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Dr Alison Hirst

Director of Research Students

Faculty of Business and Law
Areas of Expertise:
Business Management , Human Resources Management , Organisational Behaviour , Management and Leadership , Research methodology
Research Supervision:

Dr Alison Hirst teaches and researches in the area of Organisation Studies. She has published research on the role of spaces, places and material objects in organising.

[email protected]


Alison joined ARU in 2014. Her research builds on her ESRC-funded doctorate at Nottingham University and centres on interests in organisational space and materiality and the use of ethnography as a way of researching and writing about organisations. Her current research focuses on the relationship between space and gender and on how people acquire agency in organisations through their associations with the material world.

Research interests

  • Organisational space and place
  • Materiality
  • Gender
  • Agency and social justice
  • Ethnography

Areas of research supervision

Alison is a qualitative researcher with experience of interview-based, ethnographic and visual research methodologies. She is interested to consider proposals from PhD applicants with an interest in using these methods. Alison is currently supervising students investigating organising in stigmatized places and how place influences corporate philanthropy.


Alison has experience of teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate level across a range of organisational behaviour topics. Currently I teach research methods to support undergraduate business students to complete their dissertations and to doctoral students.


  • PhD in Business and Management, University of Nottingham, 2011
  • MPhil in Critical Management (dist), Lancaster University Management School, 2003

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Editorial Board Member, Organisational Studies
  • Member of the British Academy of Management

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • ESRC +3 doctoral grant, University of Nottingham, 2006-2009, £36,300
  • Co-I in ‘Academic evaluation of Peterborough DNA’ Peterborough’s £3m Future Cities project, 2015-2016, £29,600

Selected recent publications

Hirst, A. and Humpreys, M., 2020. Finding ourselves in space: spatiality and identity. In A. Bowen (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Organisational Identities.

Schwabenland, C. and Hirst, A., 2018. Hybrid accountabilities and managerial agency in the third sector. Public Administration.

Hirst, A. and Schwabenland, C., 2017. Doing gender in the 'new office'. Gender, work and organisation. 25 (2): 159-176.

Hirst, A. & Humphreys, M., 2015. Configurable bureaucracy and the making of Modular Man. Organization Studies 36(11): 1531-1553.

Hirst, A. and Humphreys, M., 2013.  ‘Putting power in its place:  The centrality of edgelands’, Organization Studies (ABS 4*) 34, 1505-1527.

Hirst, A., 2011. ‘Settlers, vagrants and mutual indifference:  unintended consequences of hot-desking’ Journal of Organizational Change Management (ABS 2*) 24(6): 767-788.

Media experience

Alison's work on the changing nature of office space has been published in national and international news media and she has been interviewed on national radio about gender and open space.