Understanding social sciences, humanities and arts for people and the economy R&D in the UK and internationally
Jul 27, 2023
We investigated how social sciences, humanities and arts for people and the economy (SHAPE) R&D is understood and captured in the UK economy and internationally, responding to concerns they are not captured in UK government definitions of business R&D. We used a mixed methods approach including literature reviews, interviews and data analysis across UK sectors and international comparators. We provided recommendations to rectify these issues.
The British Academy commissioned RAND Europe to conduct a research project on 'Understanding the social sciences, humanities and arts for people and the economy (SHAPE) Research and Development (R&D) in the UK and internationally'. The project was commissioned in response to concerns that current definitions of business R&D used in UK government datasets do not fully capture the extent and role of SHAPE R&D in the UK economy (Hasan Bakhshi, Breckon and Puttick 2021). A narrow definition of R&D, which does not fully recognise the contribution of the arts, humanities and social sciences, risks undervaluing the contribution of SHAPE R&D (Hasan Bakhshi, Breckon and Puttick 2021).
This report aims to further investigate these issues and develop a fuller picture of the way SHAPE R&D is understood and captured in the UK economy and more widely. A mixed methods approach is taken through five work packages (WPs). Data collection methods include: a literature review, interviews, and data analysis. Evidence across these methodologies is triangulated to identify key messages pertaining to SHAPE R&D in the UK and internationally. For the international comparative analysis, five countries (Denmark, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland) are included. This report also includes analysis of key R&D industries in the UK: arts, entertainment and recreation; financial and insurance activities; information and communication; manufacturing; professional, scientific and technical activities; and wholesale and retail. These industries were chosen based on their high levels of R&D expenditure, contributions to the wider UK economy and overlap with SHAPE subjects and skills.