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The University of Southampton
Southampton Business School


Partnerships and Case Studies

Read about our latest research collaborations with industry.

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Collaboration is a key aspect of the University’s research activity; at Southampton Business School joint working is integral to many of our research projects. As well as conducting interdisciplinary research within the University, we have a global network of partners who are working with us to address today’s business challenges.

Recent collaborative projects

Government agencies, local authorities, industry and research organisations are always interested in our findings. We can undertake contract research, and we are always keen to hear from new commercial and stakeholder contacts.

Future of Work: Work after Lockdown

Work After Lockdown is a partnership led by the Department of HRM and Organisational Behaviour at Southampton Business School, working with The Institute for Employment Studies and Half the Sky, a work design consultancy that specialises in inclusive design. Funded by UKRI/ESRC, Work After Lockdown is a major research project studying how lockdown-driven working from home is changing how people want to work in the future, and organisations’ responses and learning around this.  The aim of the research is to support economic and social recovery from the pandemic, providing ongoing practical advice and recommendations for employers and policy makers, and offering insight on issues such as hybrid working, workforce vulnerabilities and wellbeing.  Its first report was published in January 2021, Working from Home under COVID-19 lockdown: Transitions and tensions .

At SBS, the Principal Investigator is Dr Jane Parry , and the Co-Is are Prof Yehuda Baruch , Dr Mina Beigi and Dr Michail Veliziotis ; Miss Chira Tochia is the project’s researcher.  The SBS project team are based in the Centre for Research on Work and Organisations .

Circular Economy: Product returns and fraud rates in a Covid-19 World

High product returns are a significant problem, which has further soared since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. With stores closed or aiming to avoid crowds, people have turned to online shopping. A surge of product returns arrived when non-essential retailers reopened, and retailers are still struggling to operate under new constraints (e.g. fitting rooms closed and returned products needing quarantine). Problems that are costly in normal periods (e.g. fraudulent refunds) have become worse in this pandemic period.

Therefore, an 18-month project, entitled "Forecasting and influencing product returns and fraud rates in a Covid-19 World", has attracted £281k funding from the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC).

The project is a collaboration between Southampton Business School (SBS), the School for Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), the Efficient Consumer Response (ECR) Retail Loss Community, an association of retailers and manufacturers, and a number of UK retailers. Dr Regina (Gina) Frei of SBS is leading the project, and the team includes Dr Steffen Bayer , Dr PK Senyo and Dr Danni Zhang from SBS, and Dr Gary Wills and Dr Enrico Gerding from Electronics and Computer Science.

The key aim of this project is to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that drive product returns in a Covid-19 pandemic. This is used to build a new model using explainable artificial intelligence techniques to forecast returns and fraud rates. Retailers will be able to use this to reduce product returns and returns fraud whilst improving sustainability.

Living Sustainably: Living Wage

Living wage research group at Southampton Business School (SBS), University of Southampton established an academia industry partnership with the Global Responsible Investment team of Aviva investors and Living Wage Foundation to build an investment case behind the real living wage accreditation in UK context.

The project was undertaken by Dr Krishanthi (Krish) Vithana , Professor Yehuda Baruch and Professor Collins G Ntim at SBS and as a part of the project, Krish was invited to undertake a secondment with the GRI team of Aviva investors.

Project outputs so far have led to develop a policy brief on advocating the real living wage and also the research team has responded to the Low Pay commission policy consultation on the national minimum wage in 2020. More information on the project can be found here.

Applied Operational Research: Improving packing efficiency in the ferry industry

Through optimising the use of the deck space in ferry deck, the research team at CORMSIS (University of Southampton) developed a tool that allowed to improve efficiency of the ferry company, Red Funnel, which operates between mainland UK and the Isle of Wight. With the developed tool, this company is able to set a new training for loaders, which increased the employees experience, and by identifying the risk of not fitting all the vehicles in the ferry the company is able to find a better management of loaders.

Professor Christine Currie , from the School of Mathematical Sciences, along with Dr Mee Chi So , Dr Antonio Martinez-Sykora , Dr Chris Bayliss (School of Mathematical Sciences) and Professor Julia Bennell (based at Leeds University). Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) with Red Funnel as the industrial partner.


Professor Frank McGroarty led a fruitful collaboration with Seven Investment Management (7IM) who funded several research projects to successful completion. Through the Strategic Asset Allocation (SAA) project, we developed an SAA model which could be used to help manage investment allocations for 7IM clients.

We carried out enhancements to the SAA model through an Innovate UK-sponsored KTP with 7IM by adding a new feature: forward-looking market volatility derived from options market data, to enhance the SAA model.  Our third project on this theme was to develop a cloud-based version of our enhanced-SAA model and this was co-funded by the ESRC.  The fourth project took the form of a sponsored PhD research project.  As part of a Case Award PhD studentship, 7IM and the EPSRC co-funded a PhD student to develop machine learning based factors to be used in the SAA model.

Older collaborative projects

Improving railway efficiency

Southampton Business School is taking part in a £400,000 University of Southampton research project to improve the operational efficiency of the UK’s passenger railways. Junctions and stations on the UK’s national rail network will be used as case studies, together with best practice from railways around the world, including those of the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Professor John Preston from Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering is leading the project, along with Dr Tolga Bektas and Professor Chris Potts from Mathematics. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), work began in October 2010. Industrial partners include Arup and Balfour Beatty Rail .

Supporting the RNLI

Management scientists and engineers at the University of Southampton have joined forces with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to reduce the operational costs of its fleet. The RNLI is wholly dependent on charitable giving; by saving money on operational working it can use donations more effectively to save more lives.

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership has been signed between the two organisations. Two talented graduates will be appointed to work as associates at RNLI headquarters in Poole for two years, supervised by Professor Douglas Macbeth of the Business School and Professor Ajit Shenoi from the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Life Sciences together with Dr James Blake are also involved in the initiative.

Probing the value of Solent maritime industries

We are contributing our expertise in supply chains to Solent Maritime, a new group formed by Business Southampton to highlight the importance of maritime companies to the area and promote the sector.

Research shows the marine sector contributes more than 25% of Southampton’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) - approximately £1.4bn.

Southampton Business School, working with experienced consultants SCMG , has been commissioned to produce a database and supply chain map that will identify the activities and linked relationships of the Solent’s maritime businesses and organisations.

Helping to shape the UK’s future health and social care

The University of Southampton has embarked on a unique piece of research into the future supply and demand of health and social care for the UK’s ageing population.

Researchers from four of the University’s leading international research centres (Centre for Research on Ageing; Economic and Social Research Council Centre for Population Change; Centre for Operational Research, Management Science and Information Systems; and Institute for Complex Systems Simulation) are working together for the first time to collate and analyse data on a range of factors influencing health and social care, including population, ageing, disability, disease, new technologies, income and wealth. The findings will be used to inform policy makers and help make decisions about future social care provision.

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