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Professor Philip Garnett
Professor of Systems and Organisation



Philip Garnett is a Professor in Systems and Organisation. His research focuses on the application of systems theory, complex systems theory, and network analysis to understand organisations and how they operate. He has extensive knowledge of systems theory, complexity theory, and cybernetics. His research is broadly focused on modelling organisational processes and structures, and interactions between organisations and their environment. Theorising organisations as an emergent property of a system of interacting parts.

Philip is also the Society and Ethics Pillar lead at the Institute for Safe Autonomy, and is interested in how algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, influence decision making within organisations. In particular, how humans and computers work together in decision making processes and the consequences that collaboration has on how organisations work. Related to this theme he is interested in research in cyber and information security practice within organisations, and how organisations manage incidents or leaks.

Currently Philip’s research projects include making interventions in complex social systems, the impact of AI in organisations and society (including industry 4.0), the evolution of the British Banking Sector, and the intersection of cyber security and AI.

Philip is the Society and Ethics Pillar lead at the Institute for Safe Autonomy, he is also a member of the board of the University of York Science and Technology Studies Unit (SATSU, He is also an external advisor on a number of funded research projects.

Personal website:

Twitter: @prgarnett



  • Human-computer decision making. Increasingly workplaces will be populated by humans working with artificial intelligence (AI). The consequences of this for how decisions are made within organisations will be significant, particularly where the responsibility lies for decisions, and the role of discretion in decision making.
  • The intersection of cyber/information security, and AI. Increasingly AI is being deployed as part of the security infrastructure of organisations. Making and informing decisions about who and what is a threat to an organisation.
  • Modelling and simulation of organisational behaviour. How do the interactions of connected organisations shape the development of economic sectors? What are the significance of hidden and explicit connections between businesses, such as shared directorships?
  • How can complexity theory inform how interventions are made in complex social systems?
  • Business history. Analysis of historical data can often lead to insights into the presence and the future.

Keywords: Complexity Theory, Complex Thinking, Network Analysis, Big Data, Analytics, Artificial Intelligence

Phd Applications

I would be interested in PhD applications in any of the above thematic areas, with a particular interest in AI and Analytics, and Cyber and Information Security.

Funded Research

  • Vulnerabilities of UK Food System. Funder: Food Standards Agency, £170,000.
  • Global Foresight Review. Royal Academy of Engineering and the Lloyds Foundation, £115k.
  • Act Early - making interventions in children’s life chances. Medical Research Council/UKPRP, £6.7 million.
  • Mapping and Diagnosing Mental Health in/and the UK University Sector. Wellcome Trust, £52,000.
  • GCRF Systemic Failure of Finance Development Projects. GCRF Pump Priming Grant, ~£28,000.


Selected publications

  • B Stokes, S Jackson, P Garnett, G Luo. Extremism, segregation and oscillatory states emerge through collective opinion dynamics in a novel agent-based model (2022). The Journal of Mathematical Sociology.
  • Mansukoski, Liina, Alexandra Albert, Yassaman Vafai, Chris Cartwright, Aamnah Rahman, Jessica Sheringham, Bridget Lockyer, Tiffany C. Yang, Philip Garnett, and Maria Bryant (2022). “Development of Public Health Core Outcome Sets for Systems-Wide Promotion of Early Life Health and Wellbeing.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19 (13).
  • Callard, Felicity, Dimitra Kotouza, Philip Garnett, and Leon Rocha (2022). “Mental Health in Universities in an Age of Digital Capitalism: The United Kingdom as Exemplary Case.” SSM - Mental Health 2 (December): 100094.
  • S Burton, JA McDermid, P Garnett, R Weaver, (2021). Safety, Complexity, and Automated Driving: Holistic Perspectives on Safety Assurance. Computer 54 (8), 22-32 (Q1).
  • D Kotouza, F Callard, P Garnett, L Rocha, (2021). Mapping mental health and the UK university sector: Networks, markets, data. Critical Social Policy (Q1).
  • Garnett, Philip, Bob Doherty, and Tony Heron. 2020. “Vulnerability of the United Kingdom’s Food Supply Chains Exposed by COVID-19.” Nature Food 1 (6): 315–18.
  • Teixeira de Melo, Ana, Leo Simon Dominic Caves, Anna Dewitt, Evie Clutton, Rory Macpherson, and Philip Garnett. 2019. “Thinking (in) Complexity: (In) Definitions and (mis)conceptions.” Systems Research and Behavioural Science 0 (0) (ABS 2, Q2).
  • Billings, Mark, Simon Mollan, and Philip Garnett. 2019. “Debating Banking in Britain: The Colwyn Committee, 1918.” Business History, April, 1–23 (ABS 4, Q1).
  • Garnett, Philip, and Sarah M. Hughes. 2019. “Obfuscated Democracy? Chelsea Manning and the Politics of Knowledge Curation.” Political Geography 68 (January): 23–33 (31st Globally for Geography, Q1).
  • Garnett, Philip. 2018. “Total Systemic Failure?” The Science of the Total Environment 626 (January):684–88.
  • Garnett, Philip, Simon Mollan, and R. Alexander Bentley. 2017. “Banks, Births, and Tipping Points in the Historical Demography of British Banking: A Response to J.J. Bissell.” Business History 59 (5). Routledge:814–20.
  • Ruck, Damian, R. Alexander Bentley, Alberto Acerbi, Philip Garnett, and Daniel J. Hruschka. 2017. “ROLE OF NEUTRAL EVOLUTION IN WORD TURNOVER DURING CENTURIES OF ENGLISH WORD POPULARITY.” Advances in Complex Systems 20 (06n07). World Scientific Publishing Co.:1750012.
  • A Skrebyte, P Garnett, JR Kendal (2016).  “Temporal Relationships Between Individualism–Collectivism and the Economy in Soviet Russia A Word Frequency Analysis Using the Google Ngram Corpus”, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Vol 47, Issue 9.
  • Ying Kei Tse, Minhao Zhang, Bob Doherty, Paul Chappell, & Philip Garnett. (2016). Insight from the horsemeat scandal: Exploring the consumers’ opinion of tweets toward Tesco. Industrial Management & Data Systems, 116(6), 1178–1200. doi:10.1108/IMDS-10-2015-0417.
  • Bentley, R. A., Maddison, E. J., Ranner, P. H., Bissell, J., Caiado, C. C. D. S., Bhatanacharoen, P., … Garnett, P. (2014). Social tipping points and Earth systems dynamics. Frontiers in Environmental Science, DOI=10.3389/fenvs.2014.00035.
  • Clark, T., Wright, M., Iskoujina, Z., & Garnett, P. (2014). JMS at 50: Trends over Time. Journal of Management Studies, 51(1), 19–37. doi:10.1111/joms.12040.
  • Garnett, P., Mollan, S., & Bentley, R. A. (2015). Complexity in history: modelling the organisational demography of the British banking sector. Business History, 57(1), 182–202. doi:10.1080/00076791.2014.977876
  • Garnett, P. (2015). A tipping point in 300 years of banking? A conceptual simulation of the British banking system. Natural Computing, 14(1), 25–37. doi:10.1007/s11047-014-9467-0

School for Business and Society
University of York
Church Lane Building
York Science Park
York YO10 5ZF

Telephone: +44 (0) 1904 325027
Room: CL/A/005

Subject Group

Work Management and Organisation

Feedback & Support hours

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