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Dr Violetta Splitter appointed Fellow and Tutor in Management at St Peter’s College

5 April 2024

Violetta Splitter
Violetta Splitter

St Peter’s College is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Violetta Splitter as Fellow and Tutor in Management at St Peter’s College. Dr Splitter is also Associate Professor in Strategy at the University of Oxford’s Saϊd Business School. She joins Oxford from her recent research post at the University of Zurich.

At first, Dr Splitter did not envision a career as a management or strategy scholar. She says that during her days as an undergraduate at Ludwig-Maximilan University in Munich. She found herself much more attracted to Fine Arts and Japanology – two subjects that she took as minor fields of study.

‘I never thought of an academic career in a business school. This changed when I decided to attend courses on strategic management before my graduation. In contrast to the previous courses that I attended, these courses propagated a more pluralistic and interdisciplinary view of how organizations function and, probably more importantly, of the reasons for their failure. The exposure to this novel understanding of my subject caught my interest in pursuing an academic career as a management scholar.’

She graduated with distinction with a thesis on the implications of Pierre Bourdieu’s praxeology for strategy research.

Based on her expertise in the social theory of Bourdieu, Dr Splitter received an invitation to pursue a PhD in Business Administration at the University of Zurich. Here she had the opportunity to extend her knowledge of social-practice theories (such as Foucault, Giddens, and Schatzki) and examine their relevance for management and strategy research. She stayed as a senior research assistant at the University of Zurich before joining Oxford in 2024.

Dr Splitter’s scholarly expertise is in sociologically oriented management and strategy research. Within these broad fields of study, her research focuses on a new organizational trend towards more inclusive and ‘open’ forms of strategy making (often referred to as ‘open strategy’), and its implications for the social dynamics of strategy work. Empirically, she examines this trend by using ethnographic methods. For example, as a non-participant observer, she followed an inclusive strategy process over seven months at an international financial institution in which frontline employees were asked to develop the corporate strategy. Theoretically, her research is informed by social practice theories (such as Bourdieu or Giddens), which allow her to focus on the actual practices of strategy work as well as its social dynamics (e.g., in terms of power relations, influence, or control).

‘With my background in sociological practice theories, I am particularly interested in the practices of strategy making. The new trend towards more inclusive, open strategy-making gave rise to new strategy practices, such as crowdsourcing, blogging, or strategic decision-making by frontline employees. These new, open strategy practices are likely to change our (traditional) understanding of strategy dramatically because they are no longer based on the premises of top-down decision-making, exclusiveness, and secrecy. After all, open strategy questions the functioning of established power relations, hierarchy and control in conventional strategy making.’

Her expertise in open strategy led her to co-edit a special issue for the journal Organization Studies. The Special Issue on ‘Open Organising’ aimed at facilitating cross-fertilization between so-far separated research on various domains of openness (open innovation, open strategy, open education, open science, open government, etc.). The publication of the special issue led to the establishment of a common understanding and vocabulary of openness, which contributed to building more cumulative knowledge on openness across various domains and disciplines.

At St Peter’s, Dr Splitter will tutor in General Management as part of the College’s undergraduate Economics and Management Course and will be the lecturer for Undergraduate Strategic Management at Saïd Business School. At the University of Zurich, she gained many years of experience in designing and teaching undergraduate, graduate, and executive courses. She has taught on a large variety of topics, including Strategic Management, qualitative methods, and social inequality at Zurich, the University of Fine Arts Berlin and the Hebrew University Jerusalem.

‘Teaching at St Peter’s and Oxford is quite different from teaching at other institutions,’ she notes, ‘However, I am confident that my experience will help me in learning my new role as a Tutor for Management at St Peter’s.’

When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, with whom she has recently relocated to Oxford to take up the post. She says, ‘We enjoy excursions to the countryside, converting our kitchen into a dancefloor, playing charades, and recently discovered gardening!’ When she has time for herself, she enjoys long walks, discovering new places, reading old fiction and swimming.

Learn more about Dr Splitter here.

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