These projects are part of the Transforming Productivity, Management Practices and Employee Engagement call. Projects will explore the impact of different management, engagement and wellbeing initiatives on workplace productivity, and with a particular focus on small businesses

Five research grants have been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council to investigate management practices’ and their effect on productivity.

The ESRC is pleased to announce that funding has been approved as part of an earlier call for projects on Transforming Productivity, Management Practices and Employee Engagement. The awards represent a total research council contribution of £3.8 million. The projects will start in February 2019 and are scheduled to run between 24 and 36 months. Aston University, University of Strathclyde, University of Sheffield, University of East Anglia, and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) were all successful in their application. These awards have the potential to produce significant economic and societal impact across the UK. 

Dr Annie Gibney, Portfolio lead at ESRC for Management & Business Studies and Transforming Working Lives said: “This is a very strong set of projects that address the key management practices and employee engagement challenges facing business owners, managers and workers. Not only are they examples of excellent academic research that work closely with firms, policy-makers and key stakeholders – but they also have a real opportunity to lead to meaningful change in business and policy practices.”

The full list of awards are as follows:

  • Managerial competences, engagement and productivity – developing productive relationships
    Principal Investigator: Professor Paul Latreille, Sheffield University Management School, University of Sheffield.
    This project’s overarching research question is: Does training designed to develop the conflict competence of line managers improve workplace productivity? The project team includes representatives from the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) and will undertake a detailed evaluation of the impact on engagement and productivity of 'conflict competence'. 
  • Productivity from below: addressing the productivity challenges of microbusinesses
    Principal Investigator: Professor Monder Ram, Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, Aston University
    The principle objective of this project is to use scientifically rigorous academic research, co-produced with practitioners, to design and implement scalable policies to boost productivity by strengthening management practices in micro-businesses (with 1-9 employees). The project will focus on businesses owned and run by disadvantaged communities in the West Midlands, who are some of the 'toughest nuts to crack' in terms of business support for enhancing productivity.  
  • Understanding and explaining management practices to promote higher productivity in UK businesses
    Principal Investigator: Ms Rebecca Riley, Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence (ESCoE) and NIESR 
    This project seeks to improve understanding of the causes and consequences of variation in management practices across UK businesses, and to draw from this a number of practical lessons for improving UK productivity. The project will support a second, targeted wave of the UK Management and Expectations Survey (MES) to enable identification of causal links between management, employee engagement and productivity, and particularly variations over time.  
  • Practices and combinations of practices for health and wellbeing at work
    Principal Investigator: Professor Kevin Daniels, Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia
    The central aim of this project is to generate new knowledge of the factors underpinning the implementation of health and wellbeing practices in organisations that foster higher levels of productivity, staff engagement, health and wellbeing. In particular, the project seeks to identify which combinations of workplace health and wellbeing practices reliably improve worker health, wellbeing, engagement and performance – and deliver the best return on investment.
  • Improving management practices: Work engagement and workplace innovation for productivity and wellbeing
    Principal Investigator: Professor Patricia Findlay, Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde
    This project stems from the premise that the interaction of workplace and job design practices create or limit innovative work climates that in turn impact on employee engagement and capacity to innovate – a core driver of productivity improvement as well as employee wellbeing. The project’s overarching objective is to inform business and workplace practice that drives innovation and productivity alongside employee wellbeing.