Fahri Karakas


  • 2.13 Thomas Paine Study Centre

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile


I am a Senior Lecturer in Business and Leadership at Norwich Business School.  I joined UEA in July 2012 having previously worked at Open University Business School as Research Fellow in International Management Practice, Education, and Learning (IMPEL). 

I hold three degrees in Management: BA (Koc University), MBA (Bogazici University), PhD in Organizational Behaviour (McGill University, Desautels Faculty of Management).  My PhD thesis on benevolent leadership was selected as the winner of 2010 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award in the Leadership and Organization Development category. 

My research aims to build new ways of understanding how we can nurture the human spirit and build a collective sense of creativity and vitality in organizations. My research interests include spirituality at work, benevolent leadership, positive management education, creativity, design thinking, and social innovation. I am a member of the positive organizational scholarship (POS) network based at the University of Michigan; where we aim to understand, explain, and create the best of the human condition, positive deviance, and flourishing in organizations.  I have published more than 20 articles in leading international management journals such as Journal of Business EthicsJournal of Management Education, and Journal of Management Development

I have worked as a consultant and executive trainer for a number of organizations including Albanian Chamber of International Trade and Development (Albania), Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization (Turkey), London Centre for Social Studies (UK), Association of British Turkish Academics (UK), Dialog Foundation (Canada), Dogus Automotive (Turkey), and Ulker Holding (Turkey).

I am a Visiting Lecturer at Mountbatten Institute in London and at Pembroke-King's Programme at University of Cambridge.  

I am a Senior Fellow of Higher Education Academy, UK. 

Key Research Interests

At the broadest level, my research investigates how we can create and lead positive change in organizations for our common good in the 21st century.  I posit that the key to creating positive outcomes in organizations lies in awakening the positive potential of organizational members through humane values and benevolent tendencies. As such, I devote my research to documenting the processes through which leaders inspire people and create positive change in human systems.

Benevolent Leadership:

My first research stream, centred on my thesis, focuses on the nature, dynamics, and consequences of benevolent leadership in organizations. My dissertation research has developed a higher-order conceptual model of benevolent leadership based on four paradigms of common good in organizational research: Morality, spirituality, vitality, and community. I have developed Benevolent Leadership Scale to measure the construct of benevolent leadership composed of four dimensions: ethical sensitivity, spiritual depth, positive engagement, and community responsiveness. I am hoping to operationalise this construct with diverse samples and cultural contexts to enhance the generalisability as well as the discriminant, convergent, and predictive validity of the Benevolent Leadership Scale.

Creative Spirit and Spirituality at Work:

My second research stream focuses on the ways that organizations create and sustain positive human potential at work.  I investigate how leaders can incorporate spirituality and positive values at work to create reflective spaces and compassionate workplaces. I introduce the concept of "corporate spiritual responsibility" as a promising field of inquiry and advocacy for organizations of the 21st century. The concept of corporate spiritual responsibility aims to re-examine, question, and reinvent the very basis of business organizations as it encompasses taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on the spiritual wellbeing and happiness of employees, customers, shareholders, and the wider community. This work underlines the importance of taking "the spiritual perspective" into account while designing spirited workplaces of the 21st century; which are engaged with passion, alive with meaning, and connected with compassion.

Positive Organizational Scholarship and Positive Management Education:

My third research stream focuses on creating positive and supportive learning environments and designing joyful learning experiences for managers, professionals, and students.  I draw on positive organizational scholarship to investigate the ways to enable professionals to become more engaged, creative, and passionate in their pursuit of learning and innovation.  Specifically; I am interested in uncovering the ways to inspire my students, nurture the best of them, build on their strengths, passions and dreams; and ultimately build lifetime relationships with them.

Breathing New Life into Leadership Studies

The crisis of confidence and trust in leadership in organizations has been growing - as manifested in corporate layoffs, ethical scandals, and cases of corruption, abuse of power, and uncontrolled greed. This stream of research posits that the leadership literature needs fresh and creative thinking, and an interdisciplinary approach. This stream builds on my expertise and track record in leadership studies (Emerald EFQM Outstanding Doctoral Research Award; 5 funded research projects; 1 book; as well as 10 peer-reviewed publications in the field of Leadership) and drives a bold agenda of multidisciplinary innovation in leadership research and methods to energize and inspire the practice of leadership. The objectives are: 1) To explore and unleash moments of aliveness, inspiration, and generativity in leadership practice in diverse contexts, 2) To expand and refresh the leadership dictionary through new constructs, creative thinking, and an integrative outlook, 3) To redefine leadership through diverse metaphors and insights drawn from arts, humanities and nature, to call for greater cross-fertilization of interdisciplinary ideas in leadership. The principal research method will be qualitative biographical interviews; but diary methods, visual self-reflective methods, and auto-ethnographic methods will also be used. The multidisciplinary inquiry will combine large-scale ethnographic, visual, and narrative data from diverse walks of life. The outputs will comprise of a digital portfolio of insightful artefacts, texts, drawings, collage art, design work, and ethnographic short films on ‘slices of leadership' - lenses on inspirational and aspirational processes that underlie acts or moments of leading.  

As I continue my research on these four interrelated streams; I aim to develop new ways of understanding how we can nurture the human spirit in workplaces and build a collective sense of creativity and vitality in organizations.  The link between my four research streams is the focus on creating positive change to build more humane, creative, and compassionate organizations.  Going forward, I expect to integrate these research streams by developing multi-level theory to enrich our understanding of creating positive change in human systems. 

I am interested in supervising PhD students who intend undertaking research that has synergies with my own research interests in the areas of creativity, spirituality, leadership, personal development, workplace learning, and organizational change. 



Teaching Interests

I have taught courses, executive seminars, and executive training programs on organisational behaviour, leadership, innovation, organizational change, creativity, employability, design thinking, self-making, career management, and business skills for the last 15 years. I have had experience of teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, designing courses in virtual learning environments and supervising postgraduate dissertations. I have received McGill University Ph.D. Program Teaching Excellence Award.

I have a passion to transform management education through innovative pedagogies. I strive to cultivate an interactive environment in which students can express themselves freely, build on their strengths, and develop creative thinking skills for the 21st century. My instructional design is grounded in four anchors: Continuous learning, creative thinking, collective visioning, and collaborative working.

Currently, I have been working on developing new models of management education and leadership development: (1) Positive Management Education, (2) Management Learning at the Speed of Life and (3) Developing Creative Competences for Leaders based on Arts-Based Metaphors: Theatre, Jazz, Poetry, and Orchestra.

Since 2011, I have been designing and offering a series of professional development workshops for post-graduate students on Sunday mornings every month at London Centre for Social Studies (30-40 participants in each workshop). These workshops focus on post-graduate skills including teaching, academic writing, publishing, navigating the academic job market, and designing academic careers.

I am passionate about doodling and diary keeping and incorporate these into my teaching. I have recently written and designed a visual toolkit for young people aimed at developing their self-reflection, creativity, and employability skills ("Self-Making Studio: An Inspirational Doodle Kit for Self-Discovery and Employability"). 


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 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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