Research excellence at the University of Kent

Kent Business School

The Research Excellence Framework also assesses the impact that the research has outside academia. The case studies below are a selection of the research submitted by Kent Business School.

Performance Management in China

Professor John Mingers, Professor Steve Wenbin Liu

Research by John Mingers and Steve Wenbin Liu has led to the creation of a new performance management system, developed in China.

The ‘3E’ system puts the emphasis on effectiveness, efficacy and efficiency. It is particularly suitable for organisations that are facing complex management challenges, or conditions of rapid growth and change. The ‘3E’ system has been successfully used in Chinese organisations and companies, such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Tonsan Adhesives.

The tasks it has been used for include developing performance indicators, improving management communication and designing appraisal systems.


Helping Kent's smaller businesses grow sustainably

Dr Mark Gilman, Dr Simon Raby

The Promoting Sustainable Performance project provided a deeper understanding of why some small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) achieve growth while others fail to achieve their aspirations. The research engaged with over 300 SMEs in Kent and identified ten key growth enablers.

These formed the basis of The BIG Journey – an executive education programme for smaller businesses. The participating SMEs reported an average increase in sales turnover of 18.8% and an increase in employment levels of 13.6%, adding £2.8 million to the local economy in Kent. Both the research for Promoting Sustainable Performance and The BIG Journey are ongoing, with the project now in its third cycle.

Policymakers used the research to inform strategy on issues such as inward investment, high-growth firms and regional business support. Several UK Government bodies engaged with the outcomes including the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, and the European Social Fund.

The debate on privatisation

Professor Warwick Funnell, Professor Robert Jupe

If there is a need to protect the public when a privatised organisation fails, then should those services remain in public ownership? Research by Warwick Funnell and Robert Jupe presented new findings – and some challenging questions – about the limits of effective privatisation.

Their co-authored book In Government We Trust provided evidence which was used by the UK pressure group, Compass, as it campaigned for changes to policies on privatisation.

Their work has been widely covered in the media. It also formed the basis of a debate at the Houses of Parliament, covering issues such as the need for balance between public, private and third sector providers, the dangers of over-simplifying the relationship between state and market, and the importance of modernising rather than ‘marketising’ services.

Backpackers or cruise ships?

Dr Mark Hampton, Dr Julia Jeyacheya, Professor Andrew Fearne

Market vendor in Martinique

For the world’s 40 small island developing states (SIDS) and poor coastal communities, tourism can offer much-needed revenue and employment. However, when it comes to the value of large-scale tourism, Mark Hampton’s research has challenged conventional wisdom.

His findings demonstrate that smaller scale niche tourism can represent a more sustainable basis for economic growth. In a report for the World Bank, Hampton showed how international hotel chains present a challenge to inclusive growth and highlighted the benefits of locally owned niche tourism ventures. Another study for the Commonwealth Secretariat, with Kent colleagues Julia Jeyacheya and Andrew Fearne, offered a critique of the benefits of cruise tourism to small island economies, as well as making practical recommendations on how local food producers could supply tourist hotels.

These and other research findings have been used by the two agencies to support evidence-based policy development. Hampton’s work has also influenced governments, as well as numerous other NGOs and industry associations.

Providing consumer insight

Professor Andrew Fearne

Andrew Fearne’s research project into consumer insight has influenced the marketing practices of over 600 farming and small food businesses. The research used a variety of methods based on supermarket loyalty card data (segmented by life stage, lifestyle, region and geo-demographics). This data provided a rich and robust picture of consumer responses to changes in the marketing mix.

Participating farmers and small food producers used consumer insight reports in a variety of ways: for competitor analysis; to retain or increase their supermarket business; for new product development; and for promotional planning. Benefits were wide-ranging: for instance, one company saw a rise in sales of 130% by introducing new product varieties that appealed to its target market.

Tesco also reported benefits from having better informed suppliers; the project helped Tesco grow its sales of local food and drink (largely from farming and small food businesses) from £0.5 billion (2005) to over £1 billion (2012).

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Last Updated: 11/02/2015

Banner photo (c) Simon Tollington, DICE