Woodward’s aegis: a critical biography of Joan Woodward

Caroyln Garrity, Eric W. Liguori, Jeff Muldoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper aims to offer a critical biography of Joan Woodward, often considered the founder of contingency theory. This paper examines Woodward’s background to develop a more complete understanding of the factors that influenced her work. Design/methodology/approach: This paper draws on insights gained from personal correspondence with two colleagues of Woodward, one who recruited her to the Imperial College where she conducted her most prominent work and one whom she recruited while at the college. In addition, Woodward’s original work, academic literature, published remembrances and a plethora of other secondary sources are reviewed. Findings: By connecting these otherwise disparate sources of information, a more complete understanding of Woodward’s work and its context is provided. It is argued that Woodward’s education, training, brilliance, values, the relative weakness of British sociology and the need to improve the economy helped to make Woodward’s work both original and practical. Originality/value: The originality of this work is to examine the work of Woodward through the lens of critical biography. Despite Woodward’s contributions, Woodward remains an underappreciated figure. The purpose is to provide her contribution against the backdrop of the British industrial and educational sphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-475
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Management History
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 16 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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