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Dr Vanessa Iwowo

  • Overview



    Dr. Vanessa Iwowo is Lecturer in Organisational Psychology. She is an award-winning management scholar whose research focuses on ways of enhancing leadership development in international contexts and also with respect to Africa. Her interests lie in the critical study of processes, interactions and power relationships through which knowledge is generated and disseminated, particularly in the fields of leadership development and management education. Before joining Birkbeck, Vanessa taught Leadership and Decision Sciences at LSE and previously at the Centre for Leadership Studies, University of Exeter Business School, from where she also received her PhD in Leadership Studies. Her research in critical leadership studies is internationally recognized and her doctoral thesis on ‘Leadership Development in Africa’ was awarded the prestigious Academy of Management ‘Best Prize’ in Critical Management Studies. Since then, Vanessa's work on Leadership Development has gone on to win several awards such as the notable 'Emerald Literati Award for Excellence' in 2016 as well as the Academy of Management (AoM) 'Best Critical Paper' Award for 2016.

  • Research


    Research overview

    My research interests lie in the field of Leadership and Organisation Studies. I am particularly concerned with the critical study of the dynamics and processes, the interactions as well as the power relationships through which knowledge is generated and disseminated in the fields of management development and education. My work contributes to the emerging critical perspective on global management education and in particular, the strategy and dynamics of leadership capacity building in a multi-faceted world. In light of recent criticisms of knowledge imperialism and contextuality that arise with respect to how we ‘see’ and ‘know’ the world, and also what is increasingly suggested as the socially constructed nature of leadership; it takes a critical look at how this is conceptualized, the foundation for its epistemological leanings and raises important questions for how this knowledge is represented and disseminated in contemporary management learning. My thesis investigated the contemporary practice of leadership development in Africa and in particular, its application as a management learning intervention. It explored the pertinent question of contextual dissonance and in this, critically examined the strategy of leadership development as a catalyst for organizational change and management development in the context of a non-western society. My current work builds on the foregoing with an added perspective on Gender dynamics in Leadership Development

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    Current doctoral researchers



    Teaching modules

    • Leadership (MOOP017H7)
  • Publications



    Book Review

    Book Section

    • Iwowo, Vanessa (2014) Post-colonial theory. In: Coghlan, D. and Brydon-Miller, M. (eds.) SAGE Encyclopaedia of Action Research. SAGE. ISBN 9781849200271.
    • Iwowo, Vanessa (2012) The internationalization of leadership development. In: Case, P. and Turnbull, S. and Edwards, G. and Schedlitzki, D. and Simpson, P. (eds.) Worldly Leadership: Alternative Wisdoms for a Complex World. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 52-67. ISBN 9780230284708.

    Conference Item