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UOA 36 - Business and Management Studies

University of Bristol

RA5a: Research environment and esteem



1. Introduction

The University of Bristol’s Department of Management (formerly the Management Research Centre) was formally integrated into the School of Economics, Finance and Management in August 2004, with the objective of building a research-intensive group and providing a focus for management education and research in the university. Since then the Department has both grown in staff numbers and diversified its range of research and teaching activities. The Department is now well established with solid research outputs, good collaborative research projects with other research-intensive universities, and significant undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. The Department’s achievements during the RAE period include:

·        All early career researchers (indicated by * below) are entered for the RAE exercise

·        Year-on-year increase in research publications in high-quality peer-reviewed journals

·        Three Staff have been Principal Investigators (PI) and Co-Investigators on research generating over £350k   

·        Four staff have been promoted to Senior Lecturer or Reader 

·        Demonstrable impact on user groups, including the professional associations and public sector organisations.  


These achievements are an indication of the momentum generated during this RAE period. The following sections will support these claims.


2. Research Strategy

Like all Departments in the University of Bristol, the Department of Management has a research-intensive ethos and because of its size relative to large Management Schools, it has chosen to develop a small number of niche research areas - with academics publishing in good quality journals. The research strategy of the Department is to become an internationally-recognised group building on its core areas of research strength in Policy and Management, Management Interventions, and Critical Organisational Studies. The Department also aims to continue to develop revenue streams through both research grants and teaching and to employ these funds to produce high quality research outputs and provide a supportive and stimulating research environment. The strategy has proved effective, with the recruitment of a mix of experienced and early-career researchers, with research grants being won to the value of £350k and some 120 research outputs produced in the RAE period. 


3. Research structure

The Department’s research is underpinned by an interest in management theory and management practice that unites the research foci of the interests within the Department. The Department’s expertise is structured into three core areas, namely policy making and management practice, the analysis of organisational interventions and critical organisational studies. There is also a strong focus on the “Third Sector”, and the public sector. The Department’s philosophy is that its research, as well as being academically strong, should also be of direct relevance to research users in commerce, industry and public bodies


3.1 Review of Research Activities

Policy making and management practice

Much of the research of the Department is on policy making and management practice. The main focus is on the problem of researching policy development and implementation. In particular, Friedman and Phillips* have undertaken extensive and original research focusing on professionalism, the means by which professionalism is promoted by professional bodies, and the management of professional bodies (see RA2 outputs Phillips-1, 2).  Phillips has studied the tensions between traditional professionalism and receptiveness to evidence in the development of evidence-based Continuous Professional Development (CPD).  Friedman and Phillips have also investigated the codes of ethics produced by professional bodies, and Phillips, with the aid of a Nuffield Grant, studied the complaints and disciplinary procedures of such bodies too. Friedman has analysed UK and Irish professional associations under the general theme of ‘the professionalisation of professional associations’. White has worked on research on public sector policy, particularly on partnerships and public involvement, and recent research includes the evaluation of Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s (ODPM) community cohesion programme (with the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations), and research on Strategic HRM and organisational change within local government for the ODPM (with Society for Local Government Chief Executives (SOLACE)). White has also conducted research funded by the Housing Corporation on community governance, and for the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) on evaluating “Design Collaboratives” to reduce children missing from education.  Hall* has published work from projects with central government Departments, such as the Office of Government Commerce and the Highways Agency, investigating performance measurement within the public sector with a particular emphasis on cultural change (Hall-1, 2).  


Within this theme, the Department regards its close relations with the user community as playing a vital role in the design and development of research as well as in knowledge transfer. The Department actively develops relationships with different user groups and seeks their support in the design, funding and implementation of timely and relevant research programmes and projects. There is also a strong emphasis within this theme on the dissemination of research results through workshops, lectures, conferences and practitioner publications, as well as targeting good quality academic journals. For example Friedman and Phillips have produced good practice guides for the professions and White has produced numerous case studies as best practice, for example, for the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit (on Renewal.Net) of the ODPM.  


Studying Management Interventions

The second main area of work in the department is studying management intervention, which is taken to mean any systematic approach to improving performance effectiveness in organisations. The aim of the research is the development of theory that bridges various types of interventions and research into the effectiveness of management interventions. Bourne’s research builds on his PhD awarded (Cranfield,  2002) on values in organisations and extends the analysis of values and culture in organisations. He is currently working on the links between professional values and outcome for clients in a social care agency and on a longitudinal study of managers’ attempts to conceive, introduce and establish a set of corporate values in a public service organisation intended to affect cultural change (Bourne-1). White’s research is on the use of Problem Structuring Methods (PSM) in large group environments, particularly in the public sector. The focus has been on the use and appraisal of participative approaches that require involvement of a wide range of stakeholders in the decision making process (White-2, 3, 4).  Together the researchers havedeveloped, used and assessed methods for wide participation and working with values in public policy making, for example, working on values and strategy with the senior management team at Barnardos. The research is characterised by a strong focus on linking theory with practice as indicated by White’s published work on approaches for understanding PSM interventions (White-1) and the work of Bourne on approaches for studying values in organisations (Bourne -2, 3). The researchers are currently working with a range of public sector bodies including local councils and voluntary organisations. White has recently received funding from Knowledge West looking at research on the use of PSMs to explore the development of a biomass industry with stakeholders in the Southwest region.


Also, within this theme, Friedman has been collaborating on Stakeholder Theory with a former University of Bristol staff member, Samantha Miles (Friedman-2). They have developed work which has culminated in a book published in April 2006. This book analyses, classifies and critiques the diffused strands of the stakeholder literature. Finally, Kam’s work is on innovation studies with a focus on information flows and the impact on innovativeness (Gan-1, 2). Collaboration on this topic is also being carried out with the University of Sheffield.  Kam will continue her research on innovation, including making use of the CIS4 data, which is the UK part of an EU-wide innovation survey, and possibly other future innovation data commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry. 


Critical Organisation Studies

The third area of Departmental strength is in the field of Critical Organisation Studies, focusing on the often overlapping themes of identity, gender, management history and aesthetics.  The work done in this area is strongly theoretically informed and takes an interdisciplinary approach to developing ways of understanding organisations, organising and organisers that makes visible and  questions the often unspoken assumptions of mainstream managerialism. One of the most important topic in this theme is identity as it relates to management research.  Rippin has published on the changing nature of leaders and their identities in large organisations.  Phillips has looked at conflicting identities in entrepreneurs and business ‘tycoons’, and she has published work on the identity construction of members of professional bodies and also explored the masculine iconography of the Institute for the Motor Industry.  Both of the researchers are working with Dr Pullen from the University of Technology, Sydney on the influence of changing organisations on managerial identity. Much of the work on identity in the group takes a gendered perspective to the study of identity in work and organisations.  


Although this work is wide-ranging it comes together through its innovative use of qualitative research methodologies, particularly those based on a close examination of text, and its concentration on the role of gender in change in organisations.  Rippin's work critiques gendered approaches to research on change management particularly with reference to new forms of leadership, and the gendered iconography of leadership (Rippin-3, 4).  Phillips (with Deborah Knowles, University of Westminster) has used literary theory approaches to challenge gendered constructions of entrepreneurship. 


Another element of this research theme is Management and Organisation History. Rippin has also published in this area with Peter Fleming (UWE) concentrating on the neglected but important role of medieval and early modern history in tropes of organising in contemporary businesses.  Phillips has published on the historical development of midwifery as a profession utilising a New Historicist approach.  Rippin's work on corporate excess, magnificence and magnanimity deploys both interdisciplinary approaches to understanding contemporary organisational practice and innovative aesthetic approaches to methodology (Rippin-1, 2).  Also within this theme, and during the RAE period, Fosh (category B) conducted research on female employees’ prospects in the service industry in the Chinese Triangle, funded by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and provided advice and support to staff and PhD students in the Department.


3.2 Research domains

The Department has established a strong focus on the “Third Sector” (including professions and professional services and social enterprises), and “Public Sector” management, working with a range of clients including the Department of Health (DoH), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), local authorities and charities, professional bodies, and the private sector. The aim is to provide rigorous and relevant research on the third sector and its wider social impact.  A well-established strand is concerned with the development of processes for partnership working, intervention and strategy development (White and Hall), particularly problems of strategic partnership working and decision-analysis in multi-organisational settings. The research mainly focuses on exploring and developing frameworks for policy analysis in situations where there are multiple stakeholders from different organisations as well as the public, each with their own perspectives on the common problem, so that higher-level perspectives can develop and new/different insights emerge. Linked to this, White has developed a reputation in network analysis and organisations. Currently he is using social network analysis to study public sector brokerage and knowledge networks in the public services. He is also looking at a public-sector-run private sector network of high performing companies in the South West and researching children’s services networks in the NHS (in conjunction with the University of Nottingham and funded by the Department of Health)


The main focus of the “Third Sector” domain is the Professional Associations. Friedmanhas set up the Professional Associations Research Network (PARN). This has involved research, conferences and events, publications and consultancy work on member relations and governance of these bodies.  The Department also focuses its research on other third sector organisations in particular Social Enterprises. This includes Phillip’s work on the problems that social enterprises have with growth and White, who has organised a seminar in 2006, as part of an ESRC funded series on the future of the Social Economy, on the impact of social enterprises on the local social economy.



4. Research Environment

The School of Economics, Finance and Management regards the research environment as critical in improving the research standing of the Departments.  The environment in the school is stimulating and supportive of research across disciplinary boundaries. 


The School is part of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law and comprises three departments: Accounting and Finance, Economics, and Management supported by multi-disciplinary research groups.  Overall, the School has an academic staff of 70, including 14 Professors and 13 Research staff; an administrative team of 24; and an IT support team of 4. The School senior management team determines resource allocation and staffing policy and the heads of the three Departments provide academic leadership for research and staff development. 


The School also offers other levels of support for the Departments as follows:

  • Current personal research grant totals £1000 pa plus amounts from research grants
  • Research groupings open to all staff in the School

·        Resources for the development of PhD students


In the Department of Management, the research environment is inter-disciplinary and collegiate, where supporting staff research is a priority. The key objective has been to create and maintain a supportive intellectual environment, built around strategic groupings but within which a range of research activity can thrive. Thus, there are regular (bi-annual) research review meetings with the Head of Department for individual staff members as well as the formal annual Staff Review. The emphasis is on monitoring progress and identifying areas for support. The Department organises a management research seminar series (used to attract leading researchers from other institutions), and research workshops (involving staff seminars, reading groups, and research clinics; the latter that have been important for improving journal papers, and refining research proposals). The turnout at these events is normally 100% reflecting the supportive and collegiate nature of the staff. 


In 2004, the Department took the lead in organising a series of management research workshops, within the University, that led to collaborative research with other Departments, for example, on problem structuring and public sector performance with the Department of Civil Engineering and the School for Policy Studies, and on gender and work with the Departments of Sociology and Politics.  


The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law has also supported the development of the research environment.  It has a Research Director who is responsible for strategic-level decision making about research, chairs the Faculty Research Committee and is a member of the University Research Committee.    


5. Staffing policy

Since the beginning of 2003 the Department has recruited 4 new staff and now has 7 full-time research active lecturing staff. New appointments have brought increased stability and broader teaching areas to the core group. The policy has been to recruit a mix of early career and experienced staff. 


To support research the following elements of the Staffing policy are relevant:

  • The School policy is to appoint only lecturing staff with potential to publish in the best journals, along side a policy to use limited number of teaching fellows to ensure lecturing staff have teaching loads that allow adequate time for research
  • First post staff receive 80% teaching loads for two years
  • New University job profiles for first post staff reduces their  administration load and puts strong emphasis on time for research
  • First post staff have a mentor and two advisors


Teaching and administrative duties are usually arranged in three days per week to release regular time for research.  There is a cap on teaching hours and some staff members are able to organise their teaching in one semester. This has been possible in that the Department has attracted good quality non-research teaching staff. The teaching fellows have helped to reduce the overall teaching load for our research active staff, so that research active staff can focus their teaching on courses that are aligned with their research interests.


6. Research students and research studentships

The Department of Management regards the development of PhD studies as an essential part of its research plan and has established a management PhD research programme, initially offering 4 bursaries. PhD students are only accepted where their areas of study are closely aligned to that of the supervisor. The number of PhDs has grown over the last few years from two to nine and the Department plans to increase the number of students. In particular, the Department is beginning to conduct joint PhDs with other units and schools, for example, the Centre for East Asian Studies (CEAS), further encouraging cross-disciplinary work. Aside from the students who have been given a bursary (one student has been awarded an Overseas Research Scholarship), most of the students are self-funded. The Department’s MSc in Management has been given ‘+3’ ESRC recognition


 PhDs are provided with their own workspace and computer. The students are supported and assisted to attend and give papers at external conferences (such as BAM) and internal seminars and research workshops and attend the Department’s research seminar series given by external speakers. Each PhD student is provided with a research training programme for their development.


In terms of support, the following School policies are relevant:

·        All research students have a conference allowance totaling £400.

·        All research students can undertake small amounts of teaching as part of their training.

·        Support for research students includes supervisor and advisor; six-monthly formal review of progress, graduate student training courses at School, Faculty and University level.


In the Faculty, research student annual progress reviews are overseen by the Faculty Graduate Dean, who is also responsible for Faculty policy on doctoral level study and academic standards through membership of the University’s Graduate Studies Committee and Research Degrees Board.  Subject-specific research methods training is supplemented by the strategic use of Roberts’ generic skills funding to facilitate the running of doctoral student conferences/workshops in Departments/Schools and to provide a range of  Faculty-wide short course on topics such as project and time management, media skills, database use and career development.


7. Research income and financial strategy

The School has a financial strategy to expand its premium fee Masters’ programmes. These high-fee programmes plus an expansion in overseas undergraduate numbers have been a vital part of the School’s financial strategy.  The income streams from these sources, along with an optimal use of teaching fellows, have contributed to a supportive research environment and also produced the financial surplus required by the University. 


Research income is necessary to support the Department’s overall research strategy. Currently, funding is largely from business, industry and the public sector. Some members have been part of major research projects, for example, White is currently involved in Nottingham University’s led Department of Health (Service Delivery Organisation programme) funded research project on networked organisations in the health services (£388,000) and was one of the researchers on the Tavistock Institute led bid funded by the ODPM on evaluating the community cohesion programme (£150,000). Friedman and Phillips have worked on projects on the Professions with a number of sponsors: the DfEE- £43,000, a consortium of professional bodies - £45,000, the Nuffield Foundation- £6,000, and an ESRC fellowship (Phillips) -£10,000. Friedman and Phillips also obtained £36,000 from Business Link West, the Bristol Enterprise Centre and the European Social Fund to support a learning network for Mission-Oriented Firms. The funds have enabled the Department to employ Research Associates who have had an impact on the research environment and have been invaluable to the Department in helping to raise the level and quality of outputs achieved during the RAE period.


8.  Future developments

TheDepartment’s aim is to build on the momentum generated so far. The objectives for the next five years will be:

  • To continue to strengthen the core areas and build on our themed profile of research through grant applications, and fostering collaboration with colleagues in the University and other universities to build up interdisciplinary research
  • To recruit research active staff of the highest ability and guarantee continuous professional development to ensure that everyone has a strong profile established by publishing in leading journals and engaging in relevant peer networks
  • To develop the research capacity of the Department by the employment of a balanced mix of professors, lecturers and teaching fellows
  • To increase the overall income for research through the dual financial strategy of expanding our graduate programme and increasing our grant applications with all staff actively pursuing the latter as one of their goals
  • To increase access to research studentships and fellowships, including gaining ESRC postgraduate awards
  • To continue to improve the research environment and culture within the Department, including greater support and capacity-building for research students and early career staff. 


The following are indicative of our progress beyond the RAE period and they highlight ongoing research work that has not yet produced significant visible outcomes. 


Friedman has won three new research contracts. These are: Diversity and the Professions, with the newly formed CEHR (Commission for Equality and Human Rights), funded  from the Department for Education and skills, to examining what professional bodies are doing to support equality and diversity among their membership and within their organisations; Higher Education Institutions and the market for CPD (continuing professional development). with UALL (Universities Association for Lifelong Learning), funded  from DfES; and Approaches to CPD measurement funded from IFAC (International Federation of Accountants).

White is a Co investigator on Nottingham University Business School’s Department of Health funded three year research exploring network analysis and organisations with reference to knowledge transfer in children services networks. He is the PI on a recently funded research project on performance measures and social services.


Finally, the Department is continuing to work in new and emerging areas of academic research with a focus on practice improvement.  This continues to make use of the post-experiential MSc degrees of Management Learning and Change and Strategic Management. The outcomes have been the identification of case study sites for staff research (eg Rippin with St Monica Trust, White with the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and Bourne with Monmouth County Council). Four graduates from the programmes are now studying for PhDs.


9. Esteem indicators (by Individual)


Refereeing for Organizational Research Methods; British Journal of Management; European Management Journal; Journal of Change Management; Academy of Management Conference 

Invited speaker to the Graduate School of Business, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA, 2002


Visiting professorship at the University of Lancaster

Refereeing for Critical Perspectives in Accounting and The Sociological Review. 

Plenary session presentations to GNOSIS conference March 2007, European Training and Development Federation, April 2004

Organised a National Conferences on: ethical competence, ethical codes, Continuing Professional Development, governance of professional bodies


Visiting Research Fellow at the Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (IMRC) at the University of Bath 

Consulted for the Association for Project Management, the Institute of Safety & Health, the National Audit Office, and the Institute of the Motor Industry 

Refereeing for Public Productivity and Management Review, Sustainable Development, the International Journal of Project Management and the European Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management


Reviewer for Scandinavian Journal of Management, and had a guest-editorship for International Journal of Technology Intelligence and Planning. 

Fellow of ACCA


Visiting Research Fellow - Centre for Evidence-based Practice & Policy, Queen Mary, University of London  

Reviewer for Non-profit Management & Leadership, Gender, Work and Organization, and Culture & Organization 

Advisory work on CPD, governance and ethics for number of professional bodies and has

An invited member of panel to determine direction of Royal Society of Arts Manifesto challenge  


Won the first American Academy of Management Art in Management prize

Convenerof Standing Conference on Organisational Symbolism (SCOS) 

On the editorial board of the Management and Organizational History


Visiting positions at the School of Economic and Business Sciences and the Department of Public Health, University of Witwatersrand South Africa 

Chair and regular stream organiser for one of the European Federation of OR Societies (EUROS) working groups

Key plenary at the National Community Empowerment Conference 2001, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and was a keynote speaker at the UK Systems Societies conference 2004- University of Oxford