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Professor Richard Whipp (1954-2005)

Obituary

Professor Richard Whipp died on Saturday 11th June after a short illness. He will be remembered as an outstanding scholar who made a number of important contributions to management research and who also played a significant role in the development of the United Kingdom’s academic community. Over the past 15 years, he has been instrumental in building Cardiff Business School’s research activities and infrastructure and, latterly, he has played an important role in the senior management of Cardiff University.  Throughout his career, Richard allied the highest levels of professionalism with committed support for his colleagues.  He was highly regarded by fellow academics, former students and countless others with whom he came into contact during his professional life.

After leaving Ilford County High School, Richard read History at Pembroke College, Cambridge, specialising in Economic History.  This was followed by a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, also at Cambridge University, before undertaking a Masters degree in Comparative History at Warwick University.  He then researched employment and organisational change in the Staffordshire Potteries for a doctorate at Warwick, leading to a number of publications including a book entitled Patterns of Labour: Work in Social and Historical Perspective.  This laid the foundations for his contributions to a highly significant programme of research on innovation and organisational change that was conducted with colleagues at Aston and Warwick universities.  Amongst a number of very influential publications stemming from this research of particular note are Innovation in the Auto Industry: Product, Process and Work Organisation with Peter Clark and Managing Change for Competitive Success with Andrew Pettigrew. 

Richard’s research activities broadened after his arrival at Cardiff Business School in 1990 as Professor of Human Resource Management.  He led a range of research activities in the area of public sector management and organisational reform, including a major Department of Health funded project into the management of children’s homes, the main findings of which were published earlier this year in a book entitled Managing Residential Child Care: A Managed Service (with Ian Kirkpatrick and Martin Kitchener).  He continued to work on his ideas around theorising strategy and, in returning to an early academic interest, he contributed markedly to the understanding of the significance of time in modern organization and management. 

Richard’s role in the professional development of his academic community was characterised by a strategic and proactive approach.  He was Chair of the British Academy of Management for three years and played a role in the establishment of the ESRC/EPSRC Advanced Institute of Management Research.  A key concern was the fostering of links with the wider international academic community, in particular the American Academy of Management, and he was a founder member of the steering group responsible for the creation of the European Academy of Management.  His strong concern to nurture and develop new and junior staff could be seen in his involvement in a number of capacities with the ESRC, particularly in developing new guidelines for postgraduate research training in Business and Management. 

Shortly after his appointment at Cardiff Business School, Richard was appointed Deputy Director with responsibility for research.  During this period, the School established itself as one of the leading research institutions in the field of Business and Management. He was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor in 2002 leading the development of the University’s estates agenda and making major contributions to research policy. In his capacity as Pro Vice-Chancellor, he also acted as Head of the School of English, Communication and Philosophy from 2003 to 2004. He was reappointed Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research following merger of Cardiff University and the University of Wales College of Medicine.

Both this strategic vision and a concern for the broader development of staff were central to how he undertook his roles. Richard brought an ability for careful planning, an incisive and analytical mind and an understanding of the bigger picture. These qualities combined with his honesty, thoughtfulness and care for the welfare and development of those working and studying alongside him to make him a highly effective research leader.  Above all else, the hallmark of Richard’s professional life has been the care he has shown for his colleagues and students. 

Those who knew Richard well will also remember his love of sport.  He was an enthusiastic participant in a wide-range of sports, including athletics, football, golf and swimming.  Possibly the highlight of his sporting achievements was his Cambridge Blue for the 3000 metres steeplechase. Throughout his life he was a keen supporter of the local football team of his youth, West Ham United, despite their many trials and tribulations. 

Richard will be remembered with warmth and affection by friends and colleagues throughout and beyond academia. 

Richard Whipp born 29th September 1954, died 11th June 2005. He leaves a wife Anne.