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Michael Smets

Michael Smets

Associate Professor in Management and Organisation Studies, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
Michael’s research focuses on professional service firms (PSFs), especially their internationalisation, innovation and regulation.

Professional services play an increasingly significant role not only as an important business sector in their own right, but also as a lubricant for business transactions and government activities more broadly. Critically, with the increasing ‘servitisation’ of manufactured goods and the rise of ‘hybrid’ organisations that bring together experts from a variety of disciplines, understanding professional service firms and the lessons we can learn from them helps address a wide range of challenges faced by 21st century organisations.

Michael focuses especially on the management of global law, consulting and reinsurance firms. He employs innovative qualitative methodologies, such as video- and team-ethnography, to capture the minute details of professional work. Most recently, he did so in a widely-noted ‘fly on the wall’ study of reinsurance trading in Lloyd’s of London.

He uses these data to contribute to institutional theory, practice theory and the field of professional services knowledge. He is being recognised as one of the first to blend those theories in order to connect individual, organisational and institutional dynamics in the study of professional organisations. His study on the integration of cross-border services in global law firms and its impact on local regulatory systems has been awarded the 2012 Best Article Award of the Academy of Management Journal.

His second research focus on changing career systems and innovation capacity in PSFs is attracting growing industry attention. His recent work explains how new career paths can be strategically leveraged to simultaneously address two of the most critical pressures on contemporary organisations – staying ahead of the competition through continuous innovation and addressing the work-life balance demands of professional staff.

Michael regularly speaks at academic and practitioner conferences and delivers executive education programmes for leading companies in the legal, consulting, reinsurance, and healthcare sectors. His research is published in leading academic journals, academic and professional handbooks, and has been featured in the national and professional press.

Michael obtained the equivalent of a BA in Business and Economics from Cologne University in Germany before joining Saïd Business School for his postgraduate education. There he obtained an MSc in Management Research and a DPhil in Management before accepting a post-doc position jointly held by Saïd Business School and the School of Management at the University of Alberta, Canada. Before re-joining Saïd Business School full-time in 2013, Michael was a Lecturer in Strategy at Aston Business School, Birmingham.

He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Research Fellow at Green Templeton College and a member of the Centre for Professional Service Firms, based at Saïd Business School.

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