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Professor Peter Grinyer


Emeritus Professor

Fax: +44 (0)1334 462812

Research Interests

Strategic management, corporate renewal; cognitive approaches to group strategic decision taking; senior management cognition


Peter Grinyer is an Emeritus Professor of the University of St. Andrews. He was born in London in 1935, his wife is Sylvia, and he has two adult sons. His first degree (1957) was in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University and his Ph. D. (1968) was in Applied Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, London University.

Peter Grinyer has had an unusual career in that it spans positions of leadership in University administration, significant positions as a non-executive director and Chairman of companies, membership of important non-governmental public bodies, and academic contributions as a dedicated teacher and researcher.

He has held the Foundation for Management Education Chair in Business Strategy at the City University, London and the Esmee Fairbairn Chair in Economics (Finance and Investment) at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He has also been a Visiting Professor for four years at the Stern School of Business, New York University , and an Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, and is currently a Visiting Professor at Imperial College, London.

His academic administrative roles have embraced being Chairman of Departments of Economics and Management, founding the latter, and Vice Principal (Vice President in American terms) and for a while Acting Principal of the University of St. Andrews. St. Andrews is Scotland's oldest university, founded in 1411, and was rated recently in the top ten of British universities. In this capacity he represented St. Andrews on the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals of UK Universities as well as that of Scottish University Principals. He has also served as a member of the Business and Management Studies Committee of the Universities Grant Committee that determined grants to be made available from public funds to support Departments of Management and Business Schools in the UK.

He was re-appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland as a member of the Scottish Legal Aid Board and served the maximum of two four year terms on this Board (1992-2000) where he chaired a number of important committees. This Board manages a budget of some £135 million to defend those accused of criminal acts and aid those involved in civil disputes who cannot afford legal support themselves.

In 2000 he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Industry as a Member of the Competition Commission to serve on its Appeals Tribunal (CCAT). This tribunal judged on appeals by companies against decisions of the Director General of Fair Trading and the Regulators of the telecommunications, electricity, gas and water industries in the UK under the Competition Act, 1998. In 2003 the Tribunal was reconstituted as the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) and its role was extended by the 2002 Enterprise Act. Professor Grinyer, together with the other CCAT members, was appointed to the new CAT on which he currently serves.

As a company director, he was involved with strategic decision taking of five companies, and was involved in one contested takeover and three agreed ones. These companies included three quoted on the London Stock Exchange (John Brown plc, Ellis and Goldstein plc and Don Bros. Buist plc), and a small, private, but high profile design consultancy of which he was Chairman (McIlroy Coates). In addition, throughout his career he has advised companies as a consultant on strategic issues, whilst being careful to ensure that this has not crowded out his research. This practical experience has informed both his teaching and his research.

In 1989 he was the joint founder of the St. Andrews Management Institute, for which financial backing was obtained from the University of St. Andrews, government via Scottish Enterprise, and Shell International. This applied strategic decision taking approaches, including scenario planning, developed in Shell to assist a wide range of business and academic organizations and undertook contract research projects. As Chairman of the Institute and its wholly owned subsidiary company, St. Andrews Strategic Management Ltd, through which it undertook consulting assignments, he guided its development conjointly with its co-founder (Gareth Price) to a successful operation with a well established track record with blue chip UK and international companies. To give greater emphasis to its research activities, and more closely involve it with the University, its structure was reorganized in 1995, when its operations were taken into the University of St. Andrews.

Peter Grinyer has also made significant, some much cited, contributions to the literature. He has had some 60 papers published in the journals or as book chapters and five books reporting his research. Following early work in the area of operational research and industrial engineering, he undertook research on strategic planning, and was among the first to apply cross sectional statistical analysis in empirical studies in this area. :

  • Perhaps the most widely cited of of his papers was that with David Norburn on perceptions of executives on strategic planning and financial performance, published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, Vol.138, Part 1, February 1975. This found for a sample of UK companies wide divergences between objectives of different members of the executive team, no statistical relationship between formal planning practices and financial planning, but positive relationships with financial performance for the extent of communication internally and externally.
  • His projects with Al Bazzaz and Yasai Ardekani in the late seventies were among the most sophisticated empirical surveys of strategic planning at the time, and the paper in the Strategic Management Journal, vol. 7, pp3-28, 1986 was among the earliest to advance and test a contingency theory relating planning practices to both attributes of the company and its environment. In parallel with this work Grinyer undertook two empirical studies on the relationships between strategy, structure, bureaucracy, the environment, and financial performance with Al Bazzaz and Yasai Ardekani, and one replicating the Aston Studies with the latter. These were reported in three papers in the AMJ and further papers in the Strategic Management Journal and Organization Studies. These were followed by studies on strategic, organizational and managerial correlates of financial performance in the UK electrical engineering industry with Yasai Ardekani and McKiernan which were published by the SMJ and as book chapters in the late 1980s.
  • Again in the late 1970s and early 1980s Grinyer undertook surveys in the UK on the development and use of financial simulation models with Wooller which were among the first of their kind, reported in a book and papers, and widely cited at the time. He also worked with Birley and Vaughan on an empirical study of experience of companies newly floating on the London Stock Exchange.
  • Then in the late 1980s he changed his focus to the issue of organizational renewal, leading a project for the National Economic Development Office in the UK on the process of recovery from decline to sustained superior performance in a sample of 25 UK companies. This was reported in a book with Mayes and McKiernan, journal papers (including in the SMJ), and book chapters. This work on 'sharpbenders' is increasingly widely cited.
  • Since the late 1970s Peter Grinyer has also had a significant interest in managerial cognition. In 1978 he undertook an in-depth qualitative study of the fall and subsequent rise of the Newton Chambers Group with J-C Spender, in which they applied the concept of industry recipes just developed by J-C, and integrated it into a model of strategic change within organizations. Results were published in a book and then in a paper in International Studies of Management and Organization in 1979. Collaboration with J-C was resumed in 1992 and led to papers published in 1995 and 1996 in Human Relations and International Studies in Management and Organization.
  • His interest in organizational renewal and managerial cognition also come together in his currently on-going work on cognitive approaches to strategic decision taking within top managerial teams. This has led to papers in Knowledge and Policy (Fall, 1992) and the journal of the Operational Research Society (vol. 51,2000).
  • During the late 1980s and the 1990s he has also undertaken, with Foo Check Teck, a major survey of corporate planning practices in the ASEAN region, which has been reported in a book and papers.
  • Finally, he has served on a number of editorial boards, most notably that of the Strategic Management Journal, of which he was a member for 25 years.

In summary, Peter Grinyer successfully bridged between rigorous, significant, research and high level contributions to academic administration and business decision making. This is not unique but remains relatively rare. It gives him an interestingly different perspective which should continue to inform his work.