Professor Nigel Nicholson's Biography
I am a Professor of Organisational Behaviour (OB) at London Business School, where I have wide-ranging involvements in research, executive education and business. The focus of my work is diverse, but currently primarily in leadership, family business, executive development, risk and decision-making, and interpersonal skills. I direct two of the School's major open enrolment programmes (Proteus and High Performance People Skills). I have strong links with business in Africa and India.
I left school at the age of 16 to become a journalist, and only resumed my education later, having worked for two years as a reporter on local newspapers, done some global wandering and been employed in various strange jobs. I read Psychology at university, followed by a PhD in Work and Organisational Psychology, via a huge research project on absence from work, a topic that occupied much of my early research writing and thought. I joined the Social and Applied Psychology Unit at the University of Sheffield where I worked on issues of labour-management relations, industrial conflict, organisational change, innovation, and management career mobility. I moved to London Business School in 1990, where in addition to two periods as OB Chairman I have been Research Dean, a Deputy Dean and member of the Governing Body. I have had spells as a distinguished visitor at universities in the USA, Germany, Canada, Ghana and Australia, and I am a Fellow of the International Association of Applied Psychology, the British Academy of Management and the British Psychological Society. I have been honoured for my contribution to theory and method by awards from the Academy of Management in the USA, and IAAP.
I have worked in and continue to maintain an interest in a wide variety of fields. My guiding principle throughout has been to find creative approaches to advancing knowledge and improving business practice. My aim has been new theoretical syntheses, original empirical approaches, truthful data, and practical applications that directly relate to the experience of people in organisations. Relevance is a key value for me to bring the academic and user worlds together through multiple forms of dissemination:- books, executive presentations, media appearances, academic journalism and scholarly articles. Since joining London Business School a key mission has been to pioneer the introduction of the powerful and radical ideas of evolutionary psychology to the world of business, through a stream of publications and presentations, including most notably my Harvard Business Review articles in 1998 and 2003, and book in 2000. Areas of recent research and writing on family business, personality and executive development, risk and decision-making in finance, careers, organisational change, and leadership skills (these are described on the Research Interests page). My latest book The 'I' of Leadership: Strategies for seeing, being and doing (Jossey-Bass) offers a completely new perspective on leadership, drawing upon ideas from evolutionary biology and identity theory.
Teaching & Advisory
I teach a wide range of students and executives on a broad portfolio of issues and have created a number of new initiatives. These include the Proteus Programme, revamping the School's longest running open enrolment programme, High Performance People Skills for Leaders. In London Business School's degree programmes I run a Biography course for the Sloan Masters Fellowship programme, and I developed a "Communications Audit" model for the overseas fieldtrip of our Executive MBA students. Outside the School I am a sought-after executive public speaker, and additionally give advice to firms about various aspects of executive development and organisational change.