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Professor John Powell

Professor John Powell

Professor of Strategy

5966

+44 (0) 1392 725966

0.62
Streatham Court, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4PU, UK

My early career was in the Royal Navy and I joined British Aerospace at the age of 30 as a system engineer, working initially ion the early versions of Typhoon. I specialised in avionic system modelling. I was identified as having some business capability and soon took up a series of project development leadership roles, including NATO and European-wide intelligence systems.

My most senior posts were at board level, running a division at Filton, Bristol specialising in underwater and submarine projects, again responsible for the setting up of multi-firm mega-projects such as the Astute class submarine.

I moved to the academic world in 1996, gaining a PhD in strategic conflict at Cranfield. I have been fortunate to win two academic medals, namely HM The Queen’s Gold Medal for academic excellence and latterly, the President’s Medal of the OR Society. I am also the holder of a 6 year funded Fellowship from South Africa (NRF).

Nationality: British

Qualifications

MA, PhD, CEng, FIET, CMath, FIMA

Research clusters

Research interests

  • Knowledge in strategy
  • Knowledge management and behaviour
  • Systems modelling of strategic situations
  • Scenario planning and modelling

My  research is in the area of strategy, particularly in the analysis of strategic situations, to which I apply essentially formal mathematical methods, scenario building and systems  modelling. The models I build are not numerical; they focus on the structural characteristics of situations rather than attempting to predict, in any narrow sense, what will happen. I am more concerned with what MAY happen (in order to plan robustly) than in any brittle, specific prediction of the future.

Recently I have concentrated on establishing formal mathematical treatments of the behaviour of knowledge, particularly in networks. Understanding how knowledge flows around a network is critical to our ability to manage it, particularly strategically. Without such a dynamic theory we are attempting, to draw an analogy with electricity, to build a telephone network without knowing Ohm’s Law or how a battery works.

Current research activity

I am seeking to take on fulltime students for PhDs in the area of knowledge behaviour, management and strategic use. I have one FT student at present, who is researching a knowledge topic in entrepreneurial cognition.

Key publications | Publications by category | Publications by year

Key publications


Powell JH, Mustafee N, Chen A, Hammond M (2016). A System-focused risk identification and assessment for disaster preparedness: Dynamic threat analysis. European Journal of Operational Research, 254(2), 550-550. Full text.
Powell J, van den Heever S (2016). Conjoint communication and knowledge use/needs analysis in a financial services firm. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 14(3), 376-389. Full text.
Powell JH (2014). System/scenario duality—a supporting equivalence. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 65(9), 1344-1360.

Publications by category


Journal articles

Powell JH, van den Heever S (In Press). Purposive knowledge transmission in a financial services firm: a study using complementary analyses of communication and knowledge usage. Journal of Knowledge Management Research and Practice
Powell JH, Mustafee N, Chen A, Hammond M (2016). A System-focused risk identification and assessment for disaster preparedness: Dynamic threat analysis. European Journal of Operational Research, 254(2), 550-550. Full text.
Powell J, van den Heever S (2016). Conjoint communication and knowledge use/needs analysis in a financial services firm. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 14(3), 376-389. Full text.
Powell JH (2014). System/scenario duality—a supporting equivalence. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 65(9), 1344-1360.
Powell JH, Swart J (2012). An analytical theory of knowledge behaviour in networks. European Journal of Operational Research, 223(3). Abstract.
Powell JH, Swart J (2010). Mapping the values in B2B relationships: a systemic, knowledge-based perspective. Industrial Marketing Management, 39(3), 437-449.
Powell JH, Swart J (2010). The elephant in the room: the applicability of axiomatic approaches to network learning and organisational knowledge. European J. of International Management, 4(6), 621-621.
Howard M, Vidgen R, Powell P, Powell J (2007). Exploring the use of QPID: a collaborative study of B2B in the automotive industry. Omega, 35(4), 451-464.
Powell JH, Swart J (2007). Scaling knowledge: how does knowledge accrue in organisations?. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 59, 1633-1643.
Powell JH, Coyle RG (2005). Identifying strategic action in highly politicised contexts using agent-based qualitative system dynamics. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 56, 787-798.
Powell JH, Swart J (2005). Men and measures: using qualitative system modelling to map knowledge in firms. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 57, 10-21.
Liddell W, Powell JH (2005). Reconciling patient access and GP effectiveness in the management of a large medical practice: a case study using QPID. System Dynamics Review, 20(1), 49-74.
Powell JH, Swart J (2005). This is what the fuss is about: a systemic modelling for organisational knowing. Journal of Knowledge Management, 9(2), 45-58.
Powell J, Powell P (2004). Scenario networks to align and specify strategic information systems: a case-based study. European Journal of Operational Research, 158(1), 146-172.
Powell JH, Wakeley T (2003). Evolutionary Concepts and Business Economics: towards a normative approach. Journal of Business Research, 56, 121-153.
Powell JH (2002). Bringing Terrorism into the Strategic Debate: an Expanded Characterisation of Strategic Threats to Firms. Security Journal, 15(3), 21-35.
Powell JH (2001). Blackmailing the Mayor: Application of state based conflict modelling to a security situation. European Journal of Operational Research, 134, 330-345.
Powell JH (2001). Generating networks for strategic planning by successive key factor modification. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 52(4), 369-382.
Powell JH, Bradford JP (2000). Targeting intelligence gathering in a dynamic competitive environment. International Journal of Information Management, 20(3), 181-195.
Powell JH (1999). Powergraph — a network-based approach to modelling and managing corporate strategic conflict and co-operation. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 50(7), 669-683.
Powell JH, Bradford JP (1998). The security-strategy interface: using qualitative process models to relate the security function to business dynamics. Security Journal, 10, 151-160.
Powell JH, Coyle RG (1997). A network-based futures method for strategic business planning. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 48(8), 793-803.
Powell JH (1997). An application of a network-based futures method to strategic business planning. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 48(9), 857-872.

Chapters

Powell JH (2004). An introduction to systems theory - from hard to soft systems thinking in the management of complex organisations. In  (Ed) Complexity and Health Care Organisation, Radcliffe Medical Press.
Powell JH, Liddell W (2004). Improving patient access in a large medical practice: a complex and complicated system problem. In  (Ed) Complexity and Health Care Organisation, Radcliffe Medical Press.
Powell JH (2003). Game Theory in Strategy. In  (Ed) The Oxford Text Book of Strategic Management, Oxford University Press.

Conferences

Mustafee N, Brailsford SC, Diallo S, Padilla J, Powell JH, Tolk A (2015). Hybrid Simulation Studies and Hybrid Simulation Systems: Definitions, Challenges, and Benefits. 2015 Winter Simulation Conference. 6th - 9th Dec 2015.

Publications by year


In Press

Powell JH, van den Heever S (In Press). Purposive knowledge transmission in a financial services firm: a study using complementary analyses of communication and knowledge usage. Journal of Knowledge Management Research and Practice

2016

Powell JH, Mustafee N, Chen A, Hammond M (2016). A System-focused risk identification and assessment for disaster preparedness: Dynamic threat analysis. European Journal of Operational Research, 254(2), 550-550. Full text.
Powell J, van den Heever S (2016). Conjoint communication and knowledge use/needs analysis in a financial services firm. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 14(3), 376-389. Full text.

2015

Mustafee N, Brailsford SC, Diallo S, Padilla J, Powell JH, Tolk A (2015). Hybrid Simulation Studies and Hybrid Simulation Systems: Definitions, Challenges, and Benefits. 2015 Winter Simulation Conference. 6th - 9th Dec 2015.

2014

Powell JH (2014). System/scenario duality—a supporting equivalence. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 65(9), 1344-1360.

2012

Powell JH, Swart J (2012). An analytical theory of knowledge behaviour in networks. European Journal of Operational Research, 223(3). Abstract.

2010

Powell JH, Swart J (2010). Mapping the values in B2B relationships: a systemic, knowledge-based perspective. Industrial Marketing Management, 39(3), 437-449.
Powell JH, Swart J (2010). The elephant in the room: the applicability of axiomatic approaches to network learning and organisational knowledge. European J. of International Management, 4(6), 621-621.

2007

Howard M, Vidgen R, Powell P, Powell J (2007). Exploring the use of QPID: a collaborative study of B2B in the automotive industry. Omega, 35(4), 451-464.
Powell JH, Swart J (2007). Scaling knowledge: how does knowledge accrue in organisations?. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 59, 1633-1643.

2005

Powell JH, Coyle RG (2005). Identifying strategic action in highly politicised contexts using agent-based qualitative system dynamics. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 56, 787-798.
Powell JH, Swart J (2005). Men and measures: using qualitative system modelling to map knowledge in firms. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 57, 10-21.
Liddell W, Powell JH (2005). Reconciling patient access and GP effectiveness in the management of a large medical practice: a case study using QPID. System Dynamics Review, 20(1), 49-74.
Powell JH, Swart J (2005). This is what the fuss is about: a systemic modelling for organisational knowing. Journal of Knowledge Management, 9(2), 45-58.

2004

Powell JH (2004). An introduction to systems theory - from hard to soft systems thinking in the management of complex organisations. In  (Ed) Complexity and Health Care Organisation, Radcliffe Medical Press.
Powell JH, Liddell W (2004). Improving patient access in a large medical practice: a complex and complicated system problem. In  (Ed) Complexity and Health Care Organisation, Radcliffe Medical Press.
Powell J, Powell P (2004). Scenario networks to align and specify strategic information systems: a case-based study. European Journal of Operational Research, 158(1), 146-172.

2003

Powell JH, Wakeley T (2003). Evolutionary Concepts and Business Economics: towards a normative approach. Journal of Business Research, 56, 121-153.
Powell JH (2003). Game Theory in Strategy. In  (Ed) The Oxford Text Book of Strategic Management, Oxford University Press.

2002

Powell JH (2002). Bringing Terrorism into the Strategic Debate: an Expanded Characterisation of Strategic Threats to Firms. Security Journal, 15(3), 21-35.

2001

Powell JH (2001). Blackmailing the Mayor: Application of state based conflict modelling to a security situation. European Journal of Operational Research, 134, 330-345.
Powell JH (2001). Generating networks for strategic planning by successive key factor modification. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 52(4), 369-382.

2000

Powell JH, Bradford JP (2000). Targeting intelligence gathering in a dynamic competitive environment. International Journal of Information Management, 20(3), 181-195.

1999

Powell JH (1999). Powergraph — a network-based approach to modelling and managing corporate strategic conflict and co-operation. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 50(7), 669-683.

1998

Powell JH, Bradford JP (1998). The security-strategy interface: using qualitative process models to relate the security function to business dynamics. Security Journal, 10, 151-160.

1997

Powell JH, Coyle RG (1997). A network-based futures method for strategic business planning. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 48(8), 793-803.
Powell JH (1997). An application of a network-based futures method to strategic business planning. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 48(9), 857-872.

Awards and Honours

  • HM the Queen’s Gold Medal
  • The President’s Medal of the OR Society

My main teaching is in Strategy where I teach a general approach, focusing more on the analytical aspects of Strategy as distinct from strategy as process. I place great emphasis on critical thinking in strategy and approaches utilising concepts such as robustness and adaptation, albeit within an analytical framework. My extensive board level strategic experience has led me to adopt a highly practical perspective on the teaching of strategy, but one which respects and mobilises theoretical positions.

Modules

2016/17