Dr Louise Knight

Engineering Systems & Management

Dr Louise Knight

Within the Engineering Systems and Management group, I teach strategic management and supply strategy to final year BSc and MSc students, and supervise research projects from BSc to PhD level. I also lead a series of workshops for our postgrad research students.

At School level, I am the Director of Research Degree Programmes, responsible for the management and development of the PhD/MPhil and MSc by Research programmes with more than 120 students. 

I am involved in research in the health and bioenergy sectors – fields which obviously are important in social and economic terms but which also offer exciting opportunities to investigate intriguing and challenging issues such as when and why market dynamics block the adoption of important innovation, and how to promote effective collaboration for strategic change across complex networks of organizations. My research in these areas is usually based on qualitative case studies – aiming to understand what drives or constrains strategic change.

External roles and affiliations:

  • Member of the Exec Committee of the International Purchasing and Supply Education and Research Association (Link to IPSERA)
  • Associate Editor of the Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management (Link to JPSM)
  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply
  • External Examiner for MBA Strategic Procurement at Univ. of Birmingham Business School

Prior to Aston:

I joined London Underground (LU) as a graduate trainee in purchasing and supply in 1987, and soon qualified as a Member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS).  I then held various HR development roles at London Transport until 1992, when I took on responsibility for training, developing and assessing all contracting and materials management personnel at LU.

My part-time MPhil studies at the University of Bath’s Centre for Research in Strategic Purchasing and Supply (CRiSPS) inspired me to move into research, and in 1996 I joined CRiSPS as a Research Officer.  On completing my part-time PhD studies in 2002, I was appointed Research Fellow and Deputy Director of CRiSPS.  In 2005, I was appointed Senior Research Fellow, and worked on ESRC-EPSRC Advanced Institute of Management funded research on collaborative management research.

At CRiSPS, I was involved in a wide range of projects, in particular the research partnership with the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency.  Other funders included the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, UK research councils – EPSRC and ESRC, and GS1UK (formerly e-centre).  I was a founder member of the International Study on Public Procurement and co-ordinator of its first workshop. I undertook various advisory roles with the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency and the wider NHS, the Office of Government Commerce, and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing.

Position: Senior Lecturer
Phone: +44 (0)121 204 3605
Email: l.knight2@aston.ac.uk
Room: MB174


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Bath School of Management, September 2002
  • Master of Philosophy, University of Bath School of Management, October 1997
  • BSc (Hons), Geology, University of Southampton, 1986


  • Certificate in Learning and Teaching Aston University, 2009
  • Post-graduate Diploma in Purchasing and Supply, Polytechnic of North London, 1989
  •  2007 – date: Senior Lecturer, Aston University
  • 1994 – 2007: University of Bath – Research Officer to Senior Research Fellow; Deputy Director of Centre for Research in Strategic Purchasing and Supply (May 2003-Jan 2005)
  • 1987 – 1996: Industrial experience, various roles within London Underground and related companies, in purchasing and HRM

EM4002 Strategic Management for MSc in Engineering Management and Supply Chain Management

EM4030 Supply Management for MSc Supply Chain Management

LT3316 Purchasing and Strategy for BSc Logistics Management

Supervision of BSc Final Year and MSc Major Projects 

Supervision of postgrad research students, and research skills training

 Purchasing and supply management 

  • Public procurement from a strategy and policy perspective.  In particular, the relationship between public purchasing practices and innovation, supply markets and supplier competitiveness.
  • Purchasing capability – understanding what companies need and developing purchasing skills and knowledge

Strategic change in complex interorganizational networks and interorganizational collaboration, particularly in relation to supply, innovation and sustainability

Network learning – learning by groups of organizations as a group.  Building on the concept of organizational learning, investigating how complex interorganizational networks develop and change over time. 

I am a member of Aston’s Project and Supply Chain Management Research Group (link to PSCM RG)

ESRC Research Seminar Series Grant 'Collaborative futures: new insights from intra and inter-sectoral collaborations', Nov 2009 – April 2011.

  • Paul Morris (part-time) Investigating the impact of increased customer visibility in pharmaceutical supply chains on the occurrence and management of product shortages
  • Mohsan Hussain.  EPSRC CASE funded student researching RFID in the health service (network level analysis of the adoption of IT/IS across supply chains)
  • Jenny Surtees ESRC CASE student learning to innovate in interorganizational teams (medical devices innovation involving NHS and SMEs)
  • Lidia Gheorgiou. Building Cliques and Alliances to ‘Make Things Happen’ in Complex Networks (regional networks accountable for health and social policy implementation for Roma people in Romania)
  • Alexandra Pfeiffer  Supply Risk in Bioenergy (impact of supply side risk and uncertainty on the adoption of innovative bioenergy technologies)


I would be happy to discuss potential projects which closely align with my research interests, as described above. Please note I currently have no funding to offer, so applicants would need to secure their own funding. In certain cases, I may be able to help with the development of a student-led grant application.
  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply
  • Member of the British Academy of Management (BAM), and the European Group on Organization Studies (EGOS)
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Member, International Purchasing and Supply Education and Research Association (IPSERA)


 Journal Articles: 

Knight, L., Yi-Hsi, T and Preston, J. (2013), Integrating skills profiling and purchasing portfolio management: An opportunity for building purchasing capability, International Journal of Production Economics (2013 article in press)

Sullivan, H., Williams, P., Marchington, M., Knight, L, Collaborate futures: discursive realignments in austere times, Public Management and Money, V. 33, No. 2, pp. 123-130.

Walker, H., Gough, S., Bakker, E., Knight, L. and McBain, D. (2009) Greening Operations Management: An Online Sustainable Procurement Course for Practitioners, Journal of Management Education, Vo. 33 No. 3  pp.348-371

Bakker, E., Zheng, J., Knight, L. and Harland, C. (2008) Putting e-commerce adoption in a supply chain context International Journal of Operations & Production Management,  Vol 28, No. 4, 313 - 330  

Zheng, J., Knight, L., James, K., Harland, C. and Humby, S. (2007) An Analysis of Research on the Future of Purchasing and Supply Management.  Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, Vol 13, No 1, 69-83

Phillips, W.E., Knight, L., Caldwell, N.D. and Warrington, J. (2007) Policy through Procurement – the introduction of Digital Signal Process (DSP) hearing aids into the English NHS. Health Policy, Vol 80, No.1, 77-85

Knight, L. and Harland, C. (2005) Managing Supply Networks: Organizational roles in network management.  European Management Journal , Vol 23, No. 3, 281-292

Knight, L. and Pye, A. (2005) Network Learning: an empirically-derived model of learning by groups of organizations.  Human Relations, Vol 58, No 3, 369-392

Knight, L., Walker, H., Harland, C. and Sutton, R. (2005) Competence Requirements for Managing Supply in Interorganizational Networks.  Journal of Public Procurement, Vol 5, No 2, 210-234

Caldwell, N., Walker, H., Harland, C., Knight, L., Zheng, J. and Wakeley, T. (2005) Promoting Competitive Markets: The Role Of Public Procurement. Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, Vol 11, No.5-6, pp.242-251

Knight, L and Pye, A. (2004) Exploring the relationships between network change and network learning.  Management Learning, Vol 35, No 4, pp. 473-490

Knight, L. (2002) Network Learning: Exploring learning by interorganizational networks.  Human Relations, Vol 55, No. 4, pp.427-453

Harland, C. and Knight, L. (2001)  Supply Network Strategy: Role and Competence Requirements.  International Journal of Operations and Production Management, Vol 21, No. 4, April, pp. 476-489

Knight, L. (2000) Learning to Collaborate: A study of individual and organizational learning, and interorganizational relationships. Journal of Strategic Marketing, Vol. 8, pp.121-138.


Knight, L.A., Harland, C.M., Telgen, J., Callender, G., Thai, K.V. and McKen, K.E. (Eds)  (2007) Public Procurement: International Cases and Commentary.  London: Routledge.  

Book chapters: 

Knight, L. and Pye, A. (2007) The Search for Network Learning: some practical and theoretical challenges in process research. In: Gößling, T., Jansen, R. and Oerlemans, L. (eds.) Inside Networks: A process view on multi-organisational partnerships, alliances and networks,  Edward Elgar, pp.163-191

Harland, C., Knight, L. and Cousins, P. (2004) Supply Relationships.  In: New, S. and Westbrook, R. (eds.) Supply Chains: Concepts, Critiques and Futures. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Knight, L. and Harland, C. (2001)  Outsourcing: A national and sector level perspective on policy and practice in Erridge A., Fee, R. and McIlroy, J. (eds.) Best Practice Procurement: Public and Private Sector Perspectives.  Gower, pp. 55-62

Conference papers, working papers, etc: 

Knight, L., Pfeiffer, A. and Scott, J. (2014) Risk and uncertainty in supply markets and sustainability-related innovation. Paper presented at IPSERA 2014 (April), South Africa

Pettigrew, A. and Knight, L. (2007) Process and Performance in International Collaborative Research.  Academy of Management Conference, Philadelphia, August 2007.

Knight, L. and Pettigrew, A. (2007) Explaining process and performance in the co-production of knowledge: a comparative analysis of collaborative research projects.  Paper presented at the Organization Studies Third Summer Workshop, June 7-9,Rethymno, Crete.

Pye, A. and Knight, L. (2005) Network Leadership:  A new perspective on leadership? Paper presented at the Leadership conference, 12-13 Dec (Lancaster).

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