Analysis of Directors of Research roles in UK business schools

The Chartered ABS Research Committee commissioned a research project to identify the key characteristics and components of research leadership roles in UK business schools and how these vary across institutions. A survey was circulated to the most senior research contact at each Chartered ABS member school, covering topics such as the objectives and remit of the lead research role; arrangements in terms of appointment, salary enhancement and workload allocation; and training and role resources.

The survey found that the lead research role has oversight of all activities related to the planning, implementation, and dissemination of research, with the management of the research environment being most frequently cited as a key element of the research role. Also frequently cited were responsibilities for the REF, research strategy, doctoral programmes, and staff performance and development. The responses to the survey reveal that being in a senior research leadership position entails an important balance between research-related skills and reputation, and non-research attributes such as management capabilities and soft skills.

The results show that a significant proportion of institutions do not currently offer any specific training for the lead research role, and the evolution in the research environment and expectations in terms of impact, winning external grants, and building internal capacity make it crucial that training needs are identified and addressed. The lead research role often has budgetary responsibility for developing research capacity, publishing papers, and distributing internal research grants, often in the form of seedcorn funding with a view to exploring research topics which can then be funded by bigger external grants.

The final report offers detailed insights about skills and pre-requisites needed by Directors of Research, and will be particularly useful to new and aspiring research leaders. If you have any questions about the findings please contact Ramin Bokaian, Chartered ABS Research Manager (

To view the report please click here.