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Sustainable Business Research Institute


The Leeds Business School Sustainable Business Research Institute (SuBRI) harnesses the skills and capabilities of Leeds Beckett University academics in business and related disciplines to understand, explain and challenge the future issues facing all commercial organisations.

The Institute and the research and enterprise clusters within it reflect the multidisciplinary contributions required to respond to core business issues of leadership, responsibility and accountability as well as performance.

Our mission is to address the global challenges facing business growth, performance and sustainability but to do so in a spirit of responsibility.

Professor Ralph Tench - Leeds Business School Director of Research

The Institute operates as a hub for promoting, generating and inspiring innovative research and scholarly activity which make a societal difference. The School’s vision is to maximise the impact on regional agendas and priority sectors with the aim of being one of the most aligned management schools with contemporary business practice. Through the Institute Leeds Business School academics are responding to the UK Industrial Strategy and use it as a vehicle to deliver regional innovation strategy plans.

The Institute aim is:

To support future sustainable business performance, leadership and responsibility

Core themes for the Institute are:

Plus Icon Theme 1 - Sustainable development of SMEs

Sustainable development of SMEs (led by Professor Douglas and Professor Devins) includes issues of SME engagement and innovative approaches to engage with industry sectors.

Plus Icon Theme 2 - Productivity and management of performance

Productivity and management of performance (led by Professor Devins and Dr O. Jones) focuses on locally oriented enterprise agendas and initiatives. In particular, the opportunities arising from the Northern Powerhouse concept and related policy. This theme links to the activities of the successful Leadership Centre within the School.

Plus Icon Theme 3 - Consumer behaviour

Consumer behaviour (led by Professor Nath and Dr B. Jones) engages colleagues from the Marketing Subject and also connects with TRI which has three key foci: consumers of the future; supply chain-oriented product and packaging innovation; and retail business globalisation.

Plus Icon Theme 4 - Responsible governance and leadership

Responsible governance and leadership is integrated into The Centre for Governance, Leadership and Global Responsibility (CGLGR; led by Professor Robinson and Dr Sun). The Centre encompasses areas of research in the theory and practice of integrated pedagogy and professional development, creating significant links across the public-private divide. This is complemented by research undertaken on strategic communication (reputation management and ethical issues); led by Professor Tench.

Plus Icon Theme 5 - Strategic communication

Strategic communication (led by Professor Tench) is a long-standing area of research with international impact. The theme covers research into organisational use of strategic communication for public and private sector organisations as well as exploring the role and impact of communication on societal issues such as health, sustainability and responsibility.

Plus Icon Theme 6 - Economics, Analytics and International Business

Economics, Analytics and International Business (led by Professor Rhodes and Professor Morgan) and includes researchers whose work is integrated into all these areas of economic policy, including issues of financial stability and corporate activity (taxation, CSR and other related issues).


If you want to know more about the Institute and the research and enterprise activities of Leeds Business School review some of the projects below or contact Leeds Business School’s Research Director, Professor Ralph Tench r.tench@leedsbeckett.ac.uk telephone 0113 8127539

Research projects

Plus Icon FAME (Family Business Sustainability and Growth)

Leeds Business School is working with Budapest Business School and other partners on the FAME (Family Business Sustainability and Growth) Project, which is a follow on from the successful INSIST (Intergenerational Succession in SMEs’ Transition) Project (below). FAME aims to conduct further in-depth research into how strategies developed for large companies can be adapted for small-medium enterprise (SME) family businesses. From this research, the partners will develop a Masters level course in Entrepreneurship with a specific focus on SME family business sustainability issues. The partners will also explore the possibility of sharing the delivery of the masters’ programme between universities (where a student spends, for example, one Semester at Leeds Business School, then their second Semester at Budapest Business School). During the course of the project, the partners will develop online resources to enable students to compliment the classroom based teaching, and embed work-based learning periods into the course.

Plus Icon SME-DE (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises and Deliberative Engagement)

The challenge that lies at the heart of this project is how to engage SMEs on complex problems related to climate change. This two-year project funded under the Lifelong Learning Programme aims to test the use of deliberative engagement methodologies and to produce an executive development programme that will equip business intermediaries with a new set of capabilities and business tools that will enable them to connect with SMEs in powerful ways so that those SMEs can collaborate effectively in solving their common and complex long-term sustainability problems. Four Higher Educational Institutions working in partnership with five business partners are delivering the project in seven European countries.

Plus Icon ECOPSI (European Communication Professionals Skills and Innovation Programme)

ECOPSI (European Communication Professionals Skills and Innovation Programme).  This Knowledge Alliance project is the largest European funded project in public relations/communication and aimed to map and evaluate the current and future communication management skills of practitioners across Europe. Professor Ralph Tench led a partnership of six leading European universities in communication research and education in mapping and understanding the actions and activities of communicators. The ECOPSI team continue to disseminate findings and work on related projects in communication competencies. Members of the ECOPSI team have presented findings at practitioner and academic conferences worldwide (e.g. USA, China, Spain, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany and the UK). The project has produced an innovative practitioner self-diagnosis tool available from the programme Portal. Based on the project Professor Tench wrote a paper which was awarded the Top Paper award at the Barcelona EUPRERA Congress in October 2013.

Plus Icon INSIST (INtergenerational Succession in SMEs Transition)

(INtergenerational Succession in SMEs Transition) is an Erasmus KA2+ project which aimed to support the survival and growth of family based businesses. How to deal with the transfer of businesses from one generation to the next is an issue for the sustainability of all economies. Central and Eastern economies are facing this challenge for the first time, as the wave of entrepreneurs that emerged in the late 1980s and 1990s approach retirement age. In the more established market economies of Northern, Western and Southern Europe, significant challenges are emerging as first-generation entrepreneurs face succession for the first time and more mature enterprises move towards the third or fourth generation of owners and leaders. INSIST is developing, piloting and evaluating four high level learning modules for owner-managers, successors, business intermediaries and postgraduate students with an interest in the sustainability of family businesses. The project is led by the Budapest Business School (Hungary) working in partnership with Leeds Beckett University and other partners.

Plus Icon Anchor Institutions (funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation - JRF)

Cities are increasingly seen as the drivers of the national economy and the Government is devolving new powers to the largest and fastest-growing urban areas. The Leeds City Region City Deal identifies a number of challenges and opportunities to accelerate growth and the Local Enterprise Partnerships vision is to unlock the potential of the City region to create jobs and prosperity. All major cities have multiple public and private sector anchor institutions that have fundamentally shaped their city’s character. This action research project seeks to understand the role and levers that may be pulled to optimise the contribution of these institutions to alleviating local poverty in the Leeds City Region. It will focus on the key factors, issues, difficulties and opportunities that anchor organisations face in dealing with the complex problem of poverty. It will explore what can motivate organisations to take poverty into account and enable participants to make good choices that work in relation to direct and indirect levers and the various organisational ‘capitals’ (e.g. intellectual/social/cultural/ physical/financial/market/human) which can impact on local areas that can be used to alleviate local poverty.

Plus Icon WBLIC (Work Based Learning as an Integrated Curriculum)

Universities are increasingly being asked by government and related agencies to engage employers in curriculum development and the development of curriculum which matches learner and employer (or labour market) needs with university provision is seen to be an essential element in improving student employability and providing employers with the higher-level skills essential to business success. This 2-year Erasmus funded project explored the significance of joint university-employer development and delivery of curriculum. By looking at examples of partnerships in different seven European countries, the project identified and shared good practice and developed a framework to guide curriculum developers and those bodies wishing to engage with higher education accredited work based learning.

Plus Icon ECM (European Communication Monitor)

The ECM is the largest transnational communication study worldwide. It is longitudinal and now in its 12th year (2018) of external, private business funding. The ECM is annually organised by the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA) and the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD), supported by premium partner PRIME Research, a member of the Cision Group, digital communications partner Fink & Fuchs, and media partner Communication Director magazine. The communication monitor series is known as the most comprehensive research in the field worldwide covering more than 80 countries – the European survey is complemented by bi-annual surveys in other regions like Asia-Pacific, Latin and North America. The annual study has been conducted since 2007 with the aim to stimulate and promote the knowledge and practice of strategic communication and communication management across Europe. More than 5,000 communication professionals from over 80 countries are surveyed in each wave of the Global Communication Monitor series. The series includes this European study as well as the bi-annual North American, Latin American and Asia-Pacific Communication Monitor, making it the largest and only truly global study of the profession based on sound empirical standards www.communicationmonitor.eu.

Research areas

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