Dr Irene Skovgaard Smith

Senior Lecturer

Faculty:Faculty of Business and Law


Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Business, management and leadership , Ethnography , Sociology , Human Resources Management

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.



Dr Irene Skovgaard Smith has a background in social anthropology and her research focuses on identity, status and social interaction in the context of professional elites. Her PhD was an ethnographic study of management consultants at work on client projects with a focus on their relations with managers and other staff. Her work has appeared in Human Relations, Critique of Anthropology, European Journal of International Management, in books from Palgrave Macmillan and Information Age Publishing and in The Conversation.

Research interests

  • Alterity / identity dynamics
  • Anti-cosmopolitanism
  • Cosmopolitan identity and belonging
  • High-skilled migration
  • Marcel Mauss and contemporary magic

Areas of research supervision

  • Gender and diversity
  • Stigma and deviance
  • Ethnicity


International HRM, Learning and development, Leadership in Contemporary Organisations


  • PhD Organisation Studies, Copenhagen Business School, Dept. of Management, Politics & Philosophy
  • MSc Social Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Dept. of Anthropology
  • MA International HRM, London Metropolitan University, Business School
  • BSc 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)
  • The International Sociology Association (ISA)

Selected recent publications

Salverda, T. and Skovgaard-Smith, I. 2018. Attribution and contestation: Relations between elites and other social groups. Critique of Anthropology. Online first, pp. 1-20.

Skovgaard-Smith, I. and Poulfelt, F. 2018. Imagining ‘non-nationality’: Cosmopolitanism as a source of identity and belonging. Human Relations, 71(2), pp. 129–154.

Skovgaard-Smith, I. 2017. To be cosmopolitan you don’t have to be rootless or a member of the global elite. The Conversation, 9. November:

Skovgaard-Smith, I. 2017. The complex world of the global citizen. BBC Capital, 10. November: http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20171110-the-complex-world-of-the-global-citizen. Published in Chinese 30. November: http://www.bbc.com/ukchina/simp/vert-cap-42181503?SThisFB)

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. In: Jamieson, D., Barnett, R. and Buono, A. F. (Eds.) Consultation for organizational change revisited. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Poulfelt, F., Smith, I.S. and Christiansen, K.G. 2014. When West Meets East – The Case of a Scandinavian Consulting Firm’s Expansion into India. European Journal of International Management, 8 (4) pp. 373-391.

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

Recent presentations and conferences

Co-convener of Sub-theme 46: ‘The Entanglement of Individual and Collective Identification’, 33rd EGOS colloquium in Copenhagen July 2017 with Maura Soekijad, VU University Amsterdam and Michael Humphreys, Durham University.

Skovgaard-Smith, I. 2016. Globalization writ small: Ethnographic fieldwork in multicultural social spaces. The International Sociology Association Forum July in Vienna, Austria.

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. & 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.