Business and management studies (BMS) staff are based on three of the University’s campuses: Coleraine, Jordanstown and Magee College in Londonderry. Each campus has undergraduate and postgraduate programmes (BA and MBA) covering the general spectrum of business areas in addition to specialisms at bachelors and masters levels particular to that campus. The research activities reflect the staff recruitment policies of the individual campuses. Since 1996 major reorganisation has resulted in the Ulster Business School being subsumed within the Faculty of Business and Management. This at present consists of five schools: Management (Jordanstown); Business, Retailing and Financial Services (Coleraine); International Business (Magee); Hospitality, Tourism and Consumer Studies (Jordanstown and Magee); Public Policy, Economics and Law (Jordanstown and Magee). A small number of BMS staff are drawn from Public Policy, Economics and Law with the great majority from the other 4 schools. In addition the Faculty has established the Graduate School to manage the expanding research student base (now in excess of 50 full-time and part-time combined) together with the Management Institute which has responsibility for executive development on all campuses. Further restructuring which will impact positively on BMS research is due to take place in 2001 and this will be referred to in more detail under Research Strategy. The management of research within the Faculty is based on the systematic approach adopted by the University so that the research Units of Assessment within the Faculty viz: BMS; Public Policy; Law; are each managed as single groups led by research co-ordinators.
Due to the size, diversity of interests and geographical spread of the BMS Unit subject specific groups have been established, each led, as is the Unit overall, by senior members of the academic staff. These groups are:
1. Banking , Accounting and Finance
The 10 members of this group are Ferguson, Glass, Hutchinson, Hyndman, Kerr, McCaffrey, Muldowney, Opong, Tridimas and Ward. Building on a major thrust of the last RAE, this group has continued to focus on efficiency and performance measurement and the analysis of structural change in the financial sector and has established itself as a centre of such research in Ireland. Where financial sector research is concerned the emphasis has been two-fold: institutional, in the context of banks and credit unions, and market oriented in the form of studies on market valuation impacts of information release. On the institutional side, bank and building society cost efficiency has continued to be assessed and strategic factors analysed. The strategic implications of European Monetary Union have been addressed in an international context in, for example, the recent six-month period by Hutchinson as visiting research fellow at the Central Bank of Ireland. In addition to announcements effects analysis on the finance side, chaos theory has been used to examine the behaviour of equity indices. The generalised Riemann integral of Henstock has also been used to provide an alternative method for solving the Black-Scholes pricing equation. This performance measurement theme has been extended to the wider not-for-profit sector, including the public sector (with a particular emphasis on executive agencies and the health service), universities and charities. It has also been developed in the areas of performance reporting (including the reporting of efficiency) and financial reporting (related to accounting regulations/recommendations) in not-for-profit organisations in the wider context of accountability. Furthermore, the related issue of the use of performance targets by not-for-profit organisations in management accounting systems has been explored. The continuing development of these research areas will be helped by the activities of two doctoral students focusing on such issues. In addition to the above, taxation policy remains a continuing theme. Here, work of a comparative nature with respect to the UK and Ireland provides an important focus. Collaborative work takes place with researchers from North America, the UK universities and the Republic of Ireland. A series of six to eight Accounting and Finance research seminars has been running annually since 1997 in Jordanstown. Recent contributors include Professor Rowan Jones (U. of Birmingham), Professor Bill Rees (U of Glasgow), Professor Ted O’Leary (National U. of Ireland) and Dr. Martin Conyon (U. of Warwick/U. of S. California). The annual conference of the Irish Accounting and Finance Association (IAFA) was organised at Coleraine, 1998, and Jordanstown has hosted a number of IAFA research conferences. The public output since the last RAE amounts to 87 items made up of 52 journal articles, 6 books, 7 chapters in books and 22 conference papers and other outputs.
2. Human Resource Management/Organisation Behaviour
The 5 members of this group are Ackah, Bennett, Heaton, Mason and McHugh. The research of this group covers a wide spectrum of issues impinging on individual and organisational behaviour, and the management of human resources within the private and public sectors. The areas researched include NI trade unionism and labour history, labour economics, gender and equality issues, employee relations in Eastern Europe, employee involvement and participation, and organisational health encompassing work on culture, change and employee well-being. Significant research funding has been attracted from the European Commission and the Local Government sector within the UK permitting the appointment of research staff to support the activities of the group. As an outcome of conference attendance and visiting scholarships at other European Universities the group has well established research networks involving peers from other UK institutions, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands. Research carried out by these networks has formed the basis of many joint publications. Within the group emphasis has been placed on knowledge and technology transfer. Consequently, the networking activities of the group have extended to include organisations which are themselves the subject of research. An example of this is the transnational partnership of university and human service organisations involving McHugh. The group has established a seminar and discussion paper series which includes contributions from staff, research students and external contributors. External seminar leaders have included Dr Susan Cartwright (UMIST) and Professor John Kelly (LSE). Publications by the sub-group since the last RAE total 39 items, made up of 25 journal articles, 1 book, 2 chapters in books and 11 conference papers and other outputs.
3. International and Regional Policy and Strategy
The 9 members of this group are Alexander, Arun, Bell, Demick, Doherty, Greenan, O’Reilly, Quinn and Stark. The unifying theme of this group is the issue of competitiveness in an international context and the related issue of peripherally located SME’s. The establishment of the Centre for International Business Research at Magee in 1999 together with the more recent Northern Ireland Centre for Entrepreneurship, NICENT, (see Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Consumer Research) has provided emerging foci for the work of the group. As part of this initiative the International Business Incubation facility is being built at Magee with external funding in excess of £1.0m. The research areas of the sub-group include the internationalisation of retailing and franchising, the regional and international evolution of retail systems, deregulation/privatisation of industry in India, SME’s and exporting/internationalisation, government support agencies and SME exporting, the role of benchmarking in SME competitive strategy formulation, competitiveness/regulation in the air transport industry, regional development and environmental industry analysis. One group member with particular pedagogical interests is a member of QAA. The group maintains strong international research connections. Group members are regular contributors to the conferences of the European Association for Education and Research in Commercial Distribution, the European Institute of Retailing and Services Sciences, the Academy of International Business and the American Marketing Association. The group has actively encouraged conference attendance by younger members in order to build strength in depth within the research team. Membership of the American Collegiate Retailing Association and Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy has also served to support the group’s international research profile. There are also strong research links with the University of Auckland and the University of Otago in New Zealand. The group has been particularly concerned to develop the international profile of younger members. Toward the end of the period of the current assessment exercise, Doherty was a joint editor of a special issue of the International Marketing Review with a senior member of the group and with Quinn has begun editing a special issue of the International Journal of Retailing and Distribution Management. An edited special issue of Business History was produced and regular editing of The Service Industries Journal was provided. Through the editing of these journals, the group has been able to broaden and cement its existing research contacts and relationships. The Service Industries Journal has a particularly good record of publishing work by European academics who have made a major contribution to the development of academic thought in the management of service enterprises. A strong emphasis is placed on developing newly emerging research areas through the publication of key texts and edited books (International Retailing, The Emergence of Modern Retailing; 1750-1950). Publications by the group since the last RAE total 109 items made up of 46 journal articles, 1 book,13 chapters in books, 1 edited book and 48 conference papers and other outputs.
4. Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Consumer Research
14 members of this group are Armstrong, Brown, Carson, Clarke, Cromie, Durkin, Gilmore, Hill, McGowan, McIlveen, Patterson, Stevens, Stewart and Strugnell. Their research interests have two major foci: (i) SMEs with particular emphasis on the marketing/entrepreneurship interface; and (ii) the ‘front’ end of the marketing channel, the point of contact between retailer and consumer. The SME researchers with some emphasis on applications operate a Marketing Research Partnership Unit, which melds secondary sources and empirical databases into a synergistic whole. An important recent development has been the establishment of the Northern Ireland Centre for Entrepreneurship (NICENT), in collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast as one of twelve centres of excellence set up throughout the UK as a result of the Science Enterprise Challenge (SEC). The consumer researchers are characterised by a critical stance. This was made manifest in the organisation of four international conferences, which led to the publication of three edited books (Marketing Apocalypse; Romancing the Market; Imagining Marketing) and two journal special issues.
The group, then, spans the marketing spectrum, from pure to applied and industrial to consumer. A series of (extremely lively) seminars is organised. Recent speakers include: Professor Kjell Gronhaug (Norwegian School of Economics), Professor Claes Hultman (University of Orebro, Sweden), Professor David Mick (University of Virginia), Professor Morgan Miles (Georgia Southern University), Professor Chad Perry (University of Southern Queensland), Professor Don Scott (University of Southern Cross), Professor Linda Scott (University of Illinois), Professor John Sherry (Northwestern University), Professor Michael Solomon (Auburn University), Professor Wai Sum Sui (Hong Kong Baptist University) Professor Craig Thompson (University of Wisconsin) and Professor Alladi Venkatesh (University of California - Irvine). An edited book, Consumer Research: Postcards From the Edge, has been published on the back of the seminar series and another is planned.
In addition to its active seminar programme, which is exciting but ephemeral, the group boasts a more substantive scholarly side. One member edits the Routledge Interpretive Research Series of marketing monographs, and others have acted as guest editors of prominent marketing journals (e.g. International Marketing Review; International Journal of Bank Marketing, European Journal of Marketing) and/or sit on a variety of editorial boards (e.g. Journal of Marketing Management; Marketing Theory; The Marketing Review; Journal of Consumer Studies). Another two members of the sub-group are Joint Editors of the European Journal of Marketing, which involves regular communication with an Editorial Review Board of approximately 60 leading academics from more than 20 countries. The journal, moreover, attracts manuscripts from all over the world (200 per annum, on average).
The group’s international connections are further enhanced by visiting professorships at Northwestern University, Monash Business School, University of Southern Queensland, University of Southern Cross, University of Notre Dame, University of California – Irvine, University of Utah, University of Auckland and Srinakharninwirot University, Thailand. International links are also maintained through regular attendance at conferences and seminars/workshops in Australia (ANZMAC), the United States (AMA, AMS, ACR) and Europe (AM, EMAC, EIASM, EACR). There is on-going collaborative research with staff from Monash, Orebro, Bergen, de Montfort, Dublin Institute of Technology and Northwestern. An annual Grand Tour of American consumer researchers is organised in conjunction with London Business School, University of Edinburgh, UMIST, Exeter University and Dublin City University.
Other group activities are supported by Sainsbury (£120,000 over three years) and Tesco (sponsor of the XIXth Consumer Studies research conference), and are underpinned by an active PhD programme. Publications by the members of the group since the last RAE total 229 items, made up of 97 journal articles, 6 books, 5 edited books, 38 chapters in books, and 89 conference papers and other outputs.
5. Operational Research/ Operations Management
The 9 members of this group are Cao, Carey, Garvin, Humphreys, McAdam, McAleer, McCreedy, McIvor and O’Neill. This group has consolidated its work in the development and application of quantitative and systems based ideas and models with the addition of 4 researchers. Whilst continuing with research in traffic and transportation modelling a major interest for members of the group has developed around the implications for a range of organisations of the total quality management philosophy. This is reflected in work on supply chain management, business process improvement, business excellence models in SME’s, management information systems and the use of the bi-normal distribution in statistical process control. Six staff from this sub-group have been involved in six teaching company schemes during the assessment period. Joint work has taken place with scholars from Poland, Spain and Hong Kong. Since the last RAE staff associated with the group have published 82 items made up of 48 journal articles, 1 book, 2 chapters in books and 31 conference papers aand other outputs.
6. Services Management
The 6 members of this group are Beggs, Boyle, Keown-McMullan, McMahon-Beattie, Murray and Parkinson. The principal research interests of this group relate to the identification and effective management of business processes within service industries. The considerable emphasis on tourism and hospitality reflects the commitment by the University over many years to this important regional industry. The research effort in this area was strengthened by the establishment of the Centre for Tourism Marketing at Magee College in 1997 with close links to both the Northern Ireland and the Irish tourist boards. In addition to this there is important research undertaken in a range of other services. The research areas addressed include customer loyalty and service quality in the tourism/hospitality sector; organisational structures and changes in service industries; crisis management in services; management development; yield management in the hospitality industry including contract catering. An important development in the e-commerce area is the recent setting up of the NI Centre for Electronic Commerce (NICeB) jointly with the Faculty of Informatics using £0.5m of external funding. The group organised and hosted the 3rd International Yield Conference in September 1998 afterwards producing the edited proceedings. Publications by the members of the sub-group since the last RAE total 42 items made up of 25 journal articles, 2 books, 2 chapters in books and 13 conference and other outputs.
Promotion of Research
The University Research Office provides support through workshops on research management for unit co-ordinators, research practice such as research student supervision and a comprehensive network based research information service. Each UoA has an annual research strategy recurrent expenditure allocation in addition to equipment. A process of annual reporting on achievements, progress and development to a panel headed by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) is in place. This helps to identify priority areas and to direct the allocation of the annual research strategy budget of BMS. The priority in allocating monies from the strategy budget is to encourage young and new-to-research older staff in such activities as: conference fees and travel; specialist research training in GB in, for example, advanced software; data collection field trips; doctoral tuition fees at other UK universities including visits to tutors. Teaching and administrative loads have been reduced to reflect the contribution of research active staff. Teaching has been organised to allow many BMS staff to have substantial periods without teaching to permit them to concentrate on specific research objectives. The Faculty now has a graduate school with responsibility for graduate student matters including the administration of the Professional Doctorate of Management (D.Man) established in 1997. The full time Director of this school is a senior member of academic staff who is supported by dedicated administrative and clerical staff.
Facilities for Research
The substantial increase in the number of staff with doctorates (see Staffing Policy later) together with the recruitment of researchers in key areas has resulted in a strong research ethos which has influenced infrastructure decisions about resource allocations. Research active staff have priority in IT hardware and software, the acquisition of specialist data sets and other materials and in the allocation of single occupancy rooms. Likewise special attention has been paid to the accommodation and equipment needs of research students. Full-time research students, in addition to normal desk space provision, have individual fully networked IT facilities. The same facilities are provided for part-time research students as and when needed.
The nature of BMS activities lends itself to collaborative and interdisciplinary work involving staff from other UoA’s , from the different research groups within UoA 43, from other universities both UK and abroad and from external organisations. Thus Stark collaborated with UoA 35 (Geography) in environmental industry research; Clarke with UoA 21 (Environmental Sciences) in a TCS; Ward with UoA 25 (Computer Science) in a TCS; Heaton with UoA 13 (Psychology) in equal opportunity research; Heaton with UoA 40 (Social Policy and Administration) in female/religion research; McAdam with UoA 25 (Computer Science) in a TCS. McHugh was the lead researcher in a transnational, EC funded, project involving researchers from the Netherlands, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland. The material listed in RA2 indicates the extent of the collaborative work where some 89 outputs (43%) involve researchers from outside the BMS research group indicated. Of these 65 have external joint authorship and 20 joint authorship with other UoA’s. Countries of joint researchers from outside the UK include Australia, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Republic of Ireland, Sweden and USA.
The University within its mission statement makes a strong commitment to serving the regional community and is regarded as a valuable source of research in all areas of Northern Ireland society. This is reflected in the location and work of BMS staff. Thus in addition to continuing commitment to Jordanstown and Coleraine an important part of the University’s strategy for the expansion of Magee College at Londonderry was the establishment of the Centre for International Business Research in 1999 with an emphasis on the entrepreneurial activities of small business international start-ups. Within BMS there is then concentration on research relevant to SME’s, regional development and peripherality in addition to the service and public sectors and the other mainstream activities across the spectrum of business and management studies. The quality of the regional based research is measured against national and international standards by an emphasis on peer reviewed publications. The group is the largest pool of specialised academic labour in the BMS area in Northern Ireland and has many links with the public sector, commerce and industry. The University is committed to technology and knowledge transfer regarding it as a vital contribution to the continuing economic development and well-being of Northern Ireland. In pursuit of this commitment the University set up the NITCS Centre (jointly with QUB) in 1991, followed by the establishment of UUTECH Ltd. in 1998 and, in April 2000, the creation of a Regional Development Office headed by a Dean of Regional Development. BMS staff are actively involved in these transfer activities. For example BMS staff have been principal grant holders in 12 TCS programmes during the period. There has also been involvement in cross-border research initiatives, local government projects and work for the Local Enterprise Development Unit (LEDU), the Industrial Development Board (IDB) and the Industrial Research and Technology Unit (IRTU), three government funded agencies devoted to industrial development. Within Northern Ireland there are very few large companies employing over 1000 with only 35 of the 100 largest companies locally owned and thus direct links with industry are predominantly with SME's. Consequently the BMS staff have established internationally recognised research strengths in SME management issues.
Recruitment has concentrated on finding active researchers in targeted areas such as tourism and international business. By 1996 a critical mass of active researchers had been established and the emphasis since then has been to maintain this development by enhancing the quality of the work and fostering the research ethos. This reflects the decision made after the 1992 RAE to adopt a 'grow our own' policy to develop young and new-to-research staff to complement the strong core of established researchers. This policy has succeeded in assuring not only continuity but also a positive research culture and ethos. Since 1992 twenty-one of the BMS staff have been awarded doctorates of whom sixteen may be regarded as young and five as older but new-to-research. While the majority have been internal UU candidates three have been awarded by other UK universities, U of Strathclyde, London School of Economics and U of Surrey, and one by the National University of Ireland. Three of twenty-one have now gone to other universities. This success rate reflects the support given by way of teaching relief, the priority given to all active researchers in the allocation of IT resources and the allocation of research strategy funds for external enrolments where needed and for visits to appropriate conferences and workshops. Important staff development factors have also been the attaching of young staff to ‘research mentors’ and providing opportunities for them to broaden their experience by spending time at overseas universities. Since 1996 nine staff have spent periods of at least six months as visiting scholars at foreign universities. This success has also impacted on other aspects of the creation of a research culture. It is now possible to supervise more research students in a greater range of areas of interest. An increasing number of BMS staff are participating in the activities of the wider UK research system as: external examiners of doctorates; referees of journal articles and research grant applications; editorial work with journals; invited speakers to conferences. Of those BMS staff submitted in 1996 one has been promoted to the externally advertised chair in International Business at Magee, two have been promoted to reader and four to senior lectureships. Six staff submitted with BMS in 1996, mainly those with research interests in non-business aspects of economics, are not included in Unit 43. During the period three staff joined other UK universities on promotion: one reader to a chair and two lecturers to senior lecturers. Three other staff moved to UK universities at the same level, one senior lecturer and two professors, while one lecturer moved to Dublin and two others to Australia. Two professors left to take up non-university positions in the Republic of Ireland. A Professor of Tourism, recruited in 1996, resigned in 1999 and a replacement has been sought.
The material submitted in respect of BMS staff demonstrates that a vibrant and substantial research ethos has been established. In addition to the 53 staff submitted another 13 are regarded as research active internally. These staff have all made sound contributions to research and when their work is included together with that of the research active staff who left during the RAE period the overall total of BMS publications is 1159 items. This grand total is made up of 492 journal articles, 70 books, 14 edited books, 163 chapters in books, 252 conference papers and 168 other outputs.
The group is a major regional research resource but in addition to meeting this regional role has since 1996 enhanced its national and international profile. The RA6 lists a large number of factors of esteem conferred by peer reviewers. A number of research grant final reports have been graded as excellent, some papers have been ranked as outstanding by various journals and some have been given citations of excellence by ANBAR. A number of ‘best paper’ at conferences are recorded. Five international conferences have been organised. Important international links have been established in Europe and further afield. A significant number of people are on the editorial boards of various national and international journals. Total research income has increased by some 80% from £1.36m to £2.45m since 1996.The research student base, both full-time and part-time, has grown substantially. The introduction of the doctoral programme in management in 1997 has secured a steady stream of senior executive part-time candidates.
All of these factors indicate the existence of a thriving research culture. The success of the ‘grow our own’ researchers policy has been very significant in the development of this culture and the presence of these younger researchers bodes well for its future.