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Professor Ajit Nayak

Professor Ajit Nayak

Professor of Strategic Management

Research interests

  • Strategic Management
  • Innovation and Dynamic Capabilities
  • Responsible Leadership and Sustainability Transitions

More research

Accepting applications from PhD students.


Address: Boldrewood Campus, Burgess Road, SO16 7QF


Dr Nayak is Professor of Strategic Management at the Southampton Business School. His research interests revolve around strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship in changing environments. Dr Nayak’s current research focuses on how firms innovate and develop new capabilities, achieve digital transformation, and how CEOs achieve sustainability transitions. Dr Nayak welcomes PhD applications in any of these areas.

Current Research Projects 

Responsible Leadership for Sustainability Transitions

Collaborators: UK Green Building Council (UKGBC)

This project focuses on leadership development for the building industry. Drawing on primary data from participants on the UKGBC leadership programmes, this project aims to understand how leadership development programmes can achieve meaningful impact.

This project has received funding from the ESRC IAA (to fund Dr Nayak’s secondment with the UKGBC in 2022), and Research England (New Things Fund).

CEOs championing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Collaborators: Matt Gitsham (Hult) and Jonathan Gosling (Exeter)

This project focuses on why some CEOs visibly argue for and support stronger governance on key global challenges. Theoretically, this project draws on the literatures of Responsible Leadership, Political CSR and Global Governance. We have built a unique dataset on the role and involvement of corporate actors in the SDG process, including 57 interviews with key actors within organizations and observation and documentary analysis of the process.

We published an practitioner-oriented paper in The Conversation to inform debates around COP26.

The Ramniklal Solanki Pioneers Project: Successful South Asians in Britain

Collaborators: Jane Falkingham, Sabu Padmadas, Bindi Shah, Priti Mishra (Southampton), Asian Media Group, India Business Group, Barnie Choudhury (editor-at-large Eastern Eye) and Lord Kamlesh Patel)

This is an interdisciplinary research project focusing on South Asian individuals who have made significant contributions to shaping modern Britain. The overarching goals are two-fold: i) to systematically capture, collate and document the unique contributions and multifaceted experiences of successful British South Asians, and ii) to understand the associated wider economic, sociocultural, and intellectual impact that these individuals have had on British society.

We are currently collect data for this project. We have nine who have agreed to participate – Meera Syal, Neil Basu, Chaand Nagpaul, Ramniklal Solanki, Sardar Harnam Singh Roudh, Southall Black Sisters, Azim Rafiq and Poppy Jaman.

Strategic transformation: Building new consultancy capabilities

Collaborators: Griffon Hoverwork Limited (GHL) and Sanjay Nagaraj (Southampton)

The vision for this project is to achieve strategic transformation at GHL from a product-based engineering company to a market-leading marine technology consultancy, leveraging its specialised engineering and design skills and world-leading reputation. To align the transformation with skills, market opportunities and global net zero challenge the project will develop a Zero Carbon Marine System Integration consultancy service by championing world-leading engineering skills base in the UK.

This project is funded by an mKTP grant from Innovate UK.

Digital Transformation

Collaborators: Spearfish Security and Enrico Gerding (Southampton)

The vision for the project is a transformative change in Spearfish's value proposition, business model and managerial structure, supported by digital implementation. The key objectives are Spearfish to improve productivity by 1) increasing the volume of decision-making; 2) integrating existing information sources to enhance advisory services, and; 3) diversifying their client base.

Spearfish is an independent SME that has provided security risk management for a number of large UK foreign aid programmes in such places as Nigeria, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Kenya.

This project is funded by an mKTP grant from Innovate UK.

Ethnic Minority Business Data in the UK (EMBD-UK)

Collaborators: Enrico Gerding (Southampton)

EMBD-UK is an interdisciplinary project aimed at developing a visualization map of ethnic minority businesses in the UK. The main goal of this project is to create a data-based dashboard to visualise ethnic minority businesses in the UK over time. This project has found a novel and interdisciplinary approach to answering questions about EMBs at the granular level (e.g. geographical regions, sectors) and over time. By bringing together techniques from data science to answer business-related research questions, this project aims to make a unique contribution to academic knowledge and achieve wider societal impact.

Migrant Medics: A social history of South Asians in the NHS (1950 to Present)

Collaborators: Priti Mishra and Bindi Shah (Southampton)

This is an interdisciplinary project focusing on the pivotal role played by early medical migrants to the UK who were expressly sought out to staff the nascent health service. The project aims to document their life histories, hidden labours, and transnational cultural and financial investments at individual, family, community and national levels that are inherent in the migration of medical expertise and lives across national borders.

We are currently collecting data for this project.

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