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|School of Social Sciences Annual Research Report|
1st August 2010 – 31st July 2011
This is the sixth Annual Research Report from the School of Social Sciences. It covers the period from 1 August 2010 – 31 July 2011. The report presents the very considerable research achievements of the School and reports on significant developments in the last twelve months. Research in the School is conducted under the auspices of the 6 Discipline Areas - Economics, Philosophy, Politics, Social Anthropology, Social Statistics and Sociology – as well as a portfolio of large and influential research centres and networks. The report demonstrates the School’s important contribution to the three central pillars of the University’s current research strategy.
Overview of the period (01 August 2010 – 31 July 2011)
The School continued to be active in research income generation. A total of 48 grants were awarded to the school during the period of the report with a value of £5,011,619, a considerable achievement in the current climate. These were secured from a range of funding sources including the ESRC, EPSRC, AHRC, MRC, British Academy, Leverhulme Trust and the EU. Large successful bids included:
Internally the School was also awarded five Visiting Professorships from the University Simon and Hallsworth endowments.
The School is supported by a School Research Office which provides a support service to staff in all aspects of the identification, formulation and preparation of bids for research funding, along with follow up support for colleagues who are awarded funding. The School Research Office works with the School Research Director (Professor Karen Sykes) to steer the School’s research strategy. This includes attending the regular meetings of the Faculty Strategic Research Committee and organising the School Research Committee.
In Spring 2010 the School conducted an internal review of research, chaired by Professor Ron Amann. The review concluded that the School of Social Sciences had made significant progress since the last research review in 2006 and continues in an upward trajectory. The school is currently addressing the action points raised during this review within each discipline area. Preparations are also underway for the Research Excellence Framework, with the identification, development and review of pilot impact case studies, the drafting of environment statements, participation in the University’s REF Profiling Exercise, and an internal REF timeline in place.
The following sections contain a summary of the key achievements during the last twelve months and a description of the strategy for the coming year for each of the Discipline Areas/major research centres. Further detailed information on the academic staff within each discipline area, their areas of interest and their recent publications can be found on the SoSS Website at:
The DA continues to enhance its international reputation and is well established as one of the leading Economics departments in the UK. Recent staff developments include Professor Nicholas Yannelis moving from a part-time to a full-time post in Manchester and Professor Pierre-Richard Agénor returning to his full-time post here after a period working part-time on a World Bank project for Burundi. Professor Rachel Griffith is a member of the Economics and Econometrics sub-panel for REF2014, while Professor James Banks was a member of the US National Academy of Science Panel for the report “Explaining Divergent Levels of Longevity in High-Income Countries” (January 2011) and also of the academic advisory panel for the Dilnot Commission on Funding of Social Care and Support, whose report “Fairer Care Funding” was published in July 2011. Visitors have included Professor Edward Prescott, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2004, while a lively series of Manchester Economics Seminars saw (among others) presentations from Paul Fisher (Executive Director for Markets at the Bank of England), Professor Sir David Hendry (Oxford University) and Diane Coyle (Managing Director of Enlightenment Economics).
Economics at the University of Manchester has strength in all core areas of the discipline, with research organised through five Research Area Groups (RAGs). Members of the Macroeconomics Growth and Development RAG continue to examine key issues related to growth, development, business cycles and macroeconomic policy. This work is both theoretical and empirical, using modern techniques of analytical and econometric investigation to study important issues of interest to both academics and policy makers, including: institutions, governance and corruption; innovation, public capital and human capital; foreign aid and international economics; financial markets, bankruptcy and regulation; imperfect competition and nominal rigidities; monetary and fiscal policy; inflation and unemployment; expectations, learning and agent heterogeneity. Work over the last year has been published in many high-quality journals, including: Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control; Macroeconomic Dynamics; Journal of Banking and Finance; Journal of International Money and Finance; Journal of Development Economics; Economica; Economics Letters.
Research undertaken within the Microeconomics and Mathematical Economics RAG is generally of a technical nature, with some being at the boundaries of economics with mathematics and/or finance. Topics covered range from the fundamentals of individual decision making and the operation of markets to applications in financial economics, industrial organisation, public economics and social choice. Publications over the period include Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society; Journal of Mathematical Economics; Economic Theory; Journal of Risk and Uncertainty; Theory and Decision.; BE Journal of Theoretical Economics.
Financial econometrics continues to be a growing strength within the Econometrics and Applied Economics RAG, with members of the group organising an international workshop held in Berlin in May 2011. Work on structural breaks continues to be funded by an ESRC grant (Hall and Osborn), while research funded by National Institute for Health Research investigates the use of moment-based methods, e.g., generalized empirical likelihood, for estimation of health economic models (Andrews and Hall with Sutton from Community Based Medicine). Research carried out within the group ranges from applied microeconomic analysis of consumer choice to theoretical econometrics. Journal publications over the last year include Economic Journal; Journal of Econometrics; Econometric Reviews; Econometric Theory; Journal of Empirical Finance.
The Environmental and Resource Economics RAG has close links with the University’s Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI), under whose funding Dr Luca Panzone was appointed to a research post in the DA from January 2011. The group also welcomed Dr Prasenjit Banerjee to the academic staff from August 2010. Joint research involving a number of RAG members, together with other Manchester University staff from the DA and beyond, is a feature of work in this area. Rigby, Kortelainen and Wossink participate in the SCI flagship project Sustainable Consumption and Lifestyles, which has contributions from Sociology, Economics and Psychology and involves several postdoctoral researchers. Sauer is as an ESRC Placement Fellow at DEFRA and a work task leader under the EU Genesis FP7 project. Publications include Journal of Environmental Economics and Management; Journal of Productivity Analysis; Journal of the Operational Research Society; Journal of Agricultural Economics.
The Development Economics and Policy RAG also has strong links outside the School of Social Sciences, and interacts with both the Institute for Development Policy and Management (School of Environment and Development) and the Brooks World Poverty Institute. Research by RAG members extends from microeconomic analysis of poverty and well-being to the international macroeconomics of structural change and development, often taking a policy perspective. For example, Imai’s ESRC project on rural poverty in India is investigating the causes of malnutrition. Alongside articles in international journals (including Oxford Development Studies, World Development and Cambridge Journal of Economics), staff in this area made important contributions through books and book chapters. Members of the group, together with colleagues in IDPM, organized a major workshop focusing on national competitiveness in May 2011; a special journal issue based on this workshop is currently in preparation.
In addition to the above, a small number of staff maintain strong research profiles in areas such as the history of economic thought, while other research crosses RAGs. The Centre for Growth and Business Cycle Research is based in the DA and held its tenth biannual conference in June/July 2011. Staff are also involved in the organisation of major international conferences (including the 2011 Royal Economic Society conference, for which Griffith was chair) and many staff are engaged in editorial roles for major international journals, including Professor Rachel Griffith as managing editor of the Economic Journal, Professor Anne Villamil as managing editor of the Annals of Finance and Professor Nicholas Yannelis as managing editor of Economic Theory. The Manchester School continues to be edited from the DA by a team led by Professor Chris Orme.
Research Strategy 2011-12
The DA continues to be committed to support high quality research in both theory and applications of Economics. Therefore, we will maintain and (where possible) enhance our strength in the core areas of the discipline (macroeconomics, microeconomics and econometrics) while also promoting interdisciplinary research, particularly in environmental economics, development economics and health economics. Our commitment to the future extends to research training, where the DA has this year embarked on a four year doctoral training programme, with dedicated PhD-level courses provided by all five RAGs and substantial funds invested in scholarships for high quality students.
The Philosophy Discipline Area continues to go from strength to strength within its areas of research expertise: metaphysics and the philosophy of language; aesthetics and the emotions; and environmental policy and moral motivation. The DA’s overall research strategy stresses the importance of: publishing in top quality journals and presses; attracting external research income; raising the profile of philosophy at Manchester by hosting conferences; and enhancing the quality of our PhD students. Substantial progress has been made on all of these fronts.
The Philosophy DA’s publication strategy is to concentrate on quality rather than quantity: i.e. to place articles in journals of the highest quality, and to publish books with prestigious presses. Here are some of the year’s highlights:
International recognition of research excellence in aesthetics
In the hugely influential Philosophical Gourmet Report, co-ordinated by Brian Leiter, The University of Manchester is Group 2 rated (and the joint top-rated UK department) for the Philosophy of Art. For further details, see:
Research grant success
In 2010-11 the Philosophy DA submitted more grant applications than ever before. Three were successful:
Successful hosting of conferences
Organizing international conferences and workshops in our areas of expertise remains a core element of the Philosophy DA’s research strategy. Such activity both raises awareness of work done within the DA and provides a spur for the production of further such work. This year’s highlights included Perceiving Others’ Minds (July, 2011), Fictionalism in the Philosophy of Mathematics (June, 2011), Emotion: Phenomenology and Content (May, 2011); and the sixth iteration of our annual graduate conference, Open Minds (June, 2011).
The quality of the DA’s PhD students continues to improve. This is evidenced by two facts. First, Manchester PhDs are now beginning to secure post-doctoral positions in philosophy: Chloe Fitzgerald (PhD, 2010), for example, now holds such a post at the University of Toronto. Second, Manchester PhD students are increasingly publishing in international, refereed journals. Here are two such recent successes:
We advise our PhD students to try to publish in high-quality journals, again arguing that a ‘quality, not quantity’ approach to publication will leave them best placed to secure post-doctoral posts. Clearly, this policy is beginning to bear fruit.