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Dr Simon Willems

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow

Simon Willems Photo


  • Virtue Ethics, 
  • Neoliberalism, 
  • Positive Psychology Critique, 
  • Organisational Art and Aesthetics, 
  • Critical Management Studies


Whiteknights campus

Dr Simon Willems is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow based between Henley Business School and the University of Reading School of Art.

Simon's research project, Rethinking Wellbeing: Evaluating the Neoliberalisation of Wellbeing in the Workplace Using Artworks as a Critical Lens, studies how contemporary artists critique wellbeing programmes within organisations under neoliberalism.

Building on the hermit/corporate team-building participant duality that fuelled his doctoral research, his fellowship investigates how a social construct of wellbeing, created by Human Resources Management, conflicts with employee wellbeing where it services organisational interests. Key to this is a Virtue Ethics approach to organisations, alongside Critical Management Studies, which examines how individualised wellbeing practices that negate employees’ needs and obscure structural inequalities, undermine the common good.

Simon's doctoral research focused on the characterisation of anonymity in contemporary figurative painting. He holds a PhD in Fine Art from the University of Reading and an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art. He has published articles in the Journal of Organisational Aesthetics and the Journal of Contemporary Painting. He is currently writing his first monograph, Rethinking Wellbeing Through Art: How Artists Critique Wellness in the Workplace (Palgrave Macmillan).

As a practicing artist, Simon exhibits internationally. Although his primary medium is painting, this has developed alongside curatorial projects in all media which focus on corporate wellness narratives in organisations.

Using Artworks as a Window Through which to Re-Examine Macintyre's Critique of Neoliberal Governance. International Society of Macintyrean Enquiry Conference, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain (June, 2023).