shipping 1920x580

Research Impact

Discover how research from the Department of Management is impacting the wider world.

The following Impact Case Studies, submitted to the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, demonstrate how our research is tackling real-world issues and shaping policy and business.

REF is a national assessment of the quality of UK higher education research in all disciplines. It defines impact as "an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia". Impacts are assessed in terms of their reach and significance.

Read more about our REF 2021 results.

REF 2021

Improving public health messaging to reduce tobacco product use in the European Union

Professor Amritav Chakravarti

An LSE-led study of health warnings on tobacco products provided robust evidence of what works to deter smokers, shaping European Union (EU) legislation on smoking reduction. 

An estimated 700,000 premature deaths are caused each year in the European Union (EU) by smoking and the annual EU public healthcare expenditure on treating diseases caused by tobacco products is in the region of EUR25 billion. 

A research consortium led by LSE conducted a large-scale randomised controlled trial on tobacco product warnings. The study provided robust evidence on the efficacy of combined warnings using both text and images; it also demonstrated the ways in which emotions affect behavioural choices and intentions relating to tobacco use. 

The study informed a revised EU Tobacco Products Directive published in 2014 (2014/40/EU), which aimed to reduce tobacco consumption by 2% (equivalent to roughly 2.4 million smokers quitting) over the five years from its implementation in May 2016. Since that date, all tobacco products manufactured for sale throughout the EU have been required to carry specific combined warnings, the selection of which is based on the LSE Consortium study.

Through its direct influence on the Directive, the research has had impacts on the producers and users of tobacco products, as well as wider effects on health services, healthcare spending, and citizens across the EU. 

Research underpinning these impacts was conducted in 2012 by Professor Amitav Chakravarti with LSE colleagues Professor George Gaskell (Department of Methodology) and Dr Caroline Rudisill (Department of Health Policy). The LSE researchers joined a multinational team including researchers from Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá; Università degli Studi di Milano; University of Leicester; Columbia University; Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona; Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona; and the Centre for North-South Economic Research, Cagliari, Italy. 

Read the full case study here.

Ensuring the fair treatment of Open Banking customers

Dr Edgar Whitley and Dr Roser Pujadas

In 2017, Dr Edgar Whitley led a programme of research at LSE for the Financial Services Consumer Panel (FSCP) of the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This research found that customers of Open Banking-type services do not necessarily understand what is happening to their data but assume that there are regulations (and regulators) who ensure they are being treated fairly.

The research identified important gaps in the regulation of Open Banking by the FCA. Specifically, it demonstrated that not all parts of the Open Banking ecosystem met the requirements of the FCA Principles For Business, including the Principle of “Treating Customers Fairly”. 

Further to the research, the FCA has updated its regulations to ensure that the whole Open Banking ecosystem is covered. This and other research by Whitley has also strengthened key aspects of the customer experience for Open Banking more broadly. As a result, the more than three million customers currently using Open Banking in the UK now enjoy stronger protections and more effective, consent-based controls over the use of their financial data.

Read the full case study here.


REF 2014

The Department sbmitted three Impact Case Studies to the REF 2014, showcasing examples of how our research positively impacted business and society in the UK and beyond.

Costly, problematic proposals for identity cards scrapped

Dr Edgar Whitley, Simon Davies and Gus Hosein

LSE research contributed significantly to the shaping of parliamentary debates on identity cards, as well as to public perceptions of ID card schemes in the UK and beyond, showing the proposals to be unsafe, ineffective and costly. Plans for national biometric identity cards were scrapped by the coalition government in May 2010.  

When the government introduced proposals for introducing biometric identity cards based around a central database, there was increasing concern about the lack of informed debate about the complex interplay between technological, organisational, business and societal implications. In response to that concern, in January 2005 academics based at LSE drew on their existing research expertise and initiated the LSE Identity Project to examine in detail the potential impacts and benefits of the Identity Cards Bill. 

Key areas of impact:

  • The LSE Identity Project played a key role in shaping the parliamentary debates about The Identity Cards Bill, by highlighting that the scheme was technically unsafe, expensive, untested and lacked public trust.
  • LSE research influenced public and media perceptions of the Identity Cards Scheme 
  • Direct influence on Government policy as first Bill introduced by the Coalition government scrapped identity cards. 
  • Ongoing impact through close work with the Cabinet Office on its Identity Assurance Programme. 

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett described the detailed, cross-disciplinary report from academics at LSE as having “changed the culture and atmosphere around, and attitudes towards, the scheme and its intention”. An alternative, privacy-friendly identity policy is being developed in its place with LSE researchers playing a significant role in its development. Lessons from the UK continue to influence government identity policy in other countries including India, the Caribbean and Latin America. 

Read the full case study here.

Setting healthcare priorities to improve population health

Professor Gwyn Bevan, Mara Airoldi and Alec Morton

LSE research has formed the basis for a new assessment framework which helps healthcare planners set priorities within fixed budgets.  

Since 2005, a group of scholars at LSE has been developing a programme of applied research that is enabling organisations responsible for commissioning health services to make better use of their limited resources to improve value for their populations.  

It has led to:

  • new health spending strategies in the Isle of Wight in 2007, 2008 and 2009 that delivered a 50% reduction in emergency asthma admissions;
  • 15% savings on the spend on eating disorder services in Sheffield from 2009;
  • new guidelines for commissioning cost-effective care in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • a user-friendly Excel decision support tool, user-guidance and instructions for facilitators available for free download, as well as training modules for potential users;
  • the evaluation of alternative strategies for the allocation of US$10 million per year to fight tuberculosis in Sudan in 2013-15, this being the first of a series of pilots to adapt the LSE assessment framework to the new funding model of the Global Fund (the world’s largest financial supporter of programmes to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis).

 Read the full case study here.

Using targets and incentives to improve the quality of public services

Professor Gwyn Bevan

Gwyn Bevan’s research used the ‘natural experiment’ whereby each of the four countries of the UK applied a different model of governance to its ‘National’ Health Service.  

From 2000, each devolved government allocated unprecedented increases in health spending, each set similar goals for improved performance, and yet performance was transformed only in the NHS in England. Bevan’s research explained why and changed the understanding of key policy actors about the use of targets to achieve performance goals. The evidence base it created also influenced the governance of health services, notably a general shift to the use of targets for all the UK National Health Services. 

Professor Bewan’s research had impacts through public engagement, influence over the terms of the debate about targets, and downstream policy changes, especially in devolved governments. Bevan’s research has featured in the media and led to personal invitations to policy debate. It also provided a model for other research enquiries into health services and school systems, and into emerging policies for policing.

Read the full case study here.