Business and Management Studies (UoA 19)
Research Excellence Framework 2014
The 47 strong (41.4 FTE) submission to Business and Management Studies was the largest made by the University of Portsmouth to REF 2014. Annual research income for staff associated with the submission grew by 55% compared to the previous assessment period, while the number of doctoral students (drawn from 33 countries) almost doubled - to 119 in the 2013/4 academic year. Over, 27% of our submission comprised early career researchers (compared with 9% in RAE2008) and we were therefore delighted to see Portsmouth ranked as the strongest performing post-92 university - and in the top third of all submitting institutions - in terms of research power in REF 2014.
The submission comprised work drawn from eight distinct research groups: Business Education, Business Innovation and Growth, Business Logistics, Corporate Governance, Economics, Employment Relations and Human Resource Management, Finance and Operational Research. It was accompanied by five impact case studies which reflected the breadth and depth of research undertaken within the business arena – these included work which has:
- revolutionised how flight data from aircraft flight recorders is analysed
- led to efficiency savings in naval manpower planning
- altered the way one of the big four accountancy firms carried out its audit processes
- helped to improve the work-related quality of life of employees in a number of major UK companies
- prompted legislative change and new stocking strategies as conduit to enhance growth and tackle poverty in the fisheries of Central Asia
The breadth and depth of this research was viewed by the REF 2014 panel as having an extremely significant impact in economic, social and policy-making terms beyond academia, and helped contribute to our outstanding impact result.
- 100% of research impact in this unit was ranked as either outstanding (4*) 58% or as having very considerable impact (3*). This places us in the top 10% for impact in the UoA, and in the top four for Impact among the 39 largest Business and Management submissions (35+ staff)
- 87.5% of our research environment was rated as internationally excellent compared with 50% in RAE 2008
- REF 2014 established that 62% of our research was world-leading or internationally excellent (compared to 40% in RAE 2008)
- The Grade Point Average of our submission rose sharply to 2.74, compared to 2.1 in RAE 2008 (30% increase)
Research groups / Research themes
The University of Portsmouth (UoP) has taken the initiative to launch a cross-faculty Centre for Operational Research and Logistics (CORL) to recognise and enhance our reputation and standing of Operational Research and Logistics on national and international scale. CORL brings together multidisciplinary expertise on the Science of Data and the Science of Decision Making from across the Department of Mathematics, Faculty of Technology, Portsmouth Business School and the Institute of Industrial Research at the University of Portsmouth.
The key aim of the centre is to achieve research excellence in Operational Research and Logistics fields, and enhance the knowledge transfer activities to deepen the strategic partnership between CORL and the business and public organisations to address greater challenges. CORL’s commitment is to engage with SMEs, large companies, and public bodies. The aim is to increase industrial income and research funds from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) grants, and to bring CORL’s performance in line with that of key national and international competitors. The launch of such a centre is a key recommendation to achieve excellence in research with a view to impact on economic growth.
The Economics Research Group undertakes cutting-edge research ranging from microeconomic level analysis of individual decision making to global macroeconomic and monetary interactions, using theoretical models and empirical analysis of field and experimental data. The group maintains an active research culture with internal academic collaborations and specialised events like the Brown-Bag seminar series in Applied Microeconomics. The group’s research has been funded by bodies such as the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust and the EPSRC, and published in leading academic journals such as the Economic Journal, or Science. All publications of members of the Economic Research Group. Furthermore, members of the research group contribute to interdisciplinary research clusters like the Sports Cluster or the Development Studies Group.
The Portsmouth Business School Finance Research Group is a round-table open academic discussion among members of staff with multiple research interests in finance and financial economics, and fresh and innovative ideas for new research venues and productive collaboration. Research developed by the group houses different topics of finance. We are also proud of our research output published in leading academic journals in the area. We have a solid knowledge of quantitative methods that are used to estimate, forecast and test theories of finance and financial economics. The group has grown stronger also in terms of theoretical research, as new members have recently joined us. We collaborate with both UK-based and overseas researchers in developing joint research projects. We are also engaged in research-informed teaching.
Members of the Organisation Studies and Human Resource Management subject group undertake research into several areas of organisation studies, human resource management and employment relations. The main themes are outlined below. The outcomes of our research are published in leading academic journals. The subject group also enjoys strong links with practitioner bodies, with members engaged in research collaborations with organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA). A regular publication – the HR Bulletin: Research and Practice – is produced from within the subject group. With contributions from managers, academics and students, it features research articles aimed at managers and HR practitioners.
Business Education Research Group's (BERG) purpose is to promote high quality and relevant business education research, scholarship and evaluation. Members share a commitment to engaging in interdisciplinary research and evidence based practice within the University, with academic professionals in other HEIs and with employers. BERG is establishing a position at the forefront of business education research in UK and its members, with different levels of experience and expertise in learning, teaching and in research, work as a scholarly ‘community of practice’. The group is inclusive and welcomes new members from both within Portsmouth University and beyond.
The Corporate Governance Research Group unites researchers drawn from across five of the Faculty's seven Subject Groups with the objective of improving our understanding of how companies are managed and controlled. Our lawyers are interested in corporate government codes and frameworks, our accountants and strategists in the role of audit committees and the decision-making role of non-executive Directors, while our economists focus on corporate social responsibility and managerial incentive contracts.
We seek to inform public policy in the national context (at home and abroad), to affect corporate behaviour, and to explore how governance styles can impact upon the wider economic and socio-economic agenda. We have strong links with the Centre for Strategy and Leadership (CeSaL) and the Employment Relations and Human Resource Management Research Groups here at Portsmouth, with who we frequently collaborate.
Impact case studies
The impact of changing regulation on the behaviour and perceptions of UK directors and auditors
The financial crisis has prompted a public policy debate about the appropriate regulatory framework for financial reporting and audit. Evidence produced by this research on the current regulatory system has informed and influenced this debate in the House of Lords, particularly regarding the respective roles of auditors and audit committees. Furthermore, findings have had a significant impact on the audit procedures of Deloitte, one of the Big Four global audit firms. Their National Audit Technical Partner stated that it had prompted a reconsideration of the timing of their audit processes and the nature of interaction with their audit clients.
Influencing national and regional policies in the fisheries of central Asia: promoting legislative change and stocking strategies to enhance growth and tackle poverty
Research commissioned by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation from the University of Portsmouth on fisher livelihoods in Central Asia has generated impact in the public policy and economic/commercial arenas. First, it has influenced government policy (evidenced in the development of a national fisheries strategy) and prompted a legislative change which has decriminalised artisanal and recreational fishing in the Kyrgyz Republic [Impact 1]. Second, it has been instrumental in shaping the restocking and culture-based fisheries policy of a new regional FAO fisheries body (CACFish) encompassing Central Asia [Impact 2]. Third, Portsmouth researchers have contributed to improved production processes (economic/organisational impact) by helping develop and then deliver a national training programme to disseminate best aquacultural practices in Kyrgyzstan [Impact 3].
A world first in flight safety: University of Portsmouth academics bring avionic data analysis into the 21st century
A Portsmouth team has helped revolutionise how flight data from aircraft flight recorders is being analysed. This has improved the corporate performance of a leading UK company in a globally competitive market by helping it expand its business in the UK and to subsequently compete in the dynamic North American market. Historically, data was manually evaluated on a flight by flight basis. Research by the Portsmouth team means such data can now be analysed automatically by artificial intelligence (AI), saving significant man-hours, and allowing the company to diversify domestically into a related market and to expand internationally. The techniques developed were subsequently applied in a new market, enabling the new corporate partner to realise savings estimated at £100,000 p.a.
Improving the well-being of employees by assessing and enhancing quality of working life
The Work-Related Quality of Life (WRQoL®) scale and its derivatives have been used to assess and enhance the quality of working life in 10% of UK universities, ten NHS Trusts, five Trade Unions, 15 schools, a professional body (the British Psychological Society) and parts of other large national organisations (Police, BBC, RNLI). The research and data provided by the Quality of Working Life (QoWL®) team at the University of Portsmouth also now forms a significant element of the UK Government’s definition and approach to tackling organisational stress. The WRQoL® scale is available in 11 languages and 50+ countries, and is directly and indirectly saving organisations thousands of pounds and helping contributing to the improved wellbeing of millions of employees.
University of Portsmouth helps royal navy improve its medium and long-term manpower planning capabilities
Portsmouth Business School’s military manpower forecasting model was developed with the Royal Navy from 1997 to provide medium and long-term manpower projections. The Naval Manning Agency has used this model since 2000. Work by Jaffry/Rennison in 2009 and 2010 employed this model to establish that a proposed housing scheme was unviable; led to revised inflation forecasts being used in the planning process; and contributed to the integration of the Regular Service and the Reserve. In a wider Armed Forces context, a tri-service manpower model was developed by the Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA) in conjunction with Jaffry, to improve the analytical rigour of military manpower planning in the light of continuing defence budget cuts.
Infrastructure and facilities
The operational infrastructure for researcher support within the Business School was strengthened substantially with the creation of the Business Services Research Office (BSRO) in November 2011. This office has grown in line with the increase in successful funding applications over the last year. It now comprises a specialist Project Manager, a Bid Writing assistant, and three technical support staff. The Faculty Finance Manager advises on all funding application costings. A new web-based approval process has reduced the internal authorisation time to a matter of days, saving researchers’ time without compromising quality. This infrastructure of support has been complemented at the University level by the appointment of two additional University Grants Officers, who seek out relevant national and international funding opportunities and help applicants structure and cost applications. Researchers in this UoA have also benefited from further support through the Principal Investigators Development Programme, Grant Proposal Hothouses, and Impact Dragons Dens initiatives, which have been introduced as part of a steadily evolving University programme of researcher support. Bid quality is further enhanced by the University’s Peer Review College, established in April 2012. This ensures that all bids made to RCUK and other major funding agencies are subjected to a rigorous and extensive process of internal scrutiny prior to submission. The EPSRC £750K Zooinverse bid by Cox was one notable beneficiary of this process of internal peer review. Cross-faculty bids, such as the successful five-year £5.3 million bid to provide training in leadership and military strategy to officers in the Royal Air Force, which also contains an element of research funding, have benefited from the combined strengths of the BSRO and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences research support team.
The scholarly infrastructure underpinning research takes two related forms: physical and intellectual. The physical infrastructure encompasses a library collection of 68,000 texts in the business and management field, and an annual book and serials expenditure of just over £0.5 million on which academic staff is regularly consulted. Research staff and students can access 361 database and journal collections, including Bankscope, ESDS, Mintel and GMID. They are supported by a Business Faculty Librarian and three assistants who offer specialist support in different business research areas. The Institutional Repository (PARADE) is a digital archive that encompasses the research outputs of the University’s researchers. At 31 July 2013 it contained 9,226 items, of which 1,967 (21.3%) were authored by staff active in Business and Management Studies, with approximately half of these Business and Management outputs (995) published within the REF period. The total downloads from PARADE of articles authored by Business and Management staff during the REF census period were 29,213.
The intellectual infrastructure is underpinned by regular seminar programmes organised in various areas of research and presented by internal and external speakers. Several seminar series, such as in Business Education, have multidisciplinary reach and staff from across the University are invited to encourage a wider exchange of research ideas and experience. This is further strengthened by longer visits by Visiting Professors, Fellows and research collaborators, such as Callado, Cicek, and Lolli in 2012/3; specialist workshops, such as the 76th Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis workshop in September 2012; and conferences, such as the forthcoming conference on the UK Coalition Government and Employment Relations (December 2013). The intellectual development of ECRs and aspiring researchers has been fortified by the creation of a University Researcher Development Programme and the accompanying PBS programme in advanced research methods training. Thirteen of the UoA19 submitted staff also actively contribute to one or both of the two existing multi-disciplinary University networks, namely the University of Portsmouth Environmental Network (UPEN), and the Ageing Network (UPAN).
Further support for researchers during the REF period took the form of seven ‘writer lock-ins’, commencing in 2011/2. Each of these extended over three days. Twenty-seven staff benefited, with seventeen published articles and eight conference papers completed as a consequence of this scheme to date. Furthermore, an International Exchange Scheme was introduced in 2010/11 to encourage transnational collaborative research with four beneficiaries to date. A Research Project Fund was launched in May 2013 to support promising new research directions, and 14 staff benefited in the 2013 round.