Dr Leonard Holmes

Dr Leonard Holmes

Reader in Management

Roehampton University Business School


Dr Leonard Holmes is Reader in Management in the Business School where he undertakes the role of Research Degrees Convenor. He worked previously at five other universities and former polytechnics in various roles. He is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a Life Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is also a member of the Council of the British Academy of Management, and also Chair of the Knowledge and Learning Special Interest Group within the Academy. His first degree was in Philosophy (Nottingham), has an MPhil from Lancaster University and gained his PhD from the Institute of Education, University of London.

Leonard has a professional background in the employee training and development field, particularly trainer training and management and professional development. Following a career in hospitality management, and postgraduate studies in management, he joined the Hotel and Catering Industry Training Board, where he became the lead officer for developing industry national standards for trainer training and development. He left the Board to join a large, black community led, urban regeneration organisation, as employment and training coordinator. He undertook research whilst working for that organisation, which he later published along with his research undertaken whilst a senior researcher with the Local Economic Policy Unit at the-then Polytechnic of the South Bank.

Whilst a member of the National Advisory Council on Training for the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staff, Leonard played a major role in the development of the union’s policy on workplace training agreements and workplace training reps. That work later was taken up by the Trades Union Council under policies on workplace learning agreements and union learning reps.

His main research interests are in issues concerning learning and expertise (knowledge, skill, competence, learning, assessment, etc), particularly in respect of (a) the social character of the forms in which these are manifested in modern social and economic life and (b) the extent to which claims on expertise may have some 'objective' basis separate from the social basis of judgements and attributions of expertise. He is especially interested in how judgements and appraisals of knowledge and skill are made, how such judgements and appraisals both reflect and reproduce differences in opportunity within society and their effects upon organisational and societal functioning. He has explored these issues within a relational-constructionist framework and has developed this further within a Critical Realist meta-theoretical framework, utilising particularly the concepts of emergent-identity and practices.

 One key area for such research is that of graduate employability and employment. He is widely recognised for his positive critique of approaches based on notions of graduate 'skills and attributes' (possessive-individualism), and for his development of an alternative based on notions of emergent-identity and practices (the Graduate Identity Approach - see http://www.re-skill.org.uk/grads/grademp.htm).  His work is cited within the University of Roehampton’s Employability Strategy. He has presented and published his work extensively, in academic and policy forums. Together with Michael Tomlinson (University of Southampton), he has co-edited ‘Graduate Employability in Context: theory, research and debate’ (Palgrave, forthcoming 2016) with contributions from an international set of authors undertaking research in this area.

A further application is that of management learning and competence. He has critiqued simplistic understandings of learning, and particularly the ideology of ‘learnerism’. His current research deploys the methods of analytic philosophy to examine the conceptual confusion around the concept of learning, and draws upon the key insights of Critical Realism to seek to develop a meta-theoretical approach.

Another area concerns the socio-political governance of expertise, especially as this in manifested in public policy interventions by government and the responses by other stakeholders. He has particularly examined the history of UK national policy on skills training and development during the period from the mid-1950s to mid-1980s, in which government policy shifted first to, then away from, interventionism.


BA (Hons) Nottingham, MPhil (with Distinction) Lancaster), PhD London

Research interests

Research projects undertaken

Membership of professional bodies

Teaching interests

Taught courses



(2014) Becoming a graduate: the warranting of an emergent identity, Education + Training, 57, 2, pp. 219 - 238

(2013) Realist and relational perspectives on graduate identity and employability: a response to Hinchliffe and Jolly, British Educational Research Journal, 39, 6, pp. 1044-1059.

(2013) Competing perspectives on graduate employability: possession, position, or process?, Studies in Higher Education, 38, 4, pp. 538-554

(2006) Abilities, competencies, and selection decision-making, in Hosking, D. M. andMcNamee, S. (eds.), The Social Construction of Organization, Oslo: Liber.

(2006) ‘Challenging the learning turn in education and training’, in Rigg, C., Stewart, J. and Trehan, K., Behind and Beyond Critical Human Resource Development.

 (2006) (with S.Little and F. Go) The Skill of Travel: Networks into Neighbourhoods’, European Spatial Research and Policy, 13.

(2005) (with Y. Altman)   The rites of passage of cross-disciplinary concepts: reflections on , Career Development International, 10, pp. 67-70. 

(2004) ‘The learning turn in education and training: liberatory paradigm or oppressive ideology?’, Journal of European Industrial Training, 28.

(2003) 'Reaching in, reaching out: metadata, popular planning and social capital development', European Spatial Research and Policy, 10.

(2001) ‘Reconsidering Graduate Employability: The Graduate Identity Approach’, Quality in Higher Education, 7.

(2001) (with S. Little, M. Grieco) 'Calling up culture: information spaces and information flows as the virtual dynamics of inclusion and exclusion', Information Technology and People, 14.

(2001) (with M Grieco)  ‘The power of transparency: the Internet, email, and the Malaysian political crisis’, Asia-Pacific Business Review, 8, 59-72.

(2000) (with S. Little and M Grieco) Island histories, open cultures?: the electronic transformation of adjacency’, Southern African Business Review, 4 (2) (December 2000)


(2000) (with J Turner and F Hodgson) ‘Intelligent urban development: introduction to a participatory approach’, Urban Studies, in special issue 

Special Issue on ‘Intelligent Urban Development: the Emergence of 'Wired' Administration and Management’, Sept

(2000) ‘What can performance tell us about learning? Explicating a troubled concept’, European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, June

(2000) (with J. Turner, Margaret Grieco, Nana Apt) ‘Looking to Initiatives in Communications Technology to Overcome Social and Gender Inequalities’, w, in Local Economy, vol 15, no 1

(1995) 'HRM and the Irresistible Rise of the Discourse of Competence', Personnel Review, special edition on 'The Rhetoric and Culture of HRM', vol 24, no 4

(1993) (with P. Joyce) 'Rescuing the Useful Concept of Managerial Competence: From Outcomes Back to Process' (with P Joyce),  Personnel Review, vol 22, no. 6

(1991) (with M Grieco) 'Overt Funding, Buried Goals, and Moral Turnover: The Organizational Transformation of Radical Experiments', (with M. Grieco), Human Relations, vol 44, no.7



(2010) The Dominance of Management: A Participatory Critique, Ashgate Publishing.

Edited books

(forthcoming 2016) (with M. Tomlinson) (eds) Graduate employability in context: theory, research and debate. Palgrave

(with Christina Evans) (eds) (2013) 'Re-Tayloring Management: Scientific Management a Century On', Gower

Chapters in edited books

(2013) Managerial performance and the expertise of managing: prescriptive, descriptive, or ascriptive? in Re-Tayloring Management: Scientific Management a Century On, Evans C and Holmes L (eds), Farnham: Gower Publishing, pp. 63-84


(2006) Abilities, competencies, and selection decision-making, in Hosking, D. M. andMcNamee, S. (eds.), The Social Construction of Organization, Oslo: Liber.

  (2002) (with D-M Hosking and M Grieco, eds) Organising in the Information Age: distributed technology, distributed leadership, distributed identity, distributed discourse, Ashgate Publishing.

(2002) (with M Green and M Grieco) ‘Archiving social practice: the management of transport boycotts’ , in Holmes, Hosking and Grieco, Organising in the Information Age, Ashgate Publishing, 80-93.

(2002) (with M Grieco) ‘Relational identity and relational technology: implications for everyday life’ , in Holmes, Hosking and Grieco, Organising in the Information Age, Ashgate Publishing, 13-26.

(2002) ‘Reframing the skills agenda in higher education: graduate identity and the double warrant’, , in D. Preston (ed.), University of Crisis, Rodopi.

(2000) ‘Questioning the Key Skills Agenda’, in S Fallows and C Steven (eds), Integrating Key Skills in Higher Education: Employability, transferable skills and learning for life, Routledge

(1999) 'Competence and Capability: from 'Confidence Trick' to the Construction of the Graduate Identity', in D. O'Reilly and L Cunningham, ‘Developing the Capable Practitioner: professional capability through higher education’, Kogan Page

(1990) with M. Grieco), 'Radical Beginnings, Conventional Ends?: Organisational Transformation ‑ A Problem in the Development of Radical Organisations', (in New Forms of Ownership, eds M. Poole and G. Jenkins, Routledge

(1995) 'Skills ‑ A Social Perspective', in A. Assiter (ed), Transferable Skills in Higher Education, Kogan Page


(2014) Becoming a Leader in Higher Education: An Identity Trajectory Perspective (final report of Leadership Foundation for Higher Education Small Development Project

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