Photo of Alia Weston
Photo of Alia Weston
Alia Weston
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Graduate Studies

Area(s) of Expertise

Creativity and Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise and Informal Economy, African and Latin American Management Practices.


Dr Alia Weston has an expertise in the areas of creative design and business management. She has an undergraduate degree in Jewellery design as well as postgraduate degrees in business management and in business studies research. She consolidated her expertise in these areas by completing a cross-disciplinary PhD which bridged the areas of creativity and management. Her research and teaching interests focus on the intersection between these disciplines. Alia's research is focused on understanding how people creatively respond to challenges in their social and organisational environments. In particular, she studies creative engagement and related practices such as innovation, entrepreneurship, art and design to explore how these can contribute to social transformation. Key themes in Alia's research include exploring creative work practices within resource constrained environments, such as the informal economy, and exploring how creative business models can contribute to solving key challenges in society. Alia has published research about the organisational and creative/entrepreneurial experiences of individuals who live in marginal contexts. She undertakes her research in this area by engaging in narrative ethnography in streets and townships, collecting personal stories and video-graphic material to highlight the voices of those who live and work in marginal spaces. An example of this is her research about creativity in the Zimbabwean informal economy, which is summarised in the following animation: In conjunction with this research she runs practical workshops which engage with issues related to creative and sustainable work practices. In addition to her research, Alia teaches across the areas of creativity and management. She currently teaches creative and business enterprise to art and design students at OCAD University. Subjects taught include Entrepreneurship, Leadership in the Digital Economy and Mobile and Social Media. Prior to this, she taught business and creativity to management students in business schools in the UK. Here she taught topics including Organisation Theory, Enterprise, Leadership in the Creative Economy and Creative Research. She is also experienced in supervising Post-graduate and PhD students. In addition to her academic activities Alia runs her own business designing and making a range of unique jewellery. She also has previous experience of running summer school and jewellery workshops in the not-for-profit sector, with the aim of widening access of disadvantaged groups into education.


2004. BA (Hons) Silversmithing and Jewellery Design (London Metropolitan University, UK) 2006. MA Business Management (Kingston University, UK) 2007. MSc in Management and Business Studies Research (Kingston University, UK) 2012. PhD in Creativity and Management: 'Creativity in the Informal Economy of Zimbabwe' (Kingston University, UK) 2014. PGCert in Advanced Academic Studies (University of Strathclyde, UK)

Professional Experience

2014 - Present. Assistant Professor, OCAD University, Toronto 2014 (May-June). Visiting Research Fellow, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town 2012 - 2014. Lecturer, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow 2013 - 2012. Teaching Fellow, Royal Holloway University of London 2007 - 2013. Part-time/ Visiting Lecturer, Kingston University, London 2005 - 2009. Project Coordination on Aim Higher Projects, London Metropolitan University 1998 - Present. Jewellery Design Business

Awards \ Grants

2014. Carnegie Foundation Grant. Practices and Strategies leading to Formalisation of Informal Businesses in Mauritius. 2014. ESRC Festival of Social Science Grant. Homeless Not Voiceless. 2014. LAEMOS Conference, Runner-up for Best Paper Award. Mirrors: 'Bleeding' the Creation of Alternative Organisation through a Liberating Ideology of Transformative Humanism. 2013. British Council Researcher Links Grant. Shaping Social Change from Within: Exploring the Entrepreneurial and Innovative Work Practices of Communities in the South African Informal Economy. 2013. Emerald African Management Research Fund Award. Highly Commended. From Informal to Small and Medium Enterprise Sector: An Analysis of Management Practices Employed by SMEs in Mauritius. 2012. University of Strathclyde Bridging the Gap Fund. Piloting Self-Initiated Video Reflections for Exploring Creativity in Playful Environments. 2008. Kingston University Director of Research Award. Best Achievement on MSc MBSR degree, and Contribution to Culture of Doctoral Programme. 2004. Goldsmiths"Craftsmanship and Design Award. Silver Award in Fashion Jewellery Category. 2004. British Jewellers Association Award. Commendation for Jewellery Design. 2002 - 2004. South Square Trust Scholarship for Academic Performance.

Selected Publications

Original Research: 2013. with Weston M.A and Booth, E., Exploring the Creativity of Informal Workers During Crisis. Animated Short Story. Accessible at: 2012. with Imas J.M., From Harare to Rio de Janeiro: Kukiya-favela Organisation Narrative of the Excluded. Organization, 19(2): 205-227. 2012. with Imas J.M. and Wilson N., Barefoot Entrepreneurs. Organization, 19(5): 563-585. Conference Papers, Presentations and Workshops: 2014. with Imas J.M. and Sell L., Occupy, Resist, Alter, Create Organization!, 9th Organization Studies Summer Workshop, Corfu. 2014. with Imas J.M. and Donnelly, P., Mirrors: 'Bleeding' the Creation of Alternative Organisation through a Liberating Ideology of Transformative Humanism, LAEMOS, Havana. 2014. Invited Panellist. Vulnerable Consumers ESRC Seminar Series: Seminar on Poverty, Glasgow. 2013. with Simpson B. and Tracy R., Creative Practice in an Accelerating World, EGOS, Montreal. 2013. with Imas J.M., What's Up Ventanas? A Study of Community-Place [An]organisation, APROS, Tokyo. 2013. with Imas J.M., Spaza Management: Creativity of Informal Entrepreneurs (Workshop), AOM Africa, Johannesburg. 2012. Focused Narrative Ethnography: Researching the Other in Zimbabwe, Invisio Symposium, Essex.