Dr Tyrone Pitsis
Reader in Strategic Design

  • Email: tyrone.pitsis@ncl.ac.uk
  • Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 1710
  • Address: 5 Barrack Road
    Newcastle upon-Tyne
    NE1 4SE


PhD (Management) [University of Technology, Sydney]

Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) - Honours [University of New South Wales]

Current Visiting Appointments and External roles

2012-Current: Sydney University, Australia.  

- Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and IT at U. Sydney.  The Faculty is ranked in the top 50 faculties in the world (Times Higher Education)

2014-2017: University of Technology, Sydney (Honorary Professor)

- I was awarded an honorary professorship in The School of Business at UTS. The School is triple accredited, including AACSB; and UTS was recently ranked in the top 50 universities in the world under 20 years old (Times Higher Education)

2014-2017: Lancaster University, UK. (External Examiner: MSc. programmes) 

Roles (internal)

Business School Research Ethics Convenor

Roles (external)

Director of Engagement and Impact - PTC of the Academy of Management (www.aom.org) 

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (http://www.thersa.org/about-us

Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of Strategic Contracts and Negotiation (Sage/IACCM) - to be launched in March 2015

Board Member and Academic Advisor: The International Association for Contract and Commercial Management (www.iaccm.com

Member of the Expert Panel of Oxford University's Benefits of Health ICT Programmes  research project.

Current PhD students (in alphabetic order)

Anjana Anandakumar - PhD/ final year - Emotional Ambivelance in Change Projects

Alexia Mellor - PhD/ 1st Year - Arts, Creativity and Participatory Practices.

Emmalinde Roelofse - PhD/ 2nd Year - Ambiguity and Collaboration in Innovation Start Up Projects

Tabish Zaman - PhD/ 1st Year - Public Private Benefits Realisation in Megaprojects

Charles Nnjaj - PhD/ 1st Year - The Value of Ethical Leadership in Project Performance

Most Recent Completions

2014 - Kal Vignehsa - PhD - ARC Post Graduate Award- Stuckedness in Projects.

2014 - Chris Biesenthal - PhD - ARC Post Graduate Award - Pragmatism and Strategic Project Management Tools.

2013 - Ace Simpson - PhD - Positive Psychology and Projects of Compassion.


Congratulations to my PhD student Kalpana Vignehsa who has just completed her PhD on the process of 'stuckedness' in megaprojects. Arise Dr Vignehsa.

I have just returned from the AOM in Philadelphia, presenting papers on building communities, doing AAT symposia and adopting new members. It was one of the best AOMs in ages.  I was also just appointed the Director of Impact and Engagement for the Practice Theme Committee of the Academy of Management.

I am currently working with a fantastic selection of people from the RSA, Stanford's Centre for Design Research and NTNU to help Gateshead Council become a living lab of social innovation and enterprise. Watch out for d.Gateshead…coming soon.

About me

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia I relocated to the UK in 2011, joining Newcastle University in September. I started my academic life as a research assistant in the Centre for Corporate Change at the Australian Graduate School of Management (UNSW), before moving on to the Business School at UTS. 

With all sorts of governance systems, management tools, project and programme close out reports, learning circles and lessons learned sessions available to us, why are our projects still more likely to fail than succeed? This is quite peculiar. These are the sorts of issues I seek to address. My research primarily focuses on the strategic execution of mega-projects, particularly those delivered through public and private partnerships; the design of complex governance mechanisms aimed at dealing with economic, social and ecological problems; and more generally relational power in organizational life (for example the relational qualities of creativity, ideas, and emotions in personal and organizational projects).  In a separate stream of research I like to explore the debates, value and relevance of organization and management theory and research.

To be sure, I argue that the problems with major programmes and mega projects is that they are thought about and discussed and made sense of at the level of project management: that they are project management problems.  I believe this is incorrect, as these are critical strategic management issues and problems. My colleague, Tim Cummins, CEO of IACCM writes about this here.

There is a lot to learn from sociology, psychology, anthropology and politics. Most PMs have little if no knowledge about these things. While understanding and using Prince(c) is fine, I prefer you are better versed in The Prince.

Esteem and Impact

In 2011 I was elected Chair of the Academy of Management's Practice Theme Committee (PTC), a strategic leadership committee of the Academy of Management, the largest management association in the world.  More recently I was appointed Academic Advisor and ex officio-Board member of the International Association of Contract and Commercial Management (www.iaccm.com). 

I am a reviewer for the ESRC (international projects) as well as for several major journals and conferences. My work on mega-projects was recently recognized in an University of Oxford study by Prof. Bent Flyvbjerg as third in the top ten seminal pieces on mega-projects.

In 2013 I was proud to be elected as a Fellow of the RSA (The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce). The RSA was founded in 1754, and has a wealth of notable achievements and Fellows in its 250-year history including Charles Dickens, Adam Smith, Benjamin Franklin, Karl Marx, William Hogarth, Nelson Mandela, Sir Frank Whittle and Stephen Hawking. Being elected an RSA Fellow depends on having achieved a contribution to society in a cultural or arts-related sphere.  RSA is an organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges. Through its ideas, research and Fellowship it seeks to understand and enhance human capability to close the gap between today’s reality and people’s hopes for a better world. 

I work with large and SMEs globally on dealing with and understanding complex strategic problems.  I have coached teams on strategy using design thinking; my teams have won the Boston Consulting Group Strategy Competition, and most recently won the "innovative idea" award at the Sustainability Challenge run by Tesco, Proctor & Gamble and Santander.  Organizations I have worked with and helped to develop their future strategy include but not limited to:

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Canterbury Council


New South Wales Department of Education

Penrith Council

Reserve Bank of Australia

Reserve Bank of India

Royal Australian Air Force



Westpac Banking Corp.

Professional Membership

Academy of Management

Strategic Management Society 

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts


Current Projects

1. Building a Social Enterprise City: I was awarded a HEIF project to work with Gateshead Council, Stanford University, NTNU, Norway to help create a prototype of a social enterprise city to help transform the NE economy (see more here) (Larry Leifer and Martin Steinert)

2. Strategic Turning Points: The human experience of key moments of transformation (both positive and negative) as strategic devices in change projects (with John Sillince and Ben Golant), rules and norms in strategic projects (with Frank Mueller), and ideas, innovation and creativity in projects (Arne Carlsen and Stewart Clegg).

3. The phenomenology of project based organizing (with Alfons van Marrewijk, Sierk Ybema)

4. Mega-project governance and control: East versus West (Atif Ansar and Bent Flyvbjerg)

Other stuff

Music I can't stop listening to at the moment

Alt-J's new album 'This is all yours'

Arun Ghosh's 'A South Asian Suite'

What I can't stop watching

QandA on ABC TV (Australia)

My favourite places (aside from Newcastle, of course)

Mumbai, India

Sydney, Australia (my Motherland)

Lisbon, Portugal

Patras and Rhodes, Greece (my Grandmother land)

What I am reading

Being in the world by Hubert Dreyfus (who along with Alfred Schutz is one of my heroes).  I learn something new each time I read their works.

A question of strategy?

If you were to think about all the projects your organisation pursues, how many are central to your strategic intentions? How central are your projects in innovating what you do and how you do it? Of those that are strategically imperative, how well do they help you achieve those imperatives? How are projects governed to enable the tensions between control, prediction and planning with the need for improvisation, adaptation and transformations?  Importantly, how well does your organisation understand the power and social relations inherent and endemic in project based organising?  These are just some of the questions I seek to investigate, interrogate and explore through my research. 

My research focuses on two loosely connected but inter-related areas: 1) emergent strategy in mega-projects and how these projects lead to oganisational and social innovation; and 2) the governance mechanisms organisations put into place to foster hope achievement (or, what I call future perfect strategy).  

Do you want to do a PhD with me?

If you want to do a PhD specifically in my area (see below), I would love to have a chat with you.  Please be aware I will not supervise anyone outside my specific area of interest.  Feel free to email me at tyrone.pitsis@ncl.ac.uk  or call me on 0191 208 1710

Research Interests

- strategy and foresight 

- mega-projects and project governance (especially public/private collaboration)

- managerial and organizational innovation and creativity 

Theoretical influences and underpinning

- Pragmatic philosophy

- Phenomenological Psychology

- Alfred Schutz, Hubert Dreyfus and the work of Richard Sennett










Strategic Design Thinking

- Using strategic design thinking I teach change management using live work based projects. (extremely popular but also extremely demanding).  This is now a core module in the MBA/EMBA programme.

Change and Organisational Transformation Projects

- The design, execution and management of mega-projects of change

Organisational Behaviour

- A core module exploring the psychology, sociology and anthropology of organizational life.

Research Methods

- Qualitative (narrative, discourse analysis) and quantitative (S.E.M) research methods

- Research design