Practice and Process Studies

Practice and Process Studies 

Practice and Process Studies (PPS) focus attention on how and why organisations emerge, develop, or terminate over time, illuminating the role of tensions and conflicts in driving patterns of change. 

PPS offers a multi-level research approach and provides a framework for working closely with industry to drive change and enhanced outcomes, whether that is helping to coordinate a remote workforce, or a completely new strategic direction to respond to a changing market. By investing in PPS, businesses are thus enabled to strategically plan and adapt to pressing issues in a way that supports staff and culture.

Contact the Practice and Process Studies Team


Professor Jorgen Sandberg



Professor Paula Jarzabkowski Co-Lead


Professor Paula Jarzabkowski



Engage with us           View Research Hub 2022 report (PDF, 12.6 MB)



Our experts

The Process and Practices Studies research theme brings together experts and researchers from multiple disciplines, which are complemented by honorary visiting professors.

Our PPS researchers have a demonstrated track record and evidence of high-impact on scholarly fields, strong collaboration with industry, inclusion in top-tier research publications and collaborations internationally.


Professor Jorgen Sandberg – practice theory, capabilities, sense-making in organisations, qualitative research methodologies, theory development.

Jorgen is internationally recognised for his research in practice and process theory. His main research interests include competence and learning in organisations, research methodology, practice theory, theory development and philosophy of science.

He has published extensively in top-tier journals, including Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Organisation Behavior, and Harvard Business Review, as well as published several books.

Professor Paula Jarzabkowski – practice theory, strategy-as-practice, grand challenges, multi-site ethnography, video ethnography, qualitative methodologies

Paula is a founder and leading scholar in the strategy-as-practice field. Her research focuses on pluralistic and paradoxical contexts, particular how actors' practices in these contexts shape the broader market and societal dynamics. She has a specific interest in using a practice lens to address the complex problems or 'grand challenges' affecting society, most recently in disaster risk financing.

Paula has held several prestigious fellowships and grants to conduct ethnographic research in various industries, including an Advanced Institute of Management Ghoshal Fellowship, an Insurance Intellectual Capital Initiative fellowship, a European Framework Marie Curie Fellowship, and a Leverhulme Fellowship. She enjoys the challenge of publishing ethnographic, practice-theoretical work in leading journals, including Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management Studies, Organization Science, Organization Studies, and Strategic Management Journal. In 2005, she published the first book on strategy-as-practice, Strategy as Practice: An Activity-Based Approach (Sage) and in 2015 co-authored the first ethnographic, practice-based study of a global financial market, Making a Market for Acts of God with Oxford University Press.

UQ members

Dr Alexandra Kriz – case study methodology, processual and longitudinal analysis, action research and action learning.

Dr Alison Joubert – consumer culture theory, transformative research, marketplace practices, contestation, inclusion and legitimation.

Professor Andrew Burton-Jones practice theory, materiality and representation.

Dr Anna Jenkins – entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship process

Associate Professor April Wright – Institutional change processes, management education, process theory

Dr Claudia Gonzalez Marketing and sustainability, digital marketing and brand management, social practices, consumer culture.

Dr Frederik Von Briel process theorising; qualitative research;

Dr Josephine Previte – Social marketing practice, consumer behaviour, service research, practice theory

Dr Liz Ferrier – Service experience practices, practice theory

Professor Mats Alvesson – practice theory, leadership, qualitative methods, critical theory, theory development and organisational culture.

Professor Nicole Gillespie – building, repairing and maintaining trust in organisations, managing trust during change and disruption and designing trustworthy organisations.

Professor Paula Jarzabkowski strategy as practice, qualitative research and strategic management.

Professor Peter Liesch – processes of internationalisation of firms, process theory and international entrepreneurship

Associate Professor Remi Ayoko - Process theory, physical environment of work, territoriality, conflict in organisations/ conflict management, virtual work and multi-generational workforce

Dr Richard O’Quinn – practice theory, strategic decision-making and leadership.

Associate Professor Richard Robinson hospitality studies, occupational culture, disadvantage and precarity.

Dr Saeed Akhlaghpour – applications of IT in healthcare, diffusion of digital innovations

Associate Professor Stan Karanasios – digital technology impacts on organisations and society, work processes and activity theory

Dr Stefan Jooss

Dr Terrance Fitzsimmons – leadership, gender equality and intergenerational societal disparity

Dr Tracy Martin corporate governance, narrative analysis and ethnography

Postdoctoral Fellows

Janine Lay
Joanna Kho
Gongtai Wang

PhD Students

Aimee Simmonds
Alexandria Macdade
Amy Tsai
Ana Ximena Alvis Gonzales
Carlos Rincon Hurtado
Claire Cunningham
Csilla Demeter
Daisy Xu
Donato Spinosa
Ellen Derbyshire
Grace Williams
Jon Aster
Joseph Baladi
Kaylene Ascough
Kevin Blasiak
Krishna Dermawan
Kun Zhang
Lawrence Kusz
Nairara Carrillo
Oscar Zhu
Rosie Gallagher
Sajeeb Saha
Samira Nazar
Santosh Therakam
Tyler Riordan
Vanvilay Phommalath
Xianxian Jiang
Yanpei Lin
Yu Zhao
Rhianna Gallagher
Amanda Van de Paverd
Simon Beuse

UQBS Adjuncts

Anna Stephens
Sara Ekberg

Honorary Professor

Hari Tsoukas

Research programs

Practice and Process Studies (PPS) is informed by Practice Theory and Process Theory, which has gained significant influence advancing theory across disciplinary boundaries, including management, strategy, information systems, accounting, marketing, and finance.

The research theme is underpinned by four interconnected areas of focus:

  1. Practice and Process Studies in Strategy 
  2. Practice and Process Studies in Competence and Learning 
  3. Practice and Process Studies in Entrepreneurship 
  4. Advancing Practice and Process Theory

Practice and Process Studies in Strategy

Formulating and executing strategy is quintessential for any organisation. Yet, it also raises some of the most challenging questions, around ‘what should we focus on next?’, or ‘how to best coordinate resources and staff’ to name but a few. PPS has worked with executives, boards and managers to help and plan for these types of questions.

PPS in strategy focuses on the behavioural and social dynamics, processes and practices that characterise organisational strategy.

PPS plays an integral part in businesses development, helping to navigate strategic change processes – positioning an organisation in an industry.  An example of this may include moving a from bricks and mortar business model to new differentiated digital offerings, that compete in a rapidly evolving platform.

PPS helps organisations plan for the question, what are we doing in five or ten years time? And what practices and processes do we need to implement or adapt to achieve this strategic change. Some examples of PPS helping to strategically plan for the future include new processes and practices for research and development initiatives and entrepreneurship.

Members: Paul Spee, Paula Jarzabkowski, Richard O’Quinn and Anna Stephens

Practice and Process Studies in Skillful Performance

One of the most vexing questions for governments, educational institutions and companies is what defines knowing and learning in skillful performance.

The purpose of this focus is to deploy a PPS perspective to advance our understanding of what defines knowing (e.g. capabilities, knowledge, competence) and learning in the skillful performance of individuals, groups and organisations. Adequately addressing this question is critical, as it enables us to know what to focus on and what to do in order to enhance the performance of individuals, groups and organisations in society.

Members: Jorgen SandbergJohanna Kho and Richard O'Quinn

Practice and Process Studies in Entrepreneurship

PPS in entrepreneurship moves away from the predominant focus on ‘the’ individual entrepreneur, instead recognising the progress of new ventures (startups) is closely tied to entrepreneurs performing well-known scripts, such as the lean startup.

Our research examines the development of the startup ecosystem, with a particular focus on South East Queensland and Australia. It follows entrepreneurs in real time, to analyse how they create startups, what works and what doesn’t.

We build theory to explain why some startups are successful and others shut down. This includes their approach to networking and building customer relations, how they create and practice their pitch, how they gain customer relationships and investor relationships.

Members: Anna Jenkins, Paul Spee, Frederik Von Briel, Sara Ekberg, Johanna Kho and Alexandra Kriz

Advancing Practice and Process Theory

Advancing PPS theory is important for how we actually provide future managers with organisational templates. Say you are looking at a classroom, PPS also dissects what it means to teach in the first place.

The purpose of this focus is to advance these theories in order to improve and refine the overall PPS perspective. Central here is to better understand the philosophical underpinnings of practice and process theories, as well as their boundaries.

Such understandings are critical, as they provide important platforms for further developing practice and process theories in a way that enable us to use them more closely to examine what defines organisational and management practices how they are performed.

Members: Jorgen Sandberg, Paul Spee, Andrew Burton-Jones and Hari Tsoukas

Active projects

Board gender parity in listed public companies: where to from here? (2020 - current)
An ongoing project with the University of Exeter examining how the business communities of the United Kingdom and Australia have brought about the dramatic increase of the presence of women board members in the FTSE250 and ASX200 respectively and what can be done to progress towards board gender parity in the future.    
UQ researchers: Terrance Fitzsimmons and Professor Victor Callan    
Industry collaboration: Australian Institute of Company Directors

Employer of choice for gender equality: leading practices in strategy, policy and implementation (2020- current)
A report examining the Workplace Gender Equality Agency Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation application data for 119 firms across five years. The report summarises all leading practices in gender equality interventions in Australian firms.     
UQ researchers: Terrance Fitzsimmons and Professor Victor Callan    
Industry collaboration: Workplace Gender Equality Agency

Enabling exits from disadvantage for youth via gaining and sustaining meaningful hospitality employment (2019 - 2020)
The University of Queensland Development Fellowship (Industry Capacity Area) ($248,786)
UQ researcher: Richard Robinson
Industry collaboration: Multicap, The Salvation Army, William Angliss Institute, Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works and Wesley Mission Queensland

Mediational and non-mediational theories in management research: Advancing practical theorizing (2019-current)
The overall aim of this project is to introduce and elaborate the notion of non-mediational theories, such as practice and process theories, and how they can help management researchers to produce theories more relevant and valuable to both scholars and practitioners.
UQ researchers: Jorgen Sandberg and Hari Tsoukas

The Research Process. Conventional and Alternative Images (2019-current)
In this project we metaphorizing the entire research process with the aim to facilitate reflection and new angles on carrying out research that will lead to more imaginative, impactful and engaging research.
UQ researcher: Jorgen Sandberg and Mats Alvesson

Understanding collective consumer resistance to sustainability interventions (2019-current)
One of the most important questions today for governments, marketers and policy makers is to create and facilitate more sustainable consumption. This project applies a practice-theoretical perspective to understand the often strong collective consumer resistance to sustainability interventions.
UQ researchers: Claudia Gonzalez, Alison Joubert and Jorgen Sandberg

Deepening and expanding the philosophical platform for practice and process theory (2016-current)
This project reflects an ongoing effort to further advance practice and process theory through consolidating and developing its philosophical platform.
UQ researchers: Jorgen Sandberg and Hari Tsoukas

Effective use of electronic medical records (2018-current)
This is a longitudinal (5+ year) study of the Digital Hospital transformation in Queensland. Related data collection has occurred and will occur in Vancouver Coastal Health.      
UQ researchers: Andrew Burton-Jones, Paul Spee, Saeed Akhlaghpour, Gongtai Wang and Natalie Smith
Industry collaboration: eHealth Qld, Metro South Health and Vancouver Coastal Health

Investigating the role of person-independent factors in entrepreneurship (2016-current)
This project focuses on developing and empirically testing theory about the influence of person-independent factors such as technological advances, socio-demographic developments, or policy changes on entrepreneurship processes and their outcomes.
UQ researcher: Frederik Von Briel

Investigating the transformative potential of digital technologies for value creation (2016-current)
This project focuses on developing and empirically testing theory about the role of digital technologies in enabling and potentially upending value creation such as by unlocking novel forms of innovation processes.
UQ researcher: Frederik Von Briel

Shaping the Future: a framing analysis of the strategic decision-making process in boards (2018- current)
Examines the processes directors use to resolve significant issues during decision making. Uses a longitudinal, ethnographic approach, including boardroom observation, interviewing, and document analysis. This study finds that subtle behaviours in the boardroom can direct attention and that expertise on the board can be marginalised unless supported by other resources.    
UQ researcher: Tracy Martin
Industry collaboration: Financial services organisation

Unlocking Benefits from Digital Investments through Meaningful Use (2018-2020)     
This study seeks to learn what it takes to obtain benefits from digital hospital investments with a particular focus on learning what it takes to use new electronic medical record systems effectively.  
UQ researchers: Paul Spee, Saeed Akhlaghpour and Brenda Gannon
Industry collaboration: Metro South Health and Vancouver Coastal Health

Past Projects

From glamour to clamour: Investigating mental health and wellbeing interventions for young chefs (2019)
UQ Foundation Research Excellence Awards ($70,000)
UQ researcher: Richard Robinson
Industry collaboration: William Angliss Institute and Australian Culinary Federation

Transformational training models for transitioning the homeless to hospitality employment (2018 - 2019)
The Salvation Army & Bel Connect Grant Scheme ($55,000)
UQ researcher: Richard Robinson
Industry collaboration: The Salvation Army and William Angliss Institute

Research Partnership Agreement: Investigating the effectiveness of charity delivery (2016 - 2019​)
St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland and University of Queensland, Institute for Social Science Research ($225,000)
UQ researcher: Richard Robinson
Industry collaboration: St Vincent de Paul Society Queensland

Hospitality and tourism: youth employment project (2016 - 2019​)
Queensland Tourism Industry Council, Restaurant & Catering Australia and Tourism and Travel Forum, Scholarship Fund ($66,000)
UQ researcher: Richard Robinson

Hands up for gender equality (2018)
A report examining the responses of 10,000 adolescents to the topic of leadership, confidence, gender stereotypes and career intentions. The report examines the controversial divide in boy’ and girls’ confidence and understanding of gender stereotypes and their links to gender divides in the Australian workforce.     
UQ researcher: Terrance Fitzsimmons    
Industry collaboration: Alliance of Girl Schools Australasia and Australian Gender Equality Council 

How the practice of clustering shapes cluster emergence

Published August 2020 by Professor Jorgen Sandberg

how practice of clustering shapes cluster emergence

Clarifying the processes through which latent clusters become actual clusters is an increasingly important area of research in regional studies and is essential if we are to explain why some nascent agglomerations develop into viable clusters, while others do not.

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Bodily grounds of learning: embodying professional practice in biotechnology

Much of the literature on education for the professions conventionally has emphasised knowledge and skills acquisition for subsequent application in situations when they are required. Although knowledge and skills are necessary, disconnecting acquisition from application in this manner does not accord with how professionals learn.

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Sensemaking reconsidered: towards a broader understanding through phenomenology

 towards a broader understanding through phenomenology

The mainstream view has it that sensemaking is episodic-deliberative; it is triggered by episodic interruptions of organizational activities, forcing agents to deliberately search for how to restore the interrupted activity. This view has been increasingly questioned, as research has revealed that sensemaking in organizations does not consist of one, but of several different types.

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Past Events

Business anthropology: Rethinking risk and financial markets 

For over a century, anthropologists have immersed themselves in unfamiliar cultures, uncovering the hidden rituals that govern how people act. Now, in an age when the business world is dominated by technology and data analysis, we're joined by award-winning financial journalist and anthropology PhD Gillian Tett to present a radically different strategy for business success with “anthro-vision”.

Professors Jorgen Sandberg and Haridimos Tsoukas award The James G. March Prize

July 2020

The James G. March Prize was awarded to Professors Jorgen Sandberg and Haridimos Tsoukas at the 36th European Group of Organization Studies (EGOS) Colloquium 2020 for their recent paper entitled “Sensemaking reconsidered: Towards a broader understanding through phenomenology”.

Their paper published in Organization Theory develops a typology of sensemaking in organizations that reconsiders existing sensemaking research by providing a more coherent and integrative conceptualization of what defines sensemaking and how it is connected with organizing.

The James G. March Prize is awarded bi-annually for the best article published in the journal Organization Theory. It pays tribute to the scholarship and legacy of Jim March who has been a great inspiration to many within the EGOS community. The winning paper reflects the diversity of social science perspectives as they relate to organisations, organising, and the organised. It offers a clear theoretical contribution to the scholarly debate, demonstrating impact, significance, critique, and novelty. On July 1st 2020, the James G. March Prize was awarded for the very first time at the 36th EGOS Colloquium 2020.