May 18, 2022, by aczjb1

REF: Partnerships translate research into change – Professor Ken Starkey

Universities have a dual purpose – the creation of knowledge through research and the dissemination of that knowledge through publication and education. Leading Russell Group universities pride themselves on their world-class research and its role as the basis for our research-led teaching. Our research is judged on quality as world-leading, its international excellence and, increasingly, in terms of its impact. Impact has played a growing role in the allocation of research funding through the REF process.

REF judges research impact in terms of its Reach (the extent and diversity of the beneficiaries of the impact) and its Significance (the degree to which the research has informed or changed understanding, policy performance and well-being). In business and management, this means the effects our research has had in creating benefits for public, private and other forms of organisation. Research creates knowledge which generates new insights. Impact depends upon the effective sharing of knowledge to create changes that benefit the economy, society, culture, public policy, services and quality of life beyond academia.

Partnerships translate research into change

Nottingham University Business School’s research strategy is very much focused on the potential impacts of our research with a concentration upon what we consider key priority areas such as economic performance and sustainable growth, the impact of new technologies, responsible management and leadership, and the creation of a more equitable society. This involves creating partnerships with a range of different organisations to work together on research projects. These partnerships also help to translate our research findings into formats that enable end users in a variety of sectors to implement changes – a process that ensures that our research is truly based on a process of co-production.

Our research strategy focuses on key themes of national and international significance, for example, how to enhance national and global economic performance, increasing the effectiveness of public services and policy and enhancing quality of working life and health and wellbeing. Our research is organised around teams of individuals and research centres with research partnerships in key sectors such as small business, the financial sector and health services. Through our research activity we examine the major challenges we face in business and society, such as how to effectively manage global supply chains, the impact of big data and digital transformation, and changes in the nature of work. All these issues have become more prominent in recent months as we grapple with systemic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the cost of living crisis and global climate emergency.

As we move forward, our research continues to grapple with these challenges to find innovative and exciting solutions. As leaders and policymakers ask questions of how we can support and improve our healthcare systems, our Centre for Health Innovation, Leadership and Learning has been responding with real solutions. The concerns surrounding workplace health, wellbeing and equality, which have come to the forefront throughout the pandemic, are being addressed through our research and engagement with policymakers, employers and employees alike. As individuals and society as a whole grapple with the cost of living crisis, our centre for big data and analytics – the N/LAB – carries out future-thinking research that is helping to find tangible solutions to prevent poverty and to protect the most vulnerable both in the UK and internationally.

Our research continues to bring key issues surrounding sustainability, evolving technology and preventing modern slavery to the forefront while collaborating with those who are continuously working to make a difference. In addition, our research – notably at the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship – has inspired and enabled both students and researchers to create their own businesses and to share their ideas with the world around them.

A good theory enables positive change

At Nottingham University Business School, we prioritise societal and environmental well-being in our work. We need solutions to the challenges we face that have the potential to provide positive and lasting change. Research is a fundamental aspect of what we do and what we stand for. It provides the basis for theory that helps us understand the world, but it does more than that. As the leading social science researcher Kurt Lewin said, there is nothing as practical as a good theory. A good theory enables us to make positive change a reality. Research therefore needs to be timely, relevant and engaged. These values are central to research at Nottingham University Business School.

Professor Ken Starkey, Impact Coordinator and Annie Styles, Impact Officer, Nottingham University Business School.

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