The Key to Getting off on the Right Foot – A conversation with James Timpson on Hiring Offenders

[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Jenna Pandeli and Nicholas O’Regan of the University of the West of England. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Risky Business? The Value of Employing Offenders and Ex-Offenders: An Interview With James Timpson, Chief Executive of Timpson” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivations for this research:]


James Timpson delivered a distinguished address at UWE Bristol, following which this paper was completed. I was delighted to be part of the interview team in adding the analysis and reflections to the interview given my research background in offender employment. My PhD research explored the employment of prisoner in private industries during their incarceration (Pandeli et al, 2018) and I am passionate about developing the use of employment as a form of rehabilitation rather than as simply a tool to pass time for prisoners, or as a form of additional income for the prison.

James’s approach provides an example of great practice for working with offenders; he works with them during their incarceration and then provides many with the opportunity to work for Timpson’s upon release. This type of ‘through the gates’ care is exactly what is needed and should be encouraged. Much of the literature on hiring offenders does point towards this approach, and so it is great to provide a real-life example of how this is working in practice to show how the theoretical and practical can go hand-in-hand.

One of the key motivations for writing this ‘meet the person’ piece is the positive impact that we might be able to have by presenting an employer’s insight into working with offenders, to show how providing these individuals with the opportunity to undertake meaningful, empowering work can have a positive impact on their lives and reduce the likelihood of them returning to crime. We believe that this can be useful to a wide range of practitioners including policy makers, the prison and probation service as well as other employers who may be thinking about working with offenders.

Stay up-to-date with the latest research from Journal of Management Inquiry and sign up for email alerts today through the homepage!

Watch Business & Management Videos on SAGE Video with a Free 30 Day Trial!

Video ExpertsIn honor of the recent release of the new Business & Management video collection, SAGE Video is offering a free 30 day trial for SAGE Video. The collection of business and management videos includes 184 videos and 60.8 hours of content on a variety of topics, including Business Ethics & Corporate Social Responsibility, Human Resource Management, Leadership, Marketing, Organization Studies, and Entrepreneurship. For a better look at what SAGE Video has to offer, here are two videos from the Business & Management collection:

Scott Taylor Apple Video Snip

In the video, “A Change of Leader: The Case of Apple,” Dr. Scott Taylor discusses Apple as an example of how corporations and customers respond to change in leadership. Dr. Taylor discusses the unusual research he conducted in the days following Steve Jobs’ death, in which he collected data as it was generated by the media, Apple customers, and the Apple corporation. Dr. Taylor set out to analyze his data with three objectives in mind. The first was to explore the meaning of leadership, in particular as derived from large corporations like Apple. The second objective was to explore how individuals form an emotional investment in leaders. The third objective for Dr. Taylor’s research was identifying the part charisma plays in modern leadership, particularly in terms of how leader charisma can impact and transform organizations.

Sign up for the 30 day trial here and watch the video here to learn more about what Dr. Taylor discovered through his research.

Jennifer Chatman Organizational Culture Video Snip

In the video Leveraging Organizational Culture,” Dr. Jennifer A. Chatman discusses organizational culture research, highlighting two popular debates in the field: Can culture be assessed quantitatively and qualitatively? And what is the difference between organizational culture and climate? Dr. Chatman explains why the study of organizational culture is important, pointing out that culture impacts the financial performance of organizations. Dr. Chatman goes on to discuss the case study of a senior leader with the company Genetech, who was able to bring separate franchises of the company together by implementing culture initiatives to develop a shared culture.

Sign up for the 30 day trial here and watch the video here to learn more about Dr. Chatman’s research on organizational culture.

How Do CEOs Shape Corporate Culture?

In some ways, corporate culture is the personality Meeting Board Roomof a company, and just like human personalities, corporate cultures can vary widely. Many factors impact a company’s culture, but perhaps the most significant determining factor of culture is the values and actions of an organization’s senior leaders. In their article, “The Promise and Problems of Organizational Culture: CEO Personality, Culture, and Firm Performance,” published in the December 2014 issue of Group & Organization Management, authors Charles A. O’Reilly III of Standford University, David F. Caldwell of Santa Clara University, Jennifer A. Chatman of UC Berkeley, and Bernadette Doerr of UC Berkeley delve into the topic of organizational culture. Their paper specifically discusses how much a CEO’s personality impacts organizational culture, and how culture can in turn impact organizational performance.

home_coverThe abstract:

Studies of organizational culture are almost always based on two assumptions: (a) Senior leaders are the prime determinant of the culture, and (b) culture is related to consequential organizational outcomes. Although intuitively reasonable and often accepted as fact, the empirical evidence for these is surprisingly thin, and the results are quite mixed. Almost no research has jointly investigated these assumptions and how they are linked. The purpose of this article is to empirically link CEO personality to culture and organizational culture to objective measures of firm performance. Using data from respondents in 32 high-technology companies, we show that CEO personality affects a firm’s culture and that culture is subsequently related to a broad set of organizational outcomes including a firm’s financial performance (revenue growth, Tobin’s Q), reputation, analysts’ stock recommendations, and employee attitudes. We discuss the implications of these findings for future research on organizational culture.

You can read “The Promise and Problems of Organizational Culture: CEO Personality, Culture, and Firm Performance” from Group & Organization Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research from Group & Organization Management? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

How Organizations Heal After a Crisis

Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome Professor Ned Powley of the Naval Postgraduate School, whose article “The Process and Mechanisms of Organizational Healing” was published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science March 2013 issue.

When faced with significant disruption, whether induced through human error, economic downturns, or natural disasters, organizations have the potential to heal. More than recovery or coping, organizational healing draws on positive organizational scholarship to explain how organizations can develop as virtuous human systems. The literature from resilience and post-traumatic growth help explain the process and mechanisms needed to restore trust, satisfaction, and shared leadership.

threephasesThe recent economic downturn in the U.S. real estate market prompted a new way to address the business disruption for one firm, Prudential Real Estate. After losing a combined $210 million between 2008 and 2009, the company had to find regenerative strength to bounce back and recover from the economic setback.  “The Process and Mechanisms of Organizational Healing” explores the process Prudential followed to heal from the downturn. The process of healing is not unlike the physiological process of healing, which includes three phases.

1) Protective Inflammation: A focused response to crisis that activates resources to the wound site. That activation process then stabilizes the trauma, mitigates potential harm, and prepares the wound site for future growth. In organizations, the actions both organization leaders and members take to deploy social, organizational, and material resources to stabilize decline and decreased JABS_72ppiRGB_150pixwperformance, protect against potential threats, and prepare for additional stages of healing. There is a sense of urgency to restore the organization’s effectiveness and profitability, and the initial actions are meant to generate positive energy for change and growth.

2) Relational Proliferation: A rapid increase in connections that thereby begin to strengthen underlying networks, structures, and routines. This occurs through the activity of organization members who draw on and strengthen internal and external networks of relationships. Like the proliferation of collagen and the supportive function of connective tissue, relational proliferation enables the scaffolding for social networks by identifying, building, and strengthening key relationships that support the overall recovery.

fourmechanisms3) Remodeling: With a strong foundation, beneath the surface, additional growth makes the wound stronger than before. The wound does not simply resume a previous state, but increases in strength thus enabling protection and structural integrity. For organizations, remodeling refers to not only the resumption of former function, but generation of core strength in the organizational culture. Organization members engage in practices to cascade the positive culture and shared leadership throughout the organization.

Supporting the process of organizational healing are four key mechanisms: empathy, interventions, collective effort, and leadership. Each of these mechanisms are at play throughout the process of healing. Empathy, for example, enables to support the inflammatory response. Individual members and organizational leaders demonstrate empathy for employees and customers who have been affected by the crisis. Interventions are required both from within and without the organizations in the inflammation and proliferation stages. For example, internal measures include steps to  keep morale and satisfaction high. Externally, new leadership infuses the organization with new ideas and fresh perspectives that enable new growth pathways. Collective effort is needed from everyone in the organization, not just those from the top. Particularly during the remodeling phase, effort from all sectors within the organization produces energy for culture change. Finally, leaders both at the top and throughout the organization have a special responsibility to sustain each phase of the process. Leaders on every level represent a prime factor to ensure growth.

My work on organizational healing began when I studied a school shooting incident nearly 10 years ago. From that work, I have explored what it means not just to recover but to heal. Healing connotes a positive process of rebound and growth, not simply getting by. What’s potentially interesting here: For each phase of healing, there are both plusses and minuses. Inflammation is good if contained and supportive of the underlying growth, but too much inflammation (too much discussion of the problem, focusing on what is not working, or incendiary language) may indeed undermine the process. Proliferation is about growth and development, but too much, like cancerous proliferation, can overrun and possibly hinder strengthening of important social networks. And remodeling requires appropriate measures to ensure flexibility, without the structural or institutional strength, remodeling is incomplete and in the case of organizations, the culture does not serve as a unifying agent.

The paper concludes with a number of new avenues for research and makes a number of suggestions for leaders of organizations who face difficult situations.

Click here to read Professor Powley’s article, “The Process and Mechanisms of Organizational Healing,” in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science.

Innovation in Leadership and Organization

Buliding a Climate for Innovation for Transformational Leadership and Organizational Culture“, by James C. Sarros and Brian K. Cooper, both of Monash University, and Joseph C. Santora of Thomas Edison State College, currently appears in the most cited articles list in the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies , based on citations to online articles from HighWire-hosted articles. Professor Sarros has provided additional background to the article.

Tell the story behind the article.  What prompted you to do this research and write this article? Do you have any specific memories about doing the research, writing or the review/publishing process that you would like to share?

This article arose out of our interest in the so-called decline in innovation in Western industrialized countries, and the reasons behind this decline.  The research indicates that leadership lies at the heart of much that is both good and bad in organizations, and that one of the major contributors of leadership is to organizational culture and associated outcomes, such as innovation.  The time seemed right to explore these links in more detail.  Additionally, our long-established connections with the premier professional association of managers in Australia, the Australian Institute of Management, meant that we could use their membership base for the purpose of our study.  The large member response indicates the importance with which managers see leadership as a critical contributor to organization success.

Why do you think this research is important? Why are people reading it and who else should be exposed to it?

This study is important as it provides evidence of the leadership styles leaders can use in order to build organizational cultures that contribute to a climate for innovation.  Leader vision was clearly the key indicator of innovative organizational cultures.

Give us a specific review of the impact of this article. What additional research has this article led to (either your own or other’s)?

As a result of this study, we have now extended the research into a nation-wide examination of leader-direct report perceptions of leadership, psychological capital, and innovation in times of global financial crisis.  The findings are compelling as they highlight how both leadership and the PsyCap dimension of hope contribute to innovation at the unit level.

Bookmark and Share

Human Resources Management

The Human Dimension: A Review of Human Resources Management Issues in the Tourism and Hospitality Industry“, by Salih Kusluvan, Zeynep Kusluvan, Ibrahim Ilhan, and Lutfi Buyruk, all of the University of Nevsehir, Turkey, was one of the most frequently read articles in Cornell Quarterly in 2010. Professor Salih Kusluvan has provided additional background on the article:

Tell the story behind the article.  What prompted you to do this research and write this article? Do you have any specific memories about doing the research, writing or the review/publishing process that you would like to share?

All of my co-authors and I graduated from different tourism and hospitality management schools in the late 1980’s in Turkey. We all started to work in the tourism industry after graduation. However, having seen the poor working conditions and human resources management practices in the industry, we looked for other job opportunities  and started to work as research assistants in Nevsehir Tourism and Hotel Management School (now Faculty of Tourism) in the early 1990’s. It was our first hand experience and disappoinment with the HRM practices in the industry as well as our students’ constant complaints of the HRM practices both during the internship and after graduation that kept our interest on the HRM issues and practices in the tourism and hospitality industry. Being aware of our interest in HRM issues,  Prof. Chris Ryan (editor of Tourism Management) asked the lead author, Prof. Dr. Salih Kusluvan, to write a chapter on HRM for a Handbook of Tourism Management to be published by Sage Publications in 2006. But when we finished the chapter we learned that the handbook project was canceled. Then, we sent the manuscript to the editors of Annals of Tourism Research and Tourism Management for considiration to be published in respective journals. The editors rejected the manuscript on the grounds that it was too long. Lucklily, Professor Linda Canina, the editor of Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, gave us a chance and the manuscript was accepted for publication by two of the three referees.

As the author of one of the most read article in 2010, why do you think this research is important? Why are people reading it and who else should be exposed to it?

Our work is important because many bright and qualifed students who have studied tourism and hospitality management never start to work in the tourism industry after graduation, or they leave the industry after a few years of work due to poor HRM practices and working conditions.  We think that this should be a concern for managers in the tourism and hospitality industry as well as educational institutions and government officials responsible for education, industry and labour. We guess the appeal of our work for readers lies in the summary of vast amount of HRM literature in tourism over the past 25 years in a concrete and usefull framework.

Give us a specific review of the impact of this article. What additional research has this article led to (either your own or other’s)?

We have received many congratulations from many of our friends and colleages in Turkey and worldwide. We have also received proposals for joint research projects on HRM issues in tourism.

Bookmark and Share

Leadership and Organizational Culture

Leadership and Organizational Culture Transformation in Professional Sport”, by Joe Frontiera of West Virginia University, was one of the most frequently read articles in the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies in 2010. Joe has provided some additional background to the article:

At the beginning of the 2008 season Green Bay Packers’ general manager Ted Thompson, three years into his job, was taking a daily beating from fans and pundits. After all, he told the very popular Brett Farve that he couldn’t return to the team. No longer wanting to deal with the “will he stay or will he go” circus that had surrounded Farve, Thompson tagged an unproven 4th year player in Aaron Rodgers as the Packers’ starting QB. The Packers went 6-10 in Rodgers first year as a starter. Fast forward to 2011, and the Packers are the new Super Bowl Champions.

As a lifelong sport fan, these types of turnaround stories have always fascinated me. As a child, I focused on the players, lacking the awareness that they were simply the public face of a larger business. As I grew, I saw that the teams that won consistently weren’t necessarily different in terms of their talent level on the field. Rather, the ownership and/or day-to-day managers of the organization were doing something different; the leaders in the front office seemed more competent, and the culture of the organization fostered success.

That’s what drove me to interview some of the most successful owners and general managers in (American) professional sport over the past decade. Bill Polian, the President and General Manager of the Indianapolis Colts, was among the most impressive that I spoke with. This is the man who drafted Peyton Manning, who turned a perennial loser into one of the most successful franchises in the NFL. Sitting across from him in his expansive office, I was surprised to learn that every one of the many pictures he had on his wall was purposeful. Each communicated a message, a value, a larger meaning to those who visited that office. Walking around with Polian, I watched him greet by name all employees, from custodians to pro bowl defensive end Dwight Freeny. Every move that Polian made communicated a larger meaning.

Polian was a man with a plan, a man of conviction who, like the Packers’ Thompson, also had to deal with the blowback from his own unpopular decisions. As he stated, “once you establish the plan, you have to stay with it through thick and thin, and there’s going be a lot more thin than thick. And there’s going be a lot of public criticism, and there’s going to be a lot of back biting, and there’s going be a lot of second-guessing, and you just have to ride that out. “

In reflecting on why an article like this is well received, the answer may lie within us. In many ways, sport mirrors life, and it allows fans a chance to watch the development of an organization play out in a very public fashion. When we see a turnaround in sport, we implicitly believe that our workplace can turn around, that our schools can turn around, that our lives can turn around, that our country can turn around. We’re left with tangible evidence of that hope, something we can grasp onto.

At this point, all types of turnarounds intrigue me. How does a rural school go from one of the worst performing schools in the state to one of the best? How does Apple remake itself after falling so far behind Microsoft and almost becoming irrelevant? How can the city of Detroit reinvent itself and stop the bleeding that has been constant over the past decade? With all of these, the answer lies somewhere between leadership and organizational culture.

In many ways, this research project helped to shape the trajectory of my career. As a managing partner at Meno Consulting, I work to help leaders and teams, both in business and in sport, work to get better, to reinvent themselves, and to discern the larger meaning of their work. To be involved in this work is powerful, and I look forward to someday writing a larger and more encompassing piece about turnarounds.

Joe Frontiera, PhD is the managing partner at Meno Consulting, and co-authors a regular column for The Washington Post’s On Leadership section. Joe can be reached at

Bookmark and Share