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Dr Anthony Hesketh

Formerly at Lancaster University

Anthony Hesketh

Office Hours:

Strictly By E-Mail Appointment

Research Interests

  • the construction, articulation and evaluation of executive strategy making
  • the relationship between strategy, leadership & organizational performance
  • the management of talent, especially examination of human capital management architectures and measurement
  • cultural political economy, semiotic materialism, critical realism and related methodologies
  • managerial labour markets

External Roles

Editorial Board: theHR DIRECTOR Magazine


Current Teaching


Course Lecturer and Tutor in BBA M110


Professional Role

Current Lancaster Roles: I currently sit on the Management School's External Relations Committee.


BSc Econ, PhD (Lancaster)

Research Grants

Ongoing and Recent Research Grants:

2013-14: Human Resources: A Capital Idea? £60,749 from UKCES, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD)

2006-11: £1.4 million for the Centre for Performance-Led HR, from 12 HR function directors of leading organizations including RBS, Vodafone, Royal Mail, Shell, McDonals, Hanson, IBM, United Utilities. NWDA, BNFL & The Cabinet Office. 

2000-03: £121,000 
Graduate Employability in a Knowledge Economy 
With Phil Brown (Cardiff University)

2000-01: £16,000
An Examination of the Stocks and Flows of Graduate Labour in the North WestNorth West Development Agency and ESF


My pathway back to Lancaster, after having been a student here in the early 1990s, has been largely achieved by following a deep ineterst in examining the different ways in which individuals and organizations value - and subsequently measure - the contribution of what I call people-specific interventions. Work during post-doctoral research at Southampton University, and a lectureship in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University has enabled me to lay the foundations for a new theoretical framework exploring how performance is articulated at individual, organizational and now strategic levels. 

I take the practical relevance of my work seriously. To illustrate this I list the companies I have recently worked with: Accenture, Arup, Allen & Overy, ArcelorMittal, AstraZeneca, BAE Systems, Barclays, BBC, B&Q, BOC, Britannia, BT, BP, Cabinet Office, Citigroup, Corus, Civil Service, Croda, CSC, Centrica, Debenhams, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Diageo, European Transaction Bank, EP-First Saratoga, Ernst & Young, Fitch, GKN, GlaxoSmithKilne (GSK), Hanson, Hewitt, HSBC, IBM, Inland Revenue, ITV, JP Morgan Stanley, KPMG, Lloyds Bank, Logica, Lovells, McDonalds, Marks & Spencer, Microsoft, National Grid, Nationwide, NHS, Peugeot, PwC, Quinetiq, Royal Bank of Scotland, Royal Mail, SAP, Shell, Siemens, Standard Chartered Bank, Standard Life, Tesco, UBS, Unilever, United Utilities, Xchanging and Xerox.

Current Research

My Research Interests

In short: My work focuses on how organizational leaders understand and capture the value of the activities and processes through which people enable the realization of organizational strategy and its impact upon performance.

I am interested in leadership not just through a fascination with the academic literature but also because of my work’s hardwiring into the practical day-to-day existence and operational lives of executives or ‘leaders’. I have studied at close hand the emergence, construction and reconstruction of leadership at this level of the organization and have become fascinated in several distinct aspects, which themselves form what might be described as discrete fields of academic interest. These are:

1.     Leading performance: This has been the central area of concern for me for the last ten years (half a dozen papers and a book on performance and its measurement published by Cambridge University Press, 2010), where I have been deconstructing how organizational leaders engage in and are influenced by methodological thinking surrounding the measurement of value and performance inside organizations, the development of an alternative perspective for understanding value and the ramifications of this for organizational leaders and their subsequent practice. Empirical work in this strand of my work ranges from exploring financials to thinking through new ontologies of value and performance. I have also recently led the government sponsored initiative, Valuing your Talent, which was a combined project between the accounting (CIMA), management (CMI) and people (CIPD) professional bodies, together with the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) examining the value of investing in human capital, new accounting definitions of human capital and its contribution to financial reporting . The work of this major project continues and I currently sit on the Strategic Advisory Board of Valuing your Talent II.

2.     The politics of leading: There is a long tradition in the leadership literature devoted to this line of inquiry, although here again, I have adopted a particular slant, focusing on what I call “The Golden Triangle” between CEO, CFO and other significant functional directors. Building on my work on human capital (above) I am increasingy interested in building a new conceptual framework for understanding what I call executive capital, which captures the difference leaders make.

3.     The discursive construction of strategy: in which narratives and storytelling play a major role in how strategies are formulated, adopted and ultimately evaluated by c-suite players. I view strategy formulation to be a far from straightforward, highly contested and deeply politicised process. Empirical work here focuses on the role of executives on strategy formulation.

4.     Talent Management: My work in this area explores how executives’ conversations over the value of their people and the contribution they make to organizational performance can be better facilitated. Recent work here has explored how talent can be introduced into boardroom analytics. Previous work has been captured in a book, The Mismanagement of Talent (Oxford University Press), jointly authored with Phil Brown of Cardiff University and bringing together our work on what was a major piece of ESRC-funded work.

Current PhD Students and Applying To Be Supervised By Ant Hesketh

I have successfully supervised a number of PhD students, several of whom have won funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). I welcome enquiries from students wishing to undertake doctoral studies under my supervision. 

I welcome truly blue-skies/innovative research proposals in a new field, although I do insist on it being (vaguely) related to my research themes identified above. Should you be in this category, your challenge is to convince me of this relevance to my own work! I am open to being convinced but expect to be challenged to justify your research proposal!

Do please feel free to contact me should you wish to explore the possibility of working together. Before doing so I would strongly recommend you read the Management School’s advice to prospective doctoral students. The trick is to construct and then email me with a one page summary of your work enabling me to establish the following principles of your proposed work:

What’s the question? An obvious point, perhaps, but you should have a clear idea of what your research will be about, why it is important and the theoretical contribution it will make to existing research in the area you have chosen. I will expect you to be familiar with the key texts and latest thinking in the relevant field and to be clear about why your work represents an exciting project for me to supervise!

Methodology: Many students confuse their chosen research methods with their methodology. Research methods are the instruments you will use to collect your data. Your methodology is the process through which you will both articulate and justify your chosen methods and the claims you make from your interpretation(s). In short: why should we believe what you (will) have to say? The most common reason for my rejecting applications from students is because they have not thought-through this essential aspect of their work. A good place to start thinking through your methodology is via Alvesson and Skolberg’s Reflexive Methodology. Expect to be challenged about your chosen methodology during interview! I am happy supervising either quantitative or qualitative research. As a rule, my quantitative work is set more in pure financial as opposed to applied statistical techniques. Here again, I need to be persuaded by the logic of your proposed research.

Funding: I have been successful in the past at securing research monies from the ESRC, various national governments and LUMS-funded scholarships. These funding opportunities are time sensitive with important deadlines. You should consult these bodies for their respective deadlines before making an application. Again, further information can be obtained from LUMS’s own excellent web information on this subject.

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