A Space of Ideas

About Gerardo Abreu Pederzini

Gerardo is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in HRM/Organisational Behaviour at Kent Business School, University of Kent. Previously, he was Assistant Professor of Organization Studies at the Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP) in México, where he was also the Programme Director of BSc. and MSc. Dual Degrees in International Management and where he remains an Adjunct/Visiting Fellow. Gerardo did originally a BSc. in Physics in México, and then a Master's in International Management at world-renowned King's College London, where he was a recipient of the Santander Scholarship and worked directly under The Baroness Wolf of Dulwich Professor Alison Wolf CBE. Dr Abreu Pederzini was then awarded a 50th Anniversary Excellence Overseas Scholarship—the top prize for an overseas student—at the University of Bath, to do his PhD in Management under leading management and higher education scholars, Professors Yiannis Gabriel, Julia Balogun, Jürgen Enders and Geoff Whitty CBE. Gerardo’s research focuses on leadership and the sociology of work and organizations, and has been presented in top conferences, including EGOS , and published in leading journals, including the Academy of Management Learning & Education, Journal of Management Inquiry, Higher Education Policy and the Journal of Management History. Dr Abreu Pederzini has also taught extensively in the fields of leadership and organization theory, and has done visiting lecturing at prestigious universities, including Stockholm Business School. Throughout his career, Gerardo has received important awards based on the merits of his work, including formal acceptance as Fellow of the selective Mexican National System of Researchers.

 

 

About Gerardo Abreu Pederzini and his Space of Ideas

Have you ever wondered, why? I have. The first time I was only a teenager. My father gave me a book someone sent him. It was called The Quantum Self, and it entailed mainly a reconstructing narrative of the concept of self, through the principles of quantum physics. I might not remember much about it, but I certainly remember how it just simply changed the way I saw the world. So that my life of moments, people, familiar faces, and cherished places, was turned into the complex entanglement of processes beyond my ken, which even if I ignored, they defined me. Like this, a cognitive window was opened in my mind. I did not need to travel miles afar to see the unknown: the unknown was actually within me, it was a void and a reflection, and yet, ironically, essentially tautological.

            The first time I tried to satiate my curiosity I, therefore, found science. I became obsessed with trying to understand how everything works. Paradoxically, as I was discovering science, I was failing my high school chemistry course too. Luckily, I found then a chemistry teacher, deeply in love with his discipline, who helped me straighten out my academic performance. It turned out that he was also involved with the state chemistry Olympiad, and so I became involved with it too. After three years, I had won every single state competition, been awarded several medals in national competitions, and been ranked one of the top 15 high school students in Mexico for chemistry. It was for sure that I was going to study science in college. Yet, when the time came, I decided to betray chemistry. Like Judas, I turned my back on it, thinking that behind physics there were perhaps more intellectual adventures.

            The second time I tried to satiate my curiosity, I found leadership. I went to college, thus, to do my BSc. in Physics, at the American-style Universidad de las Américas Puebla in Mexico. I was convinced my life would revolve around science. Yet, it did not. After a couple of months, I became aware that almost all departments at the university organized a yearly student conference. However, the physics department did not, as it was fairly small. I was so in love with science that I found the latter to be a complete treason. If physics describes the universe and universities are supposed to be cradles of knowledge, how could it be that there was a business conference, or an engineering one, but not one on physics? I decided I was going to organize the first one. Like this, I was transformed from a scientist to a science preacher, as the challenge was not easy and I needed to find the necessary support. Eventually, the small physics department of our university organized conferences where as many as 500 students from all over the country participated. While I organized these events, I found how fascinating it was to lead. More importantly, these events evolved so much that I ended up having the opportunity to collaborate and work with very distinguished leaders of all types, from Nobel Laureates and CEOs of massive transnational companies, to a then President of the Senate of Mexico. I fell so in love with all these characters, that I decided to take a colossal turn in my career, and jumped into organization and leadership studies. The leap was not easy, I drifted for a while, until I won a Santander Scholarship to do a Masters in International Management at King´s College London, where I did extensive research on leadership and public policy development processes in the British higher education sector.

            The third time I tried to satiate my curiosity, I found everything. With the help of many people, I was lucky enough to be awarded a 50th Anniversary Excellence Scholarship at the University of Bath in the UK. The challenge they had put on my shoulders was not straightforward. A country that was not my own had decided to invest in me almost thrice what my own government would have, if I had asked it for a scholarship. What was even more challenging, was that Brits were investing in me -the Mexican guy- so that I did research about their own higher education public policies and how their university leaders had reacted to a massive reform in England. I must confess the first time I spoke to people in the UK and was supposed to tell them something about their own culture it felt fairly weird. And so the obsession was born, my obsession to say something meaningful about my research topic. It was such the effort that I ended up rediscovering everything I thought I already knew. I came to understand, eventually, that leadership is not about a person, but about a process of self-organization that happens in social human complex adaptive systems. However, I realized that although such a reconceptualization was driving me back to science, it was not necessarily conventional approaches to science that could explain leadership as self-organization. It was here, then, that I finally internalized one of complexity theory’s must essential tenets: the core value of connections. I understood, thus, that to explain social self-organization one must look into language, and specifically into ideas that people develop through language. It was, then, that it became clear to me that post-structural, psychoanalytic, and ideology theory were important in this challenge, as they had the power to explain meaning.

             This time. This time I am trying to connect it all. As I became a scholar, currently a lecturer at the University of Kent in the UK, I realized a novel adventure for my curiosity was emerging. The adventure of exploring the inherent connectionism between the human leadership phenomenon and the fundamental laws of the universe, which evidences that the disciplinary walls that sometimes we humans obsessively build, are nothing else but necessary fictions to order the world, a world that once upon a time was not fragmented. I came, therefore, to understand the need for transdisciplinary thinking, and realized that the journey to satiate my curiosity was one that might start in the void, but it derives in infinity, the infinity of all the avenues to explore it: