Ralph Stacey Memorial Lecture 2022

21 October 2022

Hertfordshire Business School remembers Professor Ralph Stacey's work

Professor Ralph Stacey portrait

Every once in a while, someone emerges with unique insight, who reframes the way we see the world. Ralph Stacey was such a person. He created a new vocabulary, and thus new ways of thinking and acting. Over a 32-year career with the University of Hertfordshire, Ralph developed a body of work, and founded a psychodynamic doctoral research programme, the Professional Doctorate of Management (DMan) which is still thriving. At the heart of the perspective informing the intellectual position and the DMan is taking experience seriously, and becoming reflexive about oneself and the world. The programme remains a pioneering approach to combining insights from the complexity sciences, pragmatic philosophy, process sociology and group analytic theory. It is currently directed by Professor Chris Mowles and expects this month to produce its 76th doctoral completion.

On Weds 5th October 2022, Professor Mowles gave the Ralph Stacey Memorial Lecture just over a year after Ralph’s death, and close to the date when Ralph would have reached 80. Patricia Shaw, one of the original co-founders of the DMan programme, gave the response. In the lecture Prof Mowles pointed to the radical nature of Ralph’s interpretation of the complexity sciences, and his determination to cleave to the idea that our world is predictably unpredictable: ultimately uncontrollable. In doing so he maintained an interdisciplinary approach uniting both the natural and social sciences. Professor Mowles narrated some anecdotes from Ralph’s life, showing him to be a man who was wise, humble and sometimes immensely stubborn.

The event attracted an in-person audience of 30 to the Business School on the day of a train strike, and an online audience of 100. It was followed by a drinks reception where people continued to remember Ralph’s legacy. The perspective known as complex responsive processes of relating still attracts great interest from across the world and the publications of the faculty group has a large following.

See a video of the event

Find out more about research from the Complexity & Management Centre


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