Dr Aileen Lawless


Title: Dr Aileen Lawless

Work address:

Liverpool Business School
Redmonds Building,
Browlow Hill,
Liverpool L3 5UG

Telephone: +44 (0) 151 231 3851

Email: A.Lawless@ljmu.ac.uk

Dr. Aileen Lawless is Head of the Centre for Public Service Management and a senior lecturer in HR. Prior to joining Liverpool Business School Aileen worked as a senior HRD practitioner within an international organisation. Her practitioner background has influenced her approach to teaching, consultancy and research and this is reflected in her interest in action methodologies. Aileen’s first degree was in psychology (Queens University, Belfast), her Masters was in Management (Salford University) and she completed her PhD with Lancaster University. She is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, a Member of the British Psychology Society, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Member of the British Academy of Management.


Module Leader for a range of postgraduate and undergraduate modules focusing on research methods, Human Resource Development and skills development. These currently include: 

  • MRes Business and Law: Philosophical Approaches and Frameworks, Qualitative Methods
  • DBA: Reflective module
  • MA in Personnel & Development: Managing Development, Research Methods and Action Learning Dissertation
  • MA in Change Management (Anglesey): Personal and Team Leadership, and Research Methods
  • BA in HRM: Research Methods, Organizational Development and Impact Project


Current research explores the problematic relationships between leadership, management, professional learning, education and work. Methodologically the research is informed by ethnographic principles, a discourse perspective of learning and action learning as ethos and method. Theoretically the research is inspired by the ideals of Critical Human Resource Development (CHRD), the notion of ‘communities of practice’ and Critical reflective practice.  A particular focus of the research is exploring the potential of management education to achieve change in personal, interpersonal and organizational practices.

Current Projects:

  • Competing with the dominant discourse: discursive spaces within the public sector
  • The power and emotion of Human Resource Development: a critical perspective
  • Action Learning: from class room to work place

Research grants:
2009 University Forum for HRD


Peer-reviewed Journals

Lawless, A.; Sambrook, S and Stewart, J. (under review) Critical HRD: enabling alternative subject positions within an MA HRD ‘community’, Human Resource Development International

Lawless, A.; Sambrook, S.; Garavan, T.; Valentin, C. (2011) A discourse approach to theorising HRD: opening a discursive space, Journal of European Industrial Training
35 (3) 264 - 275


Lawless, A. (2008) Action learning as legitimate peripheral participation, Action Learning: research and practice, 5(2), 117-129


Lawless, A. and McQue, L. (2008) Becoming a community of critically reflective HR practitioners: challenges and opportunities within an MA partnership programme, 32 (5), 323-335

Peer-reviewed Conferences: UK & International

Allison, E. and Lawless, A. (2011) Exploring the relationship between self-ethnographic research, critical reflection and critical action learning, Ethnography: Theory, Form and Practice, Cardiff, UK


Humphreys, D. and Lawless A. (2011) How do teachers’ articulate ‘effective’ with regard to leadership?: an exploration of how contextual factors function and shape leadership within a Primary School. Twelfth international conference on sustaining growth through Human Resource Development, Gloucester, UK


Roberts, C.; Lawless, A. and Eades E. (2011) The use-value of self-ethnographic research: insider-researcher, supervisor and external examiner perspectives, Ethnography: Theory, Form and Practice, Cardiff, UK


Lawless, A and Sambrook S (2010) Critical HRD: evaluating how the reproduction of practices contributes to the production of social order within working practices? Eleventh International Conference on HRD Research and Practice across Europe, Pecs, Turkey

Lawless, A. and Sambrook, S. (2009) Becoming a community of critically reflective practitioners: an autoethnography of a public sector masters programme. Sixth International Critical Management Conference, Warwick, UK. 

Lawless, A. and Stewart, J. (2009) Competing with dominant discourse discursive spaces within an MA HRD ‘community’. Sixth International Critical Management Conference, Warwick, UK. 

Trehan, K. and Lawless, A. (2009) Skating on Ice: scrutinising the theory and practice of critical HRD. Tenth International Conference on HRD Research and Practice across Europe, Newcastle, UK

Lawless, A and Sambrook S (2008) Critically reflective practice and peripheral participation: a powerful or a powerless position? Eight International Conference on HRD Research and practice Across Europe, Lille, France, May. (Awarded 2nd, Alan Moon Prize)


External Professional Activities

Action Learning Network

Editorial Board: International journal of Action Learning: research & practice
Conference Organising Committee: Action learning Conference
University Forum for HRD

Member of research committee

Stream Leader for Europe 2012 conference

External Examiner Current
MSc HRM: University of Wales
BSC (Hons) Management & Leadership Development: University of Ulster
MSc HRM: Salford University


Page last modified by Clare Ryan on 03 June 2013.
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