Dr Irene Skovgaard Smith

Senior Lecturer

Faculty:Lord Ashcroft International Business School

Department:Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour

Location: Cambridge

Dr Irene Skovgaard Smith holds a PhD from Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, an MSc and BSc in Social Anthropology from University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and an MA in International Human Resource Management from London Metropolitan University, UK.



Irene's research focuses on professional elites such as transnational professionals and management consultants. Using an anthropological perspective and ethnography approach, she explores how identity and status is relationally constructed in interaction and relations between people.

Irene's research career to date is broad and varied, as she has carried out a range of qualitative research projects both in academic and applied contexts. Her PhD was an ethnographic study of management consultants and their interactions with managers and employees in client organisations in the context of change projects.

Research interests

  • Identity and belonging
  • Social boundaries and status
  • Cosmopolitanism
  • High-skilled migration
  • Elite studies - transnational professionals, management consultants

Areas of research supervision

  • Identity and belonging
  • Cultural diversity
  • Stigma and deviance
  • Ethnography
  • Organisational sociology/anthropology


Mainly in the areas of Organisational behaviour and Organisational change.


  • PhD in Organisation Studies. Copenhagen Business School, Dept. of Management, Politics & Philosophy
  • MSc in Social Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Dept. of Anthropology
  • MA in International HRM, London Metropolitan University, Business School
  • BSc in Social Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Dept. of Anthropology

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)
  • Member of European Group of Organization Studies (EGOS)
  • Member of Academy of International Business (AIB)

Selected recent publications

Salverda, T. and Skovgaard-Smith, I. (forthcoming). Attribution and contestation: Relations between elites and other social groups. Critique of Anthropology.

Skovgaard-Smith, I. and Poulfelt, F. (2017). Imagining 'non-nationality': Cosmopolitanism as a source of identity and belonging. Human Relations

Skovgaard-Smith, I. (2017). How European academics are feeling about life in Britain a year after the Brexit vote. The Conversation, 22 June.

Skovgaard-Smith, I. (2016). Materializing the organization: The role of change consultants in processes of objectification. I: Jamieson, D., Barnett, R & Buono, A. F. (eds) Consultation for organizational change revisited. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing

Poulfelt, F., Smith, I.S. & Christiansen, K.G. (2014) “When West Meets East – The Case of a Scandinavian Consulting Firm’s Expansion into India”. I: European Journal of International Management. Vol. 8, No. 4, p. 373-391.

Smith, I.S. (2013) “Management consultants at work with clients: Maintenance and contestation of elite status”. I: Abbink, J. & Salverda, T. (eds) The Anthropology of Elites: Power, Culture, and the Complexities of Distinction. Palgrave Macmillan: New York.

Poulfelt, F., Christiansen, K. & Smith, I.S. (2013) “Organizational identity change through international expansion: The Case of a Scandinavian Consulting Firm’s Encounter with India”. I: Buono, A.F., & (eds) Exploring the Professional Identity of Management Consultants. Research in Management Consulting Series, Vol. 16. Information Age Publishing: Charlotte, NC.

Recent presentations and conferences

Skovgaard-Smith, I. and Hirst, A. (2016). The organisational constitution of magic. The 11th Organisation Studies Summer Workshop, Mykonos, Greece

Koslowski, N. and Skovgaard-Smith, I. (2015). Work at home mum and proud? Polarised debates among mumpreneurs in their search for legitimate identities. The 31st EGOS Colloquim, Athens, Greece.

Smith, I.S. & Poulfelt (2014) “The Non-nationals: The Emergence of a transnational elite in and around foreign-based headquarters of MNCs”. Paper presented at The 30th EGOS Colloquium 2014, Rotterdam, Holland.

Soekijad, M. & Smith, I.S. (2012) "Situational identity at work: How professionals strategically construct and use identity”. Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Conference. 3.-7. August 2012, Boston, Massachusetts.

Poulfelt, F., Christensen, K. & Smith, I.S. (2011) "When West Meets East – the Case of a Scandinavian Consulting Firm’s Entry in India". Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Conference. 12.-16. Aug, 2011, San Antonio, Texas

Smith, I.S. (2010) "Materializing the Organization - The role of consultants in processes of objectification". Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Conference. 5.-11. Aug 2010, Montreal, Canada

Smith, I.S. (2010) "The 'being there' Quality: Reflections on ethnographic ideals of immersion". Paper presented at the 26th EGOS Colloquium. 30. June - 3. July 2010, Lisbon, Portugal.

Taminiau, Y., Berghman, L. & Smith, I.S. (2010) "'I should do more of it' - Informal client contacts in consultancy organizations in seven European countries". Paper presented at the 26th EGOS Colloquium. 30. June - 3. July 2010, Lisbon, Portugal.

Smith, I.S. & Soekijad, M. (2010) "The 'Lean People' in complex organizations: An ethnography on practicing identity in the face of hospital change". Paper presented at the Second International Symposium on Process Organization Studies. 11.-13. June 2010, Rhodes, Greece.