1 // David Bickett

Curiosity as practice in top management team executive decision making

University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

UTS Profile | LinkedIn | Twitter

I’ve known David for a few years now, as our PhD candidatures at UTS – the University of Technology, Sydney – overlapped. Myself, David, and our mutual friend Lewis Whales – who you will hopefully hear from in another episode – would get together over coffee for weekly accountability meetings to keep each other honest. This continued even after the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australian shores in March 2020… we just simply moved our meetings onto Zoom! Now that we’re back on campus, David and I continue to be good friends and colleagues.

The thing that made David unique among PhD researchers at the UTS Business School is the extensive professional experience that he brings to his candidature. Before embarking on his PhD journey, David held various roles in corporate leadership, developing and executing key strategic initiatives in both for- and non- profit organisations. In 25 years of this work, David’s career took him around the world to: the UK, Japan,  Singapore and, of course, Australia.

As David recounts at the start of our conversation, it was this industry work that led him to researching curiosity and the role it plays in the strategic decision making of top management team executives. While curiosity is often viewed through a psychological lens, David considered curiosity as a social practice in his PhD research. This was a “turn” in his candidature that he discusses in this episode.

Ultimately, David’s research aimed to understand how curiosity as a social practice assists top management team executives in making strategic decisions, and in managing organizational ambidexterity. When we sat down to record this episode, David was finishing the minor revisions to his thesis that his examiners had requested. By the time you hear this episode, his PhD will have been conferred. So let me be the among the first to say: Congratulations, Dr Bickett!

This episode of The Knowledge Mill was recorded in my office at UTS on November 23, 2022.

Show Notes

University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

UTS Business School

Who Gets to be Smart by Bri Lee

University of Wollongong

Professor Grace McCarthy

Associate Professor Jochen Schweitzer

Professor Stewart Clegg

Associate Professor Marco Berti

Dr Paul Brown

The Business Case for Curiosity” by Francesca Gino

Professor Theodore “Ted” Schatzki

Professor Elizabeth Shove

Professor Davide Nicolini

Professor George Loewenstein

Professor Daniel Berlyne

Lewis Whales

European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS)

Academy of Management (AOM)


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The Knowledge Mill is a podcast about PhD researchers and their work. Each episode features a longform conversation with a PhD candidate, with a focus on how they found themselves doing a PhD and the research they’re undertaking.

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