Major Global Ranking Celebrates ‘World Leading’ Cambridge Judge

Cambridge Judge Business School was recently ranked the United Kingdom’s best research school in Business and Management Studies by REF 2021. Courtesy photo

This summer, the UK’s premier research impact evaluating body ranked Cambridge Judge Business School as the United Kingdom’s best research institution in its category.

The Research Excellence Framework (REF) evaluated research from 157 UK higher education institutions in 34 different subject areas, measuring both the quality and impact of the school’s research submissions. Times Higher Education uses the REF findings to rank schools, and it ranked Judge No. 1 in the Business and Management Studies.

“What we practice at Cambridge Judge is research in action,” Judge dean Mauro Guillén tells Poets&Quants. “It’s research that not only benefits our students and the companies that interact with us, but also benefits the world.

“It is extremely rewarding for us, of course, to see that we rank so highly. But what the ranking doesn’t reflect is the extent to which the research we conduct trickles down into the classroom. That helps us, I think, educate our students so much more effectively.”

The comprehensive ranking is released every seven years, and has direct implications on research funding in the UK. REF is managed by Research England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland.


Cambridge Judge, which placed second in the 2014 ranking for REF, topped Imperial College of London (No. 2), London Business School (No. 3), and London School of Economics & Political Science (No. 4) which was the top school seven years ago. University of Warwick and City, University of London tied for fifth place.

Vincent Mak, Vice Dean for Research and Programs

A school’s submission is evaluated on the quality of its outputs (such as publications, performances, and exhibitions), its impact, and the environment that supports research. Part of the submitted data are case studies that describe the school’s research impact on society. Cambridge Judge submitted five case studies as part of its REF submission.

Overall, 94% of Judge’s submissions were rated as “world leading” or ”internationally excellent” (compared to 89% in REF 2014).

“The business school industry is an industry of many rankings. Whether you are in the U.S., in Asia, in Europe, you just have to live your life looking at so many numbers. There are metrics about how much income our students are earning or how we managed to bring in good students who became successful business people,” says Vincent Mak, Vice Dean for Research and Programs at Cambridge Judge.

“Metrics that are harder to measure are those that show how we’re making an impact on the world; how we are helping fledgling startups, or helping people who are not as motivated to make millions in the next hedge fund, but who actually do something to make the world a better place.

“I think this REF result tells us that we do rigorous, original research that may also bring something good to the world in return. This is something that we are proud of, and I hope tells the outside world something special about us.”


Poets&Quants recently got the opportunity to sit down with both Guillén and Mak to talk about the REF, Cambridge Judge’s research ecosystem, and what the business school is currently researching.

Guillén, a professor of management studies, took over as dean in 2021. Mak, a professor of marketing and decision science, has been at Judge for 13 years and serves as vice dean for Research and Programs.

We also discussed in greater detail the five case studies Judge submitted to and was evaluated for in the 2021 REF. (You can read more about those case studies on page 3.)

Our conversation, presented below, has been edited for length and clarity.

What is the importance of this ranking? Can you put it into context?

Guillén: It’s an exercise that takes place every seven years that is extremely important from the point of view of not just the standing of different departments or different universities in the UK, but it’s also really important because the government allocates resources according to some of the results.

It is very data intensive. So in fact, although the results from the ranking were just published a few months ago, we are already preparing ourselves for the next round. So it’s a very, very systematic exercise.

NEXT PAGE: Cambridge Judge’s Research Ecosystem

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