Economic and Social Research Council

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues, supporting high quality research which has an impact on business and helps shape public policy. ESRC research awards are made in open competition, subject to transparent peer assessment and evaluation, and funds are distributed to academics in universities and other institutes throughout the UK.

Alliance MBS has a distinguished track record of receiving ESRC grants stretching back many years. Here are a selection of our most recent funded projects:

The project creates impact by developing and piloting a questionnaire-based self-assessment tool (SCERAT) that can be used by both social and commercial entrepreneurs, as well as funding and supporting bodies to estimate venture success, resilience and specific support needs.

This is especially important to maximise the effective use of scarce resources that funding/supporting bodies and policymakers have at their disposal. The tool will be accessible on a website and has been developed in collaboration with New Economy, the Manchester-based policy unit.

New Economy will benefit through a better understanding of how system constraints impact on businesses’ growth and resilience, and how negative impact can be mitigated. The tool is also being developed with the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisation (GMCVO).

The publications and special reports generated from the collected data will form the basis of targeted knowledge exchange. For instance the tool can be used as a preliminary diagnostic tool in knowledge transfer partnerships (KTPs).

Contact: Professor Rudolf Sinkovics >>

The project develops a Human Development Report for Greater Manchester, drawing on University of Manchester research, with the aim of influencing ongoing debates on the priorities for social and economic development under greater devolution to the UK regions.

In particular the project focuses on human development issues across the life course in terms of both the risks involved for individuals and groups at key life stages, and on the diversification of life stages and the associated new challenges.

The project involves coordinating a wide range of researchers to ensure timely delivery, a coherent and accessible text, the availability of key statistical material, and the attraction of a significant audience for the launch including local policymakers and stakeholders.

The proposal builds on a wide range of existing University of Manchester research both on the general issues of human development and its more specific work on Greater Manchester.

For instance it builds upon the research on Just Greater Manchester undertaken by Professor Ruth Lupton which studied issues of inequality across Greater Manchester.

Contact: Professor Jill Rubery >>

The psychological well-being of veterinary surgeons is a matter of considerable concern in the light of evidence of an elevated rate of suicide in vets compared with the general population.

Occupational stress has been suggested as a possible factor in compromised psychological well-being in vets, but the literature relating to stress in veterinary work is limited. As such the Organisational Psychology group at Alliance MBS is undertaking research on the causes and consequences of work-related stress in veterinary surgeons practising in the UK.

In 2014 the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) launched the ‘Mind Matters Initiative’ to improve psychological wellbeing in the profession. Building on AMBS’s ongoing research, and working in collaboration with the RCVS, the aim of the proposed project is to devise practical stress intervention guidance for the veterinary profession.

Principal investigator Dr Elinor O’Connor previously received FairWRC funding for a scoping study of work-related stress in veterinary surgeons. The study identified key stressors in veterinary practice and also personality characteristics that may be over-represented in vets and which may interact with work stressors to compromise psychological health.

Contact: Dr Elinor O’Connor >>

Online panel data is a new source of digital intelligence about online consumer behaviour. Based on international research, a series of research projects have been conducted that have resulted in frameworks and models of consumer behaviour including: models of the customer journey; the role and influence of price comparison engines; measurement framework of online competition based on the consideration set concept and industry concentration; and evaluation of online performance in a competitive context.

This project has significant commercial implications and will translate research results into business practice by working with large industrial partners at the forefront of business practice in this area.

Alliance MBS and the University of Manchester will collaborate with comScore, a commercial provider of digital intelligence data, and with the Competition and Markets Authority, an influential and strategically important government department.

The project will exploit the results in a commercial context and work with University of Manchester Intellectual Property in order to protect algorithm and software IP, with a view to developing these into apps for the analysis of online panel data.

Contact: Professor Christopher Holland >>

Shared Parental Leave was introduced in the UK in April 2015 and is designed to give parents more flexibility in caring for their child in the first year. Research to date suggests that the low uptake of SPL is due to the complexity of the policy and the cultural change required for society to become more accepting of men taking on a primary care role among infant children.

The resource bank features a range of family experiences of SPL via videos and case studies. It is hosted on the Working Families website, an established source of knowledge for parents and practitioners which helps a range of audiences easily access information about the regulations.

The project also includes the development of a survey designed to measure the success and impact of the resource bank, as well as a launch event to which policy makers, experts, academics, employers and employees will be invited. This event will showcase the initiative, its impact, and wider findings from an ongoing study by the academic applicants into fatherhood and SPL.

Contact: Dr Emma Banister >>