Tributes from other colleagues
Professor Andrew Pettigrew
Professor of Strategy and Organisation, Said Business School, University of Oxford
"He [Derek] was liked and respected by so many people of all ages. His work was important not just because of its methodological and empirical contributions, but because it was guided by a big idea. That big idea was that we should treat bureaucracy not just as an ideal type but as a variable. Max Weber, of course, was the first to define and begin to operationalise bureaucracy as an ideal type. Derek asked the crucial question, but how can we assess the extent to which organisations are bureaucratic? This sounds now like a simple derivative question to ask, but at the time it was fundamental. Few academics ask fundamental questions, they are largely derivative creatures. In this sense your father was an intellectual risk taker, although in many respects I also think he was a conservative person. You will know much more than I about that, but that is my impression of him. I think Derek also had another essential requirement for a top scholar he knew who he was and what he stood up for and yet he was also intellectually open and tolerant of others who did not share his identity and point of view. It was this factor that made him so attractive to other scholars and why so many people went to him for advice.
Of course, his success as a scholar was also predicated on his ability to build successive teams of people who complemented the skills and knowledge he had. As you will know talented people tend to recruit in their own image. Derek was confident enough about his own point of view not to make that mistake. He was also able to keep talented people together long enough to ensure they delivered for the team. This, of course, helped the building of his and the team's reputation. I described something of this pressure environment at LBS in Portsmouth. I think that group did not have a hippocratic oath, they had something of a hypercritical oath. There is a relationship between tension and creativity, but the tension also has to be subtly managed and I think Derek was good at that. It goes without saying that Derek was good in the 70's at generating resources that gave young scholars a chance to develop and by and large he was good at recruiting talented young people who made good use of the space he found for them."
Professor Patrick Tissington
Head of Organizational Psychology Department, Birkbeck University of London
"I have worked in a lot of different jobs before University - commission only sales, market trading, the army, tour guiding and many others. On the whole, Universities are at least as competitive a place to work as I have ever seen. And many people who succeed are not at all pleasant human beings. Against this backdrop, Derek stood out as a beacon of hope. His entire department from decades previously showed up at Aston to see him awarded that doctorate. I literately cannot think of anyone else this would happen to. A decent human being. Of course a great scholar, leading light in his field, provider of insight and hope to generations of PhD students (and I still give a copy of his book to all my doctoral students!).
He will be remembered with reverence by literally thousands. I simply can’t achieve the heights his research did. But I can honestly say that I try to live up to his decency in my working life."
Professor Kerr Inkson
Emeritus Professor of Management, The University of Auckland, New Zealand
"I worked with Derek in the Industrial Administration Research Unit at the University of Aston from 1965 to 1968. It was my first job, and Derek was our leader and my mentor. I learned more from him than I can ever tell, and he gave me the outlook and the skills to build a successful academic career (though, of course, nowhere near as successful as his!) He was still in his thirties then, but his vision, insight and supportiveness were already remarkable. ..... Later, I settled in New Zealand but retained contact with Derek, seeing him often on my visits to the UK. He remained, through his life, a fascinating intellectual companion, a good conversationalist, and a warm, giving person. Most recently, he kindly counselled a London friend of my daughter's, Karim, in his quest to find a way into a new career via a business school education. ..... He has been such an important figure in my life for so long that to consider that he is gone seems scarcely believable. And in his life he has touched so many academics round the world - as well as non-academics - so much that the grief currently felt will be huge, and world-wide. Farewell, Derek, you were truly a remarkable and wonderful man."
Professor Lex Donaldson
Professor of Management in Organizational Design, University of New South Wales, Australia
"Derek was a highly intelligent scholar. A hallmark was his ability in seminar to sum up an intellectual argument in a single word that cut to its core. For me he was a hugely supportive leader of our research group. He was also kindly the supervisor of my PhD thesis.
Derek was a figure of immense standing in the international academic community and will remain so for many years because of his towering contributions. I have spent much of my academic life seeking to advance the research tradition he founded.He will be much missed by the "invisible college" of organizational researchers and management educators.'
Professor Nigel Nicholson
Professor of Organisational Behaviour London Business School
"This feels like the passing of an era, of which Derek was unquestionably a leader, fostering serious scholarship and deep thinking about management ideas and practice. London Business School owes him a great debt for establishing a powerful base for the multidisciplinary enterprise we call OB, which he did with great skill and integrity at my institution, in the UK generally and beyond. He was a friend and a mentor to many of us – always kind, humorous, thoughtful and relevant."
Professor Susan Cartwright
Professor of Organizational Psychology and Director of Postgraduate Studies, Lancaster University
"I worked at lot with Derek when I was involved in the BAM doctoral training events and he was an inspiration to all the doctoral students he had contact with. His book on how to get a PhD still sits on my bookshelf and is something of “a bible” to PhD students (and supervisors)."
Professor Gordon Foxall
Distinguished Research Professor, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University
"Derek Pugh was an inspiring leader who shaped the development of management studies in this country. I am especially grateful for his pioneering work in psychology applied to management. He instilled confidence in management scholars well beyond his own School."
Professor Marie McHugh
Dean of the Ulster University Business School
"Derek was so generous with his time, and was such an inspiration and great mentor to so many within the BAM Community. He had a great passion for helping PhD students and would come to Belfast at the drop of a hat to facilitate a seminar for doctoral students."
Professor Michael West
Professor of Organizational Psychology, Lancaster University Management School
"Reviewing the publications which emerged from the Aston Studies is humbling – the volume of the output was extraordinary and was consistently of the highest quality. More than that though, the Aston studies established a fundamentally different and rich way of understanding organisations. Aston University owes him much for making the name of the university known amongst researchers world-wide studying organisations. Derek Pugh remained modest about the contributions the research teams made under his direction but his contribution to our understanding of organisations is simply enormous. ... He was also a lovely man."
Executive Coach and Management Consultant
"Thank you so much for letting me read [the] tribute – it stirred lots of memories and reminded me of his academic reputation, which will stand for a long time in my field. I was but a lowly practitioner, but Derek was constantly up to debating the wider implications of my experience across a number of organisations for whom I worked, and never pushed his superior background, staying a truly modest researcher despite his intellectual grasp. It was a privilege to know him."