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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Teaching champions recognised internationally

Friday, October 24th, 2014

Andrea Ward, Director of Teaching Quality and Enhancement (Postgraduate) at Sheffield University Management School, has been awarded a prestigious US fellowship.

The Jane N Ryland Fellowship is offered by EDUCAUSE, an American organisation which helps those who lead, manage, and use information technology to shape strategic IT decisions at every level within higher education.

The grant Andrea receives through receiving the fellowship allows her to attend the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) Annual Meeting in February. Held in Anaheim, California, this event will enhance work that Andrea is doing on introducing technology-based learning and teaching in the Management School.

Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, Professor Paul Latreille, said: “This is an exceptional professional development opportunity for Andrea, and I’m delighted that one of our key learning and teaching staff has been acknowledged with this honour.

“The Jane N Ryland Fellowship is highly competitive, and Andrea becomes one of a very small number of non-US recipients, and to my knowledge only the third from the UK. She has been recognised as a trailblazer in our sector, with the EDUCAUSE Fellowship Advisory Committee giving special mention to the well-focused, practical commitment reflected in Andrea’s application.”

Another ambassador for learning and teaching at the Management School, teaching champion for the Accounting and Financial Management Division, Jonathan Jeffery, has also been recognised in the form of an entry in a forthcoming Higher Education Academy (HEA) compendium.

Jonathan’s contribution showcases an excellent and innovative pedagogical approach in relation to independent learning, centred around an innovative tutorial format involving a mixture of whole group and tailored individual activities contributing to the creation of an overall understanding. Among its novel features the module includes formative in-class support, the use of Google Drive, Google Hangouts and Skype, and of peer review software.

Head of the Accounting and Financial Management Division, Professor Bill Lee, said: “The division, and wider Management School community, passes on its congratulations to Jonathan. His inclusion in this compendium demonstrates the importance of the high quality learning and teaching offered at Sheffield alongside our world-class research.”

Could you become a destructive leader?

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Destructive leadership in the workplace – many workers could identify a time where they think they’ve experienced this.

As part of his Antecedent Project, Peter Crellin, a doctoral researcher in the Institute of Work Psychology at Sheffield University Management School, sought to answer the question, ‘what causes destructive leadership?’.

With the certainty that the behaviour of followers, or fellow workers, could have something to do with the emergence of destructive leadership, Peter has set up a virtual workplace simulation to test users’ behaviour against his ideas.

Peter said: “After a couple of fruitless tests, the question became ‘how can we easily immerse people in an experience that will allow them to behave genuinely’. The answer was a Computer Simulation of an Actual Workplace (CSAW) – the product of several months of tailored graphics creation and programming.”

The CSAW is designed to create specific work scenarios that players react to. Peter created scenarios that were designed to see if he could elicit potentially destructive behaviours – the user assumes the role of ‘leader’ in a team of four followers, and is randomly allocated to a situation to do with popularity, workload or staff productivity. These scenarios were variable, so for example sometimes they were popular, other times there was low productivity amongst followers. The programme allowed users to communicate with their staff through emails.

Peter continued: “Users connected emotionally with the programme, through systems such as the emails. For example, if they were unpopular in the office they received three emails, two of which explicitly excluded them from social situations and one which directly outlined how much the player was disliked by their team.

“On top of that, each player had to make a number of choices regarding rewards – promises of promotion, training opportunities, bonus increases, positive appraisals, drinks rounds, and chocolates – and punishments – redundancy threats, reduced training, bonus decreases, lunch hour reductions, and negative appraisals – whilst monitoring operational and logistical matters, and incoming emails. Players were also free to write to their staff viaemail if they wanted to, and had to choose to make one member of staff redundant at the end of the working day.”

The programme collects a great deal of data which Peter is still analysing, but it has become very clear that engagement from users has been much higher than with previous test attempts. Users quickly attributed personalities to their followers as well as reasons for their behaviour, both of which were created by the computer so therefore should ignite no reason or discernable traits.

Peter concluded: “We are delighted with results from the CSAW – it has opened up a new avenue for research in this area. Users’ behaviour moved quickly and they were very much immersed in the virtual world – they agreed that they were drawn in and that they had experienced genuine emotional reactions to the simulations.”

For more information on Peter Crellin’s projects, visit:

See the programme in action:

The Power of Words: PhD student makes international impact

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

certificate   presentation of the certificate

We love celebrating our students’ achievements, and a recent transatlantic win has turned heads in the world of management studies.

Sheffield University Management School PhD student, Paul Tristen Balwant, was awarded the Best Paper in Management Education at this year’s Academy of Management annual meeting (AOM2014) – a US conference for more than 10,000 students, academics, scholars and professionals in management and organisation.

The paper, entitled ‘Practice What You Preach: Instructors as Transformational Leaders in Higher Education Classrooms’, was a hit in the Management Education and Development Division at the Philadelphia-based conference. Paul’s supervisors, Dr Kamal Birdi (Sheffield University Management School) and Professor Ute Stephan (University of Aston) were also acknowledged on the certificate.

The theme of the conference was ‘The Power of Words’, and many inspiring papers were presented.

Programme Director of Postgraduate Research at the Management School, Dr Caroline Oates, said: “We are delighted for Paul. His excellent paper caught the attention of the esteemed panel and it’s great to see Sheffield management students making such an impression at that level.”

Dr Tim Vorley discusses the One North project

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

We asked Dr Tim Vorley, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Sheffield University Management School, to comment on the recent £15billion, 15-year One North transport plan:

“This represents  a tremendous opportunity for the north of England – with better links, the these five cities [Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle] can work together to create an economy that is stronger together than they are individually. London and the south east is a city state, and there is a n0rth-south divide, so if the north of England is to realise its potential, these cities need to grow through closer cooperation to attract investment as opposed simply competing with each other.

 “While there has been a great deal of hype behind high-speed rail (HS2) bringing the north closer to the south, investing in the infrastructure of northern cities offers an alternative means to generate growth. Creating a ‘super region’ of these five cities offers a way of securing growth potential – it will not only promote endogenous growth, but also act as a magnet for external investment to the north of England.

“Although the capital investment in infrastructure is a core element of the proposed project, it will have ramifications in the region far beyond that. Unlocking the specialist knowledge, skills and expertise is extremely important for the north, but also the UK economy more widely. For Sheffield it would enable the city to build on its strengths in advanced manufacturing and materials, digital and IT, and healthcare, and create new opportunities by working with other northern cities.”

The One North project proposes that a 125mph trans-Pennine rail link, a faster link to Newcastle and better access to Manchester Airport are needed.

It has been developed by an alliance of five cities – Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.


Three-minute thesis success for SUMS PhD

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Ciara Kelly, a PhD student at the Institute of Work Psychology, Sheffield University Management School, has made a huge impact in Sheffield’s round of the international Three Minute Thesis competition.

For the first time ever, the University of Sheffield challenged all of its postgraduate researchers to take part in the national Three Minute Thesis competition. In Three Minute Thesis, doctoral researchers have just 180 seconds to explain their research and its importance to an audience of non-specialists. What’s more, they can only use one slide to help them.

The Three Minute Thesis was devised by the University of Queensland in 2008; since then, its popularity has grown and nearly 200 universities across the world take part. In 2013, the first international ‘Virtual 3MT’ competition was held, so by taking part, researchers really can share their research with the world.

Around 100 University of Sheffield researchers entered the competition and the standard of the presentations was very impressive. Through faculty heats and finals, judges had the difficult task of whittling all the entrants down to just 10 – one of whom was Ciara.

On Tuesday 10 June the finalists went to battle – unfortunately Ciara just missed the top spot, but clinched the ‘runner up’ spot. Watch a video of her presentation below:

Agile move for Dr Tarba

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Dr Shlomo Tarba

A special issue on Strategic Agility in Hypercompetitive Environments was guest co-edited by Sheffield University Management School’s Dr Shlomo Tarba and Dr Yaakov Weber from ISM, France.

The issue included their paper on ‘Strategic Agility: A State-of-Art Review’ that has been published by California Management Review (University of California, Berkeley) and is available online:

Dr Tarba said: “I was delighted to co-edit the California Management Review. It is a highly regarded US executive-orientated journal, much like the Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review.

“The editorial journey was fascinating. We received almost 50 high quality submissions from all over the world, from academics at Harvard, MIT, INSEAD and Imperial College London and it took almost three years to finalise our decision.”

Well done Dr Tarba!

IWP launches Research Update 2014

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

The Institute of Work Psychology (IWP), part of Sheffield University Management School, is delighted to announce the release of its Research Update 2014.

Collating just a few of the IWP’s fantastic research successes and ongoing projects, the publication documents work from prominent members of staff including Professor Peter Warr, Dr Carolyn Axtell, Dr David E Rast, Professor Penny Dick, Dr Kamal Birdi, Dr Eva Selenko, Dr Malcolm Patterson and Dr Jeremy Dawson. It also covers the work by the Institute’s high-achieving group of early career researchers and PhD students.

Read it online here, or see the document below. If you’d like to hear from the IWP in the future, email

SUMS welcomes international academics to global financial crisis symposium

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

“Using Paradigms to Explore the 2008-2014 Global Financial Crisis“
14- 15 May 2014, Sheffield University Management School

Key figures: Rose Shepherd (Sheffield University Management School), Dr Craig Shepherd (Nottingham University Business School), Professor Gibson Burrell (School of Management, The University of Leicester), Professor Gareth Morgan (Schulich School of Business, York University)

This two-day symposium will bring together a select group of leading researchers from different business and management paradigms to discuss the global financial crisis. Participants will be engaging in constructive dialogue and debate on the important issues and questions to be addressed in relation to the financial crisis and the research approaches and methods they advocate moving forward.

The symposium is funded by Sheffield University Management School, Nottingham University Business School, the School of Management at the University of Leicester and Organization: The Critical Journal of Organization, Theory and Society. Dr Craig Shepherd, Nottingham University Business School, commented on the significance of this unique event: “The symposium is the first step in what we believe will be an important programme of research and we are delighted to have such an outstanding group of researchers joining us in Sheffield. The results will be shared with various communities including academic researchers, students and practitioners. We anticipate this will stimulate further discussion on the questions that should be addressed regarding the financial crisis and associated research and methodological issues.“

Other notable academic attendees include Prof Marta Calas (Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts), Prof Stan Deetz (University of Colorado at Boulder), Prof John Hassard (Manchester Business School, University of Manchester), Prof Yuval Millo (School of Management, University of Leicester), Prof Martin Parker (School of Management, University of Leicester), Prof Mike Reed (Cardiff Business School, University of Cardiff), Prof Linda Smircich (Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts), Prof Robyn Thomas (Cardiff Business School, University of Cardiff) and Prof Hugh Willmott (Cardiff Business School, University of Cardiff).

For more information, please contact Dr Craig Shepherd:

SUMS academic co-authors study aimed at improving information for students

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Tim Vorley

Dr Tim Vorley from Sheffield University Management School (pictured above) and Professor Jennifer Roberts from the School of Economics have co-authored a major advisory study on how prospective students for higher education (HE) institutions use information and make decisions with CFE Research.

The work, commissioned by four UK HE funding bodies, stresses the importance of behavioural influences in understanding decision making in this context.

Professor Mary Stuart, Chair of the Provision of Information Strategic Oversight Group, said: “We are fortunate to have a rigorous, evidence-based piece of work from some of the leading researchers in the field, to provide well-grounded guidance on the way people actually behave.

“Through this work, I am convinced of the need to consider decision-making behaviour more carefully when we provide information to help prospective students and their advisers.”

The report has garnered nation press attention from the Times Higher Education (read the story here). Its key findings include the authors’ conclusion that the decision making process is complex, personal and nuanced – involving different types of information, messages and influences over a long time, challenging the common perception that people primarily make objective choices following a systematic analysis of information available to them at one time.

It also concluded that greater amounts of information don’t necessarily mean that people will be better informed, or be able to make better decisions.

Heather Fry, HEFCE Director of Education, Participation and Students, said: “This report signals a way forward for HEFCE’s approach to providing information to support students as they move into HE. The principles it suggests lay down a solid foundation on which to base our future work in this area.”

Bringing the undeclared economy out of the shadows: the role of temporary work agencies

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

In early 2014, Professor Colin Williams of Sheffield University Management School (pictured above) was commissioned by Randstad, one of the leading HR service providers in the world operating in 39 countries, to provide the central feature article for their annual global report, Flexibility@work 2014.

Professor Williams, in collaboration with Piet Renooy, director of Regioplan, an Amsterdam-based consultancy company, explore a key facet of international employment trends in the flexible labour market, namely the causes of undeclared work and how to prevent businesses not declaring work for tax, social security or labour law purposes. It is now widely acknowledged that the large and growing undeclared economy lowers the quality of work and working conditions, undermines the business environment through unfair competition, and puts at risk the financial sustainability of social protection systems.

Clearly then, undeclared work practices should not simply be discouraged, but should rather be transformed into regular work. The study on undeclared work for Randstad – and conducted by the University of Sheffield and Regioplan – shows that in advanced economies the size of the undeclared economy varies widely, from under 10 per cent of GDP in countries such as the US, the UK, Japan and the Netherlands to more than 25 per cent of GDP in parts of southern and eastern Europe.

The study also reveals that countries with a smaller undeclared economy are those in which it is easier for companies to resort to temporary employment opportunities to meet labour demands and in which, at the same time, there is greater intervention (in the form of labour market policies that protect and support vulnerable groups of workers). Its finding is that by creating the right business environment for temporary employment and temporary work agencies, these relatively successful economies reduce the supply and demand of undeclared work by providing both workers and employers with better alternatives.

The report therefore advocates the use of active labour market policies, with a move away from unjustified restrictions on temporary work being lifted and relevant interventions stepped up. Governments, it concludes, need to create a mature system of social protection that not only supports workers who are ill or temporarily out of work, but also encourages an accessible, well-regulated market for temporary employment and temporary employment agencies.

In order for businesses, and indeed economies, to remain innovative and competitive in today’s environment, it shows that flexibility – and therefore flexible labour – will be imperative. The debate, therefore, should not be about whether we want to allow flexible labour and temporary work. Instead, there is a need for a debate on how best flexible labour and temporary work can be regulated to create a win-win situation for both businesses and workers.

Flexibility@work 2014: bringing the undeclared economy out of the shadows: the role of temporary work agencies (Flexibility@work2014) is released on 1 April 2014.


Randstad specialises in solutions in the provision of flexible labour and is one of the leading HR services providers in the world with top three positions in Argentina, Belgium & Luxembourg, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Greece, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the United States, as well as major positions in Australia and Japan. In 2013, Randstad generated revenue of €16.6billion and had approximately 28,000 corporate employees and around 4,600 offices in 39 countries. On average, Randstad employs 567,700 candidates per day and places over 85,000 candidates in permanent positions.