REF 2014 results prompt business schools to make funding call

The Association of Business Schools has called on the government and funding councils to reverse the decline in funding for management research

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Despite much evidence from the latest research excellence framework that business and management research can deliver significant impact for the economy and society, and represents an excellent return on investment, the ABS says such work has seen a 4.7 per cent drop in funding, while many science subjects have seen a major rise.

Yet it argues that such research has huge potential to add value to science, technology, engineering and maths research by increasing universities’ capacity to turn world-class inventions into successful businesses.

“The competitiveness of the British economy requires greater investment in business,” said the Association’s chair, Angus Laing.

The REF results had “demonstrate[d] the strength, impact and value that business and management research achieves right across the economy and on the wider society”,  he added.

“The UK’s business schools want to see a move from investment narrowly focused on STEM to being about investment in STEMM, where management is as core to the policy discourse as science and engineering. Rebalancing this discourse is critical to rebalancing the economy of the future.”

“Research with impact,” added George Feiger, executive dean of Aston Business School, “means much more than the results of the REF, or the prominence of individual research papers.

“It means research that creates opportunity – opportunity for our students to launch businesses of their own that have a strong chance of success, and opportunity for all our faculty to work inside and alongside companies large or small to help them improve their planning, their processes, their marketing and ultimately their performance as well as to improve policy of national and regional governments. By creating opportunity, we are seeing real world impact across everything we do.”

The Association has already been lobbying for an incoming government to give greater recognition to business and management education and research through its Manifesto for Growth. It is now working on the publication of Impact Case Studies designed to highlight examples of where such research has made a positive impact.

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