Evaluation of business history by UK REF panel

This month saw the release of the results of the UK’s Research Excellence Framework assessment. As part of the exercise, the panel responsible for social sciences and humanities released an overview report summarising the state of research. Business history forms part of the Business and Management panel, and was included in the report of how the wider field is developing. The overall assessment of the progress of the field was very positive, noting an increasing in both quantity and quality. Below the excerpt of the expert reviewers’ report.

From the overview report by Main Panel C

Business History 

120. The upward trajectory of the Business History discipline related to Business and Management since REF 2014 is reflected in the increase in both the number and quality of submitted outputs. 

121. The majority of the submitted outputs were deemed to be world-leading or internationally excellent, in terms of originality, rigour and significance. Outputs displayed strength from both empirical and theoretical perspectives. In addition, a pleasing number of outputs addressed methodological advancements within the domain. While the vast majority of submitted outputs were journal articles, authored books were also a feature, with the majority of submitted books judged to be of world-leading quality. 

122. Several key issues were characteristic of the discipline’s development since REF 2014 and worthy of note. Firstly, the growing importance of the role of Business History in advancing theory; secondly, the increasing interdisciplinarity of the area, evident, for example, in the emergence of historical organisation studies. Methodologically, the discipline embraced diverse approaches. However, archival research dominated those outputs judged to be world-leading. A striking feature of the discipline was the very high level of rigour evident across the returned outputs. 

123. Business History clearly reaches across the range of B&M disciplines, making contributions, for example, to Entrepreneurship, International Business, Marketing, Retailing, Strategy, Accounting, Political Economy, Finance and Economics.