UOA17 - Business and Management Studies


Building on our strong heritage and regional links, our vision is to be internationally renowned for meaningful engagement with communities and organisations and impactful research. Our mission is to undertake responsible research and enterprise that enriches the communities and organisations with which we interact.

Unit of Assessment 17 submitted seven impact case studies for REF2021. These were selected to demonstrate our significant impact on national and International policy and evidence a variety of research with a diverse range of stakeholders and beneficiaries. Case study impacts include improving food security across multiple African countries through sustainable wetlands management, developing the first globally recognised professional framework to improve public relations standards and collaboratively building enterprises that allow local people to draw revenue from tropical forests while maintaining forest integrity.

The following impact case studies have been entered for the REF 2021 submission. Find out more below.


Case study: A Global Capability Framework for the Public Relations Profession

The profession of public relations is globalising, but has no recognised framework for benchmarking capabilities of practitioners worldwide. This is problematic when assessing current and future role proficiency and expectations.

The Global Alliance (GA), which is the United Nations (UN) recognised confederation of public relations professional bodies worldwide (representing 280,000 professionals), sought to remedy this. Research conducted at the University of Huddersfield, commissioned by GA and directed by Huddersfield Business School, led to The Global Capability Framework which fills this benchmarking gap. The Framework is now being used across all continents by professional bodies, employers, academics and individuals. It has been publicly acknowledged as a ‘game changer’ for the profession.


Case study: Advancing Sustainable Urban Mobility Planning: The Case of Bike-sharing and Walking School Buses in Greece

In a world where unsustainable urban development threatens to undermine the future of our cities and the wellbeing of our local societies, research that guides clean transport policy-making, planning and management, is critical. Huddersfield Business School (HBS) research has inspired authorities in Drama, Greece, to prioritise cycling, create its first Bike-Sharing scheme (BSS) and implement the first Walking School Buses (WSBs) in Greece.

Twelve Greek cities, including Athens, are using the research findings to develop their EU-funded Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) and more than five million people benefit from the policy changes initiated by this work. The Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy (HMEE) has adopted the research and its applications as a policy guidance tool and is implementing HBS-influenced sustainable transport planning interventions in every Greek city. As examples of sustainable travel, the BSS and WSB projects described in the case study, have improved health and wellbeing and reduced traffic congestion (by 30% from the first week of the WSB scheme), air pollution, noise nuisance, road accidents and social exclusion.


Case study: Building Resilience in Wetland Farming Communities in East and Central Africa

Research by University of Huddersfield in three African countries, Ethiopia, Zambia and Malawi, has shown how seasonal wetlands can be managed sustainably to improve food security, increase resilience and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Codified as the Functional Landscape Approach (FLA), this approach has provided institutional and practical innovations for sustainable wetland farming.

The FLA provided opportunities for entrepreneurial innovation and enabled households to accumulate capital, diversify their livelihoods and develop new enterprises. Individuals in 37 village communities interacted directly with the action research and international and national NGOs have applied the concept to over 148,000 households, one million people, in Ethiopia, Zambia, Malawi, Uganda and Tanzania. The research findings had policy influence in Ethiopia and Zambia.


Case study: Enabling the Sustainable Development of Forests in SW Ethiopia Using Innovative Management and Enterprise Techniques

Research by the University of Huddersfield has contributed to developing enterprises that allow local people to draw revenue from tropical forests whilst maintaining forest integrity. The research developed a Participatory Forest Management (PFM) method that brought 151,000 ha of degrading forest under management by 61 village communities with 176,000 residents.

Twelve forest micro-enterprises and seven marketing cooperatives with 879 members and serving more than 47,000 people helped improve cash incomes from forest enterprises by 25% (after inflation) between 2018 and 2020. Women were especially impacted. They comprise over 50% membership of the 12 micro-enterprises and this challenges their stereotyping. A UoH partner applied the PFM approach in a further 300,000 ha of forest in an adjoining area creating the largest block of PFM-managed forest in the country. The work contributed to the new Federal forest legislation (2018) which will impact all 115m people in the country.


Case study: Deluxe Beds Knowledge Transfer Partnership: The Application of SCRUM in Continuous Improvement

In the UK manufacturing sector, reducing costs whilst simultaneously maintaining or increasing quality, customer satisfaction and organisational flexibility is seen as being a key strategic economic imperative for organisational survival, particularly in the context of the current political and economic climate.

This case study focuses on how research into SCRUM, an agile design-oriented approach to project management which relies on constantly recurring feedback to the client, and associated improvement methodologies has been successfully applied and embedded within a manufacturing organisation through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership. Deluxe Beds Ltd based in West Yorkshire, achieved significant cost savings over a 24-month period as a result of implementing the SCRUM approach. There has been additional downstream impact on Deluxe Beds’ suppliers, one of which has applied for and received funding to upgrade their IT infrastructure following discussions with Deluxe Beds about their own improvements.


Case study: Enhanced Understanding and Reduced Controversy within Expanding Religious Food Markets

Expanding markets for kosher and halal food present significant economic opportunities, but animal slaughter for meat raises complex issues around business compliance and cultural and religious difference. University of Huddersfield research has been used to develop policy on meat market transparency at the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and consumer understanding at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

As recognised by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), this has been achieved by refocussing dialogue between commercial and religious stakeholders to develop more transparent ways of slaughtering animals and labelling meat to address consumer anxieties and concerns about animal welfare. The research has also enhanced understanding of these markets for the Halal Food Authority (HFA), Morrisons Supermarket, and Fera Science.


Case study: Improving Leadership Learning, Practice and Diversity in the Government Communication Service

The communication profession neglects leadership learning for its staff members. Huddersfield Business School research sets out key priorities for communication leaders to enhance their behaviours and improve their practice. The work underpins a bespoke Masters programme delivered since 2014 to more than 200 leaders working in the Government Communication Service (GCS), the professional body run by the Cabinet Office representing 4,000 Civil Service communicators in central government departments, agencies and arms-length bodies.

The research has improved the strategic influence and impact of those participating in the programme, enhanced how their organisations communicate, encouraged reflection and reflexivity in the work place, while also helping to increase gender diversity in senior roles. It is a significant contribution given GCS delivers communication which supports Ministers’ priorities, enables the effective operation of the public service and ultimately improves people’s lives.