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 is a qualified NHS counsellor by background and has worked in mental health services management and research. He has recently returned to HSMC after a fixed term secondment to University of Cumbria (UoC). Whilst at Cumbria 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. Merv specialises in research, evaluation, teaching, consultancy on:

  • Applied virtue ethics
  • Ethical leadership and organisational development
  • Sustainable health and social care service improvement
  • Narrative and arts based approaches to research and evaluation
  • Executive coaching and learning sets

Recent research includes new media enabled public engagement to impact on street drinking; arts and health integration into mainstream services and phronesis (practical wisdom) in medical education.

He is a trustee of a voluntary organisation that delivers outreach projects aimed at improving the lives of people living in deprived areas. Merv is a Fellow of the Institute of Consultants (part of the Chartered Management Institute) and a member of the Association for Coaching.


  • 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


Merv has over fifteen years combined experience of management (public and private), knowledge transfer, academic research, UG and PG teaching and consulting. 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. His research track record includes a PI and Co-I roles on collaborative research projects with other HEIs, healthcare commissioners and providers. Publications and international conference paper presentations on change leadership ethics, sustainability of service improvements and workforce development evaluation have been a consistent feature from 2001 onwards.

Recent projects: 

  • 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
  • 2011-12, 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
  • 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
  • 2010, NHS National Leadership Council – leadership accreditation international benchmarking study to improve undergraduate and postgraduate health leadership education in the UK



  • MSc Leadership for Health Services Improvement


  • Ethical Leadership and Purpose on 2 x Leadership and Sustainability MBAs
  • Introduction to Leadership on 2 x Leadership and Sustainability MBAs 
  • Health Leadership – Cert, Dip, MA/MBA programme 
  • Vision and Strategy - Cert, Dip, MA module
  • Influencing and Collaboration - Cert, Dip, MA module
  • Partnerships - Cert, Dip, MA module
  • Professional Relationships - Cert, Dip, MA module 
  • Managing Change and Performance - Cert, Dip, MA module

Postgraduate supervision

  • MSc Leadership for Health Services Improvement


In preparation:

Phronesis and the medical community (2015-2018)

‘Medical Health Leadership Education and Development’ - working in partnership with 3 medical schools and a range of hospitals and GP practices. 

‘Creative Expression of Value to Health and Wellbeing of the AHRC Connected Communities (CC) Programme’.

Recently completed:

AHRC -Connected Communities: 34 x research grants to improve statutory and community response to health and wellbeing issues including alcohol abuse, arts and health mainstreaming, cultural citizenship and integrated care – see Conroy, Clarke and Wilson 2012 and web link in publication list.


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 (accepted for publication).

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

BBC (2012) Interview on BBC Radio on 3 May 2012 as an expert on leadership and ethics and requested to respond to CIPD research which suggested that lack of leadership skills in UK management is contributing to the economic crisis.

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,

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

FACT (2012) Live webcast event: Street Drinking, New Media and Public Engagement: a community assets based approach to tackling alcohol abuse. Part of a collaborative research project funded by the AHRC.

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 and working papers:

Bradley, E. & Conroy, M. (2013) ‘A welcome return to functionalism in mental health?’ Social Policy and Administration

Conroy, M. & Lilford, R. (2013) ‘Integrated care ethics: supporting clinical practice changes' Journal of Integrated Care

Conroy, M. (2013) ‘Ethical leadership resistance: a mental health service reform narrative’, Business Ethics Quarterly

Conroy, M. (2013) ‘‘Leadership’ and ‘Localism’ in health and social care reform: a MacIntyrean critique’, Critical Social Policy

Conroy, M. & Clarke, H. (2013) ‘Connected health and social care communities: a virtue ethics perspective’, Human Organization

Conroy, M., Brown, H. Harwood, A. (2013) ‘Mainstreaming Tele-Healthcare: affordability and long term conditions, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing or Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare

Conroy, M. & Kempster, S. (2013) ‘Leadership and purpose: an ethical dimension’, Human Relations or Leadership Quarterly

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. & Kempster, S. (2013) International Scoping Review of Health Leadership Education, Leadership Quarterly or Journal of Management Education

Frogget, L., Conroy, M., Roy, A. N. & Manley, J.I. (2013) Multi-Faceted Scenic Understanding: A Method of Shared Understanding in Complexity, Forum Qualitative Social Research Journal

Recent Conference Papers

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