Day in the life of a lecturer: Dr Josh Morton

In the ‘Day in the Life’ series, we sit down with members of staff from the Management Division to learn about their role: From the day to day responsibilities, to longer term projects and goals.

Josh Morton is an early career researcher in Strategy and Organisation.

How would you describe your role as a lecturer?

Broadly, I’d put it into two main categories: Teaching, along with teaching administration, and researching. The teaching involves dealing with student queries, personal tutorials, and then with the teaching timetable, of course I’m following a pattern- so it’s more formal. The actual teaching manages itself to a degree.

The research on the other hand is far more informal and pragmatic, as you can manage it yourself. The management division gives you the freedom to research in your own way. There’s plenty of support and opportunity for collaboration, for example regular seminars are held which provides scope for meeting to enhance collaboration across subject groups.

You’re a member of the Strategy and Organisation group, one of the six subject groups in the Management Division. What does that mean, and what modules does this involve for the management students?

The group’s research areas broadly fit into strategic management and innovation, and there is interest in organisational studies which is broad and multi-disciplinary, and to some degree, in information systems. There are two big modules that focus on strategic management at undergraduate and postgraduate level. There are also the more bespoke modules on Managing Innovation and Innovation Management in Practice, which are on the Global Strategy and Innovation Management masters programme.

The numbers are growing for the Strategy and Innovation course; in the past year up to around 50 students. It’s a great course, people who take it tend to be extremely focused and interested in innovation and the focus of business strategy. Companies really like the niche too, and many of these students go onto to innovation consultancy roles. Companies really benefit from expert knowledge on innovation and emerging technologies such as blockchain and related to AI as they see that this is vital for the development of their long-term goals.

When teaching and exams finish, what does your working day look like then?

The summer period is definitely more flexible in that I can work in different environments, like coffee shops or at home. I still tend to come into the office to focus but the summer focus is on research, writing papers and attending conferences while the teaching takes a backseat.

What research are you working on at the moment?

I’ve actually got 12 papers on the go at the moment in various stages of maturity. One is on digital work and strategic information systems, that’s in its final stages. Another is on strategic agility in banking: how the big retail banks build capabilities to react to fintech competition. I’m also working on a paper on how large coffee corporations can strategically manage their legitimacy, in the face of factors like plastic pollution. So really varied, but relevant topics.  

Academics in the Management Division attend and present research at conferences globally. What conferences have you attended this year?

I attended and presented at HICCS in January, in Hawaii, which was amazing both academically and geographically. I had two papers accepted at ECIS (European Conference on Information Systems) and EGOS (European Group for Organisational Studies) in Edinburgh. I also attended the 2019 Academy of Management Conference in Boston over the summer. Being able to travel to places I wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to, for example Taiwan and different US cities, to network with other academics and present work, is a great perk of being a in the Management domain. The wider school is financially supportive of management academics presenting at conferences around the world, so it’s a great place to be.

What is the best thing about the being a member of the Management Division within the Leeds University Business School?

I really like the flexibility of being a part of the Management Division. There is no micromanagement, we have great leadership where we are all trusted to meet our goals, but also given plenty of support. While we have diverse research interests, the influence of technology on strategy and information systems is increasingly blurring the lines, meaning we are collaborating more than ever. It’s a really inclusive team.

What’s the most challenging part of your role?

With varied responsibilities, time management is the biggest challenge. I rely heavily on my calendar to ensure that not just the formal responsibilities are fulfilled, but to allow me to set time aside for student support near exams, and creating revision games. There are certain pressures, such as student evaluations, to keep in mind as well as the broader pressures such as REF (Research Excellence Framework). These goals are made clear in the Management Division, so we are able to time manage accordingly.

Finally, do you have any advice for new Management Lecturers?

I’d say to really get into the habit of managing your time well. Plan your goals ahead and decide how to balance your core duties. I’d also highly recommend getting to know people; attending divisional or school wide events is a great way to do this. It’s really nice when you can pop into your colleague’s offices throughout the day, during teaching or research commitments.