Mary Allan - People - Management - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Mary AllanDr Mary Allan


Adjunct Fellow


  • M.A. Leicester University (UK)
  • PhD University of Canterbury (NZ)

Contact Details


Postal Address
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800
New Zealand


Mary completed her PhD at the University of Canterbury in 2005. She was awarded two consecutive postdoctoral fellowships which enabled her to further enhance her PhD quest for making sense of complexities created by the dynamics and interrelatedness of members (human and non human) in  organisations. Mary is particularly interested in developing methodologies that enable the analysis of interrelatedness for supporting sustainable innovative practices.  She is fascinated by Wicked Problems and studies ways of developing methodologies that enable working through such problems.

To ‘keep it Simple’ but not Simplistic, one needs to work through the Complexities (Mary Allan 2009)

 Mary’s work focuses on two main strands:

  1. The emergence of patterns of relational dynamics in socio technical interactions and the identification of the weighted potential of a pattern for supporting collaboration within and across organisations. This strand was first developed in Mary’s PhD thesis where she investigated Web mediated collaboration. The thesis developed and tested a new methodology for micro and macro investigation of computer mediated collaborative activities. The new methodology served as the building block for developing a new software pack which enables the visualisation of dynamics of interactions in electronic communications and the reporting of patterns of these dynamics and their weighted potential for supporting collaboration. The concept was patented in 2009. Development of the software pack was enabled through UC Bright Ideas funding backed by SPARC. The development was included in the UC Research and Innovation Tech JumpStart competition 2010.
  2. Technological innovations as a networked change component in organisational systems.  Mary worked on this strand as a postdoctoral fellow at UC in 2009. Mary was one of four national awardees of a postdoctoral grant of 90,000 NZD funded by BRCSS . In This project Mary applied Systems’ Approach for identifying what changes are necessary for successful implementation of innovative practices at individual as well as organisational level .  Using systems’ approach framework enabled grass roots approach to identifying not only the many variables entailed in the implementation of change but most importantly the interrelatedness of the multiple variables. The project developed and demonstrated a new tool for producing visual maps representing the numerous relationships between variables involved in the implementation of change. The tool offers an easy to follow visual deconstruction of the complexity of the process without losing its richness.
    • It Translates rich qualitative data encompassing numerous  variables into weighted maps of prioritized networked variables
    • Indicating prioritised rather than isolated variables within complex change process enabling a holistic approach deployable in manageable bytes
    • Practical recommendations for change managers in the form of systemic manageable bites achievable through following a set of  VAT identified prioritised highly  prominent relations between variables
    • Provision of  visual easily accessible map of the dynamics of the change process as detectable through the weighted value maps of interrelated variables
    • Identifying  gaps between rhetoric and practice, and the subsystem/s underpinning the gap to facilitated effective intervention in bridging the gap

PhD Supervision

Mary is interested in supervising projects in the field of change management from a systems’ theory approach. Grounded theory approach to change management .Visualising networks of variables entailed in change processes.

Recent Publications

Please see My UC SPARK Profile for a full list of publications.