Funded research projects

The School pursues grant income to support large-scale interdiscipinary research necessary to impact the grand challenges of society. Our funded research programmes and projects usually include academic researchers from outside of the School and the University of Warwick, and commonly include policy and practice partners who co-produce the research from initiation.

We enact a virtuous relationship between inputs (investment in faculty, and physical and data infrastructure, large-scale external grant funding) and outputs of high quality scholarly publications, development of faculty, impact on policy and practice, and public engagement with our research. This input-output relationship is supported by School structures and practices, which encourage disciplinary excellence within our subject groups, and interdisciplinarity and impact through our research centres and networks, Communities of Impact (CoI) and University-level Global Research Priorities.

Below we showcase examples of externally funded projects and programmes, including research fellowships, those responding to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and those involving non-academic partners.

Network for Integrated Behavioural Science (NIBS 2)

Funded by: The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Award: £2 million

The ESRC-funded Network for Integrated Behavioural Science (NIBS) is a partnership among the Universities of Nottingham, Warwick (WBS and Psychology) and East Anglia.

The partnership comprises of a cross-disciplinary group of researchers from economics, business, computer science, mathematics, and psychology, whose remit was to develop and test models of human behaviour and behavioural change, to draw out their implications for the formulation and evaluation of public policy. The aim of the network has been refined to focus on advancing behavioural science relevant to the understanding of consumer behaviour, market response to that behaviour, and regulation of markets and formulation of public policy. It will do so at the general level and with specific reference to consumer and household finance.

Visit the NIBS website to find out more.

EXploring Innovations in Transition to Adulthood (EXIT Study)

Funded by: The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Award: £1.62 million

The ESRC-funded EXIT study is a partnership among the Universities of Bedfordshire, Coventry, Newcastle, Warwick (WBS and Warwick Medical School), Monash University in Australia, together with charitable organisation, Care Leavers Association, and other health and social care providers.

The transition from care to adulthood is often a difficult one which can leave young people experiencing feelings of instability, powerlessness, unpreparedness, abandonment and mistrust. Young people who have experienced the care system are more likely to have a conviction, become a teenage parent, experience social exclusion, underachieve academically, have mental health problems, and experience homelessness than their non-looked after peers.

The EXIT study aims to pinpoint the innovations which have made a positive difference to young care leavers and identify the ways in which innovations are introduced, shared and adopted by the various networks and professional bodies involved in supporting young people during their transition to adulthood.

Visit the EXIT study website to find out more.

NHS-Virginia Mason Institute (VMI) Partnership Evaluation

Funded by: The Health Foundation

Award: £489,000

In 2015, the VMI developed a system to foster a culture of, and build capability for, continuous improvement in healthcare organisations. This system was applied and evaluated in five partner NHS hospital Trusts in England. The three-year evaluation study was led by Warwick Business School and funded by The Health Foundation and focused on understanding how best to build a sustainable culture of continuous improvement capability in the NHS, and to gather learning on how NHS system leaders can support providers to spread this across other NHS organisations.

Visit the NHS-VMI study website to find out more.

The Productivity Institute

Funded by: The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Award: £1.4 million to the University of Warwick, total award to the University of Manchester (Lead Partner) of £25.7 million

The Productivity Institute consortium brings together world-leading experts from a range of disciplines and backgrounds, working directly with policymakers and businesses to better understand, measure, and enable improvements in productivity across the whole of the UK, with the aim to improve living standard and well-being. The Institute will support a step-change in the quality and quantity of research available in the UK that will directly inform government policies and business strategies to improve productivity.

The Productivity Institute is a multi-partner consortia led by the University of Manchester. The University of Warwick (WBS and Institute of Employment Research) lead the ‘Organisational Capital’ theme in partnership with Universities of Aston, Loughborough and Manchester. This research will examine how COVID-19 is impacting on firms across the productivity distribution, explore how firms are tackling the digital and net zero transitions, and how they can be incentivised to upgrade productivity.

Visit the Productivity Institute website to find out more.

UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) Phase 4

Funded by: The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Award: £638,000 to the University of Warwick, total award to UCL (Lead Partner) of £8.5 million

The School is involved in the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) through Michael Bradshaw, Professor of Global Energy at Warwick Business School, and Co-Director of UKERC.

UKERC carries out world-class research into sustainable future energy systems and acts as a focal point for UK energy research and a gateway between the UK and the international energy research communities. Their interdisciplinary research informs UK policy development and strategies of public, private and third sector organisations. Current research is focusing on the increasingly contested and uncertain nature of energy system change. 

Professor Bradshaw leads the theme ‘Geopolitical economy of energy system transformation’ and involves researchers at Durham University, University College London and the University of Southampton, together with the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. The project is divided into five over-lapping work packages that together will provide a comprehensive assessment of the global context for the UK’s transition to net-zero.

Visit the UKERC website to find out more.

Strengthening Health Professional Regulation in Kenya and Uganda

Funded by: The MRC

Award: £180,000

Regulation is a key challenge across health systems in low- and middle- income countries (LMICs). Improving regulation can enhance the quality and safety of healthcare. Yet the little evidence from LMICs indicates that regulation is poorly enforced for a variety of reasons, including inadequate human and financial resources, weak governance and corruption.

Professor Gerry McGivern of Warwick Business Schools leads an interdiscipinary team of experts from Makerere University School of Public Health (Uganda), Strathmore Business School (Kenya), KeMRI Wellcome Trust (Kenya), and University of Oxford, together with regulation bodies in Kenya and Uganda to explore and improve professional regulation in these settings.

The study is due to report its findings in the near future. Please visit the project page website for the latest updates.

Policy Research Unit in Behavioural Science

Funded by: The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)

Award: £440,000 to the University of Warwick, total award to Newcastle University (Lead Partner) of £4.5 million

The aim of the NIHR Policy Research Unit (PRU) in Behavioural Science is to inform government policy on health, preventing ill-health and health systems. We use behavioural science evidence, theory and methods to support decision-making.

Established in 2019, the Unit is a collaboration between Newcastle University, University College London, University of Warwick, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. We have a collaborating network of experts in public health and public and patient involvement (PPI).

We bring together researchers with a range of disciplinary backgrounds and expertise, to support policy makers in policy design, development, evaluation and implementation. We work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and in collaboration with other Policy Research Units. This enables us to provide the best evidence and advice, in a timely way, for the benefit of the public and patients.

Visit the PRU website to find out more.

A Practice-theoretical Account of Organisational Attention

Funded by: The Swiss National Science Foundation 

Award: £114,000 to the University of Warwick, total award to USI (Lead Partner) of £518,000

This study aims to shed new light on the mundane, concrete practices of how organizations, rather than their individual members, pay attention. We are interested in exploring: how attention comes to be weaved in everything we do at work; how specific situations, spaces, and arrangements of objects make us pay attention (often without any effort or even us realizing); and how all these aspects together combine in orienting the attention of organizations and generating their attention and foresight capability.

Although the research is exploratory, uncovering existing attention processes will help organizations improve their overall attentional capacity and identify attentional bottlenecks and blind spots. The study is conducted in collaboration between the Department of Communication of the USI (Università della Svizzera Italiana), Lungano (Switzerland) and Warwick Business school and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Research and Improvement for SEND Excellence (RISE)

Funded by: The Department for Education

Award: £1.1 million

Partners: Council for Disabled Children, National Development Team for Inclusion, IMPOWER, Isos Partnership

According to the UK Government, 1.4 million pupils in England (15.5%) had special educational needs (SEN) in 2020. In addition, the proportion of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) at primary and secondary schools in England has been growing since 2017.

This research project is developing a What Works in SEND programme to provide a learning system that will be used as an evidence base within the sector. This will comprise research, development and dissemination of resources and models of effective practice. Professor Graeme Currie leads a team of researchers to provide this programme of research in real time, in order to inform ongoing evidence-based service improvement carried out by a wide range of local authority partners. Professor Currie is the Warwick lead, and works with colleagues at Warwick Evidence in the Medical School and at the Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research (CEDAR).

The funding is part of a three-year £4.8 million package to support SEND improvement in local areas involving the Research & Improvement for SEND Excellence partnership (RISE), which is led by the Council for Disabled Children and includes the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi), the University of Warwick and the Isos Partnership. This programme aligns with other large-scale research programmes focused upon care leavers (funded by ESRC) and youth mental health (funded by NIHR), which are led by WBS. 

Research Fellowships

Faculty within the School have been successful in obtaining Research Fellowships, individual awards that advance and develop research careers. Some recent examples include:

Financially Redesigning the Anthropocene: Investigating Tools, Data and Practices for Climate Risks and Targets
Dr Katharina Dittrich, UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship (£1.1 million).

Uncovering the Social Processes of Impact Measurement: Insights from the Evaluation of Coventry City of Culture
Dr Haley Beer, Arts and Humanities Research Count (AHRC) Research, Development & Engagement Fellowship (£175,000).

Covid-19 related projects

Financial Impact of Covid-19 on the UK Care Home Sector

Funded by: UKRI Covid-19 Response

Award: £359,000

In collaboration with University College London and the Centre for Health and the Public Interest, Professor Mariana Fotaki of Warwick Business School will examine the financial impact of Covid-19 on the UK care home sector and is designed to inform policy debate about the future of social care provision in the UK.

Real-time Evaluation of the Effects of Covid-19 and Policy Responses on Consumer and Small Business Finance

Funded by: UKRI Covid-19 Response

Award: £300,000

In collaboration with University of Nottingham, the Financial Conduct Authority, the National Employee Savings Trust, financial app Moneydashboard and retail bank NatWest, Professor Neil Stewart of Warwick Business School will use a unique set of real-time data to give policymakers much faster results than is traditionally produced by the Office for National Statistics.

The Future of Work and Wellbeing: The Pissarides Review

Funded by: The Nuffield Foundation

Award: £235,000 to the University of Warwick, total award to IFOW (Lead Partner) of £1.8 million

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated investment by businesses in automation technologies which are replacing human inputs in many work tasks, processes and sometimes entire jobs. Such automation is impacting society and the economy in what is becoming known as the fourth industrial revolution. In collaboration with University College London, Imperial College London, London School of Economics and the Institute for the Future of Work (IFOW), this study will explore the true impact of automation on organisations, the workforce and the communities they operate in.

Professor James Hayton of Warwick Business School is leading the school’s involvement in the project, with WBS investigating the drivers of why firms adopt automation technology and the impact it has on workers.

Visit The Pissarides Review project page on the Nuffield Foundation website to find out more.

Collaborations with non-academic partners

Collaborations with non-academic partners are critical to the success and delivery of many funded research studies in the School and our faculty recognise the increasing importance of transferring knowledge between academia and policy and practice. For our industry partners, the availability of existing knowledge, deliverable in the short-term, is often more valuable and timelier than new knowledge creation.

Examples include:

  • Transforming productivity with artificial intelligence in the sugar industry (with/for AB Sugar (British Sugar plc) 
  • How customers are using banking channels and technologies, and how these usage patterns are influencing long-term financial behaviours and outcomes (with/for Lloyds Bank) 
  • Examining behavioural risk through customer audits (with/for NatWest Bank)
  • Evaluation of tools to Improve the financial capability of University students and young adults (with/for Money Advice Service)
  • Communication of the uncertainty of statistics (with/for Office of National Statistics)
  • Monetary policy and fluctuations (with/for Centre for Economic Policy Research (CERP)
  • FDI in Chinese pharmaceutical and related sectors (with/for Beijing Grace Management Consulting Co. Ltd) 
  • NetDesign Re-optimisation - Robust and dynamic optimisation of fibreoptic telecommunication networks (with/for British Telcom)
  • Applying AI-based solutions into high-value litigation rapidly through access to structured data and data analytics collector (with/for Innovate UK via Solomonic) 
  • Knowledge partnership transfer (with/for Slicker Recycling Ltd).