BERG’s purpose is to promote high quality and relevant business education research, scholarship and evaluation. Members engage in interdisciplinary research and evidencebased practice within the University, with academic professionals in other HEIs and with employers. BERG intends to establish a position at the forefront of business education research in UK. In achieving BERG’s vision its members work as a scholarly ‘community of practice’: the members have different levels of experience and expertise in learning and teaching and in research.

BERG members’ current areas of interest are:

  • Pedagogy, assessment and technology enhanced learning
  • Employability and entrepreneurship
  • Business research and ethics
  • Management and leadership development
  • Knowledge management and organisational learning

At an operational level BERG works in two clusters:

BERGERs (Experienced researchers)

NewBERGs (Those who are newer to research and working towards their first published output)

Research themes

Professional development (CPD) and identity

Margaret Mackay researches into the role of continuing professional development (CPD) in the workplace with a focus on Higher Education and other practitioners’ perceptions of professional learning. Her qualitative research contributes directly to business education by enhancing skills development for both educators and individual learners.

Claire Sparrow is an Associate Member of Lancaster University's HERE (Higher Education Research and Evaluation) Centre. She has recently given a conference paper on the role of self-evaluation by academics in Higher Education and is currently researching how academic research and teaching activities interact with each other and affect academic practice.

Becky Quew-Jones is starting her DBA exploring professional identity in modern apprentices.

Employability and entrepreneurship

Charlotte Harrison with Alex Tymon Sassa Batistic are currently engaged in a longitudinal study of second year undergraduate Law students which explores the extent to which students’ self-perceived employability and confidence changes before, during and after engagement with a dedicated employability unit. The research also explores the impact those changes might have on students’ job search behaviours and career planning quality.

Karen Knibbs is researching the role and contribution of students and graduates to SMEs. Her work, in collaboration with Judith Fletcher-Brown and Karen Middleton, focuses on students involved in the study of marketing and she is comparing the different placement experiences and outcomes that occur from live client projects in large and small organisations from the perspectives of students, employers and educators.

Sassa Batistic and Alex Tymon are involved in several mixed methods projects connected to graduate employability including: an exploration of ways to enhance the employability of graduates with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) with Beatriz Lopez, from the department of Psychology; and a longitudinal look at placement seeking behaviours in second year undergraduates with Margaret Mackay.

Management and leadership development

Alex Tymon works with colleagues in Durham, Warwick and Berlin, using a novel research technique to explore implicit leadership.  A drawing exercise is completed to uncover images and schema of leaders which helps avoid the pitfalls of socially desirable responses, common in leader and leadership training.  Drawings are analysed and coded to establish themes.  Results consistently demonstrate a disparity between organisational rhetoric, academic teaching and leader prototypes.

Margaret Mackay and Alex Tymon  are interested in the concept of the `business buccaneer` based on research they have carried out with employers exploring emergent leader competencies. Their findings open up debate about the role of the modern university business school in the context of massification and consumerization of higher education.

Organisational learning

Emma Winter and Helen Thompson-Whiteside continue their research into the contribution of location to university identity, branding and service-scape.


Building on their published work linked to reflective practice and pedagogy of risk, Alex Tymon and Margaret Mackay are using mixed methods to further explore learning transfer.  Using models of significant learning and training evaluation they seek to uncover evidence of learning impact from professional development for individuals and organisations.

Sue Davey Evans is exploring the impact of internationalisation in Higher Education on the personal and professional outlook of the lecturer. Although internationalisation is a ‘hot topic’ in HE very little research has examined its impact on the working lives of HE practitioners. Sue’s research focuses on how lecturers narrate their perceptions of the increasingly multi-cultural student population for learning and teaching both inside and outside of the classroom.

Valerie Anderson and Sasa Batistic are part of a cross-institutional team currently undertaking a HEFCE funded project to pilot and evaluate measures of learning gain in Higher Education to develop and evaluate valid and sustainable measures of learning gain associated with undergraduate participation in UK Higher Education and to ensure that measures developed have viability, suitability and scalability across the UK HE sector as a whole. 

Technology enhanced learning

Our PhD students is a new BERG sponsored PhD students exploring technology enhanced learning within legal education.

David Starkey leads a team exploring a Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) teaching facility in Portsmouth Business School. This is one of the UK’s first such teaching spaces designed to use emerging technologies to significantly enhance tutor–student engagement in the active, collaborative process of knowledge construction, production and dissemination.

Heather Short, a former BERG PhD student, was awarded her PhD in 2016 with her thesis entitled “The Hidden World of e-learning in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)” which was based on her ethnographic research in local SMEs. Currently she is Managing Editor of Human Resource Development Quarterly (HRDQ) and lectures on HR, Business and Management topics as well as undertaking independent consultancy projects. She is leading the Learning in SMEs stream at the University Forum for Human Resource Development (UFHRD) conference in Lisbon in June 2017 with Prof Mark Saunders of the University of Birmingham. She is also contributing a chapter to Prof  Saunders’ next book  "How to keep your research project on track: Insights from when things go wrong". Heather’s research interests are focussed on e-learning and SMEs, as separate areas as well as in combination.


To achieve a position of leadership in business education research and practice in UK through involvement with professional institutions and dissemination of our research and practice through workshops, conferences, peer reviewed papers in good quality journals; text-book and other pedagogic outputs.


To secure funding to support relevant and leading-edge business education research and development from national or cross-national funding bodies.

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