May 07 2019

Professor Elena Giovannoni, School of Management, and Director of CHRONOS (Critical and Historical Research on Organisation and Society), is preparing for the launch of CHRONOS on Wednesday 15 May

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role within the School of Management?

I hold a chair in Accounting at the School of Management, Royal Holloway, where I also hold the position of Director of CHRONOS (Critical and Historical Research on Organisation and Society) research centre.

Having more than 14 years of academic experience in three different countries (Italy, Ireland and UK), I have been fascinated by the way in which critical and historical research can aid to our understanding of modern phenomena pertaining to organisation and society. As part of my research programs, I have explored a number of issues concerning accounting and performance management systems in diverse time-space contexts, ranging from medieval organisations (such as the organisation in charge of the construction of the cathedral of Siena, Italy, in the Medieval Age) to contemporary corporations (banks, hybrid start ups in the IT sector, medium-sized family businesses in the fashion industry, research centres, and global organisations). In all these diverse settings, I could learn about the powerful and enabling role of accounting and management practices, and how these practices engage with their institutional, social, historical, organising and material contexts.

As part of my research ethos, I strongly believe that bridging critical and historical perspectives provides a powerful way to identify future paths for developments for organisations and society, also through practices like accounting.

Following my interests into critical and historical research, I joined the Critical and Historical Perspectives on Management theme group (CHP group) at the School of Management, Royal Holloway, in 2014, where I could develop my interests further. In particular, I have worked on the project for reconfiguring and developing the CHP group into a research centre. In October 2018, CHRONOS was awarded the status of a College research centre, which I have the pleasure to lead as Director.

2. We understand that you will soon be launching CHRONOS (Critical and Historical Research on Organization and Society) research centre. What is CHRONOS research centre?

The Centre for Critical and Historical Research on Organisation and Society (CHRONOS) is a multidisciplinary group of researchers and educators at Royal Holloway. It actively provides an interdisciplinary, international and inclusive forum to discuss and develop the plurality of ways in which ‘critical’ and ‘historical’ research into organisations, markets and society can be conducted.

The guiding belief of critical research is that it should uncover the social and cultural dimensions and implications of any subject matter, interrogating and questioning mainstream approaches and practices as a way to make a positive difference for organisations, markets and society. This in turn, needs to be grounded in an in-depth awareness of the origin, historical heritage and evolution of social phenomena, using historical perspectives as a way to delve into present and future trajectories of organisation and society. In this way ‘critical and historical’ research prompts social and cultural awareness and wise judgement among policy makers, organisational leaders and employees, while informing public debate within broader society.

The core features described above reflect a long standing and continuing intellectual commitment at the School of Management. Since its inception in 2012, the CHP group of the School of Management has provided members with a number of excellent opportunities to develop their research programs on critical and/or historical research, supporting the ongoing delivery of outstanding research outputs. CHRONOS integrates and embraces the full range of capabilities of the CHP Theme Group, as well as the expertise of interested colleagues within the affiliated departments at Royal Holloway and other research groups within and outside the College.

3. What is the aim of CHRONOS?

CHRONOS strengths and key research areas include

  • Research into the nature and implications of critical studies, exploring the meaning and implications of critical research within and outside academia
  • Interdisciplinary perspectives on space and time within and across organisations, researching the material, spatial, visual, and temporal/historical nature of organisation and organising phenomena
  • Research into identity and diversity, as a way to reconceptualise differences, categories and divisions, provide fundamental critique, reformulate established phenomena and call for transformation and change
  • Research into critical consumption and politics of markets, including, studies on consumer activism; geopolitics; marketplace cultures; socio-historic patterning of consumption; classed resistance; business-politics relations; justice, law and markets
  • Research into accountability and control in diverse settings (global market, corporations, NGOs, charities, arts organisations, creative industries, education, etc.).

By bridging and enhancing critical and historical research, CHRONOS aims to:

  • Extend the strengths of critical and historical research across a number of disciplines
  • Expand national and international collaborations
  • Facilitate large and interdisciplinary research projects within CHRONOS research areas
  • Sustain research impact and provide members with enhanced opportunities for public engagement and dissemination of research outputs
  • Sustain early career researchers, as well as all members, through aproductive environment

4. The launch event for CHRONOS will be on Wednesday 15 May. How can colleagues get involved with the launch, and what can they expect to see at the launch?

The launch event will be a very special occasion for CHRONOS members and partners. Colleagues will be welcome to join us to celebrate this very special day, and participate in the Q&A session with our outstanding keynote speakers, including (in alphabetical order):

Prof. Barbara Czarniawska, Senior Professor of Management Studies at Gothenburg Research Institute, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Prof. Daniel Hjorth, Editor in chief of Organization Studies, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, and Nottingham Business School, UK

Prof. Paolo Quattrone, Director of CAS (Centre for Accounting and Society), University of Edinburgh Business School, UK

Prof. Juliane Reinecke, Associate Dean (Impact &Innovation) at King’s College, London, UK

Martin Vogel, Vogel Wakefield Ltd

The keynote speakers will offer their speeches on the meaning, impact, engagement and dissemination of critical and historical research, from different perspectives.

Colleagues will have plenty of opportunities to participate in the discussion through Q&A sessions.

The keynote speeches will be chaired by CHRONOS members and preceded by the welcome addresses by Prof. Gloria Agyemang (Head of School, Royal Holloway) and Prof. Helen Nicholson (Vice Principal, Research Impact and Interdisciplinarity, Royal Holloway)

The launch will be accompanied by a poster exhibition, showing research projects from PhD students and Early Career Researchers within CHRONOS research areas.

5. Aside from CHRONOS, are you currently working on/have any other projects planned?

I will soon be starting to work with an international team of researchers on a funded research project titled “Aligning strategy to organizational purpose: performance management systems (PMS) for the purpose-driven organization”, where we question traditional methods of PMS design and we aim to provide specific design principles for the ‘purpose-driven’ organisation. Our argument here is that PMS design should capture the ways in which the people involved in an organisation can be empowered, motivated and ‘emotionally’ committed toward their ‘sense of purpose’, while steering organisational performance and growth through social value.

6. What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?

My family, and particularly my three children of ages 11, 9 and 2 require all my attention and energy after work.

7. What is your dream holiday destination and why?

A white beach in Sardinia, Italy, where I can enjoy the view, the sea, read and relax not very far from my home town in Tuscany.