Launch of new initiative to tackle UK productivity puzzle

Strathclyde Business School is set to host a new multi-disciplinary hub to research how best to boost productivity within businesses and the UK economy.

The Productivity Outcomes of Workplace Practice, Engagement and Learning (PrOPEL) Hub is being supported by Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding of more than £1.5 million as part of the UK Research and Innovation’s Strategic Priorities Fund. Further funding is being provided by partner universities.

The hub will work with businesses, policymakers and support organisations to help improve the UK’s productivity performance through better management and employee engagement.

The partnership encompasses seven universities – Aston University, Ulster University and the Universities of Sheffield, Nottingham, East Anglia, Cardiff and Strathclyde and five separate ESRC research projects.

A range of themes, from management and leadership, to innovation, job design, and lessons from workplace practice and employee engagement, will be studied, with the aim of identifying practical steps to boost productivity within businesses and the UK economy. 

The PrOPEL Hub will also act as a focal point for engagement with policymakers, businesses and employee organisations across the UK, with the aim of informing future decision making with the latest cutting-edge research.

Principal Investigator Professor Graeme Roy, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute at the University of Strathclyde Business School said: “Boosting productivity is one of the greatest economic challenges facing the UK.

“There is a growing consensus on the importance of high quality, inclusive and engaging work to boosting productivity. But an often overlooked avenue through which managers and employees can create economic value – and thereby boost productivity – is via the workplace itself.

“Through the PrOPEL Hub we will be able to take cutting edge academic research directly into the day-to-day operations of businesses – large and small – across the UK. Our work will also help inform policymaking, both at the UK level and within the devolved nations.”

Co-Investigator, Professor Patricia Findlay said: “Strathclyde is delighted to lead such an impressive range of scholars who not only have extensive experience in work and workplace research but who are also committed to research that can and will make a difference in businesses across the UK.”

The focus of the Hub will be on finding out ‘what works’ and supporting the transfer of these lessons into day-to-day business activities.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) will play a key role in helping to translate the evidence base and research into practical and insightful content for HR and people management professionals.

The new Hub will support a range of activities, from the building of an accessible evidence base that practitioners and businesses can draw upon, through to a series of bespoke business and policy focussed events specifically designed to deliver impact.

ESRC Executive Chair, Jennifer Rubin, said: "We are delighted to announce the funding of the PrOPEL Hub which will coordinate and draw together findings from research investigating different ways of managing and their effects on productivity. 

“In collaboration with seven universities, this initiative will contribute to understanding an important lever for enhancing productivity to inform policy makers’ and businesses’ efforts to improve the UK’s productivity performance.”

Notes for Editors

The Productivity Outcomes of workplace Practice, Engagement and Learning (PrOPEL) Hub is a three-year investment by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The Hub comes under the umbrella of the UKRI SPF W1 programme of research and is part of the Transforming Productivity, Management practices and employee engagement initiative.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government – with a budget of more than £6 billion – that works with in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish.

Details of award

The Full Economic Cost (FEC) of the Grant Award is £1.95 million.

The funding builds upon a series of investments undertaken by the ESRC to support productivity in the UK.

The project team comprises:

  • Professor Graeme Roy, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde
  • Professor Patricia Findlay, Director of the Scottish Centre for Employment Research, Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde
  • Professor Colin Lindsay, Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde
  • Professor Eleanor Shaw, Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde
  • Dr Elke Loeffler, Strathclyde Business School, University of Strathclyde
  • Dr Dragos Adascalitei, University of Sheffield Management School, University of Sheffield
  • Professor Sara Connolly, Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia
  • Rhys Davies, Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD), Cardiff University
  • Professor Alan Felstead, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University
  • Professor Richard Kneller, School of Economics, University of Nottingham
  • Professor Paul Latreille, University of Sheffield Management School, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Cher Li, Nottingham University Business School, University of Nottingham
  • Dr Martin McCracken, School of Business, Organisation & Management, University of Ulster
  • Professor Monder Ram, Aston Business School, Aston University