Newcastle University Business School

Staff Profile

Dr Adrian Small

Lecturer in Operations Management



My early academic background focused upon management, and in particular managing intangible goods and services. With a keen interest in technology, I obtained an MSc degree in Business Information Technology where I was able to combine my business skills with the ever changing field of information technology. This led into my PhD research.  The work provided a detailed 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 my PhD research I was able to engage more with Operations Management challenges and how such challenges impact on organisations. As an outcome, I have a keen interest in Operations Management in both manufacturing and service organisations.


My main methodological influences’ comes from using action research and in particular participatory action research. I also have knowledge of activity theory and how it can be used in practice. I am highly competent in using NVivo and ATLAS.ti and I am capable of utilising quantitative approaches and using SPSS. I have a broad interest in Operations Management and Service Operations Management and I am interested in all aspects of technology including design, implementation, and use.



B.A (Hons) - First Class

MSc - Distinction

Ph.D - 'The Exploration and Adaptation of Soft Systems Methodology using Learning Theories to Enable more Effective Development of Information Systems Applications’


Previous Positions

Research Associate - Newcastle University Business School (July 2010 - December 2015)

Research Assistant - Northumbria University (January 2010 – June 2010)

Collaborative Innovation Associate - Northumbria University (March 2009 – December 2009)

Research Assistant - Leeds University Business School (May 2008 – February 2009)


Professional Qualifications

PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner

Introduction to Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (ITLHE) Part A and B 

Newcastle Teaching Award (NTA)

Certificate in Advanced Studies in Academic Practice (CASAP)


A fellow of the Higher Educational Academy

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I am currently undertaking research in the area of Operations Management. My main research activities are focused around the area of process improvement, continuous improvement, Lean and Lean implementation in both manufacturing and service contexts. I also undertake research in the area of problem structuring methods and multimethodology.


I completed work on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Benfield Motors (now part of the Lookers group) in 2016. My main role was supporting the KTP associate undertake transformational change throughout the dealership network to increase productivity and improve customer service. The project enacts 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:

I have 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.

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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”.


Undergraduate Teaching

BUS2029 Operations Strategy and Management

BUS2032 Service Operations Strategy and Management

BUS2034 Operations Management

Postgraduate Teaching

NBS8488 Projects, Programmes, and Operations Management