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Public Leadership and Social Enterprise

The Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise (PuLSE) is committed to generating public and social value through the impact of research, policy and practice.

Areas of interest

  • collaborative and co-operative socio-economic governance
  • leadership and management of public and voluntary sector organisations
  • social and sustainable enterprise
  • ethical professional practice

We aim to combine a critical understanding of leadership and management with practical relevance, close collaboration with practitioners, and through our research-informed contributions to teaching and learning. Our reputation and success is manifested in our contribution to the work of the following research centres:

Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership (CVSL) provides voluntary sector organisations with access to free leadership development modules and research-led insight.

Centre for Social and Sustainable Enterprise (CSSE) addresses the connections between entrepreneurial activity, innovation and the transition towards more environmentally and socially sustainable ways of doing business.

Scholarship Centre for innovation in online Legal and Business Education (SCiLAB), working closely with both the Business and Law Schools to drive teaching and learning excellence within the organisation and external to the University. 

Citizenship and Governance focuses on global issues like migration, and on the private sphere where people’s intimate lives are increasingly scrutinized and open to public policy and corporate intervention.

Research focus

Much of our research concerns innovative forms of organisation and financing – such as social enterprises, mutual and social investment, and commissioning – which offer new ways of tackling social, economic and environmental problems (and in turn, trigger the need for new sorts of knowledge and skills in public, private and third sector organisations). We carry out rigorous and relevant research designed to understand and address these emerging challenges.

Academic Publications

Full details of our research publications can be found on Open Research Online and via our staff pages.


The department contributes to curriculum design and teaching across the Open University Business School’s undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education programmes, to joint programmes with other Open University faculties, and to collaborative projects with other higher education providers in the UK and internationally.

The Business School’s main qualifications, to which the Department contributes, include:

The Department’s interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral perspective on leading, managing and organising is also reflected the work of our postgraduate research students. The Business School has a strong community of research students on its full-time MRes and PhD programmes. We welcome applications from suitably-qualified students wishing to pursue research on PuLSE related topics.

Contact the Department for Public Leadership and Social Enterprise

For all department-related enquiries, please email us.

For all other enquiries, including student and alumni, please visit our contact us page.