Mervyn Conroy


Mervyn Conroy

Health Services Management Centre
Senior Fellow

Contact details

School of Social Policy (HSMC)
Park House
University of Birmingham
B15 2RT

Merv has worked in the health and social care sector as a clinician, manager and academic. He is a qualified NHS counsellor/ psychotherapist and has worked in mental health services management and research. Prior to this he was an executive within a global aerospace organisation, heading up a multidisciplinary team responsible for safety critical systems process improvements whilst working closely with universities managing knowledge and technology transfer. He joined the Health Services Management Centre (HSMC) in 2009 and he specialises in research, evaluation, teaching and consultancy/ engagement on:

  • Applied Phronesis and virtue ethics (inc. mental health contexts) 
  • Health leadership, management and ethics
  • Action research and learning
  • Narrative methodology
  • Film production of research findings 

Recent research includes Principal Investigator (PI) for a three year Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) medical leadership research project, Phronesis and the Medical Community (PMC), awarded in May 2015. In June 2018 he was awarded another grant and PI role by the AHRC for an Impact and Engagement project as a follow on to PMC.

In terms of engagement he has acted as the principal consultant on a number of high profile health and social care service improvement and executive leadership development projects.

His recent teaching and module co-design responsibilities include NHS Leadership Academy blended learning Elizabeth Garret Anderson Healthcare Leadership MSc, Leadership in Context and Applied Leadership Learning modules for the Leadership for Health Services Improvement MSc; North West Deanery Medical Leadership in Practice, blended learning Health Leadership MBA, and Leadership and Sustainability MBA.

He is a trustee of a voluntary community project that delivers outreach projects aimed at improving the lives of people living in deprived areas.  Memberships include the Royal Society for Public Health and British Academy of Management.


  • PhD Management Learning and Leadership, Lancaster University 2007 
  • Diploma in Counselling, University of Central Lancashire 1999
  • PG Cert in Management, Lancaster University 1995
  • Fellow of the Institute of Consulting (part of the CMI)
  • Member of the Association for Coaching
  • Member of the Royal Society for Public Health
  • Member of the British Academy of Management.


Merv has over 20 years combined experience of management (public and private), knowledge transfer, academic research, UG and PG teaching and consulting/evaluation/engagement.

Prior to setting up his own research/consulting business in 1999 he was an executive within a global aerospace organisation, heading up a directorate function responsible for managing knowledge transfer from university research centres to support operational efficiency improvements.

His NHS employment in mental health services ran in parallel with his consultancy commissions from 2001 to 2007. He still consults across private and public sectors and has acted as the principal consultant on a number of high profile public sector service transformation and executive education projects. Included in his time at UoB was a fixed term secondment to University of Cumbria (UoC).

Whilst at UoC he was co-designer of a blended learning Health Leadership MBA, taught on the Leadership and Sustainability MBA and was convener of a range of PG health and social care management modules. His recent research track record includes securing grants as PI (3) and Co-I (3) from the AHRC (5) and ESRC (1). All on collaborative research projects with partners including from home faculties, external HEIs and healthcare commissioners and providers. Publications and international conference paper presentations on health leadership and ethics, sustainability of service improvements and workforce development evaluation have been a consistent feature from 2001 onwards.

Recent projects:

2018 - present: AHRC - PI role on Phronesis and the Medical Community: Impact and Engagement follow up

2015 - 2018: AHRC - PI role on Phronesis and the Medical Community: researching practical wisdom and ethical decision making in medical leadership

2015 - 2018: ESRC - Co-I role on Leadership and Ethics Seminar Series project

2015 - 2017: UK LA Care Homes – ‘Just Right’ tele-healthcare care project evaluation for adults with learning disabilities. A movement sensor system which detects activity in each room of a living environment

2014 - 2015: States of Jersey Mental Health Service Redesign – Principal Consultant role working with the whole service

2014: NHS England Mental Health Commissioning Executive Leadership Programme for West Midlands CCGs

2013 - 2015: Northwest Deanery - Medical Leadership in Practice Cohort Tutor

2012: Cumbria County Council -‘Transition and Resilience’ leadership programme for senior managers to help them accelerate service and structural transformation programmes

2012: Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust ‘Learning Leaders’ and ‘Developing Leadership Excellence’ programmes for senior managers and clinicians to improve the dynamic change capability across the organisation

2011 - 2013: Cumbria County Council and Cumbria Partnership Trust Integrated Leadership Programmes 

2011-12: Shropshire & South Staffordshire NHS Mental Health Trusts. Specialist support to the wholesale redesign and evaluation of mental health services

2011 - 12, Calderstones NHS Partnership Foundation Trust, ‘Soul Centred Leaders’ programme to reduce ward manager burn out

2011: NIHR/Sandwell Hospitals NHS Trust Surgical Review to evaluate the impact on staff and patients of centralising surgical services

2010: NHS National Leadership Council – leadership accreditation international benchmarking study to improve undergraduate and postgraduate health leadership education in the UK

2009 - 2010, NHS West Midlands – Telehealthcare Project Managers leadership development programme to help mainstream tele-healthcare and to support self-management of long term conditions 



  • 2014 – present: NHS LA Elizabeth Garret Anderson Healthcare Leadership blended learning MSc: materials designer and Cohort Tutor
  • Leadership in Context and Applied Leadership Learning modules for the open Leadership for Health Services Improvement MSc
  • North West Deanery Medical Leadership in Practice for consultants and GPs in training
  • Ethical Leadershipand Purpose and Introduction to Leadership modules for a blended learning Leadership and Sustainability MBA
  • Health Leadership – Cert, Dip, MA/MBA programme 
  • Vision and Strategy - Cert, Dip, MA modules
  • Influencing and Collaboration - Cert, Dip, MA modules
  • Partnerships - Cert, Dip, MA modules
  • Professional Relationships - Cert, Dip, MA modules 
  • Managing Change and Performance - Cert, Dip, MA modules

Postgraduate supervision

Meryn currently supervises a number of students on the Leadership for Health Services Improvement MSc open programme and the NHS LA Elizabeth Garret Anderson Healthcare Leadership blended learning MSc. 

Working PhD titles include: 

  • Phronesis and the Defence Medical Services’ nursing community
  • Realising leadership potential within the business and administration workforce in NHS Scotland
  • An autoethnography of leading the introduction of assets approaches in the NHS
  • An investigation of the impact of the supervisory ward manager role in the English National Health Service



2018-present: AHRC Phronesis and the Medical Community. Impact and engagement follow on project

Recently completed

2015-18: AHRC Phronesis and the medical community (2015-2018): Medical Ethics and Leadership Education and Development’ - working in partnership with 3 medical schools and a range of hospitals and GP practices. 

2015 -18: ESRC Co-I role on Leadership and Ethics seminar series research project including seminar co-ordination and book publication.

2012 -13: AHRC Co-I role on ‘Street Drinking, New Media and Public Engagement’ Use of new media to reduce problems caused by street drinking.

2011-12: Co-I role on ‘Creating Cultural Citizenship –Linking Arts and Health’ Using arts based projects to support and enhance the statutory offering. Creative Expression of Value to Health and Wellbeing of the AHRC Connected Communities (CC) Programme.

2009-11: PI role on ‘Connected Health and Social Care Communities’ regional approach to successful community based projects. See Conroy, Clarke and Wilson (2012) and web link in publication list.


Conroy, M, Kempster, S and Remke, R. (2018) The hybrid middle manager and ethical resistance to protect patient care, Human Relations (Reviewed and being prepared for re-submission).

Conroy, M., Kotzee, B., & Paton, A. (2018) A Methodology to Research Phronesis in Medicine: A Social Science and Arts Hybrid. HEC Forum (accepted & forthcoming).

Conroy, M., Hale C., & Turner, C. (2017) ‘Leadership development and the cultivation of practical wisdom. Leadership Matters: Finding Voice Connection and Meaning. Mabey, C. and Knights, D. (Eds.) New York: Routledge.

Kotzee, B., Paton, A. & Conroy, M. (2016) Towards an empirically informed account of 'phronesis' in medicine. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. Vol. 59 (3), pp 337-350

Mabey, C., Conroy, M., Blakeley, K. & DeMarco, S. (2016) Having burned the straw-man of Christian spiritual leadership, what can we learn from Jesus about leading ethically? Journal of Business Ethics, Vol 145 (4), pp 757-769.

Conroy, M and Kempster, S (2015) Caught in the crossfire: exploring virtue in hybrid middle manager work, Human Relations.

Conroy, M (2015), Leadership, Resistance and Innovation. Salute e Società, 22(79-100).

Conroy, M (2015) 'Is it Possible to Learn Ethical Leadership? MacIntyre, Zizek and the Recovery of Virtue' In Mabey, C and Mayrhofer, W (Eds). Developing Leadership: Questions Business Schools Don't Ask? London: SAGE Publications. pp. 165-177.

Mabey, C and Conroy, M (2015) 'Having burned the straw-man of Christian spiritual leadership, what can we learn from Jesus about leading ethically?' Journal of Business Ethics

Conroy, M. (2015) Keep schtum or whistle: what makes some health and care managers resist corruptions to practices? What Does the Future Hold For the NHS. HSMC, UoB publication and EHMA proceedings.

Froggett, L., Conroy, M., Manley, J. and Roy, A. (2014) Between Art and Social Science: Scenic Composition as a Methodological Device, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, Vol. 15 (3) Art. 5

Conroy, M. (2013) The MBA as reform leader: An Idiot Abroad? Chapter in Questions Business Schools Don’t Ask Edited by Mabey, C. & Wolfgang, R. Sage: London

Conroy, M (2013) Leadership & Ethical Shifts: Fighting on the Wrong Side. Responsible Leadership Edited by Parry, K. And Kempster S. Routledge: London

Conroy, M. (2013) Economic Reform Leadership and the MBA: A Generative Practice Perspective. Academy of Management Learning & Education 2014 Special Issue: Questions Business Schools Don’t Ask. Guest Editors: Mabey, C., Parry, K., Egri C. & Fraser, S

Conroy, M (2012) Leadership: A Crisis of Ethical Practice, Health Leadership SI, Leadership

Conroy, M, Clarke, H. & Wilson, L. (2012) Connected Health and Social Care Communities. AHRC website, AHRC final report [Accessed: March 5, 2017].

Conroy, M, Wright, S. & Marshall, J. (2012) Soul Centred Leaders: A Case Study. Nursing Standard, June 2012.

Conroy, M. (2011) ‘Unraveling sutured stories: coaching NHS Managers out from under the quilt’ Journal of Management Development, 30 (3), 270 - 283

Conroy, M. (2010) ‘An Ethical Approach to Leading Change: An Alternative and Sustainable Application’ Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Conroy, M. (2010) ‘Leadership of Change Narratives: What are we missing?’ chapter in ‘The Public Sector Leadership Challenge’ edited by K. Grint. and S. Brookes Basingstoke: Palgrave

Conroy, M. (2010) ‘International Scoping Review of Health Leadership Education’ Report for the NHS Leadership Academy. DoH: London

Conroy, M. (2009) ‘Narrative-Ethics Informed Approach to Health Services Leadership Development’ Leadership in Health Services Journal. 22 (3) 259-272

Conroy, M. (2008) ‘Virtue to Virtue Combat for the Moral High Ground of NHS Reform, chapter in Rhetorics and Narratives in Management Research. London: Edward Elgar.

Conroy, M. (2007) Leadership of Change Narratives: An Alternative Voice in ESRC Briefing Paper – The Public Leadership Challenge, Kings College London

Kempster, S., Jackson, B., & Conroy, M. (2011) Leadership as Purpose: Exploring the Role of Purpose in Leadership Practice. Chapter in The Theory and Practice of Leadershi, 2nd edition, edited by Gill, R., London: Sage.

Kempster, S., Jackson, B., & Conroy, M. (2011) Leadership as Purpose: Exploring the Role of Purpose in Leadership Practice. Leadership, 7 (3) 317-334

In press; working publications near to completion: 

Conroy, M., Kotzee, B. & Kristjánsson, K. (2018) Which guide can bring us to the land of Phronesis in medicine? Some of the key texts analysed and direction established. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics (submitted and awaiting response)

Paton, A., Kotzee, B., Conroy, M. & Biggerstaff, D. (2018) Developing Practical Wisdom in Healthcare: identifying gaps in current understandings of wisdom development in doctors. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy (submitted and awaiting response)

Conroy, M., Kotzee, B. & Paton, A. (2018) A Methodology to Research Phronesis in Medicine: A Social Science and Arts Hybrid. HEC Forum (Accepted and minor peer review revisions to be completed for resubmission)

Malik, A., Conroy, M., Hale, C. & Weir C. (2019) Fifteen virtues of wise decision making in medical practice and a two stage approach. BMJ Journal of Medical Ethics. (Final draft close to submission)

Conroy et al (2019) Phronesis and the Medical Community: Final Report Arts and Humanities Research Council Award Reference AH/M006646/1 (In final draft stage)

Conroy, M., Hale, C. & Turner, C. (2020) Leadership Ethics and Healthcare: Phronesis and Professional Wisdom in Medicine. Routledge: New York (Outline accepted – working on a full draft submission) 

Early draft working papers:

Malik, A., Conroy, M., & Kaldjian, L. (2019) Phronesis comes of age in medical ethics education through motivation as an integral element?    BMJ Journal of Medical Ethics. (First draft)

Bradley, E. & Conroy, M. (2020) ‘A welcome return to functionalism in mental health?’ Social Policy and Administration

Conroy, M. & Lilford, R. (2020) ‘Integrated care ethics: supporting clinical practice changes' Journal of Integrated Care

Conroy, M. (2020) ‘Ethical leadership resistance: a mental health service reform narrative’, Business Ethics Quarterly

Conroy, M. (2020) ‘‘Leadership’ and ‘Localism’ in health and social care reform: a MacIntyrean critique’, Critical Social Policy

Conroy, M. & Clarke, H. (2020) ‘Connected health and social care communities: a virtue ethics perspective’, Human Organization

Conroy, M., Brown, H. & Harwood, A. (2020) ‘Mainstreaming Tele-Healthcare: affordability and long term conditions, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing or Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare

Conroy, M. & Kempster, S. (2020) International Scoping Review of Health Leadership Education, Leadership Quarterly 

Recent Conference Papers

Conroy, M. & Weir C. (2018) A Briefing and Debriefing Tool for Making Key (Ethical) Leadership Decisions. British Academy of Management Personal Development Workshop, September 2018 Conference, Bristol UWE.

Conroy, M  (2018) Phronesis and the Medical Community Final Findings Co-creating Pathways for Change - Round table and Symposium, University of Highlands and Islands, Inverness, March 2018

Kaldjian, K., Conroy, M. & Jones, J. June Jones (2018) Communicating and Cultivating Virtue in Healthcare Ethics Education. Communication, Medicine and Ethics Conference (COMET) Panel, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, UK, June 2018

Conroy, M., Malik, A. & Turner, C. (2017)  Phronesis and the medical community: initial findings. 2017 International Health Conference, St Hugh’s College, Oxford

Conroy, M. & Jackman, P. (2015) Virtue Ethics and Christian values in Health and Education. Ethical Leadership Seminar 5 - ESRC Seminar Series, October 2015

Conroy, M. (2013) The MBA as reform leader: An Idiot Abroad? 1st Questions Business Schools Don’t Ask Conference, Sarum College, Salisbury, June 2013

Conroy, M. (2012) ‘Liberating Wellbeing: Leadership At An Ethical Distance, International Society of MacIntyrean Enquiry 6th Annual Conference, The Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ), University of Nottingham July 2012

Conroy, M. (2011) Evaluation of ‘Simple Telehealth’, Healthcare Technology Masterclass Transforming Knowledge, Transforming Care, Health Innovation and Education Cluster North West Conference, Kilhey Court Hotel Wigan, October 2011.

Conroy, M. (2011) Connected Health and Social Care Communities, Research and Scholarship Festival, University of Cumbria, Friday 8 July 2011

Conroy, M. (2011) Virtue Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility. Leadership and Sustainability Conference, Charlotte Mason College, University of Cumbria, September 2011

Conroy, (2010) Crisis of Ethical Practice: For They Know Not What They Do? Centre for Leadership at University of Birmingham (CLUB) Conference. November 2010

Conroy, M. (2010) Ethical Leadership Resistance: Virtue to Virtue Combat. Organisational Behaviour in Health Care Conference, Business School, University of Birmingham. April 2010

View all publications in research portal