Category / REF Subjects

Contesting corporate governance – research at BU

Prime Minister Theresa May has recently mooted a Germanic-turn for corporate governance in the UK, an echo of a heated debate over the shape of boards of directors in listed companies raging over the past 25 years. By coincidence, BU’s Donald Nordberg, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Management, has been examining the controversies over board design since the Cadbury Code was written in 1992, as investors, corporate chairmen and others wrestled with whether to recommend continuing with unitary boards or follow the German model of dual boards with worker representation. His paper, “Contestation over board design and the development of UK corporate governance,” has just won the prize as Best Paper in Management and Business History at the British Academy of Management conference in Newcastle. Could history be about to repeat itself? The conference paper is at

Public Health England Physical Activity Tool

downloadPublic Health England has launched a Physical Activity Tool which brings together data at the local level for the whole of England on physical activity, including walking and cycling, as well as data on related risk factors and conditions such as obesity and diabetes. The tool also presents trend data and enables easy comparison of local authority data, allowing users to compare regional neighbours and local authorities with similar characteristics. The tool aims to help promote physical activity, develop understanding, and support benchmarking, commissioning and service improvement.

The data is grouped into three domains:

  • Key indicators – a summary overview of physical activity including a number of key outcomes from the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF).
  • Related conditions – such as cancers, diabetes, obesity, hypertension and depression. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of these.
  • Supporting information – population demographics, life expectancy and deprivation.

In addition PHE has also published a data spreadsheet: Physical activity levels among adults in England 2015, available on the PHE Obesity website. It presents physical activity measures (inactive, low activity, some activity and active) and key demographics from the Active People Survey at national, regional, upper and lower tier local authority and County Sports Partnership level.

Read more at:

Are Sustainability Policies Good Indicators of Universities Commitment to Sustainable Development?

I have been invited to present as keynote on that question, at the opening of the “3rd World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities” (WSSD-U-201) at MIT, in Boston, this month. I will also be presenting a paper.

Organised by the Office of Sustainability at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Manchester Metropolitan University, the Research and Transfer Centre ‘Applications of Life Sciences’ at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, and in cooperation with the United National University initiative ‘Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development’ (RCE), the 3rd World Symposium takes the theme ‘Designing Tomorrow‘s Campus: Resiliency, Vulnerability, and Adaptation’, with a view to contributing to further development in this fast-growing field.

More information about the event can be found at

The conference builds on work that I have contributed to for over a decade; getting to present at MIT, after a fairly unusual career, is something that I had never imagined.

It was exciting four years ago, to be involved in the “1st World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities” (WSSD-U-2012) in Rio (2012), as a member of the Scientific Committee and a presenter. That first conference was a parallel event to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as “Rio+20”. “The Future We Want” (an outcome of Rio+20), outlined many of the measures that countries across the world should pursue and implement to address unsustainable development. Universities have a critical role to play in bringing about change but are not always doing enough of the right things – something I have been banging the drum about, since 2005.

I also contributed to the “2nd World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities” (WSSD-U-2014), which was held in Manchester, UK in September 2014. Various publications have resulted from these conferences. The Inter-University Sustainable Development Research Programme (which BU has signed up to) has also been established.

The third conference in Boston will result in a set of books published by Springer, as part of their award-winning “World Sustainability Series”. My role in blind-review papers, finding reviewers, editing and responding to authors etc. has been challenging. I am not a great fan of editorial work but I really have enjoyed communicating with academics across the world, about their research and sustainability projects. I am looking forward to meeting them in person when I get to Boston.

And the answer to the topic…. well, it depends!

But, at BU we are doing better than most – there is much further to go!!


CQR Kicks Off “In Conversation” Seminars this Wed 7 Sept

Centre for Qual ResearchThe Centre for Qualitative Research is kicking off its new seminar series on Wednesday 7 September at 1 pm in Royal London House RLH 201 Masterclass Suite.

New to BU and FHSS, Prof. Sam Porter (Head of Social Work & Social Sciences Dept. at FHSS) will join CQR’s Kip Jones and Caroline Ellis-Hill “in conversation” about “The Relationship between the Arts and Healthcare”.

Because CQR is keen to make information available to students and staff about qualitative METHODS, the seminars will be arranged somewhat differently than the typical lunchtime seminar.

We are asking TWO (or more) presenters to agree to present each research method as a CONVERSATION…first, between each other, and then with the audience.  We are also asking that no PowerPoint be used in order that it is truly a conversation and NOT a lecture. The conversations will be about a particular research method and its pros and cons, NOT research projects or outcomes.

The “In Conversation with …” Seminar Series will be held on the FIRST WED of each month for nine months beginning in September. They will run from 1 pm until 1:50.

We are then hoping that many will join us for a CQR ‘KoffeeKlatch’ following at Naked Cafe next to RLH after the seminar.

We anticipate that by making the CQR Seminar Series really unique and exciting that they will inspire students and academics alike to investigate the wide range of qualitative methods and expertise available at CQR, and enrich their research projects by doing so.

See the list of all nine CQR Seminars over the Academic Year.

Congratulations to Prof. Brooks

Ann Brooks 2016Congratulations to FHSS Prof. Ann Brooks on her latest academic article in the July issue of Cultural Politics. The article ‘The Cultural Production of Consumption as Achievement’ is co-authored with Lionel Wee.

Brooks, A. & Wee, L., The Cultural Production of Consumption as Achievement Cultural PoliticsCultural Politics (2016) 12 (2): 217-232

doi 10:10.1215/17432197-3592112

Everything has to be excellent!

In 2015, I was awarded a prestigious Visiting Fellowship at the University of Oxford- Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ). The next question was how do I fund such an initiative? Having looked at the various Fusion Investment Fund strands, the Santander Scheme appeared to be the most appropriate since it provides BU staff with travel and subsistence funds to support individual staff mobility and networking in the development of research, education and or professional practice.

During the fellowship period I conducted British Academy/Leverhulme funded research into the successful digital transformations of media firms. This work integrated three primary areas: business models, organisational strategy and dynamic capabilities in a longitudinal analysis (1995-2015).

Being able to conduct this research at one of the world’s greatest institutions has been an incredible experience. Whilst I have undertaken small project work with the RISJ over the past few years, there was a world of difference in living and working at the University. Academic work at the University of Oxford is a ‘lifestyle’ and one based on the pursuit of academic excellence. The work doesn’t stop at 5pm as there are numerous talks and lectures by distinguished people every night of the week!

The RISJ is a part of Green Templeton College which is a postgraduate college whose provision centres on health and management disciplines. At first, one might think that this is a strange combination, but their researchers were able to help with me some innovative work that I’m currently doing with the Boston Consulting Group in New York.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of my stay was the university’s focus on conducting research that aims to produce both conceptual and instrumental impact (vanity based research is clearly not on their radar). There is also a real ‘simplicity’ about the University of Oxford. You can see it everywhere, from the clean toilets, the pristine gardens, the student dress codes and the quality of their research. That ‘simplicity’ can be summed by saying that “everything they do has to be excellent!”


Dr John Oliver

Associate Professor of Media Management

Faculty of Media & Communication

Friday 16th September: Professor Christoph Teller presents ‘Why consumers shop where they do’

Image result for christoph teller

Professor Christoph Teller, Chair in Retailing and Marketing at the University of Surrey, will discuss why shoppers shop where they do through a presentation of a meta-analyses study.  The study he presents aims to identify the major antecedents of offline and online retail patronage. In his talk he will outline the retail patronage work of Pan and Zinkhan (2006) and discuss how he extends their view and develops conceptual models of offline and online retail patronage based on Sheth’s (1999) integrated theory of patronage behaviour and Finn and Louviere’s (1996) specification in a retail patronage context. The models he identifies proposes direct effects between antecedents (stimuli), i.e., mainly manageable attributes of retailers, and the retail patronage (response or shopping predisposition). The study is based upon a meta-analysis of more than 300 empirical studies and makes a theoretical as well as practical contribution to the topic area as it provides an overview on, and detailed insights into, patronage research in an offline as well as online context.

This free event, hosted by the Influences on Consumer Behaviour Research Cluster, will take place on Friday 16th September 2016, 2-3.30pm in the Inspire Lecture Theatre.  Please book your place through Eventbrite: ‘Why consumers shop where they do’

Widening Participation Fieldnotes: Emotional Work


BU’s Fair Access Research project concentrates on the idea of learning and working together to transform higher education. We are interested in how widening participation works differently in different institutions.

With this in mind, Maggie Hutchings and Alex Wardrop have been doing some fieldwork with colleagues in the north of England.

Widening participation is emerging as emotional work.  It is an emotional labour which sees personal stories intersect with and sometimes rub up against complex economic and political landscapes.

You can join us in this collective reflection and learning exercise by contributing to our survey. For more information about the organisational learning project, email Maggie on

For more information about BU’s innovative Fair Access Research, email the Principal Investigators, Dr Vanessa Heaslip ( and Dr Clive Hunt (

Research in the news: ‘Making a difference in stroke care: the human aspects of care and practice’

Research team at RBH BU researchers Dr Caroline Ellis-Hill and Dr Carole Pound, from the Centre for Qualitative Research have been working with a team of older people with experience of stroke and staff from the Royal Bournemouth Hospital stroke team to explore the human dimensions of stroke care.

In August the team launched a Humanising Care Toolkit in a celebration attended by service users, relatives, staff and Board members at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital Foundation NHS Trust. The toolkit is a flexible resource which can be used by staff members once they have been through their own humanisation development. It includes a DVD of stories of humanising care, a set of creative materials to use in workshops and a pack of humanising care cards as well as a user manual and electronically produced presentations and handouts. Feedback from the launch event suggests hospital staff and managers are keen to explore ways the framework and toolkit may enable different units and staff groups across the Trust to notice, value and reconnect with compassionate, human centred care and practice.

‘It’s absolutely fantastic work that is going to be crucial to developing an inclusive human culture in the Trust.’

 Service user stories also highlighted the value they placed on both humanising care and being part of a research team. For example, Wynn New one of the service user participants commented:

When I first joined the action research group I was terrified of having another stroke. I thought I would never go out by myself again.  Taking part in the group allowed me to share my experiences and feedback – what worked and what truly made a difference to my recovery. I finally have my confidence back and my fear has disappeared. I count my blessings everyday.’ 

Funded by the Burdett Trust for Nursing and inspired by the ground-breaking work of Les Todres (Emeritus Professor of Health Philosophy at BU) and Kate Galvin (Professor of Nursing PractHumanising care treeice, Brighton University) the research team explored experiences of both stroke service users and providers in relation to a conceptual framework of humanising care. This framework, described in a seminal paper by Todres et al (2009) describes eight interacting dimensions that help capture the depth and breadth of being treated as human within complex, busy healthcare systems.  The work is part of a larger study led by Professor Kate Galvin.  A second site in Yorkshire worked with service users and NHS providers in a Dermatology out-patient department in order to look at the transferable aspects of humanisation theory and learning.

The project used action research methods with a focus on creative methods and collaborative sharing of stories and experiences. The team aimed to explore the relevance of the humanising care framework and get beneath the surface of what makes care feel more or less human. The stories, techniques and findings were then collated into a resource to support a new wave of busy NHS practitioners to understand and sustain humanising care in practice and become ‘Humanising Care Champions’.

For more information on the Humanising Care Toolkit contact Carole Pound or Caroline Ellis Hill

For further information about the breadth of work at BU inspired by the humanisation framework please visit the Humanisation pages of the Faculty for Health and Social Care.

The launch of the toolkit was reported in a number of local papers, including the Blackmore Vale magazine.

Bringing FUSION to Nepal

FUSION abroad 2016We have written in many previous BU blogs about progress of our THET-funded project in southern Nepal (e.g. here AND here ). Today’s blog reflects on the use on BU’s unique FUSION approach in our project ‘Mental Health Training for Maternity Care Providers in Nepal‘.

DSC_0151Our BU-led project brings highly experienced health professionals, such as midwives, health visitors or mental health nurses, to Nepal to work as volunteer trainers. The training is aimed at community-based maternity care practitioners and addresses key mental health issues relevant to pregnancy and for new mothers and offers the required communication skills. These health professionals will bring their experience as health care providers as well as trainers in the field of mental health and maternity care/midwifery, mental ill-health prevention and health promotion. They volunteer for two to three weeks at a time to design and deliver training in southern Nepal.

logo THETThe Centre for Midwifery & Maternal Health (CMMPH) collaborates in this project with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), the Department of Health, and Physical & Population Education at Nepal’s oldest university Tribhuvan University’s (TU). The project is supported in the field by a local charity called Green Tara Nepal. Our project is part of the Health Partnership such as Nepal. HPS itself is funded by the UK Department for International Development and managed by THET (Tropical and Health Education Trust).

Fusion Diagram Our maternal mental health project is a good example of BU’s FUSION approach as it combines EDUCATION (through the training of Auxiliary Nurse-Midwives in Nepal) by UK volunteers (representing PRACTICE) through an intervention which is properly evaluated (representing RESEARCH) is a perfect example of BU’s FUSION in action. Moreover, the project will be partly evaluated by FHSS’s Preeti Mahato as part of her PhD thesis research. This PhD project is supervised by Dr. Catherine Angell (CEL & CMMPH), BU Visiting Professor Padam Simkhada (based at LJMU) and CMMPH’s Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen.BU’s focus on the FUSION of research, education and professional practice is a unique variant of the way UK universities (and many abroad) blend academic teaching, research and scholarship. FUSION is a key concept derived from BU’s strategic Vision & Values).


Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen


Building Research Collaborations with Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peking University, and Tsinghua University

Owing to a BU Fusion Investment Fund, I was able to create and consolidate research collaborations with researchers in a number of top research institutions in China over the past two years. The main objectives of the project were to extend my existing collaboration with the Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and to create new research ties with Peking University and Tsinghua University. These objectives were materialised through several planned visits to the institutions during the summer periods between July 2014 and July 2016. I am grateful to my co-investigators, Drs. Angela Golsing, and Xun He, for assisting the implementation of the plans. Together, we were able to accomplish more than our original plans by creating additional ties with Renmin University and Shanghai Maritime University. In total, we have created refereed journal articles, conference presentations, and grants during the two-year grant period. Our continuous on-going activities and future plans promise sustainability and long-term impact of the project. The following are some highlights of the project.


Collaboration with Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)

The purpose of my annual visits to CAS was to consolidate and extend an existing collaboration established in 2006. CAS is the largest and highly influential research institute in China. It has a strong focus on research and recruited only postgraduates until quite recently. I began collaboration with a then early career researcher, Dr. Wenfeng Chen, about 10 years ago. He worked with me in Hull as a postdoctoral research fellow supported by the Royal Society, and later by CAS in 2008. He has since been promoted to an associate professor in a few years time. Together we secured several grants for my returning visits to CAS. We have collaborated on many papers over the past years and have recently edited a special issue for Frontiers in Psychology during the period of the FIF project. Many of our papers involved postgraduate students in his lab. Some students have now become lecturers at various institutions. I extended my network with some of them. For example, I became a co-investigator in a grant with a former PhD student, Dr. Junchen Shang, who is now at Changchun University. Through requests for my involvements in their new projects, my collaboration through CAS has grown substantially.


Collaboration with Tsinghua University and Peking University

These are widely recognised as the top two universities in China. Like CAS, both universities regularly receive a large number of requests for collaboration from different parts of world. It is therefore highly competitive to build a new research tie with them. I was lucky to have known Prof. Jie Sui at Tsinghua when she was still a PhD student. After completing her PhD degree at Peking University, she worked as my postdoctoral fellow for three years, supported by Marie-Curie and Royal Society fellowships. A few years later, she became highly successful and was appointed at Tsinghua University as a professor specialised in social neuroscience. This has made the new collaboration between BU and Tsinghua possible. Because of the world-class research and outstanding research facilities for fMRI and EEG at Tsinghua, there are clear benefits for the BU team to develop a close collaborative relationship with their research group. Through the FIF support, we have developed co-supervision for her postgraduate students.


To establish a research tie with Peking University, Xun and I visited Prof Shihui Han, an internationally renowned leader in social neuroscience. During Prof. Han’s research fellowship to Oxford University this year, we invited him to BU to present a seminar. Prof Han has proposed the idea for conducting social neuroscience experiments during the summer months at his lab.


Collaboration with Renmin University and Shanghai Maritime University

Apart from the proposed collaborations, I also explored similar networking opportunities with other universities in China. As a result, I have started co-supervising postgraduate students with Prof Ping Hu at Renmin University. Some of her students attempted to pursue a PhD at BU. I have also created tie with Shanghai Maritime University and have since become a co-investigator on Dr Miao Song’s recent grant.


I am pleased to see that quite a few other members of staff in Psychology are now successful in establishing their research collaboration with China. I hope these successes will create a lasting impact on BU’s development, internationalisation, and fusion.

Business practitioners’ perspectives on the value of mobile technology: New Paper published by Dr Elvira Bolat

Dr. Elvira Bolat in the Faculty of Management published her latest paper today in the Journal of Customer Behaviour. This paper focuses on one of the issues Dr. Bolat has explored in her PhD thesis – values deriving from mobile technology use. No existing research maps and discusses holistically the values deriving from mobile technology use, capturing both strategic and operational opportunities, which are most likely to emerge in the business-to-business (B2B) context. This empirical paper addresses this gap. An adapted grounded theory approach is applied to collect and analyse in-depth interviews with 28 B2B practitioners from advertising and marketing firms. Whether mobile technology is a simple means to advanced communication with no physical boundaries of time and location, or a business tool to boost creative thinking, this study concludes that mobile technology represents a novel and unique category of technology because of its core distinctive feature, ‘being mobile’. B2B practitioners argue that the true nature of mobile technology lies in seeing it as a source of value that derives from using mobile technology. B2B practitioners view mobile technology not only as a purely technical tool (functional value) enabling effective communication (social value) but as a strategic tool driving balanced and flexible ways in managing business (emotional value) and enabling creative thinking (creative value).

Full reference to the article: Bolat, E., 2016. Business practitioners’ perspectives on the value of mobile technology. Journal of Customer Behaviour, 15 (1), 31-48.

Read full paper at