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Nicholas Clifford


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Personal profile


Nick is a senior fellow in MBS specialising in executive education for a broad range of clients of the School.  His doctorate research focused on corporate organisational change investigating organisational obstinacy and the defence of values.  Nick’s knowledge areas are related to strategic thinking and planning major change projects and programmes.  He has programme directed a number of major programmes in the public sector domestically and internationally.

Nick’s early career included retail management in London but he then turned towards urban and regional planning. While studying he was appointed visiting scholar (InterFuture Programme) to Pace University, New York City in 1974 to study urban communities and city governance. He acted as a local trustee overseeing grant aided organisations in community development work in inner London. Following qualification he worked as a professional community worker in the mid 70’s before becoming a local authority planner in London from 1975 to 1986 during which he became a Principle Officer.

Joining Manchester Council in 1986 he led a team undertaking large scale reclamation and environmental improvement projects and programmes.  He became lead officer for the City's sustainability work on Local Agenda 21 plans including the Eurocities network Environment Committee taking him to European cities in Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Germany and France. He took a sabbatical year to study for an MBA at the Judge Business School at Cambridge University qualifying in 1998.

He joined Manchester Business School in 2000 and has subsequently been appointed a Senior Fellow in the School. He has directed a number of executive education programmes in both local government and the health service in the public sector as well as a Certificate in Executive Management for the Third Sector and an innovation programme with Salford City Council entitled Transform IN Salford and a management development programme for UK Trade and Investment international trade advisers.  He has designed and delivered programmes for a number of the School's clients from China interested in change in the public sector.  

He has also carried out a number of evaluation studies - drug action teams in Greater Manchester; community safety management; coalfields regeneration; and the development of local authority/ health partnerships.  He also undertook a study with the Medical Deanery of the University assisting newly qualified consultants to handle management issues.  He led a 2-year evaluation and monitoring project for the UK Public Health Association on fuel poverty.

He has more recently been working in Africa and the Middle East developing executive education programmes for a number of clients.

Research interests

Nick's research interests are focused on organisational change and development. He is particularly interested in how organisational obstinancy can be both positively driven (e.g. in the defence of values) as well as negative (as in resistance).  His PhD research investigated organisational obstinancy through a longitudinal study of a large corporate organisation using ethnographic collection of data during a long-term action research programme.  His conclusions sought to explain how organisations revert to a previous position despite significant development work.

Key words: Organisational Development and Change, Strategy, Innovation, Public Administration and Management (including Local government, Health, Policing) and Third Sector management

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


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