Policy and practice impacts of research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council

A case study of the Future of Work programme, supporting data

by Edward Nason, Lisa Klautzer, Jennifer Rubin, Stephen Hanney, Steven Wooding, Jonathan Grant

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Wooding et al. examine how the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Future of Work (FoW) programme influenced policy and professional practice. They consider whether the Payback Framework, a conceptual model for research evaluation, is appropriate for social science, and look at the challenges in evaluating the impact of research on the social sciences. The main findings of this report were that the FoW programme had significant impacts on knowledge, research, public policy, and the policies and practices of organizations; however, the authors determined that the impact that a policy had was influenced by its environment. The FoW programme achieved this impact by providing total access to policymakers and, through the work of the Media Fellow, enhanced the impact on policymakers. They also concluded that the Payback Framework is a useful model for evaluating social science research; however, some impacts may be inaccessible to evaluation, and a confluence of inputs often make it difficult to attribute policy change to a given input. The project collected evidence through a review of the literature, interviews with key individuals involved in the programme, a survey of principal investigators, and four case studies of individual research grants. This research presents the detailed evidence collected during the study, including the complete case studies and a summary of evidence, analysis, and conclusions.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Summary of the Future of Work programme

  • Chapter Three

    Literature overview covering evaluation of social science and the use of research evidence in policy making

  • Chapter Four

    Analysis of survey of principal investigators and summary of user interviews

  • Chapter Five

    Case study A: Grant I. Employment choices for mothers of preschool children: a psychological perspective Grant II. Paid and unpaid work in early parenthood: psychological causes and consequences

  • Chapter Six

    Case study B ‘Pay, working time and performance in small enterprises’

  • Chapter Seven

    Case study C Workplace change (pseudonym)

  • Chapter Eight

    Case study D ‘The future of collectivism in the regulation of the employment relationship and pay in Britain’ and ‘The basis and characteristics of mutually beneficial employer–trade union relationships’

  • Appendix A

    Survey form

  • Appendix B

    User interview protocol

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The research described in this report was prepared for the Economic and Social Research Council and was conducted by RAND Europe.

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