Invitation to tender for research from CIPD

DUBS Students 2

Understanding how institutional investors consider and utilise human capital data. To what extent, if at all, does human capital data inform institutional investor decisions?


The research considers the significance of human capital data which is reported to investments in human capital by institutional investors, and is centred on two key research questions:

1. What informal human capital measures/data do institutional investors use to inform their investment decision, with regard to current and future human capital risk?

  • In the literature, how are intangible assets such as human capital, intellectual capital and social capital considered by institutional investors in their investment calculations?
  • Can the human capital data which influence investors’ decisions be categorised or grouped in any way?

2. What value and priority do investors attach to human capital data when making an investment

The study is split into two main parts:

  • A short literature review or rapid evidence assessment (REA) intended to understand current literature on the decision making in the investment community, with a focus on literature which describes if/how human capital and other intangible data are valued and assessed.
  • An empirical study to understand if and how investors use human capital data in their investment decision-making process. We are open to explore different methodologies for this element of the research.

To guide investors to take more account of human capital data, it may be pertinent to investigate types of organisation ‘weak signals’ (snippets of information, or unclear observations that warn of significant events) (Hiltunen 2010) which relate to organisation human capital. This is an alternative approach to appreciating human capital beyond the narrative and quantitative data reported in corporate reports, which at present dominate the discourse on human capital disclosure.

Exploring and defining types of human capital weak signal will enable a greater appreciation of how corporate communication of information, relationships with investors and the investment decision itself may be improved.

Finally, attaching measures of value and priority to the data conceived in these weak signals will inform the development of more effective conceptualisation of intangible human capital concepts, and may offer a spark into a debate that had stalled due to complexity and theoretical disagreement.

CIPD point of view

As a profession, institutional investors are educated, trained and directed through professional development to consider the financial performance of organisations in their decision making, but are now under pressure to consider the broader perspective of holistic business assets in their investment decision, including human and social capital (NAPF 2015). As such, there is evidence which shows a broadening of investor interest in narrative commentary of financial performance (PwC 2014). And while the quality and quantity of human capital data being communicated to investors in both numerical and narrative format is on the increase, there are still gaps in knowledge which are not being demonstrated to investors (McCracken et al 2016). Initiatives such as integrated reporting: <IR>, are attempting to move the investment community towards a more holistic view of organisation data, including six broad capitals, but there is still much need for reporting quality to be improved (KPMG 2016).

A broader perspective of the organisation is being championed by those who consider the major corporate governance issues of the recent past as being missed or misunderstood by investors, and inadequately illustrated by organisations in their formal reporting (NAPF 2015, CIPD and PIRC 2015) – as such, weak signals which might have been picked up and informed investor approaches are missed. We therefore believe there are alternative and informal types of information which are interacting in investor decisions.

The CIPD wishes to examine the perceived value of human capital/people data, which investors access formally through corporate reports and informally through assessment and understanding of weak signals which might interact with and influence the investment decision the investor makes. Secondly, we would like to look at the investor perspective on human capital data being reported and omitted by organisations in company reports.

Aims of the project

Exploring the perspective of institutional investors on human capital will give the CIPD an opportunity to provide the HR profession a voice on the topic of measuring and reporting human capital for different stakeholders. This research will enhance the CIPD voice by assessing the relative weight of human capital data to a broad range of stakeholders, and will demonstrate the role of HR in doing this.

The unique nature of the work supports the desire of CIPD research to challenge conventional approaches and perspectives, and explore fundamental aspects of the world of work. The unique research opportunity is different to previous CIPD research, and therefore may be viewed as an innovative opportunity to address a commonly-cited issue within the HR profession: little is known about the value and nature of human capital data and how it is utilised by organisational stakeholders.

Ultimately, the research aims to understand and unpick the complex relationship between human capital data, human capital reporting (informal and formal) and investor decision-making processes. Additionally, follow-on dissemination and engagement with CIPD communities may offer the opportunity to explore the biases which drive investor decision making, and will inform the development of CIPD activity as a part of the Profession for the Future strategy.

The CIPD is interested in designing a study which explores in detail the previously defined major research questions.

Outputs and timing

Outputs for the research will consist of two main documents:

  • Literature review and scoping report: This technical report will be for the CIPD’s internal use. It will critically examine literature in the area described above: 6,000 words. The literature review and scoping for the research design (stage 2) should be delivered by 27 February 2017.
  • Final research report: Research report for external communication. This report will be 10,000-15,000 words in length; and will include an introduction, synthesis of the literature, methodology, findings, implications for research and practice, and recommendations for further research.
  • A draft research report (output 2) will be expected by 26 May 2017. We will review and give feedback within two weeks and the final report should be completed by Friday 16 June 2017. Copyright in the report is to be assigned to the CIPD.

The final research report should:

  • be written in an accessible style for the target audience in line with the CIPD’s style guide. This includes writing for CIPD generalist researchers, CIPD members, regulators and investors of a professional level.
  • be engaging and thought provoking and represent a range of different viewpoints and types of evidence, raising interesting views from the literature and highlighting challenging concepts.
  • adhere to the CIPD’s house style regarding tone of voice, punctuation, capitalisation, use of numbers and the setting out of references
  • where appropriate for communications include content that can be represented graphically e.g. figures, flowcharts, models and illustrations.

Project management and budget

This project will be managed by Edward Houghton from the CIPD’s research team, with support from Louisa Baczor, Research Associate. A budget of up to £30,000 (excluding VAT) has been set aside to commission researchers to deliver the work (but we are also interested in a counter proposal for a lesser amount, and open to ideas for additional costs). Please provide a detailed cost breakdown for your suggested approach, including a reasonable variance of the amount budgeted.

Ways of working

The CIPD is looking to partner and co-author the Final Research Report (output 2), and would like to work closely with the successful applicant or team to develop the research methodology and approach, and where possible participate in data collection and analysis of data. A collaborative approach to partnership working, with frequent time spent together exploring the research, is desired.

The CIPD is keen to invest in a clear and well considered methodology for the primary research aspect of the study, which is intended to explore the concept of investor decision making. We invite traditional and alternative approaches to this type of research study.

Tendering process

Please email a short proposal (i.e. two to three sides plus accompanying evidence) by 17.00 GMT on Friday, 25 November 2016. We hope to respond to all tender submissions by end of day Wednesday, 30 November and invite shortlisted applicants to a one-hour interview on either 6 December between 9.00 and 13.00, or 7 December between 15.30 and 17.00 – please confirm in your submission your availability on these dates for a meeting at our central London office in Victoria or, if not, a teleconference. The CIPD will not reimburse travel expenses.

Please confirm the following in your proposal:

  • name(s) of project researcher(s) and, if more than one, their respective roles (e.g. literature search, writing, workshop facilitating)
  • if more than one organisation is involved in your bid, please specify with which part of the research project they will be involved
  • your area(s) of expertise – a list of publications should be submitted in evidence
  • an outline of the methodology you intend to use and an indication of which disciplines and literature you envisage drawing upon
  • your access to academic literature
  • evidence of writing for practitioner (non-academic) audiences – an example article or report may be included with your submission
  • detailed breakdown of costs
  • project timetable, to include a project set-up meeting, progress meetings and delivery of outputs.

Contact details for submissions and queries: Marion Craig, email

Deadline for proposals: 5 p.m. GMT on Friday, 25 November 2016.



CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF PERSONNEL AND DEVELOPMENT and PENSIONS AND INVESTMENT RESEARCH CONSULTANTS. (2015) Investing for sustainable growth [online]. London: CIPD. Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2016].

HILTUNEN, E. (2010) Weak signals in organizational futures learning [online]. A-365. Helsinki: Aalto University School of Economics. Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2016].

KPMG. (2016) Room for improvement: the KPMG survey of business reporting, second edition [online].KPMG. Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2016].

MCCRACKEN, M., MCIVOR, R. and WALL, A. (2016) Reporting human capital: illustrating your company’s true value [online]. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2016].

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PENSION FUNDS. (2015) Where is the workforce in corporate reporting?[online]. London: NAPF. Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2016].

PWC. (2014) Corporate performance: What do investors want to know? Innovate your way to clearer financial reporting [online]. London: PwC. Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2016].