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Dr Owain Smolovic Jones

Professor of Organisational Studies

Professor of Organisational Studies in the Business School


Owain Smolović Jones researches power and resistance in practices of leadership, particularly in relation to salient social and global issues. He is currently focused on opening up a new area of leadership research, exploring the vital topic of housing. Drawing on ideas from critical geography and leadership studies, he is exploring the business of private rented housing, seeking to better understand how leadership creates and perpetuates housing crises, as well as how it can offer a pathway for alternative futures. This research means close investigation of the lived experiences of housing campaigners, but also seeking to illuminate the practices of those who earn a living from the rentals market – landlords, lettings agents and their representative bodies. Adopting a similar conceptual focus, Owain is currently supporting research that seeks to better understand the experiences of hospitality and service workers in consuming, resisting and practicing leadership.


Owain has applied his power and resistance focus to studying how political parties operate as organisations, and is open to supervising PhD projects in this area. This work has mainly involved an investigation of the gendered leadership of political parties, particularly how they implement gender quotas in the face of significant resistance. He has also studied the rhetorical leadership of party political leaders and the identity work of government ministers. Impacting the practice of implementing gender quotas, Owain’s research was shortlisted for the 2021 Sage Prize for Innovation and Excellence.


Contributing a rigorous and rich conceptual sense of leadership is important to Owain. With this in mind, he is the co-author, with Keith Grint, of the seminal Leadership: Limits and possibilities, published in 2022 through Bloomsbury. He has also co-authored, with David Collinson and Keith Grint, an impactful paper in Organization Studies, developing knowledge of the tendency to romanticise individual, collective and resistance forms of leadership. He brings his commitment to critical scholarship that makes an impact in the world to his work as an Associate Editor of the journal Leadership but also to organising important events in the field, such as the 2021 International Studying Leadership Conference.


Committed to making leadership research count in the world, Owain is currently working on his debut sole-authored book, which will explore whether and how leadership can help save the world from climate and inequalities crises. In the past, he has specialised in providing academic input and design for significant BBC programming, as well as designing critically engaged leadership development programmes. He is also proud of accessible chapters he has written on leadership and technology, seeking to open this important area up for more critical research. Owain’s work has been published in leading organisation studies journals such as Human Relations, Work, Employment & Society, Gender, Work & Organization, Management Learning and Organization.


Owain is committed to excellence in teaching. He is experienced at leading the production of new and innovative modules in the areas of: managing green transition in organisations, practicing leadership and business ethics. His current focus at Durham is supporting DBA, online MBA and undergraduate students with their research projects, as well as teaching leadership studies.


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