Professor Derek Pugh, an ‘Aston Great’ dies aged 85

Derek Pugh

5 February 2015

Professor Derek Pugh, a psychologist and business theorist at Aston University who featured as one of ‘50 Aston Greats’ died on Thursday January 29, 2015, aged 85.

Professor Pugh first joined Aston (then the Birmingham College of Technology) in the 1950s. Between 1961 and 1970, he led a group of organisational researchers which made a lasting contribution to research results and theories in the management field – the Aston Studies. Professor Pugh was recognised for his dedication and ground-breaking research in 2009, when Aston University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Letters.

The Aston Group consisted of Professor Pugh and colleagues from across a range of research disciplines including psychology, economics, political sciences and sociology.  Derek Pugh led an innovative comparative study of the range of factors which influenced organisational structures, and the impact which such structures had on the effectiveness of organisations. This approach was soon taken up worldwide.

Professor Pugh was recently interviewed as one of the ‘50 Aston Greats’- a series of feature articles which celebrate the most inspiring and influential people in Aston’s history. In the interview he was asked what advice he would give to today’s graduates.

He said: “My advice is that change is the only constant in the world of business and management. Don't just let changes happen to you unawares; work hard at understanding the inevitable changes in your environment and how to benefit from them by seizing all the opportunities for self-development that come your way in your working lives.”

Professor Pugh left Aston in the early 1970s, moving to London Business School.

Speaking about Professor Pugh, Aston’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Julia King, said: “The news of Derek Pugh’s death was received with great sadness at Aston University. He will be fondly remembered as a colleague and teacher, and his remarkable research achievements during his years at Aston will continue to have a major impact on management practice and management research for many generations to come.”

He is survived by his two children - Helena and Jonathan- his wife Natalie died, aged 82, in 2012. Our thoughts are with the Pugh family at this very sad time.

For further media information contact Alex Earnshaw, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4549 or