Rosemary Stewart was born in London on 20 December 1924 and educated in Sussex, although she completed her schooling in Canada and, after a brief period as a secretary, took a degree in economics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Returning to England at the end of the war, she studied social philosophy at the London School of Economics and went on to a doctorate in management studies.
In 1956, Dr Stewart became a researcher at the Acton Society Trust - a small independent organisation specialising in the problems of large organisations and accountability in newly nationalised industries - where she later rose to the position of director. A decade later, she became one of the first fellows (in organisational behaviour) at the Oxford Centre for Management Studies, and played a major role in developing the discipline within the university. She went on to serve as senior tutor (1977-78) and then dean (1983-85) before becoming the founding director of the Oxford Health Care Management Institute in 1996, which was based at Templeton College (as the OCMS was renamed in 1984).
A committed researcher to the end of her life, Dr Stewart mainly studied managerial work and behaviour in the NHS and for many years ran workshops for its chief executives and chairs. She was vice-chairman of the Oxfordshire Family Health Services Authority and, in 2008, was promoted from associate member to full member of the Royal Society of Medicine, a most unusual honour for a non-medic.
Her 17 acclaimed books include The Reality of Organizations: A Guide for Managers (1972), Choices for the Manager: Guide to Managerial Work and Behaviour (1982) and, most famously, The Reality of Management (third edition, 1997).
Although she retired from Templeton College in 1992, Dr Stewart became its first emeritus fellow, and then an honorary fellow of Green Templeton College, which was created as a result of a 2008 merger. She remained actively engaged with the college and funded a scholarship to support a DPhil student working in the area of healthcare management.
One recipient of this scholarship, Andromachi Athanasopoulou (2003-07), praised Dr Stewart as “a remarkable woman” with “an amazing personality” who brought “genuine care and wisdom” to her “advice about research and more broadly about pursuing a career as a female academic”.
Dr Stewart died on 15 June and is survived by her husband, Ioan Mackenzie James, an Oxford mathematics don who is now an emeritus professor.
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