Newcastle University Business School

Staff Profile

Professor Christian Hicks

Deputy Director, Professor of Operations Management



Chris has a broad interest in Operations Management and is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of the Institution of Engineering Technology (formally the Institution of Electrical Engineers). He is currently Deputy Director, having previously been Director of Research and Head of the Operations Management Subject Group. Operations Management is concerned with the efficient and effective use of resources and aims to improve the competitiveness organisations. His research is focused on the manufacturing, health and motor distribution sectors.

NHS North East was the first Strategic Health Authority (SHA) to adopt a region-wide strategy that aims to transform an entire healthcare system through the application of the North East Transformation System (NETS). This has three elements – the vision, the compact and the method. The vision is to provide excellent healthcare. The compact seeks to reshape the psychological contract between clinicians and the institutions in which they work to facilitate transformational change. The method which aims to improve processes, quality and efficiency through the application of Lean philosophy and techniques. Newcastle University Business School, together with Professor Hunter at the Wolfson Research Institute at Durham University was awarded £500k by the National Institute for Health Research to conduct a three year project to evaluate the NETS initiative. This research adopted a mixed methods approach that seeks to evaluate both process and outcomes using qualitative and quantitative methods.

Chris and Tom McGovern have won an award to evaluate the application of the 3P Lean design method in the NHS. This work, funded by the Health Foundation was led by Iain Smith, Head of the NETS, who is also studying for a PhD. The first pilot study was the design of an endoscopy ward at Gateshead Foundation Trust.

Newcastle University Business School was a partner in the European Regions for Innovative Productivity, which was a €3.3m EU funded project that helped small companies in the North Sea Region of Europe implement Lean. The partners included Ghent University (Flanders), the University of Groningen (Netherlands), Swera (Sweden), SINTEF (Norway) and Osnabruck University (Germany). The project finished in December 2011. We are currently collaborating with colleagues in Norway and Holland to investigate the simultaneous application of Lean and IT systems in engineer/make-to-order companies operating in the subsea sector, which is an important part of the Norwegian and North East economies. We also launched a joint MSc in Operations Management with Groningen University, which started in September 2012.

The region has a long history of producing complex capital goods, such as power plant, ships and oil rigs that are designed and produced to meet individual customer requirements. His work has investigated strategic and operational issues, including supply chain management, facilities layout, planning and control, the impact of deregulation and the application of computer aided production management systems. Chris continues to work closely with Dr Pupong Poncharoen at Naresuan University in Thailand (he obtained a Newcastle PhD in 2001) on various optimisation solutions (including scheduling, timetabling, container packing etc.). 

Chris has close collaboration with Professor Amrik Sohal and Dr Peter O'Neill at Monash University in Australia. He has been a Visiting Professor in 2009, 2010,2011 and 2013. Their work has investigate Lean in healthcare and more recently innovation and operations management in the emerging regenerative health industry. This work involves collaboration with the medical schools at both organisations. Chris and Amrik were co-organisers of a Lean in Healthcare stream at the 22nd International Conference of Production Research held at Iguassu Falls in Brazil in July.

A team including Adrian Small, Tom McGovern, Tracy Scurry and Melissa Whipp have worked on a transformational change project with Benfield Motors Group, which is the largest motor dealership in the North East of England. They have helped improve productivity and competitiveness through the application of Lean principles and practices.

Chris is an enthusiastic teacher and has developed research-led modules and degree programmes in operations management that aim to disseminate his expertise to undergraduate students. The MSc in Operations Management and Logistics and the MSc in Operations Management, Logistics and Accounting were launched in September 2008 and are proving increasing popular. Chris currently supervises a team of six postgraduate students who are conducting research in the optimisation of manufacturing systems and Lean. 

Chris has a wide range of administrative experience. He has served as the Joint Director of the Newcastle/Grenoble DBA. He formed and led the Multidisciplinary Applied Research in Organisational Excellence Research Group.. He has led the Strategy and Operations Subject Group and most recently has served as Director of Research. Chris completed the ABS/BAM Director of Research Development Programme and has contributed to its delivery for each of the last three years. He completed the ABS Deans and Directors' Development Programme in 2013. He is currently Chair of the Board of Studies for the Marketing, Operations and Systems Subject Group and overseas the Business School's collaboration with Groningen University.  


Roles and Responsibilities

Deputy Director, Newcastle University Business School

Head of Multidisciplinary Applied Research in Organisational Excellence Research Group

Chair of the Board of Studies for the Marketing, Operations and Systems Subject Group

Member, Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee
Member, International Strategy Committee

Lay Member, Faculty interview panels
Member, Sir Joseph Swan Institute for Energy Research (Swan)


1984 BSc (Hons) Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds, First Class.
1986 Certified Diploma in Accounting and Finance.
1993 Certificate in Teaching.
1998 PhD "The Application of Computer Aided Production Management Systems in Make-to-Order / Engineer-to-Order Heavy Engineering Companies", University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Previous Positions

NEI Parsons Ltd (1984-1987)
Senior Research Associate, Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering (1987-1989)
Lecturer, Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering (1989-2002)
Senior Lecturer, School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering (2002 -2005)
Senior Lecturer, Newcastle University Business School (2005-2007)


1986 Associate Member, Institution of Mechanical Engineers
1997 Member, Institution of Electrical Engineers (now the Institution of Engineering Technology).
1997 Chartered Engineer.
2004 Member, British Nuclear Energy Society
2006 Administrative Sciences Association of Canada
2007 Member, British Academy of Management
2008, Member, European Operations Management Association (EUROMA)
2009, Member of ANZAM
2010, Fellow of the Institution of Engineeering and Technology

Informal Interests

Being a dad, Taekwondo (, jogging, classic cars, motor bikes, computing, DIY, cycling


Research Interests

Operations Managment, Manufacturing Systems, Planning and Control, Layout, Simulation, Optimisation, Supply Chain Management, Information Technology, Make/Engineer-to-order companies, Operations Research, Lean Manufacturing, Agile Manufacturing.

Current Work

Conference paper presentations are available at:




Research Roles

Head of the Multidisciplinary Applied Research in Organisational Excellence Research Group
Member, NUBS Research & Ethics Committee

Postgraduate Supervision

Pupong Pongcharoen (PhD, graduated July 2001)
Dongping Song (PhD, graduated July 2001)
Fouzi Hossen (PhD, graduated July 2006)
Colin Herron (PhD, Professor Braiden primary supervisor, graduated July 2006)
Lu Hsin-Che (MPhil, graduated June 08)
Rispianda Rispianda (MPhil, graduated June 08)
Teerawut Tunnukij (PhD, started 2004, graduated July 2008)
Moon Seongmin (PhD, graduated in November 2010)

Xie Wenbin (PhD, graduated 2011)

Jie Ma (PhD, graduated 2014)

Alawiyah Abd Wahab, graduated 2015)

Andy Hill (PhD, graduated 2017)

Fokion Oikonomidis (PhD, started October 2005)
Iain Smith (PhD, part time, started Jan 2009)

Esteem Indicators

Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing
Computers & Industrial Engineering
Computers & Operations Research
European Journal of Operational Research
IEEE Transactions of Evolutionary Computing
International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology
International Journal of Information Technology and Management
International Journal of Logistics: Research and Applications
International Journal of Manufacturing Technology and Management
International Journal of Production Economics
International Journal of Operations and Production Management
International Journal of Production Research

International Journal of Technology Management
Journal of Engineering Manufacture
Journal of Scheduling
Journal of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Part B
Journal of Zhejiang University-SCIENCE A
Optimization Letters
Research in Engineering Design

Guest Editor: Automation, the International Journal of Assembly Technology and Management, 2001.
Guest Editor: International Journal of Technology Management, 2007.
Guest Editor: International Journal of Technology Management, 2008.

Editorial Board Member: The Open Operational Research Journal
Editorial Board Member: Open Operational Research Letters
Editorial Board Member: Open Operational Research Reviews

Honourable Mention Award, ASAC 2006 conference
Keynote speaker: "Lean Manufacturing", First Estonian Industry Conference, Tallinn, 8th December 2006.

External Examiner:
University of Exeter, Manufacturing and Management Programmes (UG and PG), 2003 - 2007.
University of Sterling, Management and Management Science (UG), 2008-2012.
PhDs: University of Durham, University of Exeter, Oxford University, University of Surrey, Cardiff University University of Newcastle.


Benfield Motor KTP, 1/14, £134k

The Evaluation of the Lean Design of Healthcare Facilities, Gateshead NHS Foundation Trust, £42k

Supply Chain Management in the Regenerative Medicine Industry, £16.5k, 08/11-08/12 

Interreg grant ERIP (total 3.3m Euro, our contribution 428,000 Euro), 06/08-12/11
Strategic Health Authority, £60k, 2008
Thai Research Fund 1.5m Baht (£1 = 50baht)
Evaluation of the North East Transformation System in NHS North East (£500k, joint with Durham University), 11/9-6/13

Industrial Relevance

Chris is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and his work is grounded in issues relevant to the manufacturing and health sectors in the North East of England.


Manufacturing Systems; Information Technology; Planning; Scheduling; Layout; Supply Chain; Simulation; Optimisation; Business Processes; Modelling;


BUS2029 Operations Strategy and Management

BUS2032 Service Operations Strategy and Management

NBS8118 Purchasing and Supply Chain Management