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Dr Adrian Small

Associate Professor

Department: Newcastle Business School

Adrian's academic background focused upon management, and in particular managing intangible goods and services. With a keen interest in technology, Adrian obtained an MSc degree in Business Information Technology where he was able to combine his business skills with the ever-changing field of information technology. This led into Adrian's PhD research.  The work provided the development and evaluation of the Soft Systems Methodology eXpanded for Learning incorporating Technology Management (SSMXLTM) framework in the context of a manufacturing company and three North East NHS hospitals. The conclusions addressed the effectiveness of a learning approach for information systems (IS) design and development, and how this can be incorporated into a soft methodology for the design and implementation of information system applications (ISA). Important findings related to how SSMXLTM can impact on theory and practice. Through his PhD research Adrian was able to engage more with Operations Management challenges and how such challenges impact on organisations. As an outcome, Adrian has a keen interest in Operations Management in both manufacturing and service organisations.


Adrian's main methodological influences comes from using action research and in particular participatory action research. Adrian also has knowledge of activity theory and how it can be used in practice. He is also highly competent in using NVivo and ATLAS.ti and is capable of utilising quantitative approaches and using SPSS. Adrian has a broad interest in Operations Management and Service Operations Management but with particular interest in process improvement, continuous improvement, and Lean. Adrian is also interested in Problem Structuring Methods (PSM) as well as all aspects of technology including design, implementation, and use.


Ph.D students

I am pleased to talk to potential Ph.D students with interesting proposals that link into my research interests outlined above.

Adrian Small

Adrian is currently undertaking research in the area of Operations Management. His main research activities are focused around the area of process improvement, continuous improvement, Lean and Lean implementation in both manufacturing and service contexts. Adrian also undertakes research in the area of problem structuring methods.


Adrian completed work on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Benfield Motors (now part of the Lookers group) in 2016. Adrian’s main role was the knowledge base supervisor supporting the KTP associate undertake transformational change throughout the dealership network to increase productivity and improve customer service. The project enacted a holistic approach linking strategy, operations and HR management. The project enabled dealerships to achieve transformational change throughout the organisation versus point improvements through the application of Lean tools. The project received the classification of ‘outstanding’ from Innovate UK, the grant funding body for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and features as an ESRC Impact Case Study:


Adrian has also previously completed work on two grant funded projects. One project looked at the implementation of Lean within five small-and-medium sized organisations within the North East and finished December 2011. The second project evaluated the North East Transformation System (NETS). The project is utilising Lean as a method to help hospital Trusts in National Health Service North East (NHSNE) become more efficient, effective and provide better quality care to patients. This project was completed in July 2013.


Google Scholar:


Research Gate:









2016 - Highly Commended Paper from the Emerald Literati Network Awards for Excellence

The award was received for our publication “Doing Transformational Change in the English NHS in the Context of 'Big Bang' Redisorganisation: Findings from the North East Transformation System”.

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • ‘Are they out to get us?’: Power and the ‘recognition’ of the subject through a ‘Lean’ work regime, Mackenzie, E., McGovern, T., Small, A., Hicks, C., Scurry, T. 1 Nov 2021, In: Organization Studies
  • Privacy and security of electronic patient records – Tailoring multimethodology to explore the socio-political problems associated with Role Based Access Control systems, Small, A., Wainwright, D. 16 Feb 2018, In: European Journal of Operational Research
  • Diffusion of process improvement methods in European SMEs, McGovern, T., Small, A., Hicks, C. 2 May 2017, In: International Journal of Operations and Production Management
  • SSM and technology management: Developing multimethodology through practice, Small, A., Wainwright, D. 16 Mar 2014, In: European Journal of Operational Research
  • Have a question? Just ask it: Using an anonymous mobile discussion platform for student engagement and peer interaction to support large group teaching, Tan, E., Small, A., Lewis, P. 22 Jan 2020, In: Research in Learning Technology
  • A mixed-methods evaluation of transformational change in NHS North East, Hunter, D., Erskine, J., Hicks, C., McGovern, T., Small, A., Lugsden, E., Whitty, P., Steen, N., Eccles, M. 2014

  • Ranjan Majumder Proper visibility of cross-docking is needed to improve the utilisation of vehicle space in the UK transportation industry. Start Date: 01/09/2023
  • Vince McSkimmings Industry 4.0: The effects of real-time business intelligence on the socio-technical system. Start Date: 01/10/2021

  • Information Systems PhD October 16 2007
  • Information Technology MSc November 28 2002
  • Business andManagement Studies BA (Hons) June 04 2001
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner PRINCE2 2009
  • Fellow (FHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2020

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