Our Business and Management submission to REF 2021 comprised 98 staff (93.5 FTE), more than double the number we submitted in REF 2014 (47, 41.4 FTE). We matched this with substantial growth in income generation (up 127%), postgraduate research student numbers (up 79%), and the volume of research produced through international collaborations (up 45% to 54%).

Our submission reflected the success of a series of targeted development strategies (e.g. Internationalisation with Impact and The Nobody Left Behind Strategy), culminating in the establishment of two new research centres — the Centre for Blue Governance and the Centre for Innovative and Sustainable Finance.

Looking forward, we are delighted to be partnering with the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) to develop a fully-funded £20 million Small Business Leadership Programme to address resilience and productivity challenges for senior SME leaders across the UK business community.

Results in REF 2021

  • 65.8% of our research outputs were judged to be internationally excellent or world-leading.
  • 100% of our impact was rated as having very considerable or outstanding reach and significance.
  • 100% of our research environment was judged as having the vitality and sustainability to produce internationally excellent or world-leading research.
  • We are ranked second among modern universities by research power for Business and Management, according to Times Higher Education.

Research areas

Our Business and Management submission brought together staff from across a wide range of business-oriented disciplines.

Our research supports all five of the University’s research themes. For example, our studies have examined the wellbeing of law staff and students, how child protection law copes with the ever-changing concept of risk, and the regulation of emerging technology.

Our Accountancy researchers investigate the behaviours, actions and responses of providers and users of accounting information, to improve standards across the industry. Their research explores how accounting can help organisations to combat financial crime, deal with the challenges of new technologies and more effectively govern themselves and how best to educate the next generation of accounting professionals around the world.
Our Economics research includes the use of mathematical models to predict how people make decisions and laboratory experiments to test those predictions. We use insights from our research to suggest how governments could better regulate the use of natural resources or risk-taking by banks, develop more effective monetary policies (such as interest rate changes) and legislate to influence people’s economic decisions and improve the overall economic outcome.
Through our Finance research, we're transforming our knowledge into research that's making an impact. We're exploring how finance impacts everything from the health of the global economy to the wellbeing of individual citizens and guarding against a repeat of recent financial crises by studying both their causes and the effects they have on almost every level of society.
Our Organisational Studies and Human Resource Management colleagues explore the nature of leadership and management, the cultures and practices which influence how people are led and work within organisations of all sizes and how to promote a more responsible business culture — encouraging businesses to adopt more ethical business practices to benefit their own organisation, consumers, society, and the planet.
Our Business and Management researchers investigate pressing issues facing organisations and governments, such as how to encourage the growth of entrepreneurs and small businesses in an uncertain global economy, how to improve sustainability across industries and how to implement new products and services.
Our Marketing research analyses existing and emerging business models and consumer segments. It covers advertising, branding, digital marketing, tourism marketing and related disciplines such as anthropology, economics, psychology and statistics. One of the main purposes of our research is to gain insights about consumer behaviour. 
Our Operational Research and Logistics experts have specialist knowledge and skills in virtualisation and business process innovation, decision science, ICT adoption and impact, quality management, six sigma and organisational excellence, business intelligence, data mining, knowledge management and system thinking. 

Impact case studies

We are especially proud of the impact of our research on society and submitted seven impact case studies to support our submission.

  • Our economists helped the Isle of Wight Council unlock an extra £9 million annually from central government to fund improved public services for the island’s inhabitants.
  • Our finance lecturers provided expert advice in major financial litigation cases relating to LIBOR manipulation and collusion that led to financial judgements ascending to $658 million made against 11 US banks.
  • Our Human Resource specialists supported the development of new professional HR standards in conjunction with the British Standards Institute [BSI] and the International Organization for Standardization [ISO]. 
Young African female tailor working

Improved effectiveness and impact of an international microfinance programme

Since 2014, we have collaborated with CARE International UK, which runs an online microfinance platform — Lendwithcare (LWC) — linking borrowers in the developing world to lenders in the developed world. A major redesign of their online platform, influenced by our work, saw the number of active lenders grow from 20,794 to 66,002 between 2014 and 2021. The LWC investor portfolio also grew from £5.5 million to over £31.5 million over the same interval. As a consequence, more than 120,000 new loans were made to low-income entrepreneurs in developing countries during this period.

Blue Governance for healthy oceans and economies 

Our Blue Governance specialists have helped improve the design and ongoing implementation of more sustainable ocean management policies, at both international and national levels. In Africa, our recommendations have been incorporated into the regional strategies of the African Union (54 countries), while at the national level we have helped design localised Blue Governance strategies that are now being implemented in various countries, including the Bahamas (Americas), Bangladesh (Asia), and Seychelles (Africa).

Drone at sunset

Killing by Drone: Implementing professional ethics training in the induction and practice of the UK’s Royal Air Force Reaper drone operators

We have worked with the RAF to introduce and deliver bespoke professional ethics training into the training of Reaper squadron crew members. RAF Reaper drones have been widely deployed in combat missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria since 2007. Their use has prompted media debate, public controversy, protests outside the bases involved, parliamentary questions, and an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drones into ‘The UK’s Use of Armed Drones’. 

Worker moving boxes in a storage warehouse

Improved profitability despite growing cost of returns in online shopping

We have worked with major retailers to reduce the cost of returns in their online shopping operations. Our research has influenced senior management to implement changes in practice and processes. Total savings across members of ECR Retail Loss, a global membership organisation of major retailers, are estimated at £55 million in two years.