Our researchers are committed to producing work that has an impact beyond the academic community, with primary beneficiaries including businesses, policy makers, NGOs, social enterprises and the general public.
The case studies below offer some examples of the ways in which our research has helped to change the world.
Improving consumer decisions and outcomes through regulatory decisions
ESRC funded research led by Catherine Waddams at NBS and the Centre for Competition Policy (CCP) has identified whether consumers are likely to switch supplier, whether they are likely to get a good deal, and how companies are likely to respond to specific regulatory intervention.
An appropriate regulatory framework leads to better decisions by consumers, helping markets to work better, and resulting in lower prices and bills. This is particularly critical in the energy and water sector, which are of crucial importance to each of the 25 million households in the UK.
The research findings challenge regulators to make better decisions and have been quoted by both Ofgem and Ofwat, the regulatory bodies for energy and water. The research has influenced policy debate and stimulated competition to deliver lower prices for consumers, affecting all UK households.
Reducing overeating and food waste by changing the pricing practices of food vendors
Food overbuying leads to two related problems: overeating and food waste. Both have significant implications for our society in terms of healthcare and waste disposal.
An ESRC-funded research project in NBS addresses how food vendors' price discounting practices contribute to overeating and household food waste. While policymakers might encourage food vendors to change their pricing behaviour, the research also focuses on raising consumers' awareness of their own tendency to be lured into overbuying by the attractiveness of discount pricing as a critical component in curbing the problem of food overbuying.
The impact of part-time employment on women's careers
Research led by Sara Connolly into the impact of part-time working on women's careers has identified that for most women, the switch into part-time work involves in a downgrading of occupation and a switch in employer.
With 5.9 million women now in part-time employment, (40% of all female employment), hourly pay rates for women in part-time employment are 35% lower than for women in full-time employment. The research showed that rather than closing the gender pay gap, the extensive use of part-time employment has actually contributed to a new pay gap, that between full- and part-timers.
The Low Pay Commission (LPC) uses the research in evidence every time it debates likely impacts of an increase in the National Minimum Wage, and this has benefited part-time workers. The research has also influenced wider thinking about part-time work, and the UK government's consideration of flexible working.
Making a difference to flood risk management through radical participatory modelling
Research funded by the ESRC and NERC under the Rural Economy and Land Use Programme pioneered a new approach to involving people affected by environmental controversies (such as those around local flood risk management) in producing new knowledge and advancing solutions through Competency Groups.
The first Competency Group, in Ryedale in Yorkshire, prompted a significant shift in Defra's approach to flood risk management, triggered a national pilot scheme and has had significant national and international impact as a new way of ‘doing flood risk management' but also ‘doing applied science' more generally.
Involvement of the accountancy profession in financial regulation
Research funded by professional bodies, including ICAEW, ICAS, CIMA and the actuarial profession, have investigated the 'dual role' of accountants, auditors and actuaries in the financial regulation of banks and insurers.
For example, under the UK Companies Acts auditors have a duty to report to shareholders (a 'private' role) but under previous and current financial services legislation auditors have a duty to report to supervisors and regulators (a 'public' role).
The research has also contrasted these roles in the UK with the approach in Switzerland. Findings of the research identified policy implications to inform policy debates between the profession and financial regulators.