Jennifer Knights, Part Time PGR

JDaviesNHS administrative work: 'bullshit jobs' or a cage worth unlocking?

An exploration of the extent to which Business and Administrative staff in the UK National Health Service consider their work to add / have value and why; drawing upon Paul Du Gay’s defence of bureaucracy, David Graeber’s concept of ‘bullshit jobs’, and the politics/discourses of change within the NHS.

Supervisors: Mervyn Conroy and Dr. Scott Taylor


Jennifer is currently employed by NHS Education for Scotland as a Specialist Research Lead.

Her previous experience of working in both administrative and managerial roles in the NHS has directly informed her research interests around administrative labour in the context of the NHS business and administration workforce.  


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Research Methods and Skills, School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham. Awarded 2019.
  • MSc Leadership for Health Services Improvement, Health Services Management Centre (HSMC), University of Birmingham. Awarded 2015.
  • BA Politics and Philosophy, University of Sheffield. Awarded 2006.

Research Interests

  • Workforce, Professions, Employment and Labour
  • Health and Social Care
  • Critical perspectives on Leadership
  • Critical Management Studies


Humphris, G., Knights, J., Beaton, L., Araujo, M., Yuan, S., Clarkson, J., Young, L. and Freeman, R., 2021. Exploring the Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Dental Team: Preparedness, Psychological Impacts and Emotional Reactions. Frontiers in Oral Health, 2.

Rigg, C., Myers, K. and Knights, J., 2021. Public service leadership in a digital future - Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.10963.50723


‘Digitalizing Public Service Organizations – Implications for managing the interface with service users’ Paper co-presented on Sub-theme 59: The Politics and Ethics of Digitalizing Organizations at the European Group for Organizational Studies Colloquium 2020 hosted virtually by the University of Hamburg.

‘NHS administrative work - ‘bullshit jobs’ or a cage worth unlocking?’ Presented at the Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change Doctoral Conference: ‘The Changing Nature of Work’ hosted by Leeds University Business School in May 2019 and the 11th International Critical Management Studies 2019 conference: 'Precarious Presents, Open Futures' hosted by The Open University.

‘Don’t ask me I’m just an administrator!’ A Foucauldian take on distributed leadership and Power. Conference paper presented at the 10th International Organisational Behaviour in Healthcare Conference hosted by Cardiff Business School in 2016 and the International Studying Leadership Conference hosted by Lancaster University Management School in 2018.

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