JCU’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Sandra Harding, said that Professor Littler was a fine scholar with ten books and monographs, and approximately one hundred other publications, but he also brought something different to the universities he served: “His intellect sparkled. I am very glad that Craig Littler came to JCU. He made a difference. He will be sorely missed,”
His Pro Vice Chancellor at JCU, Professor Robin Woellner, added that Professor Littler had made a profound impact on the University. “He will be remembered for the strong leadership he provided to the School of Business.”
Craig had moved to JCU from St Andrews University, Scotland. His former Head of School there, Professor Peter McKiernan, commented: “He was a founding professor of the Centre for Business Education in 2002 and helped lay the foundations for its merger with the School of Management two years later. He was one of the School’s high profile professors and was much admired by his students, whom he inspired with dynamic and inspirational teaching in strategic management and organisation studies. He flourished in this top class research environment and continued to publish in highly-ranked journals, so helping to raise the profile of the School in the UK’s 2008 research assessment exercise.”
Before moving to St Andrews, Craig had been Professor and Director of External and Executive Programs at Royal Holloway College, University of London. His responsibilities included running and developing a suite of corporate education programs, such as the JP Morgan MBA program for senior managers.
Through most of the 1980s and 1990s, Craig worked at several universities in Australia, including as a professor at the University of Southern Queensland, and as a visitor at the University of Melbourne.
While a senior lecturer at Griffith University, Queensland, in the 1980s, Craig led the team that founded Labour & Industry – A journal of the Social & Economic Relations of Work, which is now based at Monash University and published by the Association of Industrial Relations Academics of Australian and New Zealand (AIRAANZ). He had been active in AIRAANZ and other professional associations, including the Australian & New Zealand Academy of Management (ANZAM), British Academy of Management (BAM) and the British Universities Industrial Relations Association (BUIRA).
Born in Birmingham, UK, Craig studied at the London School of Economics where he gained a BSc and a PhD. He subsequently worked in the UK at Cambridge University; City University, London; and Imperial College.
In one of the last articles that he wrote while at JCU, Craig encouraged his colleagues to foster research and build a a research community: “…above all we need a sense of ideas-consciousness…. we can recognise that we are always forming hypotheses (‘Does he really like me’), testing them, and making conclusions. Research is no different from self-reflective focussed thinking operating within a set of guidelines…Research is fun, even if it is hard work”.
Craig conducted research in a range of areas including: the Labour Process, the Sociology of Work, Industrial Relations, Human Resource Management, International Management and Strategic Management. His interests included China (long before it was fashionable), Research Methods, Organisational Change, Organisation Theory and the Management of Innovation. He consulted with governmental organisations and companies in Australia, Britain, Japan and USA.
For more than a decade, Craig co-ordinated a research project on organisational restructuring, which involved Australian, New Zealand, South African and US comparisons. Recognised as an expert on corporate downsizing, he presented many papers at international conferences and in Australia he gave an address at the Parliament in the Vital Issues Program for “notable speakers.”
A well-attended celebration of Craig’s life was held in Townsville on 15 September 2010. He was a well known academic who made a considerable impact on the academic fields in which he worked and will always be remembered by those who knew him. They will recall his wit, insightfulness and his intellectualism.
One colleague commented to me that he was “very warm hearted, hospitable, and interested in people and their reactions'. Another observed that he was a “colourful and exciting character who did not suffer fools gladly”. He was not afraid to be critical or to constructively challenge others’ assumptions.
Craig is survived by two wives and three children: Dene, with his first wife, Gill Palmer, as well as Nyree and Cassia with his second wife Elizabeth Wickham.
Greg J. Bamber, Monash University
Melbourne, Australia: GregBamber@Gmail.Com
With many thanks for helpful comments to Craig’s family, friends and colleagues.