Bio (Alice MacGillivray)

Bio Horizontal

Alice MacGillivray


Associate Faculty


Leadership Studies, Environment and Sustainability


Dr. Alice MacGillivray researches leadership and sustainability in complex, knowledge-intensive environments, and is interested in how principles from nature can inform leadership. She has published in journals including The Learning OrganizationEmergence: Complexity and Organization, and Challenging Organizations and Society: reflective hybrids®. MacGillivray has presented at conferences in Canada, the U.S., Britain and Australia for groups including the International Society for the Systems Sciences and the Society for the Social Studies of Science. At Royal Roads, she deeply values opportunities to work with the accomplished adult learners who choose to study at this university.


MacGillivray's clients have included the Canadian Parks Council, the Auditor General of British Columbia, and the Canadian military. She has leadership experience with BC Ministries of Education, Transportation, and Environment, Lands and Parks as well as Kananaskis Country and Parks Canada. MacGillivray joined Royal Roads in 2000, leading development and delivery of knowledge management graduate programs. She has supervised or been on committees of more than 50 dissertation, thesis and capstone projects.


MacGillivray holds a PhD in Human and Organizational Systems (2009), a Master of Arts in Human Development (2007) and a Graduate Diploma in Dialogue, Deliberation and Public Engagement (2008) from Fielding Graduate University, where she currently sits on the Inaugural Sustainability Advisory Council. She holds a Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University (2000) and an interdisciplinary Bachelor of General Studies from Athabasca University (1997). MacGillivray is certified to deliver Cognitive Edge, instructional skills (ISW) and facilitator development workshops. Academically, her awards include the Athabasca Governing Council Scholarship, dean’s lists and a doctoral research grant. Her professional awards include recognition from a cabinet committee for land use planning work.

Peer Reviewed Chapters

MacGillivray, A. (2017). Social Learning in Higher Education: A Clash of Cultures? In J. McDonald and A. Cater-Steel (Eds.), Communities of Practice – Facilitating Social Learning in Higher Education.

MacGillivray, A. (2015). Leadership, Boundaries and Sustainability. In J.P. Isbouts et al. (Eds.) Sustainability Leadership: Integrating Values, Meaning, and Action: Volume 5 (Fielding Monograph Series).

MacGillivray, A. (2009). Knowledge intensive work in a network of counter-terrorism communities. Hershey: IGI Global. This chapter/paper appears in the Handbook of Research on Knowledge-Intensive Organizations edited/authored by J. Kociatkiewicz & D. Jemielniak (Eds.), Copyright 2008, IGI Global,

MacGillivray, A. (2010). Metaphors from Nature for Knowledge Work in a Complex World. In A. Tait & K. Richardson (Eds.), Complexity and Knowledge Management: Understanding the Role of Knowledge in the Management of Social Networks. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing.

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

MacGillivray, A. (2018). Leadership as practice meets knowledge as flow: Emerging perspectives for leaders in knowledge-intensive organizations. Journal of Public Affairs 18(1).

MacGillivray, A., Litwin, A. (2016). Are we there yet? Are Perceptions of Results Shaped by Gender?  Challenging Organisations and Society. reflective hybrids® 5(2), 936-949.

MacGillivray, A. (2015). Consulting on the edge: use of strategies rooted in nature. Challenging Organisations and Society. reflective hybrids®. 4(1), 707-718.

MacGillivray, A., Gallagher, K. (2012). A policy paradox: social complexity emergence around an ordered science attractor. Emergence: Complexity and Organization, 14(4), 67-85.

MacGillivray, A. (2010). Leadership in a network of communities: a phenomenographic study, The Learning Organization, 17(1), 24-40.

MacGillivray, A. (2007). Learning at the edge—Part 2: scholar-practitioner reflections on boundaries. Emergence: Complexity and Organization.  9(4),

MacGillivray, A. (2006). Learning at the edge – Part 1: Transdisciplinary conceptions of boundaries. Emergence: Complexity and Organization. 8(3), 92-104.

Book Reviews in Peer Reviewed Journals

Hogan, N., Hannigan, J. & MacGillivray, A. (2020). Can sustainability research inform leadership in complex systems? [Book Review]  Emergence: Complexity and Organization, 20(4).

MacGillivray, A. (2009). [Digital Habitats: Stewarding technologies for communities.] Review of the book by Wenger, E. White N & Smith, J.D. Emergence: Complexity and Organization, 11(4), 99-104.

MacGillivray, A. (2008). [Managing Uncertainties in Networks.] Review of the book by Koppenjan, J. & Klijn, E.  Emergence: Complexity and Organization, 10(2), 129-132.

MacGillivray, A. (2006). [Complexity and the Experience of Leading Organizations.] Review of the book by Ralph Stacey. Emergence: Complexity & Organization. 8(2), 124-127.

Works in Progress

MacGillivray, A. & Steier, F. (approaching submission to journal). Systemic phenomenography: A qualitative method for complex system research.

MacGillivray, A. (approved for publication as chapter). Leadership as an Ecosystem for Sustainability.


MacGillivray, A. (2009). Perceptions and uses of boundaries by respected leaders: a trans-disciplinary inquiry. Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (UMI 3399314)

Peer Reviewed Conference Proceedings (sample)

MacGillivray, A. (2011). “The Application of Complexity Thinking to Leaders’ Boundary Work” in Moving Forward with Complexity: Proceedings of the 1st International Workshop on Complex Systems Thinking and Real World Applications. Emergent Publications: Litchfield Park, Arizona.

International Academic Conference Presentations

MacGillivray, A. and Lorelei Higgins (2020: Upcoming). Edgewalking: Navigating Spaces In-between. Approved proposal for annual International Leadership Association conference: San Francisco (now online).

MacGillivray, A. (2017). Embedding Diversity in Leadership. Leadership Conference: Diversity, Creativity and Possibility. Victoria, Canada.

MacGillivray, A. (2015). Complex Leadership: Stories for Learning. Leadership Conference: Leadership.Complex.World. Victoria, Canada.

MacGillivray, A. (2015).  Boundaries: An undervalued concept for leadership and community work. Society for Applied Anthropology Conference, Pittsburgh PA.

MacGillivray, A. (2013). Seeds of collaboration. Advancing Leadership Practice and Possibility. Royal Roads University Leadership Conference, Victoria Canada.

MacGillivray, A. (2013). The nature of islands in knowledge ecologies. Island Studies Conference, The Haven, Gabriola Island, Canada.

MacGillivray, A. (2010). Ecosystem-informed boundary critique: Helping leaders re-think and re-work challenges through new processes and tools. The 1st International Workshop on Complexity and Real World Applications, Southampton, UK.

MacGillivray, A. (2009). The nature of the public intellectual in horizontal landscapes in panel session: the voices of the public intellectual in relation to sustainability. Social Studies of Science annual meeting: Washington DC.

MacGillivray, A. (July 15, 2009). Turning Leadership Outside In: Boundary Spanners’ Internal Boundary Work. International Society for Systems Sciences (ISSS) Conference Brisbane, Australia.

MacGillivray, A. & J.D.Smith. (2004). Genetic diversity as inspiration for instructional design. AACE E-Learn 2004 Washington DC.

MacGillivray, A. and Faulkner, A. (2002) A business lens on business intelligence: sustaining intellectual capital. The World Congress on Intellectual Capital, McMaster University.

Other presentation information available on request.