Philip Garnett
Lecturer in Operations Management



My scientific background is in the modelling and simulation of biological systems. I started my academic career as a geneticist (BSc Genetics University of Nottingham, UK) and quickly realised that it was the modelling aspects of this field that I was most interested in, for example the modelling of drift and selection in populations. I then went on to study for an MSc Information Processing (University of York, UK) and eventually did a PhD in Computational Biology (University of York, UK). Over time, my interest in modelling social systems also developed. Now as a lecturer in Operations Management and Business Analytics my research still combines aspects of modelling and simulation, along with the analysis of complex or difficult data.

My research interests are focused around applying systems theory, complex systems theory, and network analysis techniques to a wide range of problems, largely focused on the processing of information. Combined with modelling and simulation techniques, I am interested in what the analysis of information can tell us about how organisations and society works. I am also interested in the power of information and its consequences for our privacy and liberty.

 I am also visitor at the Institute of Hazards, Risk and Resilience (IHRR, in Durham University working on the Tipping Points project, and a member of the York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (University of York UK,

Personal website:

Twitter: @prgarnett

Subject Group

Operations Management



Main Research Interests

 Complexity Theory, Network Analysis and Big Data:

  • The analysis of social and new media. This research is focused on how organisations use and monitor social and new media, such as Twitter, Facebook and online web forums. I also research how information flows through social media and new trends and fashions come and go.
  • Modelling and simulation of organisational behaviour. How do the interactions of connect organisations shape the development of economic sectors? What are the significance of hidden and explicit connections between businesses, such as shared directorships? This research uses network analysis techniques and modelling to investigate now relationships between business and the people running them influence those businesses and the wider economy.
  • Data Mining and Analytics. Business (and society at large) generates huge amounts of information. Leveraging this mountain of information to extract value is becoming increasingly challenging. We use modelling and analytical techniques to help mine information out of Big Data.
  • The effect of Big Data analytics on privacy and liberty. Information can be both a defender liberty, as it can increase transparency in society. It however can also be be used to erode our civil liberties and freedom, by increased surveillance by both the state and private sector.
  • Systems of systems. Increasing dealing with the complexity of physical, natural and human systems, and how they are connected demands new approaches to their study. We use the notion of systems of systems to model different aspects of society, such as the distribution of risk in financial systems.
  • Business history. Analysis of historical data can often lead to insights into the presence and the future. We apply all the techniques we use to model and analyse contemporary data to historical business history. As a way of learning from the past, and overturning misconceptions.

 Current projects

I am a researcher on the Tipping Points Project funded by the Leverhulme Trust and based at Durham University. My area of work, with my colleagues in Work Package 4, is mainly focused on how something becomes popular in a social system. What makes something become universal, popular or trendy? This is often difficult to understand and predict, particularly if there is seemingly little difference between many of the choices available to society.

I am also part of a project funded by the Economics History Society looking into the how networks of interaction effect the behaviour of organisations, and what knockon effect this has on the economy. This project builds on work started on the Tipping Points project researching the banking sector, and applies to to difference sectors of the economy.

I have a number of grant applications under way looking at Big Data and privacy, the distribution of financial risk, and new media in health.


Selected publications

  • Bentley R, Maddison EJ, Ranner PH, Bissell J, Caiado CC, Bhatanacharoen P, Clark T, Botha M, Akinbami F, Hollow M, Michie R, Huntley B, Curtis SE and Garnett P (2014). Social tipping points and Earth systems dynamics. Front. Environ. Sci. 2:35. doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2014.00035
  • Timothy Clark, Mike Wright, Zilia Iskoujina, Philip Garnett (2014). JMS at 50: Trends over Time. Journal of Management Studies, Volume 51, Issue 1, pages 19–37, DOI: 10.1111/joms.12040.
  • Acerbi A, Lampos V, Garnett P, Bentley RA (2013). The Expression of Emotions in 20th Century Books. PLoS ONE 8(3): e59030. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059030
  • Philip Garnett, Arno Steinacher, Susan Stepney, Richard Clayton, Ottoline Leyser. Computer Simulation: the imaginary friend of auxin transport biology. BioEssays 32(9):828-835, September 2010
  • R. Alexander Bentley, Philip Garnett, Michael J. O’Brien, William A. Brock (2012). Word Diffusion and Climate Science. PLoS ONE 7(11):e47966, October 2012. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047966

 Selected Conference Proceedings

  • Philip Garnett. Bursting a Bubble: Abstract Banking Demographics to Understand Tipping Points? CoSMoS Satellite, UCNC13, Milan, Italy, July 2013.
  • Philip Garnett. Going Around Again: Modelling Standing Ovations with a Flexible Agent-based Simulation Framework. CoSMoS workshop, UCNC12, Orleans, France, September 2012.
  • Philip Garnett, Susan Stepney, Francesca Day, Ottoline Leyser. Using the CoSMoS Process to Enhance an Executable Model of Auxin Transport Canalisation. CoSMoS workshop, Odense, Denmark, August 2010. pp9-32, Luniver Press 2010
  • Philip Garnett, Susan Stepney, Ottoline Leyser. Towards an executable model of auxin transport canalisation. CoSMoS workshop, York, UK, September 2008, pp63-91. Luniver Press 2008.

The York Management School
University of York
Freboys Lane
York YO10 5GD

Telephone: +44 (0) 1904 325027
Room: LMB/224