Centre Research

"We will create robust, authentic, responsible business solutions based on high-quality evidence and theoretically informed research, engage and communicate effectively with business, policy-makers and change agents and, through our education programmes, develop individuals with the capacity to deliver change for the common good and a sustainable future".

Our Research:


Professor Ian Thomson: Responsible Business

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Synopsis >

Ian's research has included interdisciplinary studies on implementation of cleaner technology, establishing industrial ecologies, effective stakeholder engagement, risk governance in water and salmon farming, sustainable development indicators, government policy making, the role of new digital media, participative geographic information systems, developments in data and analytical technologies, effective pedagogy, use of accounting by activists, human rights, international development programmes and football club ownership and governance.

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Ian Thomson, Director of the Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business, profile picture

Responsible Leadership

Lead: Nicholas Bailey

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The traditional view of leadership is that it resides in the individual, their qualities and their competencies. Other schools of thought believe that it exists in interactions and layers of discourse and behaviour amongst groups. Leadership development interventions and programmes have seen mixed results and many are now advocating a more holistic approach where leadership is shared and exists within culture, practice and environments. Focusing on the current challenges to leaders, such as those posed by the Coronavirus Pandemic, attest to a need to look beyond top down, heroic leadership, leader/follower dynamics to shared responsibility and individual empowerment through discursive engagement. This project has a qualitative line of research and aims to explore social construction and symbolic interaction. The research will focus on communication, discursive leadership, emotional labour and the moral imagination within corporate institutions.

 

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The Impact of the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic on Northern Ugandan Communities

Lead: Christoph Biehl

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Synopsis >

The heavy impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on OECD countries shows the vulnerabilities of highly developed health care systems in countries with advanced infrastructure. The impact of the pandemic on Low and Middle Income Countries is likely to be disastrous. In the impoverished rural Northern Uganda, in societies that rely on extensive social contact, self-isolation coupled with lack of ability to sustain livelihoods due to economic inactivity, the pandemic will amplify poverty and vulnerabilities and in the absence of social and welfare provision resilience building is essential for post-crisis recovery.

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Sustainable, Responsible and Inclusive Businesses

Lead: Nur Gundogdu

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Dr Nur Gundogdu is a Research Fellow in Responsible Business at University of Birmingham, Birmingham Business School. Previously, she was a Research Fellow at Aston University Birmingham and Brunel University London. Her main research interests are Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation for Sustainability; Sustainable, Responsible and Inclusive Business; Well-Being and Mental Health at work; Gender Equality. She has carried out academic and professional careers together and has research and consultancy experience at UKRI, British Council, and EU Horizon 2020 funded research projects. She has also contributed to the projects collaborated by academia, the government, industry and NGOs in a national and international context.

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Face of the Firm: Aesthetic Diversity in the Workplace

Lead: Juliet Kele

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Juliet’s project examines diversity in the workplace, with a particular focus on whether firms’ use of diverse imagery in promotional materials reflect the true diversity of their workforce. Juliet also explores the differences between aspects of diversity that are immediately apparent and less obvious characteristics.

Juliet believes that refinement and adjustment of the abstract and subjective concept of ‘diversity’ is necessary. Changing societal demographics generate organisational benefits and challenges in managing increasing levels of diversity.

Juliet’s research focusses on small to medium size law firms and finds that although diversity management is legitimised in their business cases, in some circumstances firms are not fully aware of the importance of diversity in practice.

Juliet conducted 44 interviews across four small and medium law firms in the UK. She also reviewed the companies’ webpages and hard-copy marketing brochures and held telephone conversations with marketing personnel.

Her initial findings include:

  • Diversity continues to be viewed as the most obvious characteristics, such as race and disability.
  • Less obvious diversity traits such as knowledge and experience are more overlooked.
  • Age as a diverse trait is notably absent from most people’s definition of diversity.
  • While firms continue to portray visible diversity through marketing strategies, they apply a less rigorous commitment to their diversity and equal opportunity policies in the workplace.

Juliet concludes that diversity utilised for aesthetic reasons has policy implications, ethical implications, as superficial inclusivity allow firms to tap into new markets. She also argues that there are economic implications, as diversity on marketing materials may encourage new employees and customer base who feel the firm represents them. 

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Juliet Kele

Effects of Emotions on Cognitive and Metacognitive Processes, Power and Responsible Decision Making

Lead: Grigorios Lamprinakos

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The current project focuses on the moderating role of power on socially responsible behaviour, through the affective and cognitive validation of thoughts, and the further development of the self-validation hypothesis and research paradigm. This line of research suggests that self-validation can accommodate apparently contradictory sets of results, indicating that power can either increase or decrease socially responsible behaviour, depending on the dominant thoughts at the time of the power induction. Grigorios has contributed to a journal article recently submitted to the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology entitled ‘The Influence of Emotion on Information Processing and Persuasion: Reconciling Classic and Contemporary Research on Anger, Surprise, and Awe’ As well as an article entitled ‘"Keep Calm and Carry On":  The Persistent Resilience of European Consumers in the Face of Austerity’ currently under review for the European Journal of Marketing.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in the Sourcing, Curating and Reporting of Green House Gas (GHG) and Carbon emissions Data

Lead: Immaculate (Mac) Motsi-Omoijiade

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This developing research focus is on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in the sourcing, curating and reporting of Green House Gas (GHG) and Carbon emissions data. This is combined with a complementary focus on the regulatory environment around carbon emissions reporting including the requirements relevant to mandatory GHG reporting. The research aims to consider how AI and AI-related technologies can be deployed to increase the accuracy, completeness, validity and ultimately, climate policy-relevance of GHG and carbon emissions reports.

 

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Time for a new Social Contract to underpin British Banking?

Lead: Andy Mullineux

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Looking at the history of regulation within British Banking, this research asks whether a new social contract between banks, the regulators and stakeholders, rather than between banks and government, is now required to restore trust in banks. In this project, Andy evaluates steps taken by Ofwat, the regulator for the water industry, to build what is essentially an implicit social contract with stakeholders with the purpose of applying this pioneering approach to other regulated utilities service providers in the UK, and elsewhere, including retail banking. Andy will shortly be publishing a chapter in a book called CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance, Belén Díaz Díaz et al. (Eds): Responsible Business in a Changing World, 978-3-030-36969-9. The chapter is entitled ‘Making British Banking Better’.

A paper on a similar theme is set to be published in the Journal of Banking, Finance and Sustainable Development later this year.

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Andy Mullineux

Britain’s ‘Road to Zero’: Analysis of the Potential Electric Vehicles Battery Circular Built Environment

Lead: Nana O.Bonsu

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Nana seeks to deeper understand the policy dynamic of Britain’s ‘Road to Zero’ strategy, which sets out ambition for at least 50% — and as many as 70% — of new car sales to be ultra low emission by 2030, alongside up to 40% of new vans.

His research can be divided into four sections:

  1. Understanding the policy dynamics and influencing factors. Nana would like to comprehend the thoughts and feelings around Britain’s zero emission electric vehicle strategy from stakeholders and interest groups.
  2. Governance and Infrastructure. Nana aims to further investigate the current schemes and public education around electric vehicle updates and what infrastructure networks for mass uptake could mean for the public.
  3. Circular economy paradigms. This involves exploring UK protocol/best practices for battery second/end of life use, following the Global Value Chain.
  4. Lithium-ion battery Global Value Chain. Nana seeks to investigate ethical and environmental sustainability concerns within the raw materials and supply chains for electric vehicles.

Circular economy chains aim to maximise value at every point in a product’s life, while also creating new jobs, reducing waste and costs, reducing resource consumption & risks and harnessing environmental benefits. Lithium-ion batteries have the potential to help reduce poor air quality and contribute to decarbonising the transport sector.

Britain’s ‘Road to Zero in 2050’ lacks coherent strategy, as there is simply not sufficient resource at present to support such an ambitious plan. Nana’s investigations include looking into how Britain would ‘close the loop’ to create a circular business model, taking into consideration current ethical issues such as child labour within the cobalt supply chain and the reusing/recycling of electric vehicle batteries.

Some of Nana’s preliminary results include Local Authority stakeholder opinions that there should be ‘recognised international standards’ and experts in lithium-ion batteries and circular economies stating that these types of batteries are ‘not a burden on the environment but rather valuable’.

Nana’s case studies include the Renault Zoe, which sells the consumer the car but merely rents the battery, allowing them to safely recycle it when it is returned, and the Amsterdam Energy Arena, which uses electric vehicle battery packs to store energy.

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Challenging 'Business As Usual': Moving Toward Resilient and Viable Social-Ecological Systems in Business

Lead: Olivia Tomlinson

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Socio-economic, political and ecological crises continue to evolve in combination. Typically, business activities aimed at addressing both sustainability concerns and responding to crisis may be based on market or stakeholder logic, where responsiveness to stakeholder demands and increasing financial performance motivate beyond-compliance behaviour to address concerns. Yet business and human economic activity continue to put pressure on the social-ecological systems that contain both the firm and the events ensuing in the wider environment. ‘Business as usual’ approaches are no longer viable, because the definition of ‘as usual’ within the system that the firm operates evolves at the same pace of changes and challenges in the social-ecological environment. Olivia’s research focus is grounded in the adoption of a systems view of the firm, to counter these challenges and move beyond the inside-out perspective of business sustainability, that seeks to reduce firm impact on the environment, to restorative approaches, that allow for the sustenance of a healthy operating environment- both internally and externally. Areas of focus are the micro- and macro-mechanisms that help counter collective threats to the social-ecological systems, and the ends that these mechanisms serve in addressing systemic, institutional, organisational, group and individual considerations. Through identification of the antecedents and manifestations of best practice that drive transition, Olivia’s research focuses on how firms can go further than financial viability, to driving the transition towards resilient and viable social-ecological systems. Olivia’s PhD (Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester) focuses on the impact that social and environmental considerations have on organisational resilience when faced with political-economic crisis, and maps the antecedents, behaviours and consequences of firm responses. This research focuses on SMEs operating within global value chains, conducting qualitative interviews from various actors involved in construction, manufacturing and start-up (tech and non-tech) value chains. Other areas of interest include: the role of venture capital and investment funds in encouraging sustainable business model transformation and innovation; the role of Industry 4.0 technologies in sustainable business model transformation; strategy development for coordination amongst actors and across scale to build models of organisational adaption; exploration of the boundary conditions of the resilience and adaptive capacity of systems; understanding the ways in which collective action occurs amongst for profit companies, non-profit organisations and governments; the conditions that make the co-management of sustainable development in the social-ecological system possible and effective.

 

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Sustainable Consumption

Lead: Jennifer TyreeHageman

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Jennifer’s research examines the consumption behaviors of urban consumers in developed markets in the context of sustainability challenges and responsible consumption. Among consumers, there is a growing awareness of and concern about the harmful environmental and social impacts of worldwide consumption and production. This concern influences how people think about their individual consumption choices, how they participate in markets, including their attitudes toward firms and products, and how they perceive the global economy. At a firm/industry level, companies are increasingly offering sustainable options to consumers and differentiating themselves on the basis of sustainable practices. This research, which explores whether and how consumers engage with sustainability, is essential to the future agenda of responsible business, as consumers not only shape markets through their purchasing power but also through their ability to collectively advocate for systemic change. Jennifer’s current project focuses on urban consumers living in four cities in the United Kingdom (London and Birmingham) and the United States (San Francisco and Sacramento) and highlights sustainable consumption trends, urban consumption practices, the needs and goals of urban consumers, and the barriers and tensions facing urban consumers as they try to live sustainably. Her research has links to responsible marketing practices, circular business practices, and broader sustainability transitions.

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