Major Global Ranking Celebrates ‘World Leading’ Cambridge Judge


Mauro Guillén took over as dean of Cambridge Judge Business School in 2021. ‘What we practice at Cambridge Judge is research in action. It’s research that not only benefits our students and the companies that interact with us, but also benefits the world.’

What does the No. 1 achievement signify about Cambridge Jude?

Guillén: Research is what we do, and then of course, we translate it into useful knowledge, both for our students and for companies and the world. Obviously, we are a part of the University of Cambridge, which is a very much a research oriented place.

But more importantly, the world of business is changing very fast. We have all of these drivers of change, ranging from technology to geopolitics to people’s aspirations in life as employees, as managers and so on. We strongly believe that it’s only through research that a business school can develop the applied knowledge that our students and companies can use to be successful in the marketplace. For us, the connection between research and success or high performance is extremely important.

The way we are organized within the school is in eight Subject Areas – Behavioural Science; Business Venturing, Design & Technology; Digital Transformation, Finance & Accounting; Future of Work; Global Strategy, Competitiveness & Policy; Healthcare & Life Science; and Responsible Business. More importantly, within those subject areas, we have many different specialized research centers. Over the years the school has been, I think, very good at identifying areas that will become really important. For example, we are pioneers in setting up research centers around social innovation and social ventures.

Of the five case studies that we submitted, four of them were actually supported by funding and resources from centers at the school. Our research centers typically fund research by faculty from different subject groups, which helps us overcome the compartmentalization of knowledge. In other words, we bring to bear analytical tools from different management sub disciplines, and our research center structure then supports that.

Mak: The REF system is very elaborate, and the evaluation is a way for us to reflect on ourselves. Seeing the results, we actually get a good idea of how we are doing, and the process of collecting data for the evaluation is an opportunity to dive deep into what we are doing in terms of research and its impacts.

A business school doesn’t just provide educational programs. A business school also generates knowledge, tries to generate insights into relevant topics and the challenges the world is facing, and tries to bring about changes. The metrics the REF uses has to do with all of these different set of achievements. It is very useful to see how we join the germination of knowledge from a very rigorous scientific method, and how we use this knowledge and wisdom to actually bring about impacts in the world.

Inside Cambridge Judge Business School in England. Courtesy photo

What research happening at Judge now has you particularly excited? What projects might you consider for the next REF evaluation seven years from now?

Mak: We have a Center for Alternative Finance which has been running for about seven years. It has been very successful and has earned a reputation among regulators on monetary finance around the world. It produces tools, platforms, advice, and programs for these regulators to network with each other, to share best practices, and learn from each other about cutting edge financial tools: How to ensure that they don’t destabilize society, how to exert some sort of control so they don’t run out of our control, for example

I think our Center for Alternative Finance has been doing great work, and we hope we will be able to further develop and further showcase understanding.

Mauro, how about you?

Guillén: The El-Erian Institute of Behavioral Economics and Policy is doing great research on how to introduce nudges so that consumers use resources more efficiently, so that we don’t waste as much. I think that is a critical area for the future, and we’re so happy that we have that research capability here in the school.

Why do you think this kind of research matters, particularly in a world that is changing at a pace we probably haven’t really seen in a long time?

Guillén: Well, business schools for many years have been trailing trends in the world. For example, the whole rise of IT and how that has changed everything – from the way finance is done, to marketing operations, to even employee selection and recruitment. What we’re seeing now, I think, is an attempt by many business schools, including ours, to anticipate those trends. And, if we can, try to shape those trends.

Another very good example, I think, in equity, diversity and inclusion – a demand that comes from society. I think in business schools, we have to practice what we preach, but also prepare our students for a more diverse world because the workplace is different. So, we have faculty doing research on, for example, diverse teams; how they work and whether they’re better or worse than more homogeneous teams.

In other words, I think business schools need to anticipate these trends. Some of them have to do with technology others have to do with societal demands, social enterprising, and even geopolitics and how it is changing the world. From all of those points of view, obviously, it’s extremely important for business schools to understand the trends that are going on so that they can be at the forefront of those changes.

Mak: I agree with Mauro. And, I really appreciate the fact that Judge Business School has a culture where colleagues really care about the world. We don’t just do research so that we can publish in high-quality journals, we do research because we believe it’s really going to answer relevant questions.

As a school, we have a culture of entrepreneurship, not just in terms of business, but entrepreneurship in terms of intellectual pursuits for the sake of the world. We are like a social enterprise in the knowledge sense of the word. We’ve been working not just to publish, but to actually put the research into some kind of practitioner impact. Our colleagues are self motivated to respond to the fast changes of the world, and are trying to make a really rigorous research dissemination out of that.

Do you have any examples of that?

Mak: Right after COVID, one of our professors in the Operations Group, Stefan Scholtes, along with his colleagues and colleagues in the economics group, put together a small team of faculty and PhD students almost right away. They started working with the hospital and the Health Care Authority in the country to track data, monitor data, and monitor hospital flow, for example, to see how the pandemic was stressing the system. Out of all of that data processing, you can see what they can do in order to make things better.

That has become such a self motivated and very intense engagement. As a result, the team has been doing so much work that Prof. Scholtes and the team were presented a Vice Chancellor Award at the University. It’s been an honor to us, and it reflects very strongly on the impact that they have actually through their work.

NEXT PAGE: A closer look at Cambridge Judge’s Five REF Case Studies

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