Richard Whipp Lifetime Achievement Award

British Academy of Management Conference, Brighton 15 September 2009

Professor Cary Cooper and Professor Derek Pugh
Both recipients of Richard Whipp Lifetime Achievement Awards
British Academy of Management Conference 2009
I am most honoured to receive the lifetime achievement award established in memory of Richard Whipp. I did not know Richard personally, but I know his work and rate it highly. I credit him with having contributed the vital comparative dimension to the highly significant work of the Warwick Corporate Strategy and Change research programme, which considerably improved its power. As an unreconstructed positivist who thinks the aim of management research is to produce useful empirical generalizations, I regard Richard Whipp as having, academically speaking, saved Andrew Pettigrew's soul.

Pettigrew and Whipp's research is summarised, along with much other important work, in the latest edition of Pugh and Hickson, Great Writers on Organizations. If you don't know that book you should look for it on the Gower stand in the publishers' exhibition. (I have many inhibitions but, as you can gather, finding opportunities to plug my own books is not one of them!).

A lifetime achievement award strikes me as double-edged. It is true that I have been in management education and research for a long time. I published my first research paper on a management subject, conflicts between inspection and production, in Edinburgh 52 years ago. The first Aston research programme paper appeared in ASQ 46 years ago. I was appointed the first British professor of Organizational Behaviour at the London Business School 39 years ago. And I made my first television programme on 'The Management of Complex Systems' at the Open University a mere 25 years ago. So yes, I have spent a lifetime in this game.

But 'lifetime achievement award' has a feeling of finality that I don't really want to accept. I was honoured to be the supervisor of Edward Brech who obtained his PhD at the OUBS at the age of 85 and went into the Guinness Book of Records as the then oldest British recipient of a PhD. He continued with his research on the history of British management institutions, and I was his advisor when he obtained a higher doctorate (DLitt) at the age of 97, the OU's oldest graduate.

I have been inspired by Edward Brech, so when I was looking on the BAM website at the list of Fellows with their institutions, and found that against my name it just said 'retired', I bristled. True, I am officially retired - although whenever the subject comes up, my wife looks at me and says "Well, I can't see any difference". I feel I can make my main contribution now by encouraging and helping beginning management researchers, which is why I regularly give seminars to doctoral students, such as at the BAM Doctoral Symposium this afternoon, and on many business school doctoral programmes. And I'm now working on the next edition of our book, How to Get a PhD. (Another book plug. And the Sage stand has a couple of my books too.)

So, on the understanding that I can carry on trying to make a contribution, I gratefully accept this award.

Thank you.

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