This website uses cookies. About Cookies OK

Mr James Fairhead

James Fairhead



University College Cork



James Fairhead studied Literary Arabic and Development Economics at the universities of Oxford (Merton College) and London (School of Oriental and African Studies). He also has an MBA degree from London Business School, where he later held the post of Research Fellow. Before becoming an academic he worked for Cadbury-Schweppes in the UK, Middle East and Africa. He has also worked as a design and innovation researcher and consultant to companies and UK government departments across a wide range of sectors, ranging from machine tools, automotive and aerospace to electronics, bio-technology and software.

In recent years, thanks to his association with the IPA research network ()  his research interests have turned to a study of what could be called the political anthropology of organisations and business. In particular his concern has been to diagnose the deeper causes of project and organisational success and failure, and the processes by which managerial activities (and associated ideologies such as financialism) either run out of control with disordering societal effect or remain in reasonable balance.

For the past twelve years he has also had the pleasure of assisting in the birth and early development of more than 150 start-up companies in the Cork/Kerry region, via the good offices of the Cork Business Innovation Centre and the Genesis Enterprise Programme.


Research Interests

For some time now, as part of the International Political Anthropology (IPA) research network () I have been drawing from the work of political philosophers and interpretive sociology in order to build up a historical inter-disciplinary diagnosis of the way business ideologies and practices create not just instrumental innovation efficiency and effectiveness but organisational/social order and disorder. 'The organisation of modern disorder' Economy & Society PhD Summer School, Blackwater Castle, 14-18 May 2018        'Praicsis, liminality and the boredom of modernity' Economy & Society PhD Summer School, Blackwater Castle, May 2017'Praicsis and the decline of trust: cake-making and the spirit of com-petition'. Economy & Society PhD Summer School, Blackwater Castle, May 2016‘The ties that bind. Graceful circularity as a uniting guiding metaphor in economy and society & the destructive linearity of New Ideology.’ Economy & Society PhD Summer School, Blackwater Castle, 11-15 May 2015‘Beyond “The Great Stupidity”. A Voegelinian diagnosis of the nature, history and consequences of financialism, the American business school project, the corruption of civil society & the possibility of leadership renewal’ Economy & Society PhD Summer School, Blackwater Castle, 12-16 May 2014'The two faces of the Global Educational Reform Movement (GERM) virus’. 6th International Political Anthropology Symposium, Department of Sociology November 2013‘So long Solon? Linking backwards from our contemporary chain of foolishness.’ Devotion to Leadership PhD Summer School, Lago di Bolsena, Italy, June 2013.'Exploring the "fun workplace"’ (with Ray Griffin) Sub-theme 22: New Forms of Organisational Ethnography, 28th EGOS Colloquium 2012, Helsinki'Reclaiming Beauty': 3rd Annual Workshop on Beauty, Department of Politics, Cambridge University, May 2012‘Eric Voegelin's philosophical anthropology and the continuing possibility of being a genuine organizational human.’ (Paper presented to the 4th International Political Anthropology Symposium, 11-12 February 2011, University College Cork.‘The Return of the Magi: Image Magic and the Institutionalisation of Kitsch Therapeutic Fantasy’, in Linstead & Letiche [eds] The Magic of Organization [forthcoming]‘Organisations, play, games & gaming the system: a genealogy of decline and the possibility of renewal.’ 5th International Political Anthropology Symposium, Waterford Institute of Technology, February 2012.‘Image Magic & the creation of “corporate soul”.’ 3rd International Political Anthropology Symposium 19-20 February, 2010, Waterford Institute of Technology.‘The Marketing Trickster 1920-1940: a philosophical diagnosis.' 2nd International Political Anthropology Symposium “The Masks of the Contemporary” 27-28 February 2009, University College Cork.‘Popper, Plato, Voegelin, Openness and Kitsch Organisational Puppetry’. Irish Philosophical Society Review (2008).'Innovation and organisations: success, failure & philosophical balance'. Alta Scuola Politecnica Winter School, 10-14 March 2008, Lignano Sabbiadoro, Udine, Italy'Ethics and Innovation' Alta Scuola Politecnica Winter School, 26-31 March 2007, Bardonecchia, Turin, Italy

Back to top


  • Creative Design and Innovation
  • Management/Marketing Research Project
  • The Management and Marketing of Museums
Back to top


Peer Reviewed Journals

Year Publication
1997 James Fairhead (1997) Fantasies of revelation, revolution and management: A Voegelinian classical diagnosis of three related domains. : [Details]

Edited Books

Year Publication
2008 (2008) Irish Philosophical Society Yearbook. : Desmond, W et al : Irish Philosophical Society [Details]

Book Chapters

Year Publication
2015 James Fairhead (2015) The Magic of Organization. : Linstead S & Letiche H : Edward Elgar [Details]

Conference Contributions

Year Publication
2014 James Fairhead (2014) ‘Beyond “The Great Stupidity”. A Voegelinian diagnosis of the nature, history and consequences of financialism, the American business school project, the corruption of civil society & the possibility of leadership renewal’. [Invited Seminars/Guest Lectures]. [Details]
2010 James Fairhead (2010) Image Magic & the creation of corporate soul'. [Invited Oral Presentation]. [Details]
2009 James Fairhead (2009) The Marketing Trickster 1920-2000: a philosophical diagnosis.'. [Invited Oral Presentation]. [Details]
2008 (2008) Germany after Hitler, America after Enron: a classical diagnosis of intelligent stupidity. [Invited Oral Presentation]. [Details]
2007 (2007) Classicism, Kitsch, Kraus and the Last Days of `Open Society. [Oral Presentation]. [Details]
2005 (2005) A great unbalancing: a Voegelinian perspective on organisational failure. [Oral Presentation]. [Details]
2004 (2004) Management as a quasi-spiritualised power discourse. [Oral Presentation]. [Details]
2004 (2004) The management of fantasy and the fantasy of management. [Oral Presentation]. [Details]
Back to top