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Funded Research Projects

Funded research projects from LSE's Department of Management

The Department of Management is home to a number of externally funded research projects which deliver impact around the world.  Read more about some of our latest projects below.


Capital and Coercion: How Partnerships Between States and Firms Have Produced Economic Growth


The conventional wisdom on sources of economic growth emphasises ‘inclusive institutions’: constraints on state elites, which allow open access to political and economic power. Yet, in many contexts where we have seen economic growth emerge, we see economic partnerships between powerful, coercive (often non-democratic) states and private enterprises: from Industrial Revolution Britain to the post-Second World War economic tigers to post-Mao China. These partnerships have involved military efforts to secure resources; the application of state power to open or protect markets; and, state coercion to ensure a steady supply of cheap labour at home and abroad. 

Aims and Research Questions

This project aims to understand how states’ coercive capacities have been used to promote innovation and economic growth historically and in contemporary contexts.

One set of questions surrounds the success of China’s AI sector: how is innovation maintained despite autocratic politics that are typically seen as harmful for frontier innovation? We explore the role of China’s monitoring and public security apparatus in stimulating AI innovation. In one paper, my co-authors Martin Beraja, David Yang, and I ask whether Chinese government data is a valuable input into commercial facial recognition AI innovation. In a second paper, Martin, David, Andrew Kao, and I ask whether AI innovation and autocratic political control are mutually reinforcing in China. Work in progress is studying whether autocrats around the world are strengthened by China’s exports of AI.

A second set of questions is focussed on the emergence of modern growth in the British Empire. My collaborators Ernesto Dal Bo, Karolina Hutkova, Lukas Leucht, and I aim to understand the economic role played by Britain’s powerful military – and the relationship between the mutually reinforcing relationship between a strong navy and the expansion of trade. One project models the aligned interests of the state and private merchants arising from the opportunity to fight profitable wars during the age of mercantilism. This alignment arose because military victories enriched merchants (through expanded trade) and expanded trade enhanced military power (through loans to the state and through taxes extracted from trade). A second project documents the historical sources of British government revenues, identifying the central role of taxes on traded goods. A third project aims to empirically link the outcomes of conflict in a region to changes in trade volumes linked to that region, and subsequently to increased tax revenues. This would document a “power and plenty” cycle that historians have argued was important to the rise of the British Empire.



Harvard University:

  • Professor David Yang (Co-investigator)
  • Andrew Kao (Co-investigator)


  • Professor Martin Beraja (Co-investigator)


  • Professor Ernesto Dal Bo (Co-investigator)
  • Lukas Leucht (Co-investigator)

Project Funder

The British Academy 

Visit the project website

Interface Reasoning for Interacting Systems (IRIS)


Our societies and economies are becoming increasingly reliant on digital infrastructures, constituting ecosystems of large, complex, dynamic, and highly distributed systems, connected through interfaces. Digital innovations including Platforms, Big Data, the Internet of Things, Smart Cities, Cloud Computing, and Artificial Intelligence, involve a myriad of interacting systems owned and operated by different companies. In addition, the provision of online services to customers and citizens, increasingly involves the interconnection of systems and IT capabilities from many different organizations. It is expected that the complexity and scale of systems’ interdependence will increase by orders of magnitude in the next few years. This raises important technical and managerial challenges, and societal implications which are still not well understood.

To give answer to these questions, the Interface reasoning for interacting systems (IRIS) project aims to research the interfaces and communication between complex, large-scale systems, and to develop a systematic theory for the correct functioning of digital interfaces from technical, social, managerial, and organisational perspectives. This £6+ million EPSRC-funded large project is formed by Computer Science researchers from UCL, QMUL, and Imperial College, and Information Systems and Digital Innovation researchers from the Department of Management at the LSE. The project also has various industrial partners: Amazon Web Services UK, GridPP, BT, HP Research Laboratories, Facebook, Methods Group. It started in January 2018, and it will run until 2025.

Aims and Research Questions

The computer science side of the project in UCL, QMUL, and Imperial College aims to develop a systematic theory and automated verification tools for reasoning about interfacing and communication between complex, large-scale systems. We need to develop a better understanding of the potential sources of vulnerability (threats to efficiency, reliability, and security) of these complex ecosystems of systems. Their smooth functioning is arguably not only dependent upon the correctness of programs but also on the correct and robust interaction between systems. We contend that interfaces supporting such interactions are therefore the critical mechanism for ensuring that systems and the complex ecosystems they conform behave as intended. We aim to study how the interfaces between the components constituting these ecosystems work, and to verify them against their intended use. We will use verification/modelling techniques that have been effective in ensuring reliability of low-level features of programs, protocols, and policies, but which have not yet been applied to reasoning about such large-scale systems and their interfaces. In so doing, we will drive the use of verification techniques and improve the reliability of large systems.

In addition, we need to consider the social context in which such ecosystems are embedded to better understand how these develop in practice and with what consequences. Drawing on management and social sciences theories, at the LSE we will study how the organisations involved in such innovations define digital interfaces, and the challenges they face. We will also explore the organisational or management commitments embedded within digital interfaces, how coordination and control is achieved through the management of digital interfaces, and the role that digital interfaces play in the emergence of new organisational forms. We will also explore the involvement, dynamics, and consequences of digital interfaces in boundary making and in constituting digital infrastructures formed of complex amalgams of systems and platforms.


This project draws on a range of disciplines, including logic, program verification, security, discrete mathematical modelling, economics, management science and social science. While interfaces at different degrees of abstraction and criticality can be studied independently and from different perspectives, it is unlikely that any one level of abstraction or perspective will offer all the answers. Our goal is to integrate various approaches, so that they can inform each other. For instance, our understanding of the challenges faced by organisations in developing or managing digital interfaces can inform and be informed by the mathematical modelling of systems.




  • David Pym (Principal Investigator)
  • James Brotherston (Co-Investigator)
  • Tristan Caulfield (Co-Investigator)            
  • Byron Cook (Co-Investigator)      
  • George Danezis (Co-Investigator)             
  • Peter O'Hearn (Co-Investigator) 
  • Max Kanovich (Research Associate)
  • Estibaliz Fraca (Research Fellow)
  • Timo Lang (Research Fellow)
  • Quang Loc Le (Research Fellow)
  • Enrico Rossi (Research Fellow)
  • Marius-Constantin Ilau (PhD Student)


  • Edmund Robinson (Co-Investigator)
  • Kang Feng (Research Fellow)
  • Alessio Santamaria (Research Fellow)

Imperial College:

  • John Wickerson (Co-Investigator)
  • Alastair Francis Donaldson (Co-Investigator)
  • Vasilis Klimis (Research Fellow)

Project Funder


Visit the project website



The multi-disciplinary, international POPBACK project aims to inform strategies to increase democratic resilience by studying the mechanisms “exclusionary populists” use to increase their power by undermining the Rule of Law in the areas of law, the economy, and the media. The project also seeks to identify the  “coping strategies” societal actors use when faced with exclusionary populism.

Aims and Research Questions

This project aims to inform strategies to increase democratic resilience by studying the mechanisms “exclusionary populists” use to increase their power by undermining the Rule of Law in the areas of law, the economy, and the media. The project also seeks to identify the “coping strategies” societal actors use when faced with exclusionary populism. This topic is highly relevant to the call themes by investigating the politics and economics of threat (Theme 2 – work packages 1 and 2); the democratisation of information (Theme 3 – WP3); and the changing authority of and trust in institutions (Theme 5 – all WPs).

The project explores the following research questions (RQ):

RQ1: To what extent is there a decline in the private-public divide and the Rule of Law; and to what extent are they related to the rise of exclusionary populism?

RQ2: What factors make states vulnerable or resilient to the strategies of exclusionary populist parties and movements that have acquired significant power?

RQ3: What strategies do exclusionary populist parties use to erode the boundaries between the public- and the private domains once they have acquired power?

RQ4: What strategies do societal actors in the economic and media spheres use to deal with (the perspective of) exclusionary populists in power?

Adopting an interdisciplinary approach spanning political economy, legal-, management-, and media studies, the study compares Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, all of which have experienced varying degrees of populist success.

Besides high-impact publications, the findings of the project will inform concrete solutions for challenges to democratic governance. As part of the project the Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy, have created five International Policy Fellowships for key stakeholders from the countries studied. These constitute channels for evidence-based input from world-leading academics to inform coping strategies and stimulate cross-country knowledge exchange. Furthermore, the research team seeks to reach a broader non-academic audience by collaborating with artists to stage a participatory performance in four cities to engage a dialogue with citizens from the countries in the study. 

This project is organised into four Work Packages (WPs), focussing on legal changes (WP1), business and economics (WP2), media and communications (WP3), and impact (WP4). 


WP1: Mapping legal changes

The first WP focuses on the macro-institutional and legal-constitutional aspects of exclusionary populism. 

WP2: The political economy 

In WP2 we investigate how firms react to populism. Beyond investigating patterns of institutional change, this WP also seeks to provide an understanding of the mechanisms at work in individual countries. 

WP3: Media and communication

This WP takes a novel sensitive approach, combining macro, meso and micro levels of communicative authoritarian populism, to reveal the interconnectedness between the political and communication fields. 

WP4: Impact

WP4 is dedicated to creating pathways to impact by engaging relevant stakeholders from the early stages of the project.


The POPBACK project brings together a team of researchers from eight institutions in five countries. The team spans various disciplines including law, political science, media and communication studies, and management studies.


Loughborough University:

  • Dr Gerhard Schnyder (Project Leader)

University of Cambridge:

  • Professor Simon Deakin (Principal Investigator)

Goethe University Frankfurt:

  • Professor Andreas Noelke (Principal Investigator)

The Peace Institute Ljubljana:

  • Dr Mojca Pajnik (Principal Investigator)

University of Vienna:

  • Professor Birgit Sauer (Principal Investigator)

Project Funder

Norface Network

Visit the project website:

Sharing Gains from Trade: Global Markets and Farmers' Welfare in Developing Countries


The majority of the global poor live in rural areas and earn their livelihoods in agriculture. Linking farmers in developing countries (LDCs) to global markets, therefore, could potentially spur growth and reduce poverty. Market imperfections in agricultural chains in producing countries, however, limit these gains. Which policy tools, if any, help farmers in LDCs realize and share the gains from trade? Dr Rocco Macchiavello proposes three broad projects that develop the tools to answer this question.

The first project designs and implements the first randomized control trial (RCT) to test for the causes and consequences of market failures interacting along multiple layers of agricultural value chains. This is a necessary step to design targeted policy responses.

The second project develops and estimates the first structural model of an agricultural value chain to evaluate different regulatory interventions. Historically, as well as today, governments have intervened in agricultural chains through a diverse array of policies and regulations. RCTs are not sufficient to evaluate these policies. The project develops flexible tools to perform counterfactual analysis and evaluate the merits of alternative policies and regulations in a variety of contexts.

The third project studies voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) (e.g., Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance). VSSs are increasingly popular responses to market failures in agricultural chains in LDCs. Unlike regulatory interventions, VSSs directly affect only market participants that take them up. The project combines quasi- experimental and structural techniques to evaluate the direct impact, the indirect spillover effects, and the broader distributional consequences of VSSs.

The three projects form a coherent research agenda that develops a comprehensive set of tools to evaluate existing agricultural policies and design better ones so that small producers in developing countries can realize and share the gains from globalization.



Project Funder

European Research Council (ERC)

TWf Project: Enhancing Cross-Functional Collaboration within Engineering


The aim of this project is to examine cross- functional working and collaboration within construction with a particular focus on permanent and temporary works engineers in order to enhance the safe and effective organisation of key infrastructure projects.

Aims and Research Questions

Collaboration and effective team working between temporary and permanent work engineers is important for the safe and efficient running of construction projects. The construction industry has a poor health and safety record, with 30 fatal accidents and 54,000 non-fatal injuries in 2018/19. Ineffectively designed and implemented temporary works increases the risk of fatal accidents and injuries, with the potential to lead to the collapse or failure of temporary work equipment, part of the permanent structure under construction, or adjacent structures.

The UK Government has suggested that collaboration would be enhanced by the application of the digital technology and collaborative procurement techniques. Digital technologies, such as  ‘Building Information Management’ (BIM),involve professionals at defined stages during the design, delivering and maintenance of a project creating and sharing information and data using a digital ‘common data environment’. This means that permanent works engineers are now empowered and encouraged to share digital information, for example a 3D structural model, with temporary works engineers. Collaborative procurement techniques may also include new contractual or partnering arrangements.

This project aims to examine and model cross-functional working and collaboration within construction. The implementation of collaborative working practices is challenging because of a cultural legacy of distinct roles and responsibilities. Additionally, construction project teams are short-term and established to deliver a particular project outcome, usually under a bespoke contractual arrangement. Temporary work and permanent engineers will often be employed in this process by the different companies which creates challenges for collaboration. A key aim of this project is to understand how to overcome this cultural legacy, with a view to improving construction safety.


The objectives of the research project are:

  • To examine collaboration between permanent and temporary works engineers.
  • To examine how organisational structures and processes influence the degree of collaboration between permanent and temporary works engineers.
  • To determine how digital technology influences the interfaces between permanent and temporary works processes, and whether it influences construction risk.
  • To consider how other aspects of collaboration processes and structures influence construction risk and project performance.
  • To disseminate key recommendation to improve cross-functional working and collaboration between permanent and temporary works engineers.



Northumbria University:

  • Dr Vikki Edmondson (Academic Partner and Project Co-Supervisor)

Project Funder

Temporary Works forum (TWf)