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1980s: Robert Spillane

Professor Robert Spillane retired from the Macquarie Business School on Friday 10th September, after 50 years of shaping the MGSM student experience.

He was responsible for challenging generations of MGSM students to think - and to challenge management orthodoxy. He won many teaching awards, and published more than 20 books and over 135 academic articles.

When two MGSM alumni meet for the first time, their opening gambit is often: ”Did you do any classes with Spillane?”, creating an immediate rapport as we all have anecdotes to share. In fact, that Spillane experience was a big part of what differentiated our MBA from other pretenders…

Robert Spillane will also be remembered for the significant changes he made while Dean of the MGSM from 1989-1993. He introduced the articulation program (Graduate Certificate and Diploma, Master of Management), introduced the full-time MBA and DBA, developed and conducted an MBA program in Singapore, formed MGSM Pty. Ltd and was appointed its Managing Director.

On behalf of thousands of alumni, we wish Robert and Katherine Spillane a well-earned retirement - and hope we can occasionally entice them back to alumni events!

Robert did not want an alumni retirement party, but please feel free to leave your comments at the end of this article, and we’ll make sure he sees them.

Full CV for Professor Robert Spillane

Robert Spillane B.Com. (NSW), PhD (Macq)​ was a Professor of Management at the Macquarie Business School at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia,​ where he taught philosophy and psychology and their application to management.

He taught the following courses: Foundations of Management Thought; Managerial Psychology; Leadership and Motivation; Organisational Behaviour; Executive Coaching; Existentialism for Entrepreneurs; Occupational Health and Work Reform.

After joining the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1972, he worked as a psychotherapist in New York with Dr Albert Ellis, inventor of Rational-Emotive Behaviour Therapy. In the early 1980s he worked in Sweden with Professor Bertil Gardell on issues of work reform. In the late 1980s, he worked with American psychiatrist, Professor Thomas Szasz, at Syracuse University, New York. He organised lecture tours to Australia for all three men.

In 1976 he transferred to the Macquarie Management Centre (known later as the Macquarie Graduate School of Management). He was appointed to a professorship in management in 1990 and was Dean of MGSM from 1989-1993. During his deanship, he expanded MGSM’s course offerings and teaching staff, introduced an articulation program (Graduate Certificate and Diploma, Master of Management), introduced the full-time MBA and DBA, developed and conducted an MBA program in Singapore with the Singapore National Employers’ Federation, formed MGSM Pty. Ltd and was appointed its Managing Director.

Robert has been active in the business community and has consulted for more than 100 private- and public-sector organisations. He has been a regular speaker on the lecture circuit and has conducted many seminars for non-profit organisations, including Rotary. He has represented Macquarie University at alumni seminars and written reports on strategic planning and work reform for diverse business organisations. He has also delivered lectures for school students at Blue Mountains Grammar School.

From 2003 to 2011, he delivered more than 180 lectures for the Art Gallery Society of NSW and the Art Gallery in Newcastle. These popular lectures on philosophy and psychology were the stimulus for further lectures at both Art Galleries.

Robert has been a visiting scholar at the London Business School, the ABIN Institute in Frankfurt, Germany and the Centre for Working Life at the University of Stockholm, Sweden.

He published 135 journal articles and 20 books on philosophy, psychology and management, and a play ‘Entertaining Executives’ which was performed at the Mermaid Theatre, London in 2006. He won many awards for teaching MBA students and for his research into diverse aspects of management.

In 2006 he received the international Thomas S. Szasz Award from the Center for Independent Thought in New York for his professional contributions to the cause of human liberty.

His most recent books are:

Entertaining Executives, Sydney: GOKO Publishing, 2015

An Eye for an I: Philosophies of Personal Power, Sydney: GOKO Publishing, 2015

Philosophy of Leadership: The Power of Authority, (with Jean-Etienne Joullié), London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015

Psychomanagement: An Australian Affair, Sydney: GOKO Publishing, 2017

Funny Business: Management Unmasked, (with Rodney & Benjamin Marks), Sydney: GOKO Publishing, 2017

What Went Wrong with Psychology? Myths, Metaphors and Madness, (with John Martin), Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018

The Philosophical Foundations of Management Thought, (with Jean-Etienne Joullié), (revised and expanded edition), Maryland: Lexington Books, 2020

Overcoming Managerialism: Power, Authority and Rhetoric at Work, (with J-E. Joullié), in preparation. Contract signed with De Gruyter: Berlin, Germany for publication in early 2022.

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