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Research impact

Image of peoples faces

The majority of OUBS’ research output is aligned with the University’s wider mission of social justice – focusing on social aspects of the economy, management and governance such as:

  • green and sustainable technologies
  • entrepreneurship amongst ethnic minorities
  • social innovation
  • leadership in voluntary sector organisations
  • the public understanding of personal finance
  • social marketing and the use of big data
  • the ethics and morality of surveillance and privacy in society and the workplace

The influence of OU research is therefore most strongly felt in real world contexts, including policy and practice. Our External Engagement team runs ‘business perspective days’ to showcase our research to senior practitioners, and we have secured over £3 million funding in recent years to establish the following new centres for academic excellence:

Each of the new centres seeks to demonstrate effective integration of research, teaching and outreach consistent with the OU mission and values and its Academic Excellence strategy, and each is expected to have a significant impact on its ‘target’ audience.

The most recent Research Excellence Framework audit (2014) placed OUBS 16th out of 101 institutions assessed. This places us significantly ahead of highly-regarded Business Schools such as Warwick and equal to Oxford and Cardiff Business Schools. OUBS impact cases were assessed as 50% 4* (world leading) and 50% 3* (internationally excellent).

Key areas of significant research impact include:

  • contributions to government policymaking debates on the marketing of alcohol to young people
  • development of financial education tools (now used with investment clients of a major bank)
  • engaging over 100,000 members of the public in research and interactive feedback about their emotional and psychological relationships with money (in collaboration with the BBC)
  • significant contributions to national UK policy development and legislation on surveillance in the workplace and in everyday life – including testimony to a House of Lords committee and substantial contributions to an EMMY and BAFTA award-winning BBC TV documentary series
  • the shaping of new models of leadership adopted by the National Health Service’s (NHS) National Leadership Academy (NLA)
  • leadership, change and strategy in the Voluntary Sector
  • labour markets for the young, and different pathways to employment

We also disseminate our research findings in a wide range of free learning materials. For example, the money and finance area of OpenLearn (‘the home of free learning’) includes an interactive personal finance tool and an introduction to the voluntary sector, while the OU’s MOOC (‘massive open online courses’) platform FutureLearn features free courses on Managing my money, Managing my financial journey and Managing my investments. New free learning materials currently under development include Developing leadership in voluntary organisations: an introduction and Developing energetic collaborative leadership for voluntary organisations.