Research impact, strategy and vision

See the difference the Business School at Sussex is making in society and learn about our direction for the future.

Impact

We aim to contribute to the development of a better world and are thus committed to understanding and responding to key challenges facing the world today. Pioneering both innovation studies and development studies several decades ago, the School has a distinctive intellectual focus on innovation and sustainability, with a focus on applied policy work. This range and quality of expertise places us at the forefront of research that is of direct relevance to business practice and particularly policymaking. In order to effect change, members of faculty work with external organisations, providing expert knowledge and rigorous analysis to help inform policy development and implementation.

Much of our impact is interdisciplinary, such as our work on the role of technology and innovation in driving change, and how it can be used to reduce poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Our work also bridges the business and policy worlds, influencing the Government’s Industrial Strategy, National Minimum Wage and investment to support creative industries. Furthermore, our long-standing expertise allows us to adapt to current agendas and external demands to provide rigourous, creative research and analysis in times of major change or need. We have notable successes in influencing post-Brexit trade policy and climate change mitigation and we are immediately responding to the current pandemic across our research portfolio.

The generation of impact is supported by a dedicated Research Impact, Communications and Engagement team that works across the Business School to generate and maximise opportunities, including leading the Policy@Sussex initiative. Through facilitating engagement and knowledge exchange, the team aims to empower research to influence debates, policy and practice as well as encourage collaborations and create new funding and income opportunities.

Strategy

2018-19 marked the first year of the Business School’s new Research Strategy. During 2019-2020, despite the turbulent year, as we implemented the second year of the research strategy, we have looked to consolidate our successes and carry their momentum forward.

In particular, we will have strived to:

  • establish a more comprehensive internal peer-review process for grant applications
  • refresh the School’s research webpages
  • introduce a comprehensive suite – a one-stop-shop – of online research resources
  • complete the current programme of work around improving our PhD offering
  • establish a mentoring scheme/network specifically for Business School researchers
  • undertake a review of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion matters as they pertain to research
  • enhance administration and project management support for funded research projects
  • formalise the research induction process for new research staff
  • host networking events to further foster interdisciplinarity and collaboration.

Our Research Mobilisation Groups, which aim to catalyse and facilitate research activity in specific areas by bringing together cross-departmental, multi-disciplinary groups, have developed over this year. Each group engages around a specific subject area that is of strategic importance to the School and/or in which we have a critical mass of interested researchers. The mobilisation groups will allow us to prepare for – and ‘mobilise’ in response to – research collaboration and funding opportunities.

Research Mobilisation Groups

  • Accounting & Society

    Mobiliser: Galina Goncharenko 

    The Accounting & Society Research Mobilisation Group undertakes impactful interdisciplinary research in the areas of accountability, governance, and performance management that meets the emerging agendas of the wider community of business, education and government. The group’s main research themes include the political economy of accounting; social, environmental and ethical accountability and sustainability; accountability, governance, and performance management; public sector accounting reforms; and data and analytics in accounting. 

    In 2020, members of the group have had research published in several books and journals, including Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Financial Accountability & Managementthe Journal of International Accounting, and the International Journal of Public Sector Management. Group members have also received four research grants, for projects including Project X and The impact of harassment reporting technology on organisational accountability and psychological safety in the workplace. In June 2020, the group hosted an international online seminar with Professor Yves Gendron from the University of Laval, Quebec, as part of the Business School’s distinguished visiting professor scheme. In March 2021, the group will host the NGO Day 2021: NGO Performance, Governance and Accountability in the Era of Digitalisation. 

  • Artificial Intelligence

    The Artificial Intelligence Research Mobiliser Group brings together 45 members of the University of Sussex Business School around topics such as AI policy, management, economics, or the use of Machine Learning in research. The aim of the RMG is to understand how the development of AI affects society through exploring a wide range of interconnected topics and establishing a bridge between academics active in diverse domains. The group’s research is interdisciplinary in nature, and spans interests of how AI will affect industrial dynamics through innovation, together with the role that science plays in this development; how AI-related policies are designed and implemented building on balancing economic, ethical and societal considerations; and finally how AI impacts on employment and the workforce.  

    In the year 2019/20, group members have presented their research both internally and externally. Maria Savona presented AI research to the European Commission Joint Research Center and the OECD workshop, while Frederique Bone and Simone Vannuccini discussed the implication of AI for society at Shoreham Wordfest and Barclays Eagle Lab.  

  • Business Finance 

    Mobiliser: Ranko Jelic 

    The Business Finance research mobilisation group combines traditional corporate finance with entrepreneurship perspectives to provide a unique understanding of Business Finance in post-crisis Europe. The group focuses on company finance in both public and private companies as well as the evolution of start-ups to different types of public and private companies, examining the roles of venture capital and other intermediaries such as accounting firms and investment banks in facilitating this transition. The group brings together a wealth of expertise from across the Business School and is in conversation with a wider network of over 30 practitioners and academics from a range of global institutions. 

    In 2019/20, the group has had research published in a number of books and journals, including the Journal of Contemporary Accounting and EconomicsBritish Journal of ManagementJournal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation, and the Routledge Handbook of Quantitative Entrepreneurship Research. Group members have been involved in large research projects, such as Project X and the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre. The group has also had several prestigious visitors, including Professor Douglas Cumming, who delivered the Asa Briggs Fellowship Guest lecture in October 2019. 

  • Circular Economy 

    Mobiliser: Anthony Alexander 

    The Circular Economy Research Mobilisation Group takes a fresh approach to long-established topics in sustainable development, materials management and value retention. The term Circular Economy concerns the status quo of industrial economy as an extractive process generating waste and pollution as an externality, and has been adopted by numerous businesses as a driver for innovation. The group is inherently interdisciplinary and brings together scholars from a wide range of fields, including marketing, supply chains, design, engineering, law, politics, and development studies.  

    Over the past year, the group has established interdisciplinary links with researchers at the University of Brighton School of Architecture and Design, School of Computing, Engineering and Maths, and School of Environment and Technology, to research circular economy practices in the built environment. In partnership with the national Clean Growth UK platform, letters of support from more than 50 industry and policy partners have been received, creating a foundation for future research projects.  

  • Conflict, Migration & Development 

    Mobiliser: Julie Litchfield 

    The Conflict, Migration & Development Research Mobilisation Group is a multidisciplinary group of development researchers working on migration or conflict - or both. The group’s research interests include refugees, migrants, and displaced people, both internal and international; violent conflict, political unrest, and political economy; and living standards, poverty, food, economic activity, and growth. In 2019/2020 the group held three in-person seminars presenting on-going and recent research, and provided peer support and review to research in progress.  

  • Consumer Wellbeing 

    Mobilisers: Dominik Piehlmaier and Maja Golf Papez 

    The Consumer Wellbeing Research Mobiliser provides a forum for research, debate and knowledge exchange on consumption-related issues that facilitate or threaten wellbeing. Focusing on different dimensions of wellbeing (i.e., emotional, economic, social, physical, spiritual, environmental and political), the mobiliser brings together researchers at all levels to meet, discuss and collaborate on interdisciplinary research projects that benefit consumer wellbeing. The mobiliser covers current issues impacting wellbeing such as pandemic outbreaks and (un)sustainable consumption, and explores these issues in the different contexts of developing economies, economies in transition and developed economies. 

  • Economic Theory & Behaviour of Agents 

    Mobiliser: Matthew Embrey 

    Agents are the key decision-makers in theories of economic and social behaviour, whether that be consumers, households, firms or governments, or some other individual or organisation. The Economic Theory and Behaviour of Agents research group combines the tools and techniques from microeconomics, game theory, behavioural and experimental economics, and microeconometrics to better understand the behaviour of agents, how such behaviour should be modelled, and the implications for policy. Current research themes include: a) bounded rationality in choice; b) family economics (intra-household inequality, intertemporal consumption decisions, household formation); and c) strategic behaviour, bargaining and cooperation. 

    The research mobiliser runs two regular reading groups: the Blab Experimental Lab Group Meetings and the Theory Reading Group. In addition, this year the research mobiliser has coordinated two Leading Researcher visits: Bram de Rock (Autumn 2019) and Guillaume Frechette (Spring 2020). During their visits, the leading academics presented their research, met with PhD students and faculty from the school to discuss research projects and ideas, and attended workshops and seminars. 

  • Economics of Innovation 

    Mobiliser: Ed Steinmueller 

    The Economics of Innovation Research Mobilisation Group is a platform for advancing the economic theory of innovation, whilst also resetting the foundations of orthodox economics and advancing the fields of evolutionary and institutional economics. The group seeks to understand the structure and dynamics of innovating firms and industrial systems, how to enhance innovation capabilities of firms and other stakeholders in developed and developing countries, as well as how to steer structural changes towards sustainable growth. In an era of financial crisis and austerity coupled with serious global issues such as rising unemployment, climate change, poverty, the group believes it is critical to address the pressing challenge of reigniting and redirecting economic growth and driving the innovation needed for sustainable, inclusive growth. 

  • Energy 

    Mobiliser: Benjamin K. Sovacool 

    The Sussex Energy Group aims to understand and foster transitions towards sustainable, low carbon energy systems. The group’s research is clustered under six broad themes: energy innovation and transitions; economics and finance; energy justice; energy demand and behaviour; smart infrastructure; and energy supply technologies. They work with policymakers, industry and civil society across the globe in order to open up routes to an inclusive and sustainable energy future. 

    Sussex Energy Group members are currently involved in 23 research projects worth a total of £7.7m. Projects include the UK Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS)Fuel and Transport Poverty in the UK’s Energy Transition (FAIR), and Fracking, Framing and Effective Participation. Recent Sussex Energy Group research has been published in Environmental Research LettersEnergy Journaland Energy Research and Social Science. 

  • Future of Work Hub 

    Mobiliser: Odul Bozkurt 

    The Future of Work Hub is a platform for research, discovery, debate and collaboration on the topic of work and employment. It brings together Sussex researchers that draw from different disciplinary areas, such as human resources, employment relations, sociology of work and the professions, organisations studies, economics and science and policy studies. Key research areas include Decent Work; Emotions; Identity and Values at Work; Well-Being and Mental Health at the Workplace; Connected Leadership and Followership; Sustainable Futures and Green Work; Technolog(ies) and Work. The Hub seeks to provide the Business School with a vantage point (and an external reference) on the complex tide of transformations that Work is experiencing. 

    In 2019/20, The Future of Work Hub won an ESRC Festival of Social Science award and hosted the Sussex Future of Work Hub CoLab in Brighthelm Centre, with over 20 participants, including stakeholders from the world of practice. The event was also publicized on radio with Ödül Bozkurt as a guest on Sussex BBC. Three Roffey Park - Future of Work scholarship holders started study at the School.  

  • Innovation & Project Management 

    Mobiliser: Kat Lovell 

    This Innovation & Project Management research mobilisation group is a centre for discussion and collaboration around how innovation occurs and is managed through sectors, firms and projects. Building on SPRU’s history of research focused on management of innovation, technology and projects sitting alongside policy-focused work, this group focuses on enhancing innovation in all types of organisations, and across all sectors, and involves developing and delivering tools to improve the management of innovation within organisations and between organisations and their suppliers and customers. 

    In 2019/20 the group have held a mixture of themed meetings on topics including Creative Industries, Infrastructure Programme and Megaproject Research, and open roundtable meetings that offer a chance to discuss areas of common interest. The group have also hosted an external speaker from the Association of Project Management. 

  • International Business & Development 

    Mobiliser: Vasiliki Bamiatzi 

    As the world economy is experiencing constant crisis and challenges, the struggle to identify ways to stimulate business activity is intensified globally. With a cross-disciplinary view of the critical phenomena and key questions in global business and management, the International Business and Development Hub promotes novel research focusing on the interactions between large MNEs, small and medium-sized enterprises, their partners in global value chains, and the institutional environments within which they operate. They also focus on broader issues related to corporate social responsibility and sustainability. With initiatives that improve collaborations with alumni, corporations, and policy makers, the centre prioritises on both quantitative and qualitative research projects that are able to address cutting-edge research questions, as well as complex policy and practice challenges. 

    In July 2020, the group co-hosted a workshop with the Responsible Business RMG that provided faculty and students with the opportunity to obtain a holistic understanding of current COVID-19-related research and future implications. Based on diverse expert panels, the workshop generated a conversation across disciplinary boundaries around the impact of the pandemic on business research.  

  • International Trade & Foreign Direct Investment 

    Mobiliser: Ingo Borchert  

    The Research Mobilisation Group on International Trade & Foreign Direct Investment consolidates expertise from a wide range of perspectives and fields, including strategic motives and impact of investment, the political economy of trade and investment, and FDI as part of free trade agreements.  The group’s interdisciplinary approach to trade and investment reflects the trend for goods, services and capital flows to become ever more closely intertwined in value chain activities. Members collaborate with other Research Mobilisation Groups in areas of mutual interest, e.g. on the international dimension of additive manufacturing. 

    In 2019/20, a team led by Alan Winters and Palitha Konara won a project on disinvestments commissioned by the Department for International Trade (DIT).  This project attempts to understand causes of foreign direct disinvestment and the impact of foreign direct disinvestment on the UK economy. Another cross-departmental group of academics, brought together by the RMG, secured Sussex involvement in a larger project on the ASEAN Digital Trade Connectivity, commissioned by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).  The aim is to create a research study that will provide information on the impact, feasibility and support needed to develop a roadmap for business-led ASEAN Digital Trade Connectivity. 

  • Labour Economics, Education & Health 

    Mobiliser: Vikram Pathania 

    The Labour Economics, Education & Health Research Mobilisation Group is interested in a diverse set of policy-relevant topics within labour, education, and health economics. Examples of current research interests include the impact of minimum wage on unemployment and poverty; decision making and resource allocation within families; determinants of educational outcomes; and evaluating NHS initiatives to improve access to primary care. In particular, the group seeks to apply state of the art econometrics to the analyses of large data sets to answer questions of academic and policy value, and establish credible causal chains.   

  • Research Pedagogy

    Mobiliser: C. Rashaad Shabab 

    The Research Pedagogy Group is a platform to disseminate best practice and discuss issues such as attainment gaps, and BAME and gender inequalities. Current research areas include gender attainment gaps in economics; BAME attainment gaps in economics; and value for money in Ethiopian education. Research interests include understanding attainment among different groups,  creating a ‘community of practice’ that would enable better teaching, and generating qualitative data from our students. 

  • Quantitative Fintech (QFIN)

    Mobiliser: Carol Alexander 

    QFIN aims to provide excellent research on issues currently faced by financial markets, including digital assets and their derivatives; bitcoin swaps; futures and options; climate change finance and risk management. The group brings together expertise in quantitative finance, climate change, crypto asset market microstructure, big data analysis, machine learning and computer science. QFIN aims to promote stronger links between academic institutions and business and industries, and collaborates with business and industry on research initiatives and projects. 

    In 2019/20, the group has met regularly for Finance and Stochastic (FAST) seminars. The group leader Carol Alexander has spoken on many industry and academic conference and panels, and her work on crypto currencies has been frequently quoted in the mediaQFIN research has also appeared in European Journal of Operational ResearchInternational Review of Financial AnalysisJournal of Futures Markets and Energy Economics. 

  • Responsible Business 

    Mobiliser: Stephan Manning 

    The Responsible Business Research Mobilizer Group stimulates inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration and exchange around responsible business practices. Businesses increasingly engage in providing public goods, in economic and social development, and in sustainability initiatives. Specifically, we seek to better understand when, how and why businesses get involved in tackling so-called ‘grand challenges’, such as poverty, inequality, climate change, migration, and healthcare. In that, we focus on the drivers and impact of corporate social responsibility, social entrepreneurship, business model innovation, business-society partnerships, philanthropy and business ethics. We aim to contribute to academic and public discourse, and provide insights for policy and practice. 

  • Science, Politics & Decision-Making 

    Mobiliser: David Eggleton 

    Populist politics have caused many individuals and organisations to rethink how best to construct the relationship between science, research and policy. At the same time, a range of pressures (including environmental challenges, an increasing health burden, failing urban infrastructure and the need for sustainable economic growth) make evident the necessity of developing science policy that delivers high-quality science and scientific advice. The Science, Politics and Decision Making research mobilisation group provides a platform for discussion on the current and future relationship between science, politics, and decision making using a very loose interpretation of those terms. The group is developing a variety of working groups examining new opportunities, including a ‘Research on Research’ group that looks at how the University of Sussex can contribute to new developments in the science policy landscape. 

  • Supply Chain 4.0 Hub

    The Supply Chain 4.0 Hub aims to advance cutting-edge research on how emerging technologies are transforming global supply chains. The Hub explores key research themes such as how 3D printing is shortening global supply chains and bringing manufacturing closer to the consumer, and how BlockChain technology is enhancing the traceability of end-to-end supply chains; providing firms with visibility of unethical supply chain practices such as the use of modern slavery and conflict minerals. Other research streams include the use of data analytics and Big Data to enhance forecast accuracy and reduce inventory holding. The Hub works closely with industry partners including companies in pharmaceuticals, automotive and aerospace to develop robust supply chain solutions that capitalise on Industry 4.0 technologies. 

    The Supply Chain 4.0 Hub was launched at the Production and Operations Management Conference in Brighton in September 2019. Since then, group members have had research published in a number of journals, including Production Planning and ControlJournal of Operations Management, and Business Strategy and the Environment, and presented a paper at the Academy of International Business (AIB) conference. Current projects include Exploring the role of digital health platforms in improving healthcare practice and delivery in developing countries: The case of MedicineAfrica, and a new project funded by the European Space Agency to investigate links between global commodity supply chains and deforestation. 

  • Sustainability

    Mobiliser: Phil Johnstone 

    As recognised in the international Sustainable Development Goals, no policy imperatives are more compelling or expansive than the need for global actions to end poverty and inequality. At the same time, these transformations must also build peace, meet growing needs for water, food and energy, and reverse devastating human impacts on the environment. The Sustainability Research Mobilisation Group aims to challenge and inform established practices in government, business and civil society, and promote the deep changes that are necessary to help the world realise diverse pathways to sustainability. 

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research strategy cover

Our research vision

Our vision is to be a School that collaborates across disciplines to shape global issues in business, management, and society, making an impact on policy, practice, and people.

Our approach

Pioneering both innovation studies and development studies several decades ago, the School has a distinctive intellectual focus on science, technology and innovation, and sustainability and development. Across the School, we have world-leading economists, political scientists and management scholars working to understand the interactions between business, policy, and social and economic development. We aim to contribute to the development of a better world through research into issues of significant relevance to policy debate and decision-making. In order to effect change, members of faculty work with external organisations, providing expert knowledge and rigorous analysis to help inform policy development and implementation. As a result, we are a business school with a holistic understanding of modern management because of our applied research and interest in public policy.

Technology and Innovation

Innovation is often viewed as the application of better solutions to meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market demands, but the creation of new products and services is not merely about technological advances. Understanding how innovations arise requires an appreciation of the supporting economic and regulatory environment, as well as an understanding of the role of organisational design and the social context of users. At the Business School, we look both outside and inside the organisation for a deeper understanding of innovation processes. Our work focuses on understanding innovation in all types of organisations, across all sectors, and involves developing and delivering tools to improve the management of innovation both within and between organisations and their suppliers and customers, as well as at national and international policy levels.

Sustainability and Development

The modern way of provisioning our basic needs is not sustainable and is already causing climate change, insecurity and inequality on an unprecedented scale. It is clear that we cannot globalise our current ways of providing food, energy, mobility, healthcare and water. As recognised in the international Sustainable Development Goals, no policy imperatives are more compelling or expansive than the need for global actions to end poverty and inequality. There exists a diversity of ways in which these challenges can be met. But the complexities, uncertainties and political obstacles are formidable. Science and technology – and knowledge and innovation of all kinds – are as fundamental to these problems as to their solutions. Across the Business School, our academics study the economic, social acceptance and broader socio-technical implications of different policy options and mixes, with our key areas of research including energy policy and sustainable growth.

Find out about the Business School’s vision and mission.


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