Portrait of Dr Alison Dean

Dr Alison Dean

Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management

About

Dr Alison Dean is a Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management and Associate Dean (Education) for the Faculty of Social Sciences.
She holds a BA (Hons) in Political Economy from the University of Cambridge, an MSc in Economics from LSE, University of London, and a PhD in Economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to joining Kent Business School, she was a research officer at City University Business School (now known as Cass Business School). 

She has published in a range of journals including the Academy of Management Review, Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of World Business, Journal of Business Ethics and Service Industries Journal.

Research interests

Alison’s research interests are around aspects of strategic change. Her initial post-doctorate research considered the process of implementing change in managing privatisation by UK Water companies.
She has since written on innovation and change, using an options approach to demonstrate how the linking of real and financial markets can affect innovation, and the change processes involved in the internationalisation/globalisation of large UK City Law firms.
Recently she has turned her attention to how to effect change in two different settings: first, exploration of the embedding of ethical consumerism in plastic bag use; and second exploring intra-group connections and leadership and their effect on group performance in a HE setting, using social network analysis techniques.   

Teaching

Alison’s teaching interests are focused on strategic management, and within that, strategic change knowledge and change management, design thinking and social enterprise.
In the development of her own teaching practice, she is involved in the digital classroom project at the University. She currently chairs the University Assessment & Feedback Steering Group which is involved in a series of projects to improve the student experience of assessment and feedback, including sustainable assessment. She also chairs the OPERA steering group which is concerned with the University’s ‘accessible by design’ activities.   

Supervision

Past Supervisees

  • Joern Fricke: The Evolution of Networks in Backpacker Destinations - Case Studies from Mexico and Malaysia 
  • Alexandra Lipitakis: E-Business Strategic Planning and Performance: A Comparative Study of the UK and Greece
  • Johanna Riedt: A Model of Organisational Creativity: Learning from Two Creative Giants 

Professional

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • She is currently external examiner on the MSc Management at Birkbeck, University of London and has previously been an external examiner at other HEIs in the UK & Ireland.
  • •She chairs programme validation events at partner institutions of the University, most recently for the Kent & Medway Medical School. She has also an external panel member on validation panels at other institutions.
  • She has given invited talks on inclusive accessibility by design (OPERA project) at public sector conferences. 


Publications

Article

  • Yeow, P., Dean, A., Tucker, D. and Pomeroy, L. (2019). Group-works: Exploring multiplex networks, leadership and group performance. Journal of Organizational Effectiveness: People and Performance [Online] 6:227-245. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JOEPP-03-2019-0027.
    Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the effect of “multiplex” (multiple overlapping) networks and leadership on group performance in a higher education setting.
    Design/methodology/approach: Using a combination of social network analysis and interviews, the authors employ a case study approach to map the connections between academic group members. This paper analyses the relationship between this mapping and academic performance.

    Findings: The authors identified two dimensions which influence group effectiveness: multiplex networks and distributed-coordinated leadership. Where networks are built across tasks, inter-relationships develop that lead to greater group performance.

    Practical implications: Where group members create a dense hive of interconnectivity and are active across all group tasks, and also informally, this increases the opportunity for knowledge sharing. When this is similarly experienced by a majority of group members, there is positive reinforcement, resulting in greater group effectiveness.

    Originality/Value: This paper highlights the importance of the richness of formal ties in knowledge intensive settings. This paper is the first to differentiate between formal connections between colleagues related to different tasks within their role. This suggests that dense configurations of informal ties are insufficient; they must be coupled with strong ties around formal activity and demonstrative leadership.
  • Yeow, P., Dean, A. and Tucker, D. (2014). Bags for life: The embedding of ethical consumerism. Journal of Business Ethics [Online] 125:87-99. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-013-1900-2.
    The aim of this paper is to understand why some ethical behaviours fail to embed, and importantly what can be done about it. We address this by looking at an example where ethical behaviour has not become the norm, i.e. the widespread, habitual, use of ‘bags for life’. This is an interesting case because whilst a consistent message of ‘saving the environment’ has been the basis of the promotion of ‘bags for life’ in the United Kingdom for many years, their uptake has only recently become more widespread and still remains at low levels. Through an exploratory study, we unpack some of the contextual barriers which may influence ethical consumerism. We do this by examining the attitudes which influenced people to start using ‘bags for life’, and how people persuade others to use ‘bags for life’. We use a case study analysis to try and understand why ethical behaviour change has stalled and not become sustained. We find that both individuals and institutions play a significant interaction role in encouraging a sustained behavioural change towards ethical consumerism.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2011). The Rise of Super-Elite Law Firms: Towards Global Strategies. Service Industries Journal [Online] 31:195-213. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02642060802706956.
    This paper reviews the pressures towards globalisation reshaping the corporate law sector. It uses Yip's [Yip, G.S. (1996). Total global strategy (2nd ed.). Englewood-Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall] framework of global industry drivers. The dominant view has been that the globalisation potential of the legal industry is low since there are few global legal products and many regulatory differences between markets. However, within the corporate law sector, strong regulatory differences between countries are outweighed by the combined impact of market, competitive and cost drivers. Evidence from this research shows that the balance of industry drivers is towards there being benefits to the pursuit of global strategies within this sector. In practice, a small number of very large corporate law firms are implementing global strategies in pursuit of specific sources of future competitive advantage. Thus a small 'super-elite' of globalising firms is emerging.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2009). Delivering ‘Effortless Experience’ Across Borders: Managing Internal Consistency in Professional Service Firms. Journal of World Business [Online] 44:41-50. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jwb.2008.03.013.
    This article explores how professional service firms manage across borders. When clients require consistent services delivered across multiple locations, especially across borders, then firms need to develop an organization that is sufficiently flexible to be able to support such consistent service delivery. Our discussion is illustrated by the globalization process of law firms. We argue that the globalization of large corporate law firms primarily takes place in terms of investments in the development of protocols, processes and practices that enhance internal consistency such that clients receive an ‘effortless experience’ of the service across multiple locations worldwide. Over the longer term the ability to deliver such effortless experience is dependent upon meaningful integration within and across the firm. Firms that achieve this are building a source of sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Dean, A. and Kretschmer, M. (2007). Can ideas be capital? Factors of production in the post-industrial economy: a critique and review. Academy of Management Review 32:573-594.
    Economic and social relations are undergoing radical change, expressed in such concepts as "knowledge economy," "weightless economy," "postindustrial society," and "information society." The literature suggests the arrival of a distinct new factor of production--intellectual capital--replacing or perhaps supplementing land, labor, and capital. We give a historically informed theoretical exposition of capital as the durable result of past production processes, transforming future production while not being transformed itself and associated with a particular economic actor. We then construct a taxonomy of the possible characteristics and location of intellectual capital in postindustrial production
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2007). The globalization of law firms: managerial issues. International Journal of Service Industry Management [Online] 18:206-219. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09564230710737835.
    Purpose - To identify and discuss the changes arising within very large law firms from the pressure to provide global services and the issues for firms in implementing cross-border integration.

    Design/methodology/approach - The research is qualitative, case-based and exploratory, using a piloted topic guide. The study is of very large UK "City" law firms (i.e. those operating in over 20 countries) using in-depth semi-structured interviews with: managing partners, senior partners, partners and associates at "City" law firms, clients, US lawyers in London and non-legal professionals. Data are triangulated with information from trade press, trade associations and firm reports.

    Findings - Identification of managerial issues of global integration common to law firms inter-viewed. These include: a shift to a "managed" firm and decline in professional autonomy; post-acquisition integration and merger process issues; operationalization of global practices (such as common technology platforms, common systems practices, common human resources management practices and cross-border intra-firm working relationships) to achieve consistency throughout the integrated firm.

    Research limitations/implications - Data set is derived from UK firms only and dependent on respondent views.

    Findings indicate that law firms have become less distinctive and more like other service businesses. Practical implications - The paper identifies the processes by which consistent cross-border service to the client may be achieved within globally integrated firms.

    Originality/value - Law is an under-researched industry. This research adds to knowledge of the legal services industry; explores globalization in a professional service firm context; extends the global strategy literature into the services domain. This is also one of the few papers on law firms based on primary data.
  • Baden-Fuller, C., Dean, A., McNamara, P. and Hilliard, B. (2006). Raising the Returns to Venture Finance. Journal of Business Venturing [Online] 21:265-285. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusvent.2005.02.009.
    Investors in ventures that threaten to disrupt the markets of incumbents can use the options markets to add value to their investments by purchasing put options on the stock of the disrupted rivals on the basis of their asymmetric knowledge. By making a profit on these derivative trades in
    the stock of the disrupted firms, the investor innovator is able to recapture from the market extra and immediate profits (equivalent to the value of the consumer surplus) generated by the innovation. These additional profits increase the incentive of investors to invest in disruptive ventures and so correct biases that have been observed against investing disruptive innovation. Our paper provides guidance as to how these effects arise and their value. It also explores the ethical, regulatory and
    practical constraints on undertaking the trades, pointing out that it is effective and the legality seems to be robust provided certain conditions are met.
  • Dean, A. and Sharp, J. (2006). Getting the Most from NUD*IST/Nvivo. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods 4:11 -22.
    The focus of this paper is on issues that arise in the application of QSR NUD*IST and NVivo in management research. Since the most problematic areas in applying NUD*IST and NVivo are in using them for recording, collating, analysing and reporting interview data, this paper concentrates on the use of NUD*IST and NVivo for these purposes. This paper is not concerned with general problems of interviewing nor with technical details of how to use NUD*IST and NVivo but is about the practical problems of interpretation that can arise in applying NUD*IST and NVivo successfully to interview data and how the adoption of particular practices in qualitative data collection or different use of NUD*IST and NVivo can alleviate these problems. The paper examines problems that arise in the use of NUD*IST and NVivo at the different stages (Interviewing, Transcription, Structuring and Reporting) of three types of research project: a major research project, a specialist research project and a doctoral research project. Suggestions are made as to how these problems can be avoided or mitigated. Conclusions are drawn about good practice in the use of NUD*IST and NVivo and suggestions are made on some enhancements that might be made to them. The paper argues that improved NUD*IST and NVivo practice along the lines indicated will lead to more transparent and consistent qualitative analysis which can be seen to conform to accepted standards of management research. Comments are also made about Interpretivism and the use of NUD*IST and NVivo and on the role of supervisors in doctoral research involving the use of NUD*IST and NVivo.
  • Dean, A., Carlisle, Y. and Baden-Fuller, C. (1999). Punctuated and Continuous Change: The UK Water Industry. British Journal of Management [Online] 10:3-18. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8551.10.s1.2.
    Punctuated change is usually defined as a discontinuity in organizational development and is traditionally associated with environmental turbulence; it is also associated with step changes in the performance of an organization. Starting from Gersick (1991), we discuss the foundations of the punctuatedà incremental change paradox, and lay out hypotheses regarding the moments when such change is adopted and its economic effect. We explore these ideas through a study of the UK water industry: a contrived macro experiment. Following privatization, the ten major companies all faced similar pressures to adjust, but adopted widely differing responses. We find that the response to privatization was not always punctuated change, and that punctuated change processes were not necessarily superior to continuous processes. We contrast our findings with Romanelli and Tushman (1994), exploring the reasons why our results are so dissimilar.
  • Carlisle, Y. and Dean, A. (1999). Design as Knowledge Integration Capability. Creativity & Innovation Management [Online] 8:112-121. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-8691.00125.
    The design literature offers two design process models as alternatives for acquiring and using knowledge in design. The best established is the rational problem solving model which calls for technical recommendations. The reflective practitioner model is appropriate to softer, controversial issues that call for ideological prescriptions. We view these models as complementary, not alternative, strategies which can assist in understanding knowledge integration in the design process. This paper offers a more holistic perspective upon design than that commonly found in the Design Studies literature. Our conceptualisation of design as knowledge integration capability suggests that effective design decision making integrates knowledge contributions and reconciles disparate values to a common purpose. The quality of design decision making increasingly depends on the effective integration of knowledge from a range of sources. This is especially true in the knowledge intensive sectors which we have studied. We offer illustrations from biotechnology and note that technical knowledge inputs can not alone ensure a successful outcome. This has implications for the management and practice of design in multidisciplinary project teams.

Book section

  • Colaiacomo, S. and Dean, A. (2020). Enhancing Student Engagement and Empowerment in the Digital Classroom. In: Mawani, S. and Mukadam, A. A. eds. Student Empowerment in Higher Education. Reflecting on Teaching Practice and Learner Engagement. Berlin, Germany: Logos, pp. 123-138. Available at: https://www.logos-verlag.com/cgi-bin/engbuchmid?isbn=5089&lng=eng&id=.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2006). Cross-Border Management Issues in International Law Firms. In: Morgan, E. and Fai, F. eds. Managerial Issues in International Business. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 123-140.
    This chapter focuses on the organizational changes arising from the creation of large cross-border legal service organizations and alliance networks. We address the management issues faced by legal professional service firms (PSFs) in responding to the demands placed upon their existing organizational structures and processes by the most recent phase in their international expansion.

Conference or workshop item

  • Dean, A., Langstone, Z. and Colaiacomo, S. (2019). Enhancing Student Engagement in the digital classroom. In: University of Kent Learning & Teaching Conference.
  • Cohen, J. and Dean, A. (2019). Exploring group-work and physical space: a case study in factors influencing student success. In: Assessment in HE.
  • Cohen, J. and Dean, A. (2019). Exploring group-work and physical space: a case study in factors influencing student success. In: CABS LTSE Conference.
  • Cohen, J. and Dean, A. (2016). Changing Practice: Can quality assurance processes really drive quality enhancement?. In: SEDA Spring Conference: Innovations in Assessment and Feedback Practice. Available at: https://www.seda.ac.uk/resources/files/SEDA%20Spring%202016%20Conference%20handbook.pdf.
  • Cohen, J. and Dean, A. (2014). Changing Culture, Changing Practice: A Faculty Approach to Engaging Staff. In: Poster Presentation at ICED 2014: Educational Development in a Changing World, ICED Conference. Available at: http://www.iced2014.se/docs/ICED%202014%20Program%20final.pdf.
  • Cohen, J. and Dean, A. (2014). Reflections on assessment: a faculty experience of engaging staff and students with the principles of ‘assessment for learning’. In: SEDA Spring Conference: Engaging Students: Engaging Staff. Available at: https://www.seda.ac.uk/resources/files/May%202014%20Conference%20handbook.pdf.
  • Dean, A., Yeow, P., Tucker, D. and Pomeroy, L. (2013). Communities of practice in UK higher education: A case study on networks and group effectiveness. In: EGOS.
  • Dean, A., Yeow, P., Tucker, D. and Pomeroy, L. (2013). Communities of practice in UK higher education: A case study on networks and group effectiveness. In: EAWOP.
  • Dean, A., Yeow, P., Tucker, D. and Pomeroy, L. (2012). What makes a high performing community of practice? ’Innovation in challenging times. In: The ABS Learning & Teaching Conference in Association With the HEA.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2006). Professional Law Firms: Local to Global. In: 22nd EGOS Colloquium The Organizing Society.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2006). From PSF to MNC: The Globalization of Law Firms. In: SMS.
  • Dean, A., Sharp, J. and Genc, S. (2005). Getting the most from NUD?IST/NVivo. In: BAM 2005.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2005). Unlocking Barriers to the International Growth of Professional Law Firms: Managerial and Organizational Challenges. In: 21st EGOS Colloquium. Unlocked Organizations.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2005). The Challenges For Law Firms in Global Markets. In: BAM 2005. Challenges of Organisations in Global Markets.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2005). Advances in the Strategic Management of Global Law Firms. In: 2005 SMS Annual International Conference.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2004). The Response to Globalisation within Professional Law Firms. In: 20th EGOS Colloquium Sub-Theme 5 Professional Service Organisations and Knowledge Intensive Work.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2004). Cross-Border Organisational Learning: The Globalisation of UK Law Firms. In: BAM 2004.
  • Dean, A. and Baden-Fuller, C. (2003). Market Entry, Pricing Decisions, & Financial Options. In: Strategic Management Society. Available at: http://www.realoptions.org/papers2003/DeanMarketEntry.doc.
    This paper bridges the literature on real options in strategy with that on financial options. It uses insights from both literatures to show how the use of options contracts can encourage innovators to enter markets by mitigating the effects of uncertainty and permitting the capture of greater value from innovation. The dilemma facing a firm trying to secure the successful launch of its innovation is how to set price to achieve market penetration yet still receive an adequate return. The traditional view is that the low price necessary for penetration may yield such poor returns that the innovator is dissuaded from launch. This problem is exacerbated when the innovator is an entrant and faces retaliatory reactions from incumbents. We explore how financial options can mitigate these effects and recapture the "lost" added value. Using financial options can encourage commitment, overcome delay in launch and allow innovators to capture value quickly. Finally, we explore some of the impediments to executing our ideas, discuss when they might be useful to managers and suggest ways in which they can be tested empirically.
  • Dean, A. and Kretschmer, M. (2003). Can Ideas be Capital? Factors of Production in the Post-Industrial Economy: A Review and Critique. In: Academy of Management Conference.
    It is a widely accepted premise that we are in a midst of a radical change of
    economic and social relations, associated with terms such as the “knowledge
    economy”, “weightless economy”, “post-industrial society” or “information
    society”. The intellectual capital literature appears to suggest the arrival of a
    distinct factor of production, replacing or supplementing land, labour and
    capital. Some exponents of intellectual capital analysis see knowledge, ideas,
    capabilities and skills as a new, perhaps overriding productive factor; others
    conceive of the changes within a widening of the traditional definition of
    capital to include business processes, intellectual property, product ideas, even
    customer loyalty; again others use “intellectual capital” as a rhetorical tool
    withholding any coherent definition.
    In this article, we first give a historically informed theoretical exposition of
    capital as the durable result of past production processes, transforming future
    production while not being transformed itself, and associated with a particular
    economic actor. Second, we offer a taxonomy of the perceived characteristics
    and location of intellectual capital in the production process. Third, we argue
    that capital, and thus intellectual capital, is not a useful way of theoretically
    capturing knowledge and ideas
  • Dean, A. and Baden-Fuller, C. (2003). Market Entry, Pricing Decisions and Options Contracts. In: 7th Annual International Conference on Real Options Theory Meets Practice. Available at: http://www.realoptions.org/abstracts/abstracts03.html.
    This paper bridges the literature on real options in strategy with that on financial options. It uses insights from both literatures to show how the use of options contracts can encourage innovators to enter markets by mitigating the effects of uncertainty and permitting the capture of greater value from innovation. The dilemma facing a firm trying to secure the successful launch of its innovation is how to set price to achieve market penetration yet still receive an adequate return. The traditional view is that the low price necessary for penetration may yield such poor returns that the innovator is dissuaded from launch. This problem is exacerbated when the innovator is an entrant and faces retaliatory reactions from incumbents. We explore how financial options can mitigate these effects and recapture the "lost" added value. Using financial options can encourage commitment, overcome delay in launch and allow innovators to capture value quickly. Finally, we explore some of the impediments to executing our ideas, discuss when they might be useful to managers and suggest ways in which they can be tested empirically.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2003). The Globalisation of Professional Law Firms. In: Strategic Management Society.
  • Baden-Fuller, C., Dean, A. and Namara, P. (2002). Capturing the Value of Exploration with Option Contracts. In: Academy of Management.
  • Dean, A. and Baden-Fuller, C. (1999). Punctuated and Incremental Change: The UK Water Industry. In: Academy of Management Conference. Academy of Management, pp. A1-A6. Available at: https://journals.aom.org/doi/10.5465/apbpp.1999.27592681.
    The punctuated-incremental change paradox is discussed. Four hypotheses regarding change choice are tested using a UK water industry study. Longitudinal, cross-sectional and case study analyses are combined to compare firms' performance. Contrary to previous research, punctuated change processes were often found inferior to incremental processes. Change management implications are explored.Punctuated change is usually defined as a discontinuity in organisational development and is traditionally associated with environmental turbulence; it is also associated with step changes in the performance of an organisation. We discuss the foundations of the punctuated-incremental change paradox, and lay out four hypotheses regarding the moments when such change is adopted and its economic effect. We explore these ideas through a study of the UK water industry: a contrived macro experiment. Our methodology has three dimensions combining cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of firm performance with individual case studies. This approach, enabled by the simultaneous privatisation of the major firms in the industry, allows direct comparison across firms over time. It overcomes the production of confusing results associated with the adoption of either method alone and permits a more complete picture to be developed. We find that the response to privatisation was varied and that, surprisingly, punctuated change processes were often inferior to continuous processes. This contrasts sharply with the findings of Romanelli and Tushman (1994). We explore the reasons why our results are well founded and what it means for the central debate on change management.

Monograph

  • Yeow, P., Tucker, D. and Dean, A. (2011). Making Ethical Consumerism ’Stick’: The Design and the Context. University of Kent.
  • Segal-Horn, S. and Dean, A. (2007). Delivering ‘Effortless Experience’ Across Borders: Managing Internal Consistency in Professional Service Firms. Kent Business School, University of Kent. Available at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/kbs/pdf/Dean-and-Segal-Horn-No-146.pdf.
    This article explores how professional service firms manage across borders. When clients require consistent services delivered across multiple locations, especially across borders, then firms need to develop an organization that is sufficiently flexible to be able to support such consistent service delivery. Our discussion is illustrated by the globalization process of law firms. We argue that the globalization of large corporate law firms primarily takes place in terms of investments in the development of protocols, processes and practices that enhance internal consistency such that clients receive an ‘effortless experience’ of the service across multiple locations worldwide. Over the longer term the ability to deliver such effortless experience is dependent upon meaningful integration within and across the firm. Firms that achieve this are building a source of sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Dean, A., Sharp, J. and Genc, S. (2006). Getting the Most from NUD*IST/Nvivo. Kent Business School. Available at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/kbs/pdf/Sharp-Dean-and-Genc-No-117.pdf.
    Since the most problematic areas in applying NUD*IST and NVivo in management research are in using them for recording, collating, analysing and reporting interview data, this paper concentrates on the use of NUD*IST and NVivo for these purposes. It examines the problems that arise in their use at the different stages (Interviewing, Transcription, Structuring and Reporting) of three types of research project: a major research project, a specialist research project and a doctoral research project. Suggestions are made as to how these problems can be mitigated. Conclusions are drawn about good practice in the use of NUD*IST and NVivo and suggestions are made on some enhancements that might be made to them. Comments are made about Interpretivism and the use of NUD*IST and NVivo and on the role of supervisors in doctoral research involving the use of NUD*IST and NVivo.
  • Dean, A. and Kretschmer, M. (2003). Can Ideas Be Capital? Factors of Production in the Post-Industrial Economy: A Review and Critique. Kent Business school. Available at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/kbs/pdf/Dean-and- Kretschmer-No-38.pdf.
    Economic and social relations are undergoing radical change, expressed in such concepts as “knowledge economy,” “weightless economy,” “postindustrial society,”
    and “information society.” The literature suggests the arrival of a distinct new factor of production—intellectual capital—replacing or perhaps supplementing land, labor, and capital. We give a historically informed theoretical exposition of capital as the durable result of past production processes, transforming future production while not being transformed itself and associated with a particular economic actor. We then construct a taxonomy of the possible characteristics and location of intellectual
    capital in postindustrial production.
Last updated