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Research for business, society and communities

20 October 2019

Image of Kirsty Williams AM, Minister for Education, Welsh Government speaking
Kirsty Williams AM, Minister for Education Welsh Governmment

The impact of Cardiff Business School’s research was brought into focus during the summer when the Welsh Government Minister for Education outlined how Universities can help to improve economic, environmental and social wellbeing in Wales.

In front of an audience of academics, business leaders, third-sector professionals and policymakers, Kirsty Williams AM spoke about the challenges, opportunities and significance of the education sector for the communities, companies and citizens of Wales.

An advocate of the School’s Public Value purpose, the Minister explained that economic, social and environmental responsibilities now form the cornerstones of Welsh Government’s National Mission on education reform.

The Minister’s introduction set the agenda for the day’s line-up of Public Value insights from collaborative research in the areas of work and employment, organisations and public policy.

The Future of Work

Professors Melanie Jones and Vicki Wass were the first to present findings from their collaborative research project with Disability Rights UK. The project, entitled Disability@Work, has examined issues relating to the disability employment gap since 2016.

Melanie Jones, a Professor of Economics at Cardiff Business School, said:

“We’re quantitative researchers, so we’ve done a lot of work tracking rates of employment among disabled individuals, really holding the government to account on some of their commitments.”

Professor Melanie Jones Professor of Economics

Professor Jones explained how the project has led the research team to look beyond employment to examine the wider workplace and the role of the employer. In doing so, the team has identified disability pay gaps and disability job satisfaction gaps through exchanging evidence with Disability Rights UK.

Dr Alison Parken OBE, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Cardiff Business School, followed Professors Jones and Wass as she shared her research story on the gender pay gap.

Leading the Women Adding Value to the Economy project (WAVE), Dr Parken’s extensive research has built an evidence base for promoting socio-economic equality through policy-making and in organisational practices.

A collaborative research project with public sector employers, WAVE has examined gender pay disparities and how these are sustained by occupational segregation.

“We’ve worked with public sector employers to help them understand how to do this employment and pay analysis, and how that combined analysis would show them what the drivers of gender pay gaps were in their employment structure.”

Dr Alison Parken Lecturer in Management, Employment and Organisation

Ed Heery, Professor of Employment Relations at Cardiff Business School, wrapped up the morning’s proceedings on the future of work.

He presented research on real living wage accreditation conducted in collaboration with colleagues Drs Deborah Hann and David Nash, and the Living Wage Foundation.

Professor Heery shared findings on the impact of accreditation for employers and employees, sharing some of the reasons employers choose to pay the Living Wage, an assessment of the business benefits and reflection on the positive effects for low-wage workers.

“Typically, we have this impact on individual employers who are considering signing up to the living wage, through campaigning organisations and individuals, including The Poverty Alliance, Share Action, Oxfam, politicians and political parties together with public authorities.”

Professor Edmund Heery Emeritus Professor of Employment Relations

The Future of Organisations

Dr Jonathan Gosling began the afternoon session discussing innovative procurement and delivery approaches for major construction projects.

He presented research carried out in collaboration with colleague Professor Mohammed Naim and partners across the highways and operations sectors, which aims to enhance procurement capability in organisations.

“The mode that we’ve been working in is very collaborative in the sense that we bring our industrial partners into the academic process. This gives us a better chance at making impact because it allows us to directly inform procurement principles and the commercial models - particularly in terms of good governance, long term collaborative arrangements and full information disclosure, all of which really challenges the adversarial nature of the procurement process.”

Professor Jonathan Gosling Professor in Logistics and Operations Management

Professor Calvin Jones, Dean for Public Value and External Relations, followed Dr Gosling’s presentation by addressing a very different industrial sector as he gave a personal project evaluation on renewable electricity transition in Wales.

Professor Jones highlighted a project  carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Welsh Affairs which sought to establish a plan for Wales’ renewable energy future.

Re-energising Wales, brought together thinkers from industry, academia, government and local communities to find and address the barriers that are slowing down renewable energy developments and look at opportunities to support growth.

In doing so, the project created a practical plan for Wales to move to 100% renewable energy by 2035.

“The co-creative approach of the re-energising project brings really interesting, policy relevant results, which emerge from mashing together of industry, academic, think-tank and other partners. I find this genuinely very engaging.”

Professor Calvin Jones Professor of Economics

The Future of Public Policy

The final session of case studies saw Professor James Downe address the research impact of knowledge brokering in his role as Director of Research at the Wales Centre for Public Policy (WCPP).

Professor Downe outlined the WCPP’s role in supporting government and public services to access, interpret and apply evidence to improve policymaking and delivery.

He shared two examples of where the Centre’s collaborative research has helped make a difference; in youth homelessness and the Invest to Save scheme, both matters at the forefront of the Welsh Government agenda.

“The importance of involving ministers and actually co-creating the questions at the beginning of the process is crucial. It means that although they come with a particular question, it may be change through conversation, and that scoping phase. This makes for a more robust policy-making process in Wales.”

Professor James Downe Professor of Public Policy and Management, Director of Research, Wales Centre for Public Policy

Professor Rachel Ashworth, Dean of Cardiff Business School, completed the event’s case study showcase.

A collaboration between Cardiff Business School, Public Governance Wales, Centre for Public Scrutiny, Gwent Local Authorities and Welsh Government, the project aims to build capacity for public accountability in Wales and to support local councillors with their task of scrutinising powerful regional partnerships, such as education consortia

Professor Ashworth explained that support from the Welsh Government and the ESRC, had enabled the co-design of a practical handbook outlining a ‘Step-by-Step Approach to Joint Scrutiny’ for use by councillors, managers and partners across England and Wales.

Reflecting on the launch of the latest edition of the handbook by the Welsh Government Communities Minister Julie James in June 2019, Professor Ashworth outlined the need to continue to ensure a wider engagement in the accountability process in Wales.

“We need to make sure that we have more partners injected into this accountability process. Councillors represent local people, but we also have a range of stakeholders that need to be involved.”

Professor Rachel Ashworth Dean and Head of School

Public Value: challenges and opportunities

Formal proceedings were brought to an end with a panel discussion, which considered the challenges and opportunities of delivering Public Value in public, private and third sector organisations.

Chaired by Professor Gillian Bristow, Cardiff University’s Dean of Research for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, it was an opportunity to reflect on the event’s presentations and hear the thoughts and opinions of Gerwin Nijeboer, Senior Manager at EY, Carol Ann Scott, Museums Consultant, Martin Kitchener, Professor of Public Sector Management and Policy at Cardiff Business School and Professor Peter Murphy, Director of the Public Policy and Management Research Group at Nottingham Business School.

Measuring things that matter

The event also marked the launch of a new book edited by Professor Martin Kitchener and Dr Nicole Koenig-Lewis together with colleagues Professors John Brewer, Queen’s University Belfast, Adam Lindgreen, Copenhagen Business School, Mark Moore, Harvard Kennedy School and Timo Meynhardt, HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management.

Entitled Public Value: Deepening, Enriching, and Broadening the Theory and Practice, the collection shows how Public Value has grown beyond its original focus on public sector management.

Across three sections the idea is examined by academics, consultants and practitioners in disciplines like sociology, policy, operations and supply, marketing and entrepreneurship, finance and human resources and across case studies drawn from culture and heritage, education and training, charities and NGOs.

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales closed the day by marking the book’s release with a short address presenting Wales as the legislative and academic home of thinking of value beyond money.

Referencing New Zealand’s wellbeing budget and the work of social enterprises like Big Moose Coffee Co., she championed the idea of measuring things that matter and praised the academic text for offering tools and techniques for doing so.

Find out more about the book and buy or rent it in hardback and ebook formats on Routledge’s website.

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