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Dr Inmaculada Adarves-Yorno

Dr Inmaculada Adarves-Yorno

Senior Lecturer in Leadership Studies


+44 (0) 1392 722588

Streatham Court, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4PU, UK

Since 2007 Dr. Adarves-Yorno has been exploring what areas resonate not only with her intellect but with her whole self.  She is particularly interested in the contradictions between our inner and outer lives, some of which are reflected in her work on paradoxes of authentic leaders.

Since 2011 she has been working on change agency. She has been studying their resources, challenges and influence and has used a conscious personal development system for their training. This work is informed by her authentic leadership approach as well as by the social identity approach. The development program actively seeks to restructure the personal infrastructure of change agents while also allows them to understand and utilise their social infrastructure.  One of her newest projects is done in collaboration with the African Prison System and revolves around developing authentic leaders and change agents in the Ugandan and Kenyan Prison System.

A key element of her leadership and change agency training revolves around Mindfulness. Her research is exploring, among other things, the impact of mindfulness on areas such as resilience, uncertainty and identity. Furthermore, she is working on a research project “Mindfulness within and beyond the individual” which looks at the identity and socio-contextual factors that impact on our motivations to engage with mindfulness practice. Finally she is co-creating self-discovery and Mindfulness handbooks which will be tailored for a range of people ranging from business students to prisoners in Kenya.

Dr. Inmaculada Adarves-Yorno started conducting research in 1996. She has worked and collaborated in a wide range of topics (including ‘perverse norms‘, discrimination, affirmative action, social influence, framing, leadership and health related behaviour) with a number of researchers from Europe and Australia.

Some of her previous research legacy revolves around developing the Social Identity Approach to Creativity together with Prof. Alex Haslam and Prof. Tom Postmes. They have published a range of high impact papers on this area, including a paper in Personality and Social Psychology Review and articles in the Scientific American Mind.

As a practitioner, Dr. Adarves-Yorno worked for over five years as an organisational psychologist (CEO advisor and HR manager) for an engineering company in Spain. She has particular expertise in areas such as leadership, organisational commitment, communication, performance and employee wellbeing.


BSc in Psychology, MSc in Social Psychology (University Autonoma, Madrid),
MSc in Psychological Research Methods, PhD (Exeter University)


Research clusters

Research interests

  • Sustainability change agents
  • Environmental identity
  • Paradoxes of authentic leadership development

Past research (selected)

  • Creativity and innovation
  • Leadership and wellbeing
  • Time affluence, material affluence and wellbeing

Past Research Projects

  • “New Approach to Creativity and Innovation in Organisations”, funded by Economic and Social Research Council ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship (2005)

Research projects

  • “Understanding Sustainability Change agents”, funded by Exeter Business School, Seedcorn Fund (2012). Also supported by Research and Knowledge Transfer Link Fund (2012 Embercombe http://www.embercombe.co.uk/ and 2014-Environment Agency http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/ )
  • “Developing sustainability change agents” supported by Research and Knowledge Transfer Link Fund (2013-Schumacher College http://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/ )
  • “Sustainability Change Agents: are their sustainability values a driving force or barrier to change?”
  • “When and how do Sustainability Change Agents influence others?” 

Other grants

  • “Balancing the tensions: using organisational theory to inform business practice”, funded by Economic and Social Research Council ESRC, Seminar Series (2006)

External engagement

Since 2014 Dr Adarves-Yorno has been collaborating with the African Prisons Project https://africanprisons.org/ as well as Kenyan Prison Services and four Maximum security prisons (Langata, Naivasha, Kamiti and Kodiaga).

Impact project

The impact project started by training Kenyan prison senior managers on authentic leadership. It has now evolved into an impact programme “Transforming the Kenyan prison services from the inside out”. One of the projects that emerged through engaged impact is the creation of the Inner Rehabilitation Programme in Kenyan Prisons. This programme is called Inner Rehabilitation for two reasons. Firstly, it comprises techniques, tools and practices for rehabilitating the inner self. For that purpose, inmates learn how to deal mindfully with their mind and their emotions. Secondly, the rehabilitation is mostly done among prisoners. That is, a great proportion of the mindfulness training is done by inmates for other inmates.

Research background:

This project is embedded in Dr. Adarves-Yorno current research programme “Mindfulness within and beyond the individual” which looks at three areas. First, what is the impact of mindfulness for individuals, specifically in helping deal with change? For example, mindfulness makes people more equipped to deal with ambivalence and uncertainty, and it helps people have more positive expectations of the future and positive emotions as well. Second, how can mindfulness benefit institutions, communities and the society? Third, how can others help us become more mindful?

Underlying this mindfulness research programme is Dr Adarves-Yorno’s social identity work. In that work, she explored the crucial impact of identity related factors (e.g., social identity, identification, identity salience and group norms) in relation to innovative ideas. The Inner Rehabilitation training in Kenyan prisons is an innovative initiative. During the last two years she has been translating those ideas around identity and innovation into action in her work in Naivasha (see case study in her forthcoming chapter from Oxford Handbook of Group Creativity).

The impact of creating social identities in Kenyan Prisons which revolve around mindfulness (e.g. mindful leadership) has been really powerful. In particular, research conducted in Naivasha shows that the more the inmates identify with the mindful leaders group, the higher their mental wellbeing, the more resilient they are and the more they value helpfulness, honesty and responsibility.

Scope of the project

360 people have already been trained on mindfulness at all levels of the Kenyan Prison Services from senior managers in Headquarters, to prison governors, prison guards and prisoners themselves.

Impact of the project

Awards underpinning this impact project

  • 2016 IAA ESRC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship: Expansion, Evaluation and Consolidation of the Inner Rehabilitation Programme in Kenyan Prisons
  • 2016 IAA ESRC Economic Development and Welfare Scheme: Inner Rehabilitation Programme for Kenyan Prisons
  • 2015 IAA ESRC cultivation award: Authentic leadership and change agency training in the Kenyan Prison System.
  • 2015- Open Innovation Strategic Funds: Change makers: moving from challenges to influence.

Awards and Honours

  • 2009 Rising Star Award (teaching excellence) Exeter University
  • 2008 Merit award (performance excellence) Exeter University
  • 2007 Merit award (performance excellence) Exeter University
  • 2006 ESRC Seminar Series award (ref: RES-451-25-4271) with (Alex Haslam).
  • 2005 Award from the ESRC (ref: PTA-026-27-01166) of a 1 year Postdoctoral Fellowship.
  • 2001 Award from the ESRC  (ref: 2001-05-0526) of a 3 years PhD scholarship (fees only). - This scholarship was rejected in favour of the scholarship from Exeter University.
    Award from the University of Exeter, School of Psychology of a 4 year PhD scholarship.
  • 2000 Award from the British Council-La Caixa of one year MSc scholarship at University of Exeter. UK.
  • 1998 Award from the Spanish Ministry of Work and Social Issues of two-year   scholarship at the Health Department of the National Women Institute. Madrid, Spain.
  • 1996 Award from the Spanish Ministry of Culture of a research scholarship at the Social Psychology Department. University Autonoma of Madrid. Spain.

Conferences and invited presentations

  • Development for Top Leaders (October 2006). Corporate Research Forum
  • Leadership and Teams: a social identity perspective (May 2007). CELEX

External positions

Ad hoc reviewer for the following journals:

  • Management Learning
  • Human Relations
  • Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
  • British Journal of Social Psychology
  • International Journal of Psychology
  • European Journal of Social Psychology.
  • Academy of Management
  • Culture & Organization Journal
  • Journal of Management Spirituality and religion

External PhD examiner

  • (2007) Sharyn Herzig “the role of middle managers in organizational change”. University of Queensland
  • (2009) Cláudia Moreira Martins “Transformational leadership and gender in military organizations”. Complutense University of Madrid