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Archive for the ‘Knowledge Exchange’ Category

Predicting behaviour to save lives: Research with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue comes to fruition

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Dr Dermot Breslin

How can South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) plan to maximise the effect of its fire prevention initiatives?

Research from the Management School, in collaboration with Coventry university, models community behaviour so SYFR can identify high-risk areas and intervene – reaching vulnerable communities and reducing incidents. This decision support tool, called Premonition, enables fire services to input scenarios – the mapping software then combines geographical, demographical and behavioural data to predict areas where there might be increased risk of fires and other emergencies.

This informs SYFR’s resource planning and means that fire prevention initiatives can be focused on the relevant areas, protecting the most vulnerable in our community.

Dermot Breslin from the Management School (pictured above) explained: “We live in increasingly complex social networks and our behaviours are influenced by many factors. This predictive model unpacks the complexity so SYFR, and potentially services in other areas, can manage their resources and services targeted at the most vulnerable groups in our community.

“We hope that over time this will lead to improved community behaviour and less emergencies.”

Hear from the Premonition team in this video:

Contact Dermot on

Management School to assist in design of major new Pilot Plant

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

The UK Centre for Carbon Utilisation (CDUUK) at the University of Sheffield recently won a competitive tender to join a team to design a new carbon capture and utilisation plant for the Tees Valley. The contract pairs the University of Sheffield with the Teeside Collective a pioneering infrastructure project who are at the forefront of innovative carbon capture and usage technology. The collective are working together to establish Europe’s first clean industrial zone. Prof Lenny Koh, chair in operations management at the Management School, is a member of the CDUUK board.

CDUUK are academic specialists from across seven departments (Chemical and Biological Engineering, Materials Science Engineering, Mechanical Science, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, Management School and Psychology) who will bring a range of interdisciplinary expertise to the Collective. CDUUK will be designing the demonstration centre and commercial and operating models of this ground breaking project.

The move comes as the Government formulates its policy on decarbonisation in the light of the cancellation in November of funding for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in the power sector. A policy review is due to be published by Lord Oxburgh, who visited Teesside to hear about the Collective’s plans as part of his review.

Professor Peter Styring, Chair of CDUUK, commented: “The impact of the proposed carbon capture and utilisation demonstration centre cannot be underestimated, helping more heavy industrial companies decarbonise their facilities and explore innovative uses for carbon and income streams. Utilisation of CO2 is gaining momentum globally and this will put the UK at the forefront of that effort”

CDUUK provides a cohesive centre for interdisciplinary research into carbon dioxide utilization in Sheffield. Using a co-ordinated approach to research and a strategic approach to funding opportunities the Centre is at the forefront of CDU research in the UK.

Teesside Collective are a cluster of leading industries with a shared vision: to establish Teesside as the go-to location for future clean industrial development by creating Europe’s first Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) equipped industrial zone. Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership which includes the Teesside industrial cluster, has been awarded £1m funding by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change to develop a business case for deploying industrial CCS in the Teesside cluster and to make recommendations for a funding mechanism.

Business Management students’ expertise to help local charity

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Pictured L-R: Project manager Sue, Jessica Murray, outreach worker Daryl, Dan and Lily Robinson

Many modules at the Management School integrate real-world problems which students are asked to solve. For our third-year Business Management undergraduates, the ‘Management Project’ module, led by Michael Frize, is a great opportunity for their work and recommendations to actually make an impact on an organisation. This was demonstrated recently when problems in eight organisations were subject to the scrutiny of our students.

Ben’s Centre, a Sheffield charity that supports homeless people that are often vulnerable and involved with alcohol, presented a challenge; they needed to raise awareness of the charity and increase donations from the public in terms of funds and volunteering. The response from students Lily Robinson and Jessica Murray focused on their marketing. Lily’s recommendations discussed how shock advertising might help their cause; understanding students as a target demographic; and how they could enhance their digital platforms. Jessica recommended that they develop a brand personality based on the people at the core of the charity; formulate a more relationship focused marketing approach, using storytelling; and reviewed brand guidelines, using a consistent identity, based on a new logo, colour selections and typefaces, all informed by the brand personality.

The charity was so impressed with their recommendations that they intend on integrating them into future campaigns.

Lily said: “The project involved writing a literature review, using literature to solve their issues and then coming up with recommendations. We then had to do a poster presentation to feedback findings to our company. After choosing to deliver on their brief I visited Ben’s Centre, got a feel for the charity and the work they do, and then got going! My placement year helped a lot as I have practical experience in marketing. I also got plenty of support from Michael, the module leader – I had weekly sessions I could attend where we discussed my coursework progress.

Jessica added: “As soon as I saw the pitch by Ben’s Centre, I knew it was the project I was seeking for a number of reasons. Firstly, because I would be able to apply my marketing expertise to offer genuine help to a charity. Secondly, as it would help me to broaden my academic understanding of the subject and finally because the cause is a matter close to my heart. This project has been really rewarding as I have not only enhanced my own learning, but have been able to provide some tangible recommendations that should hopefully be of use to such a great charity. Feedback I’ve received from the charity was amazing – they feel my solutions were very well communicated and a number of the recommendations made have formed the structure of a new marketing and communications policy for Ben’s Centre.”

Lily added: “It was so rewarding to do a piece of coursework I knew Ben’s Centre was going to use – it was a motivation. It was great to present back my ideas to them as they really liked my recommendations and are hoping to implement some of them in the future. I have not done many poster presentations before and it was a great way to improve my communication skills in an unfamiliar setting.”

The Management School is keen to hear from other organisations keen to benefit from our students’ expertise. Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, Professor Paul Latreille, said: “I’m delighted to see that both parties have benefited from this module. Although our students are introduced to live case-studies throughout their degree, the Management Project puts onus on practical skills and making informed, realistic recommendations. We’re very proud of Lily and Jessica and can’t wait to see Ben’s Centre thrive as a result of their projects.”

Find out more about Bens Centre on their website:

Encouraging innovation: SUMS team aim to improve labour conditions worldwide

Monday, March 14th, 2016


Members of the WOERRC research centre, Prof Jason Heyes and Dr Thomas Hastings, recently took their expertise in employment rights to Durban in South Africa.

The duo trained members of the South African Department of Labour’s Inspection and Enforcement Services unit, using their newly developed toolkit – designed for the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The training, a pilot to check the quality of the toolkit, sought to educate labour inspectors further on issues relating to informal employment in South Africa and the potential risks for workers. Labour inspectors are responsible for inspecting workplaces, investigating bad practice and taking action where employers are failing to comply with the requirements of labour legislation. However, labour inspection in the informal economy, where employers might be hard to identify, is fraught with difficulties. Jason and Tom’s aim was to enhance the effectiveness of labour inspection in the informal economy by raising awareness, encouraging innovation and helping inspectors to identify obstacles and ways of getting around them.

South Africa was appropriate for a pilot training session as it has a large informal economy, which includes formal enterprises and formal sector businesses employing people on an informal basis. Jason and Tom created a dialogue with the inspectors through the session, and gathered feedback on its success. The course evaluation was extremely positive and the inspectors mentioned a variety of lessons and new ideas which they intended to implement in their work.

The training toolkit translates academic research into practical application and is designed to be universal – one section can be tailored to the country it is being used in. Jason said: “This is a toolkit designed for labour inspectorates all over the world. We hope to run sessions in other developing countries. By trialling it in this way, we will gather feedback that can inform future developments in the toolkit.”

A cultural and intellectual exchange – developing our partnership with Kobe

Monday, February 29th, 2016
Dr Naoko Komori (centre) with Prof Andrew Simpson and Prof David Oglethorpe (left) and representatives from Kobe

Dr Naoko Komori (centre) with (L-R): Prof Andrew Simpson, Prof David Oglethorpe (Sheffield), Prof Katsuhiko Kokubu, Prof Kazumi Suzuki, Prof Hirofumi Matsuo and Ass Prof Takaaki Hoda (Kobe)

Following an invited trip to Japan in September 2015, Dr Naoko Komori, a lecturer in accounting at the Management School, has returned to Kobe University’s Graduate School of Business Administration with members of the executive board to further the relationship between the two institutions.

Naoko is leading the partnership which will focus on intellectual exchange, though may also develop into new areas over time. She said: “Since I started my PhD at Sheffield, I knew I wanted to bridge Japan and the UK – two very important players in the contemporary knowledge creation which are very different in cultural heritage. There is too much indigenous knowledge on Japan that still remains untranslated in international academic arena.

“As such, the potential of a partnership between Sheffield and Kobe is very exciting, and will fulfil a life-long aim for me. Personal circumstances have unfortunately delayed my ambition in this area, and it is satisfying from a professional and personal perspective that we are now making in-roads.

“Linking knowledge from the East and West will underpin our universities’ international reputations, leading to fantastic benefits for the schools, their students and researchers. Though there are many more conversations to be had, the foundations of this relationship are strong and we will build on them over the coming months.”

Prof Katsuhiko Kokubu, Dean of Kobe Graduate School of Business Administration, commented: “I am convinced that Sheffield and Kobe can collaborate productively and fruitfully, particularly around one of the core areas of research that we have in common – such as entrepreneurship and glocalisation.”

Kobe Graduate School of Business Administration is a top university for business and economics in Japan which is well-established and boasts a rich history. Click here for more information.

Dean of Sheffield University Management School, Prof David Oglethorpe, discussed his trip with Naoko to Japan in his recent blog. Click here to read it.

“I’m game!” – SUMS reviews motivation of volunteers in sport

Friday, February 19th, 2016

Picture1  Picture3

What was the incentive for 2012’s London Olympics voluntary games makers? Why do people take time to coach sport for free? When are you most likely to volunteer for a local organisation?

Dr Geoff Nichols from the Management School was recently commissioned by Sport England; which aims to promote sports participation and sports volunteering; to review the motivations of people who volunteer in sport.

Geoff and his team, including Management School PhD students Caroline Knight and Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, reviewed over 130 existing academic papers and research reports – the first time this type of review has combined research from sport with volunteering. They were able to examine the motivations of sports volunteers in different roles and also gain an understanding of how these roles change throughout people’s lives as a result of their values, circumstances and experience.

The review’s findings identify that motivations to volunteer are complex and varied – participants’ volunteering could be influenced by their personality, values, identity and resources; relationships and social networks; groups and organisations which they’re a part of; their environment; and wider societal and global factors. The team identified a particular gap in research around sports volunteering in universities.

There’s significant potential for further research in the area as well as impact, as the review will help Sport England develop a volunteering strategy in response to a request from the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Following the department’s 2015 publication, ‘Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation’, the Government are keen to diversify and increase numbers of people volunteering in sport and have tasked Sport England with publishing a new volunteering strategy for sport and physical activity in 2016 – work by Geoff and his team will inform this.

Geoff and Caroline recently presented a summary of their review to representatives of national governing bodies in sport at a meeting at the English Institute of Sport. Geoff will also discuss the work at the next meeting of the Sport Volunteering Research Network in London.


Click here to read the full report (Nichols, G., Hogg, E., Knight, C., Mirfin-Boukouris, H., Storr, R. and Uri, C. (2016) Motivations of Sport Volunteers in England: a review for Sport England.)

TWENTY65 project launch makes a splash

Monday, February 1st, 2016

TWENTY65 launch London Jan 26 2016

Sheffield Water Centre, alongside Drs Kamal Birdi and Tina McGuiness from the Management School, celebrated winning the EPSRC’s Grand Challenge for ‘Sustainable Water for all’ at the TWENTY65 Official Launch at Whitehall, London.

The event was opened by Kedar Pandya, Head of Engineering at EPSRC and was attended by key players from the Water Sector, including the Head of Sustainability for the GLA and the KTN Manager for Water, ARUP, Murphy Group and Water Utility companies from across the UK.

The research initiative, which will see the University of Sheffield collaborate with five other universities on meeting the water challenges of the next 50 years, was launched on Monday 25th January. TWENTY65’s tagline is ‘Tailored Water Solutions for Positive Impact’. It will seek to address the ‘grand challenge’ of providing sustainable water for all in the face of population growth, climate change, urbanisation and ageing infrastructure in the years to 2065. The project aims to provide thought leadership through a partnership approach between the universities, water utilities, trade associations and the supply chain.

Dr Kamal Birdi (pictured above left, standing), who is leading the project theme on collaboration for innovation, said: “The event began with an overview of the programmem with project leads outlining their research plans. I then facilitated a range of activities designed to get different water sector stakeholders (water companies, supply chain, professional bodies and academics) to identify the most critical disruptive innovations we require in the water sector over the next 50 years. We were trying to put our collaboration for innovation ethos into practice.

“There were 72 attendees from many sectors. The day was busy, buzzing with enthusiasm and discussion and seemed to engage everyone thoroughly in TWENTY65’s ambitions.”

Tina McGuiness is contributing to another project theme on mobilisation.

Employer supported volunteering: delivering on the potential

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Maximising and delivering on the potential of employer sponsored volunteering is the focus of a high-profile policy breakfast in London.

The event, which takes place in the Churchill Rooms in Westminster on Wednesday 27 January, will showcase the research of Dr Jon Burchell, senior lecturer at Sheffield University Management School, and Dr Joe Cook, an academic at Hull University Business School

Building on eight years of research on the subject, delegates will consider the future of employer sponsored volunteering in the UK. Dr Cook, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this high-profile discussion and hope to focus on establishing a strategy that is both fit-for-purpose and achievable.

“Almost 50% of the population in the UK do some kind of volunteer work and that is to be commended. We want to ensure that both businesses and charities are equipped to engage with volunteers in the best way possible.”

The government is keen to build on Britain’s volunteering culture – it pledged during the election that employees of large firms and public sector employees will be entitled to three volunteering days a year.

“But this pledge places significant difficulties for businesses,” said Dr Burchell. “Current successful company volunteering strategies offer on average one day per year per employee, from which less than one-third of employees take up the opportunity. Achieving a rapid increase in volunteers and volunteer hours just through offering paid time for example, may prove to be overly ambitious.”

The event, which launches a series of regional workshops across England to examine the infrastructural challenges, brings together a panel of experts to discuss the infrastructural implications of the policy and consider how best to maximise the impact of employee volunteering in the UK. Organised by Britain’s leading cross-party think-tank, Demos, in partnership with the universities of Sheffield and Hull, the Office for Civil Society, Business in the Community (BiTC), and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the discussion will explore the challenges of overcoming the key barriers to building effective and sustainable partnerships.

Other speakers include: Graham Frankland, National Grid, Dr Justin Davis-Smith, NCVO, Lisa Cunningham (BiTC), and Neil Cleeveley, National Association for Voluntary and Community Action. The event is chaired by Peter Cheese, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Key questions for discussion include:

  • How can we ensure that the impact of employee volunteering is maximised?
  • How can more third sector organisations be equipped for employee volunteering, and present opportunities for volunteering effectively to businesses?
  • How can local infrastructure support connections between business and community groups to facilitate better employee volunteering?
  • How can we encourage greater employee volunteering amongst small businesses in particular?

The event will lay the groundwork for a series of workshops across England which will examine the local challenges for Employer Sponsored Volunteering and the potential for stronger brokerage and infrastructural support.

The universities of Sheffield and Hull will organise these workshops in partnership with the Office for Civil Society and the Local Intelligence Teams in partnership with Business in the Community and NCVO.

Research toolkit will improve working lives on a global scale

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015


A toolkit developed by experts at the Management School will help ensure that organisations operating in informal economies worldwide are upholding labour standards and respecting employee rights.

Created following research by Professor Jason Heyes (pictured above) and Dr Thomas Hastings, both from the WOERRC research centre, the document entitled Extending Labour Inspection to the Informal Economy, was commissioned by the International Labour Organization (ILO) – a specialised UN agency with 186 member countries.

Professor Heyes, who has worked with the ILO since 1998, commented on the project: “The ILO creates, promotes and upholds labour standards in all of its member states. I work with the Governance and Tripartism Department, which is responsible for providing member countries and social partners with advice and support on matters connected to labour administration and labour inspection. Labour inspectorates are government bodies that, through proactive and reactive inspection work, play a vital role in improving employer compliance with employment rights.

“This toolkit is intended to help labour inspectorates to address employment rights issues in the informal economy, thereby increasing the protection provided to vulnerable workers. Most ILO member countries have a labour inspectorate of some kind – they check workplaces and ensure employers are respecting employment rights, including issues such as minimum wage requirements, health and safety concerns, holiday entitlements, freedom to join trade unions and equal opportunities in the workplace.”

The innovative, easy-to-use toolkit has been designed to connect new academic theories with practice, via actions taken by the inspectorates. It will develop the ILO’s capacity to provide support to countries tackling issues related to the informal economy, and will increase the effectiveness and knowledge of inspectors in improving protection for employees.

The toolkit is accompanied by an online message-board, where users can discuss how the toolkit has impacted on their role and feed-back information to the research team at Sheffield. Dr Hastings discussed further testing of the toolkit: “In December, we will present the toolkit and project findings to senior ILO officials in Prague. Then we hope that it will be trialled in South Africa in the New Year, and are exploring further international testing options throughout 2016. It has a global reach, as we have considered cultural differences throughout and the toolkit can easily be adapted to benefit countries all over the world.”

The practical implications of the toolkit are huge, and align with WOERRC’s mission to promote decent work and decent workplaces and the Management School’s commitment to supporting socially responsible work practices across the world.

This research was funded the ILO and an ESRC Impact Accelerator Award.
Click here to download the toolkit.

Linking social science and innovation

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Prof Tim Vorley from the Management School is leading the Innovation Caucus – a new initiative developed and funded by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council to facilitate closer collaboration between these governmental and academic communities.

Working with Dr Chay Brooks at Sheffield, and a range of academics from other national universities, Prof Vorley will drive the Caucus to promote knowledge exchange between social science researchers and Innovate UK with the aim to support the innovation ecosystem.

Recent activity from the team has provided briefings to the government which should shape decisions made in the up-coming spending review, looking at different ways of funding enterprise and innovation in the UK.

The primary goal of the Innovation Caucus is to demonstrate and promote the value of social science research to Innovation UK. It will enhance its impact and build connections. To find out more, watch their introduction video:

You can connect with the Innovation Caucus on their website or via Twitter.