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Examining the impact of Covid-19 on the working lives of business, management, and economics’ academics in the UK

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Examining the impact of Covid-19 on the working lives of business, management, and economics’ academics in UK

Within a short timeframe the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the nature of working lives across the globe. Governments have responded by total or partial lockdowns to promote social distancing, and this has necessitated remote working. The Higher Education (HE) sector is a key sector of the UK economy generating £38.2 billion in income in 2017-18 and is also a major employer with significant links to other sectors. Although each sector operates in a specific context, studying HE has wider implications for the UK as a whole. First, the sector has been largely able to continue operating in a digital context and in this respect, it provides a large working sample of remote work. Second, there are implications for the wider education and training domain beyond HE, such as market research and primary and secondary education. In addition, there are implications for other sectors where online research plays an important role, such as various manufacturing and service sectors.

The group ran a Consultation on the Impact of Covid-19 on the working lives of business, management and economics’ academics in UK in early 2020 and obtained a rich sample of responses from over 2,000 scholars. The subsequent report on the consultation was provided to participants and was widely disseminated to the business school community via the UK and international accreditation bodies (Chartered Association of Business Schools and AACSB’s BizEd) as well more widely through the Times Higher Education (Teaching online: it’s hard, even for old hands, as is staying engaged” (11/01/2021) and “Three challenges facing academic research during the Covid-19 crisis”), and other stakeholders in the sector.

In the second half of 2021, two research outputs are to be published examining ‘the unintended consequences of the pandemic on non-pandemic research activities publishedin Research Policy and ‘the effects of the COVID-19 ‘lockdown’ on teaching and engagement in UK Business Schools’ (forthcoming with a working paper version being available at SSRN). A working paper examining job insecurity and work engagement, and how uneven access to research resources is undermining interdisciplinary research is currently under review, and further preliminary work is being drafted exploring how the move on-line has impacted collaborations.

To enrich the evidence base for policy on flexible working, we are now conducting a follow up survey that we hope will enable us to obtain a rich understanding of long-lasting effects on the lives of academics. We are also looking at the impact of the other important event that came to pass in 2020, Brexit. We are extremely grateful to survey participants who have generously supported the project in what was for many a taxing period.

Lead - James T. Walker

Team - Chris Brewster, Rita Fontinha, Washika Haak-Saheem, Fabio Lamperti, and Stefano Benigni