Dr Sara Spear

Head of School of Management

Faculty:Faculty of Business and Law


Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Business Management , Marketing , Management and Leadership , Leadership and management , Human Resources Management

Research Supervision:Yes

As Head of School of Management, Sara oversees the teaching, research and enterprise activity within the School across the areas of Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Tourism, Human Resource Management, and Organisational Behaviour.


Sara has previously been Associate Head of Department for the Marketing, Events and Tourism group at the University of the West of England, where she was also a researcher in the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre. Prior to this, Sara was a Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Portsmouth and has led programmes and taught on a range of modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Her teaching has focused particularly on social marketing, marketing communications, business ethics, and research methods.

Sara received her PhD in Marketing from the University of Portsmouth in 2015, with her research focused on corporate communication and reputation management, and particularly exploring organisational stories and their impact on organisation members. Sara's current research centres on the use of marketing for social good, and especially within educational settings. Recent projects include exploring academics' experiences of working with students with mental health problems in universities, enhancing physical activity culture in primary schools, improving parental engagement culture in special schools, and choices in end-of-life care. Her recent work with schools has drawn upon practice theory as a way of approaching cultural change, and she has a particular interest in qualitative and participative methodologies.

Research interests

  • Social marketing
  • Marketing ethics
  • Storytelling in communication
  • School culture
  • Parental engagement in schools
  • Mental health in Higher Education


  • PhD in Marketing, University of Portsmouth
  • PGCert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Portsmouth
  • PG Cert in Social Research Methods, University of Portsmouth
  • BA (Hons) Business Studies, University of Portsmouth

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants 2019 ‘Strengthening Parental Engagement Culture in Special Schools: Parental Engagement Project’ £5147 (PI)
  • UWE Vice Chancellor’s Early Career Researcher Award 2017/18 ‘Culture change in complex systems: School Culture Intervention Project’ £12136 (PI)

Selected recent publications

Spotswood, F., Wiltshire, G., Spear, S. & Makris, A. (2021). Disrupting social marketing through a practice-oriented approach. RAUSP Management Journal. DOI: 10.1108/RAUSP’10-2020-0231.

Spear, S., Spotswood, F., Goodall, J. & Warren, S. (2021). Reimagining parental engagement in special schools - a practice theoretical approach. Educational Review, DOI: 10.1080/00131911.2021.1874307.

Spear, S., Morey, Y. & van Steen, T. (2020) Mental health problems amongst students: academics' experiences, perceptions and practices across UK universities. Higher Education Research and Development. DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2020.1798887.

Spotswood, F., Wiltshire, G., Spear, S., Morey, Y., & Harris, J. (2019). A practice theory approach to primary school physical activity: Opportunities and challenges for intervention. Critical Public Health https://doi.org/10.1080/09581596.2019.1695746.

Spotswood, F., Chatterton, T., Morey, Y., & Spear, S. (2017). Practice-theoretical possibilities for social marketing: Two fields learning from each other. Journal of Social Marketing, 7(2), 156-171.

Spear, S. (2017). Impression Management Activity in Vision, Mission, and Values Statements: A Comparison of Commercial and Charitable Organizations. International Studies of Management and Organization, 47(2), 159-175.

Spear, S., & Roper, S. (2016). Storytelling in organisations: supporting or subverting corporate strategy? Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 21(4), 516-532.

Recent presentations and conferences

Spear, S., Spotswood, F., Goodall, J. & Buckton, A. (2019). Parental engagement in special schools: a practice based approach to school cultural transition.Unpublished paper presented at the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (BELMAS) Conference, Hinckley, UK.

Spotswood, F., Wiltshire, G. & Spear, S. (2019). School-PACT: School Physical Activity Cultural Transition. A school-based physical activity intervention integrating social marketing with theories of practice. Unpublished paper presented at the 6th World Social Marketing Conference, Edinburgh, UK.

Spotswood, F., Spear, S., Wiltshire, G., Darnton, A., & Liew, L. (2018). Exploring Revaluation as a strengths-based approach to changing school physical activity cultures. Poster presented at the 7th International Society of Physical Activity and Health Congress, London, UK.