press.
  • Edited book

  • Carroll, B., Ford, J. & Taylor, S. (2019). Leadership: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Sage.
  • Carroll, B. Ford, J. & Taylor, S. (2015). Leadership: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. London: Sage.
  • Currie, G., Ford, J., Harding, N. & Learmonth, M. (2010). Leadership: Contemporary Critical Perspectives. London: Routledge.
  • Journal Article

  • Harding, NH, Gilmore, S & Ford, J (2021). Matter that embodies: Agentive flesh and working body/selves. Organization Studies
  • Ford, J., Atkinson, C., Harding, N. & Collinson, D. (2021). 'You just had to get on with it': Exploring the persistence of gender inequality through women’s career histories. . Work, Employment and Society 35(1): 78-96.
  • Cassell, Catherine, Watson, Kathryn Ford, Jacqueline & Kele, Juliet (2021). Understanding inclusion in the retail industry: incorporating the majority perspective . Personnel Review
  • Wilson, Suze, Lee, Hugh, Ford, Jackie & Harding, Nancy (2021). On the Ethics of Psychometric Instruments Used in Leadership Development Programmes. Journal of Business Ethics 172(2): 211-227.
  • Ford, Jackie & Harding, Nancy (2021). Performative seduction: How management consultants influence practices of leadership. International Journal of Public Leadership 17(3): 222-235.
  • Dean, H., Larsen, G., Ford, J. & Akram, M. (2019). Female Entrepreneurship and the Metanarrative of Economic Growth: A Critical Review of Underlying Assumptions.. International Journal of Management Reviews 21(1): 24-49.
  • Carroll, B., Firth, J. Ford, J. & Taylor, S. (2018). The social construction of leadership studies: Representations of rigour and relevance in textbooks.. Leadership 14(2): 159-178.
  • Ford, J., Harding, N., Gilmore, S. & Richardson, S. (2017). Becoming the leader: Leadership as material presence.. Organization Studies 38(11): 1553-1571.
  • Wardman, M., Ford, J. & Manogue, M. (2017). Undergraduate leadership education for dentistry: preparing for practice.. European Journal of Dental Education 21(4): e109-e113.
  • Dean, H. & Ford, J. (2017). Discourses of entrepreneurial leadership: Exposing myths and exploring new approaches.. International Small Business Journal 35(2): 178-196.
  • Harding, N., Ford, J. & Lee, H. (2017). Towards a performative theory of resistance: Senior managers and revolting subject(ivitie)s.. Organization Studies 38(9): 1209-1232.
  • Ford, J. & Harding, N. (2015). Followers in Leadership Theory: Fiction, Fantasy and Illusion. Leadership
  • Ford, J. (2015). Going beyond the hero in leadership development: the place of healthcare context, complexity and relationships; Comment on "Leadership and leadership development in healthcare settings – a simplistic solution to complex problems?". International Journal of Health Policy and Management 4(4): 261-263.
  • Atkinson, C. Ford, J. & Harding, N (2015). The expectations and aspirations of a late-career professional woman. Work, Employment and Society 29(6): 1019-1028.
  • Harding, N. Lee, H. & Ford, J. (2014). Who is the middle manager? Human Relations 67(10): 1213-1237.
  • Harding, N. Ford, J. & Fotaki, M. (2013). Is the ‘F’-word still dirty? A past, present and future of/for feminist and gender studies in Organization. Organization
  • Ford, J., Harding, N. & Learmonth, M. (2012). Who is it that would make business schools more critical? A response to Tatli.. British Journal of Management 23(1): 31-34.
  • Harding, N., Lee, H., Ford, J. & Learmonth, M. (2011). Leadership and charisma: a desire that cannot speak its name?. Human Relations 64(7): 927-949.
  • Ford, J. & Collinson, D. (2011). In Search of the Perfect Manager? Work-life balance and managerial work. Work, Employment and Society 25(2): 257-273.
  • Ford, J. & Harding, N (2011). The impossibility of the ‘true self’ of authentic leadership: a critique through object relations theory. Leadership
  • Ford, J. , Harding, N. & Learmonth, M. (2010). Each the Other’s Other? Critical Reflections on Business Schools and Critical Management Studies. British Journal of Management 21(s1): s71-s81.
  • Harding, N., Ford, J. & Gough, B. (2010). Accounting for ourselves: are academics exploited workers? Critical Perspectives on Accounting 21(2): 159-168.
  • Ford, J. & Harding, N. (2010). Get back into that kitchen, woman: Management conferences and the making of the female professional worker. Gender, Work and Organization 17(5): 503-520.
  • Ford, J. (2010). Studying leadership critically: a psychosocial lens on leadership identities. Leadership 6(1): 1-19.
  • Ford, J. & Harding, N. (2008). Fear and loathing in Harrogate: or An exploration of the mutual constitution of organisation and members. Organization 15(2): 233-250.
  • Ford, J. & Lawler, J. (2007). Blending Existentialist and Constructionist Approaches to Leadership Studies: An Exploratory Account. Leadership and Organisational Development Journal
  • Ford, J. & Harding, N. (2007). Move over management We are all Leaders Now? Management Learning 38(5): 475-493.
  • Ford, J. (2006). Discourses of leadership: gender, identity and contradiction in a UK public sector organization. Leadership 2(1): 77-99.
  • Ford, J. (2005). Examining leadership through critical feminist readings. Journal of Health Organization and Management 19(3): 236-251.
  • Ford, J. & Harding, N. (2004). We went looking for an Organisation and Could Find only the Metaphysics of its Presence. Sociology 38(4): 815-830.
  • Ford, J. & Harding, N. (2003). Invoking Satan Or the Ethics of the Employment Contract. Journal of Management Studies 40: 1131-1150.
  • Hurst, K., Ford, J. & Gleeson, C. (2002). Evaluating Self-Managed Integrated Community Teams. Journal of Management in Medicine 16: 463-483.

Contact Details

Professor of Leadership and Organisation Studies Director of Durham DBA
+44 191 3345488

PhD by research