Roles and Responsibilities

Professor of Strategy & Organization.

Advisory Board Member, Fin Work Futures Research Centre, King's Business School, London.


Chris researches the leaders of some of Britain’s best-known organisations. He is an expert in strategic change, his research and teaching interests span Strategy in Public Life and Identity Work.

In a 25-year career in British Business Schools, Chris held faculty positions at London Metropolitan University (1998-99), University of Leicester (1999-2002), University of St Andrews (2002-11), and Newcastle University (2011-13). He joined the University of Edinburgh Business School in 2013. Chris has published widely and is an experienced researcher and educator.  His research focuses on organised politics, broadcast organisations, and professional service firms. 

Chris regularly chairs public events, including at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He engages closely with high profile organisations and leadership teams.

Research Taxonomy

Research Interests

Chris's  REF submission comprises:

  • Carter, Spence & McKinlay (2020) Strategic Change, Leadership and Accounting: a triptych of organisational reform. Public Administration, 98 (1): 62-91.
  • Spence, Carter, Husillos & Archel (2017) Taste matters: Cultural capital and elites in proximate Strategic Action Fields. Human Relations. Vol. 70, 2: pp. 211-236
  • Spence, Carter, Belal, Husillos, Dambrin & Archel (2016) Tracking habitus across a transnational field. Work, Employment and Society. 30 (1), 3-20.
  • Mueller, Carter & Whittle (2015) Can Audit Still be Trusted? Organization Studies. Vol. 36, 9: pp. 1171-1203.
  • Spence & Carter (2014) An Exploration of the professional habitus of Big 4 accounting firms. Work, Employment and Society. Vol. 28, 6: pp. 946-962
  • Carter & Spence (2014) Being a Successful Professional: An Exploration of Who Makes Partner in the Big 4. Contemporary Accounting Research. 31 (4), 949-981. 
  • Spence, Dambrin, Carter, Husillos & Archel (2014) Global ends, local means: Cross-national homogeneity in professional service firms. Human Relations. Vol. 68, 5: pp. 765-788.

He has eight PhD students doing creative work on:

  • Codebase (Grant Murray; co-supervised with Prof Martin Kornberger),
  • The Future of Audit (Martin Martinoff; co-supervised with Prof Paolo Quattrone at Manchester Business School),
  • Budgeting in the South African Treasury (Nokwazi Makanya; co-supervised with Prof James Mitchell),
  • Crisis Management (Julian Rawel; co-supervised with Prof John Amis), 
  • Street Soccer  Scotland (Christopher Klinghardt; co-supervised with Prof John Amis),
  • Change in the Pakistani public sector (Amna Chaudry; co-supervised with Prof John Amis), 
  • The Development of Financial Elites in Edinburgh (Robert Dawson Scott; co-supervised with Dr Ron Kerr), 
  • The Creation of an Institution: The case of the Scottish Parliament (Andrew Burns; co-supervised with Prof James Mitchell and Dr Ron Kerr).

Recently, John Millar successfully defended his PhD thesis. John took up an Assistant Professorship at Durham University in September 2020.

Chris has lived and worked in Scotland for a long time. Much of his research focuses on understanding aspects of Scottish public and organisational life. Current projects include:

(1) Re-imagining STV (2007-2017): this project (with Kenny Kemp) draws on extensive interviews and ethnographic materials.

(2) Identity Work in the Labour Party: Andrew Brown (Bath University) are investigating the identity work that goes on in political life.

(3) Elites: Crawford Spence (King's College) and I investigate the formation and composition of elites in a range of different settings. 

(4) Responses to Major Initiatives: John Millar and Frank Mueller (both at Durham University) and I are examining the responses of social actors to key organizational / field wide initiatives.

At the University of Edinburgh, Chris is a member of the Centre for Strategic Leadership and of the Centre for Accounting & Society. He is a board member of FinWorkFutures Institute at King's College London. He collaborates closely with the Strand Group, King's College London, Reform Scotland, and the Institute of Cornish Studies, University of Exeter.

Works Within

Research Area

Publication Type Actions