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Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021) results

Henley Business School

Henley’s world-class research is recognised in the Research Excellence Framework 2021 (REF 2021) with 100% of its research impact and environment assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.

Professor James Walker, Director of Research, at Henley Business School said: “The results confirm that Henley has increased the proportion of the highest quality-research submitted for assessment, allowing us to maintain and grow our status as a globally focused research-intensive business school. We are commited to building and strengthening our research to make real impact on the economy and society.”

What is the Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021)?

The Research Excellence Framework is the system for assessing the overall quality, environment, and impact, of research in UK higher education institutions, and it is carried out every four to six years by the four UK HE funding bodies. Henley was submitted as part of the University of Reading and is its biggest academic school.

The assessment involved a comprehensive review of the University's research from 2014 up until 31 December 2020. Around 250 research outputs were submitted from over 100 Henley academics.

For each submission, three distinct elements were assessed: quality of outputs, research impact beyond academia and the environment that supports research. A score is given to each unit of assessment for every institution that submits, and they are then ranked in terms of performance. Each individual research submission is given a rating up to a maximum ‘four star’ rating.

Highlights from the REF 2021 results

As part of the University of Reading, Henley submitted to two units of assessment (UoA):

Business and Management Studies (covers the departments of Business Informatics, Systems and Accounting, International Business and Strategy, ICMA Centre (Finance), Leadership and Organisational Behaviour, and Marketing & Reputation at Henley Business School - along with academics from the Department of Economics at the University of Reading and is the largest unit of assessment with 108 submissions).

  • 100% of impact cases studies assessed as being of four-star or three-star (‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ in reach and significance)
  • 100% of the research environment considered as four-star, or three-star (‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, for research vitality and sustainability).
  • 98% of research overall assessed as internationally recognised (4*,3* and 2*) in originality, significance or rigour.
  • 17th in the UK for research impact
  • 21st in the UK for research environment
  • 26th in the UK for research power (measuring research quality and size of submission)
  • 34th in the UK overall.

Read more here.

Architecture, Built Environment and Planning (includes Henley’s department of Real Estate and Planning alongside colleagues from the Department of Construction Management and School of Architecture)

  • 100% of impact cases studies assessed as being of four-star or three-star (‘outstanding’ or ‘very considerable’ in reach and significance)
  • 100% of the research environment considered as four-star, or three-star (‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, for research vitality and sustainability).
  • 94% of research overall assessed as four-star (‘world-leading’) or three-star (‘internationally excellent’) in originality, significance or rigour.
  • Sixth in the UK for research power (measuring research quality and size of submission)
  • Ninth in the UK for research impact
  • 11th in the UK for research environment
  • 13th in the UK overall.

Read more here

Research impact case studies

A high proportion of the scoring (25%) is given to research case studies which involve applied research that has been adopted and brought about measurable beneficial change (impact) in the society, economy and environment.

A summary of Henley’s case studies submitted can be found below; they demonstrate not only the diversity of research undertaken, but also the reach and significance of the resulting impact.

Improving global financial stability through changing policy and practice on the valuation of commercial real estate

The Global Financial Crisis in 2007-2009 was partially catalysed by the overvaluing and over-lending by banks on commercial property. This research saw academics from Real Estate and Planning, led by Professor Neil Crosby, engaging with the Bank of England, International Monetary Fund, European regulatory authorities and the Global, European and UK real estate industry to shape reforms to the financial system regarding commercial real estate.

Read more

Changing policy and practice to facilitate neighbourhood planning in England

This research has detailed how to improve the efficacy and transparency in the various stages of neighbourhood planning which has traditionally been lengthy and overly complex to manage. This has led to changes in policy and practice intended to increase the rate of uptake, quality and success of neighbourhood plans.

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Improving the quality of healthcare through an integrated clinical pathway management approach and a digital platform

China’s rapidly aging population has increased the demand on healthcare, and this research on an integrated clinical pathway management approach and a digital platform has been widely adopted in the country, informing the decision-making of over 1.5 million doctors, improving the quality of hospital service, and helping increase capacity.

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Using local content policy to drive economic growth in resource-rich countries

This research has shaped the policies of governments in oil rich nations Kazakhstan, Russia and Kuwait on trade, industry and investment through its focus on Local Content Policy (LCP) in the context of country-specific economic development strategies. This resulted in local content (LC) now being recognised by international organisations such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) as a developmental instrument for nurturing the whole economy, beyond the oil and gas sectors.

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Promoting sustainable development through special economic zones

This research into special economic zones has underpinned policy in developing countries such as Nigeria, helping them to attract forms of foreign direct investment (FDI) by synchronising FDI effectively with industrial policy, whilst addressing the sustainable development goals.

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Improving board outcomes by enhancing the strategic capability of the company secretary

This study pinpoints the critical contribution of the company secretary to the effective functioning of the board, and in enhancing organisational performance. The research has underpinned the new core competency framework and training programme adopted by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) which is being offered to its 36,000 members across 70 countries.

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Achieving positive policy outcomes through effective government communications

Through engagement with the Government Communication Service (GCS), this research has informed communication strategies across all UK government departments and platforms, producing a tool called the “Henley Reputation Model” that evaluates communications in order to effect behaviour change.

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Enabling companies to improve organisational attainment through stakeholder engagement

This research has produced the RELATE tool used internationally across FTSE 100 and Fortune Global 500 companies that connects stakeholder data to corporate strategy, building stronger relationships between organisations and their stakeholders by measuring and influencing the psychological drivers of behaviour.

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Improving decision-making for retail investors through risk-profiling

A new attitude-to-risk questionnaire to help the delivery of appropriate financial advice was launched off the back of this research and is now widely used by independent financial advisers to assist their clients in selecting products within their risk appetite, avoiding legal risk for the adviser and enabling them to embody regulatory compliance.

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Improving community benefit by driving policy and practice in the financial viability assessment of property developments

This research into how seven major housebuilders managed to game the system - trebling their Return on Capital Employed whilst claiming they were unable to provide affordable housing – has directly instigated major changes in UK government planning policy and the publication of guidance notes for the development industry.

Read more

Published 12 May 2022
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