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Nelson Phillips

Professor, Technology Management

Nelson Phillips is Professor of Technology Management in the College of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Originally from Canada, he holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering and an MBA from the University of Calgary, as well as a Ph.D. in Organizational Analysis from the University of Alberta. Prior to joining UCSB, Phillips was Professor of Innovation and Strategy at Imperial College Business School in London, UK where he was also the Associate Dean of External Relations and the Co-Director of the Centre for Responsible Leadership. He was also the Beckwith Professor of Management Studies at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School from 2001 to 2005, and a faculty member in the Faculty of Management, McGill University from 1993 to 2001. He is currently the Co-Editor of Innovation: Management and Organization, sits on the board of governors of the Academy of Management, and is on the advisory board of the Society for the Advancement of Management Studies. Phillips is also Research Fellow at Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School.

Phillips serves on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Journal, the Academy of Management Perspectives, and Research in the Sociology of Organizations. His book Constructing Organizational Life: How Social-Symbolic Work Shapes Selves, Organizations, and Institutions (with Tom Lawrence) was awarded the 2021 George R. Terry Book Award for the book judged to have made the most outstanding contribution to the global advancement of management knowledge during the last two years. In 2018, he was the recipient of the Joanne Martin Trailblazer Award given by the OMT Division of the Academy of Management to recognize scholars who have opened up a new line of inquiry in organization theory.  He was also awarded the European Group for Organization Studies award for the best paper submitted to the 2013 annual conference, the SO! What award for the best paper published in Strategic Organization in 2011, the Journal of Management Studies award for the best paper published in the journal in 2008, and the Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize for the most outstanding SMR article on planned change and organizational development published from Fall 2003 through Summer 2004. In 2021, Phillips was elected a fellow of the Academy of Management.

Phillips’ research interests cut across organization theory, innovation, and technology, and he has published widely for both academics and practitioners including papers in AMJ, AMR, Annals, Organization Science, Harvard Business Review and the Sloan Management Review. He has also written six books including Discourse Analysis (with Cynthia Hardy) and Constructing Organizational Life (with Tom Lawrence). He is currently working on a book on qualitative methods in organizational research to be published by Cambridge University Press and a book on linguistic methods in management research that will be published by Sage.

Phillips teaches leadership, strategy and digital business at the graduate and undergraduate levels as well as teaching doctoral courses in organization theory and qualitative methods. He is also active in executive education and has delivered modules for a wide range of corporate clients including the London Stock Exchange, Savills, Barclays, ASDA, Panasonic, the NHS, the government of the UAE, and Kuwait Oil. 

Phillips is currently researching how hype around emerging technologies “locks in” technology entrepreneurs, how technology entrepreneurs make the decision to pivot in organizations beyond the founding phase, and how entrepreneurial framing leads to moral legitimacy with key stakeholder groups.