An Academic Fellowship with POST provides a unique opportunity to work with a range of teams and committees within the UK Parliament. Whilst much of the description of this role focuses on writing briefings for parliamentarians, assisting with a select committee inquiries or carrying out research -my own experience was very different. So, my advice would be to not limit your aspirations and thinking about what a fellowship entails.
Having made it through the first Open Call Application stage, I was invited to produce a more detailed application which also involved a helpful telephone call with one of the staff to discuss my application in more detail. It is worth noting that at every stage of the recruitment process, the application forms and FAQs were very clear.
Why did I apply for an Academic Fellowship?
My aim is to produce research that has an impact on business performance and policy. As such, my motivation for the fellowship was:
• to gain an understanding and experience of working life at the House of Commons;
• to develop new working relationships and grow my professional network;
• to develop new research impact opportunities with parliamentary stakeholders for my research.
An engaged and friendly working environment
One aspect of the fellowship that did take me by surprise was how engaged and friendly every member of staff was with me and my project. Everyone I met provided me with time and showed a genuine interest in what I was doing. The POST Fellowships are a way for UK Parliament to ‘open its doors’ to a range of people from outside its normal sphere of influence in order to draw on their expertise and think about new ways of working. Importantly, this knowledge exchange process has been mutually beneficial and I have learned a lot from using my knowledge and expertise in a working environment significantly different to what I’m used to!
Opening doors I never knew existed!
My fellowship ‘centred’ on developing a co-created a scenario plan with the Library Services team that envisioned a future library service provision that is fit for purpose in the long-term. Given that the £6bn restoration and renewal programme for the Palace of Westminster would result in significant challenges for parliamentarians and house staff, my original proposal provided a timely opportunity to contribute to the Library Service team’s strategic deliberations on its future size, shape and provision.
I deliberately used the term ‘centred’ because the fellowship gives you access to a range of other areas and activities, that at the start of process I couldn’t even have imagined. In particular, I was able to disseminate a broad range of research findings to various committees and individuals that previously I would not have been aware of nor had access to. POST also send around details of training courses and events that will help you develop new knowledge and skills, from producing infographics to the detailed workings of inquiries and how to track research impact.
I have no doubt that the contacts and relationships that I have made in UK Parliament will form an important part of my professional network for some time. I have also been asked to join a new parliamentary committee and co-publish an academic paper with my POST supervisors on the project. Further ahead, I’m hoping that these activities will develop significant impact opportunities based on my scenario planning research.
Many thanks to Sarah Carter, BU Policy And Public Affairs Officer, for her support and guidance during the entire fellowship!
NB. A version of this blog post first appeared on the University Policy Engagement Network website.
As mentioned previously on the BU Research Blog, Dr John Oliver’s (FMC) research into the effects of crisis events on corporate innovation and performance was published in a Business, Energy, Industrial Strategy (BEIS)Committee pre-budget report (February 2021) on The Impact of Coronavirus on Business and Workers.
The Govts. response to this inquiry demonstrates the instrumental impact of Dr Oliver’s research and the role it has played in helping shape the new ‘Build Back Better: our plan for growth’ and the ‘BEIS Innovation Strategy’. Both of these plans aim to incorporate long-term strategies that centre on business investment that drives innovation in the UK economy.
Dr Oliver would like to thank Sarah Carter, Policy and Public Affairs Officer (OVC) who advised on the written evidence submission and helped with checking the impact audit trail.
Dr Oliver’s research can be accessed at: Oliver, J.J. (2020). Corporate turnaround failure: is the proper diagnosis transgenerational response? Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 48, No. 3, pp. 3-9.
Dr John Oliver recently delivered a webinar entitled After the shock: business innovation in a post pandemic world to major league executives from the NBA and MLS. The session was based on Dr Oliver’s British Academy funded research and the webinar was hosted by sports management consultants ‘Sportsology’. Barry McNeill, CEO at Sportsology, commented that the webinar provided a “thought provoking view” on how crisis events affected organisational culture and attitudes to business innovation and performance.
Dr Oliver’s research can be accessed at: Oliver, J.J. (2020). Corporate turnaround failure: is the proper diagnosis transgenerational response? Strategy & Leadership. Vol. 48 No. 4, pp. 37-43.
Dr John Oliver formed part of an expert panel for a European Media Management Association webinar on ‘Overcoming challenges for bridging theory and practice’. The webinar was well attended by academics from across the UK, Europe, US, Qatar,Australia and provided an opportunity to discuss the opportunities and challenges for academics to create actionable knowledge and impact in the media industries.
Dr Oliver argued that BU was well placed to advance knowledge and create social and economic impact through its Fusion Strategy. He discussed his external engagement experiences, REF2021 Impact Case Study and his recent publication on creating actionable knowledge and impact (Oliver, J.J., 2020. Managing Media Firms: case studies of practice-led research, actionable knowledge and instrumental impact. In U. Rohn, & T. Evens (Eds.), Media Management Matters, 59-74. London: Taylor & Francis).
For more information on the European Media Management Association webinar series, please go to: https://www.media-management.eu/news/
Three researchers from the Advances in Media Management research cluster, Dr John Oliver, Melanie Grey and myself (Searchmore Muridzo) recently attended the European Media Management Association (EMMA) annual conference in Limassol, Cyprus. This is the premier media management conference in Europe and boasts of some of the best brains and scholars in the unique niche field that incorporates media and management. I was fortunate enough to be one of two recipients of the EMMA Annual PhD Travel Grant which enabled me to travel to the conference.
To be a participant at the conference and be in the presence of some of the most renowned scholars in media management, such as Prof. Greg Lowe from Northwestern University (Qatar), was a humbling experience but also insightful, as the feedback on my paper has helped me to develop the thinking around my thesis. The conference presentations themselves were not only inspired works but engaging and thought provoking. Networking and potential collaborations in the future were another bonus that came with the conference attendance.
The European Media Management Association is a warm and friendly group of researchers. Overall, the experience was eye opening and beneficial from a personal, academic and cultural outlook.
Searchmore Muridzo, PhD Candidate
Developing organisational strategy in uncertain competitive conditions can be problematic. Dr John Oliver’s (FMC) research into media management tools and scenario planning provides an insight into the problems faced by firms operating in dynamic markets and has been used to create a number of instrument impacts of international reach and significance.
James Gater,a former partner at Bell Pottinger, one of the world’s leading communication consultancies and now a partner at Special Projects Partners Ltd, commented that “The ideas presented in Dr Oliver’s research into ‘Media Management Tools’ used by business executives and his follow-up research into Scenario Planning was used to good effect. Indeed, we developed a Senior Communicators’ Development Programme in which he personally briefed senior Middle Eastern clients. Of particular note, I personally conducted scenario planning exercises, based directly Dr Oliver’s approach, with a diverse range of clients helping them see how their communications functions may need to adapt to future strategic challenges. These have included several government organisations (in South Africa, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), a political party in Pakistan and an agribusiness in Liberia amongst others”.
Dr Oliver leads the Advances in Media Management research group, a cross faculty cluster that seeks to advance knowledge and create economic and societal impact.
Following a business engagement event on Digital Strategy and Business Transformation and subsequent publications in academic and practitioner journals, Dr Oliver’s work on the strategic digital transformations of the UKs Creative Industries and media firms has been credited with shaping Ofcom’s media policy and regulation. Ofcom recently commented that his research into the how Sky Plc had managed the digital transition over the past twenty years provided them with a unique insight into Sky’s strategic approach, and it enabled them to “think differently about their ‘growth strategy’ and diversification into new markets such as broadband, fixed and mobile telephony”. Ofcom concluded that Sky had in fact contributed to increased levels of competition in those sectors.
Ofcom also confirmed that the research had helped them to consider their remit as a communications regulator and the potential areas where they could use their expertise in the future, most notably in terms of the potential future regulation of the internet.
Dr Oliver’s research – ‘Strategic Transformations in the Media’ can be found on BRIAN.
The future of YouTube was a co-created research project between Emma Parrett, Strategic Partnerships Director at OMD UK and Dr John Oliver (FMC). OMD are a strategic communications and planning agency that employs over 8,500 people in more than 120 offices globally and are the most awarded agency network in the world.
One of OMDs clients are YouTube and the challenge they faced was how to develop long-term market insight and strategic solutions in a rapidly changing media environment.The project combined imaginative and systematic thinking in a way that provided a unique insight into future media environments and how YouTube could compete using multiple strategic options.
The impact of the project and the scenario planning methodology has influenced OMD’s business practices in a number of ways. They believe that their media planning team were better able to make sense of often conflicting macro-environmental trends and are now able to find more advanced strategic insight. Additional positive outcomes were evidenced by increased usage of scenario planning, as well as staff and client understanding of a methodology which they ultimately regarded as a way of obtaining strategic solutions in a rapidly changing business environment.
Dr Oliver commented that the benefits of academics working with industry professionals to create knowledge and instrumental impact on business practices has been evidenced in this project.
Furthermore, the YouTube project has been written up and published in both industry and academic journals and the level of publisher downloads has run into the thousands.
The article can be accessed at: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1Wbaj1lnoC6sq
In April 2017 Dr John Oliver co-hosted a business engagement event on Digital Strategy and Business Transformation with The Hackett Group (London). The Hackett Group are leading management consultants providing expert advice on digital transformation and benchmarking to major corporations and government agencies, including 97% of the Dow Jones Industrials, 89% of the Fortune 100 and 59% of the FTSE 100.
The event formed part of a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust funded research project and was attended by senior business executives from the likes of Ofcom, the Financial Times, Astrazeneca and Bell Pottinger. At the time, the delegates commented that it was an “excellent event” that provided different perspectives on digital transformation and new ideas on how to manage strategic digital transformation within their firms.
After 18 months, a clearer picture has emerged of the impact that the presentation of findings and subsequent discussion has had on business practice. Chris Davenport, a Senior Director at The Hackett Group, recently commented that “the event influenced our strategic approach to the development of a new Digital Strategy and Analytics service for our clients. This new consultancy service has been now been launched and several of our FTSE100 clients (among others Tesco, John Lewis and Unilever) have gained insight from this. Some of these clients have already decided to invest millions of pounds into resources creating many new jobs in Digital services and Analytics departments in their firms and we expect many more to follow”.
The research findings have been published in several practice management journals, whilst the academic papers are in the final stages of peer review.
Alan Rusbridger, the former Editor of The Guardian, recently gave an insightful talk to Fellows at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (University of Oxford). He described the impact of digitalisation and new media technologies on the Publishing Industry as “an asteroid strike” that had decimated organisational business models, value chains, profitability and employment levels.
Dr John Oliver (FMC) attended the event and commented that whilst the UK Publishing Industry continues to adapt and undergo structural change, the industry had in fact outperformed all other UK Creative Industries between 1997-2014.
Whilst the industry had seen the workforce contract from 308,500 in 1997 to 225,000 in 2014, the structural adaption of human resources has produced a positive effect on industry performance, with the Gross Value Added per employee by increasing from £20,554 to £45,244 (+120%) over the same period.
A copy of the paper can be found on BRIAN.
Oliver JJ. (2017). Exploring industry level capabilities in the UK Creative Industries. Creative Industries Journal, 10(1):75-88
The European Media Management Association Doctoral Summer School is a bi-annual event that has previously been run by institutions in Germany, Spain, Sweden, Portugal and Zurich. This year the Advances in Media Management (AiMM) research group hosted an international group of doctoral students at BU.
Dr John Oliver, Associate Professor of Media Management, said that “our aim was to create a community of learning where doctoral students, media industry professionals, BU faculty and professional services staff fused media management theory and practice to define the next generation of media management challenges”.
On the social side, delegates were given a Dorset cider tasting experience, an opportunity to see the grave site of Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) and a Gala Dinner in The Library of the Miramar Hotel in Bournemouth.
Dr Oliver would also like to thank the Doctoral College for their support and those members of the AiMM team that helped plan and deliver what can only be considered to be an “excellent event” that has contributed to BUs international profile and reputation. Many thanks to: Dr Joyce Costello, Dr Chris Chapleo, Melanie Gray, Graham Goode, Maria Musarskaya, Muridzo Searchmore and Conor O’Kane.
Dr John Oliver, from the Advances in Media Management (AiMM) research cluster has been invited to join one of Ofcom’s Expert Groups.
In 2017 Ofcom became the BBC’s first external regulator and have set the regulatory conditions required for the BBC to fulfil its Mission and promote the Public Purposes. Dr Oliver will contribute to the development of measuring the distinctiveness of the BBC (known as Public Purpose 4).
Ofcom will monitor the BBC’s performance over the course of the Royal Charter (2017-27) and will produce their first performance report later this year.
A strategic commentary on the interconnected areas of corporate strategy and employee performance are discussed in the latest issue of Strategic HR Review. The paper provides a longitudinal analysis of how two firms adapted, reconfigured and transformed their businesses to meet the demands of an operating environment characterized by inexorable changes in digital technologies. It presents data and conclusions on how the management of “human resources” had delivered different employee productivity outcomes over the long term.
50 FREE downloads are available at: https://doi.org/10.1108/SHR-10-2017-0069
The future of YouTube is focus of a new co-created paper by Dr John Oliver (FMC) and Emma Parrett, Strategic Partnerships Director at OMD UK. Published in the US based journal, Business Horizons, the paper presents theoretical and empirical findings on how Scenario Planning was used to enable media executives to strategize and prepare YouTube for multiple futures, with multiple strategies.
The paper combines imaginative and systematic thinking in a way that provides a unique insight into future media environments and how YouTube could compete in each scenario.
Dr Oliver commented that “this co-created paper illustrates the benefits of academics working with industry professionals to create knowledge and impact with multiple stakeholders”.
The full article can accessed from: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1Wbaj1lnoC6sq
Dr John Oliver, from the Advances in Media Management research cluster, recently delivered a keynote lecture at the Open Innovation Design Jam competition at the University of Glasgow. The event formed part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science programme of activities that ran from 5th-12th November across the UK.
The Design Jam also involved a number of short, intensive brainstorming sessions in which teams developed innovative solutions to challenges. This event was an opportunity for innovators and businesses to explore open, collective and user-led innovation.
Dr Oliver’s talk on media innovation strategies presented empirical data on how the innovation practices of UK media firms had transformed firm capabilities and corporate financial performance.