Portsmouth Business School

Business Education Research Group

2018 News

PhD success

Alex Tymon, the lead for BERG, has been awarded her PhD on `The troublesome nature of significant learning for UK business students`. Contributing to theory and practise in the field of significant learning Alex promotes this under-researched construct as a useful philosophy to underpin business school teaching, in what are recognised as challenging times. Unlike traditional doctorates, this PhD is via publication and comprises a linking narrative that synthesises eight published academic journal articles. Dr Tymon will graduate this summer.

New Features


Dr Valerie Anderson speaks on The Future of Learning and Development

Dr. Valerie Anderson, HRM was the expert speaker at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Southampton Group on 22 February.

Her talk, "The Future of Learning and Development," addressed the need for ‘Smart Learning’ (Learning 4.0), drawing from her research and work with practitioners.In her highly participative session she enabled discussions about mobile learning, data analytics for ‘flipped’ evaluation, crowd-sourced learning, and productive failure.

Focusing on the volatile business landscape she made a powerful case for fresh approaches by those involved in learning in the workplace, so that they are ‘technologically savvy’ and embed the values of decent work and root out unproductive learning.


BERG success at UFHRD

BERG members Dr Valerie Anderson and Dr Heather Short attended the 18th University Forum for Human Resource Development (UFHRD) at the Universidade Europeia, Lisbon in June 2017, together with their PBS colleague, Sally Rumbles. UFHRD is the principal European annual gathering of international HRD academics and PBS’s record of success at this internationally acclaimed conference was maintained through Heather Short’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Owner-Managers: A Force for Good in Employee Learning? Which was shortlisted for the Alan Moon Memorial Prize for the best paper at the conference. 

This conference is distinctive for its Scholarly-Practitioner stream which Valerie co-chaired and she also presented her research undertaken with Visiting Professor Jeff Gold (Portsmouth and York St John); into factors affecting Doctoral Education at the Teaching and Learning stream. Heather and Valerie also organized a session about using social media to achieve more research impact which they led also sparked off considerable interest.

Heather was also the guiding force in the development of a new stream of work at this conference. Heather co-led the Learning in SMEs stream with Prof Mark Saunders (Birmingham) and Sally Rumbles chaired the sessions. Heathers Special Session on Learning in SMEs, which brought senior academics together such as Prof David Gray (Greenwich), Prof Maura Sheehan (Edinburgh Napier) and Prof Eduardo Tome (Universidade Europeia, Lisbon) is likely to result in a Journal Special Issue proposal focussing on Learning in SMEs.

During the pre-conference morning Valerie represented the University of Portsmouth, which has institutional membership of UFHRD, at the UFHRD Council meeting. At that meeting she reported on the work she has undertaken on behalf of the Forum with British Standards Institute (BSI) and the work of the Forum’s Research Activities Committee, which she chairs. At the conference itself she was a keynote speaker, focussing on: Standards and Standardization: Where now for Human Resource Development?

Should we be teaching strategic networking?

Alex Tymon has published a paper exploring social capital and graduate employability. The research examines links between networking behaviour, access to resources, job search learning goal orientation and perceived employability in business students.  The paper concludes that students and universities may benefit from the teaching of strategic networking behaviours and recommends ways this may be done. 

Batistič, B. and Tymon, A. (2017)," Networking behaviour, graduate employability: A social capital perspective ", Education +Training , Vol. 59 Iss 4 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/ET-06-2016-0100

Technology and presentation skills teaching: evidence for the value of iPads

Congratulations to Charles Barker and Claire Sparrow who have had a paper published in the European Journal of Law and Technology. Presenting the results of a study examining law students` attitudes towards the use of video as a self-regulatory learning tool, the article  provides theoretical and practical insights into the use of iPad technology in teaching.


Older news from BERG

Current Themes

From the selected list of current active projects the depth and breadth of research undertaken by members is illustrated, however this is the tip of the iceberg. More detailed research interests are available by looking at the individual profiles of members which also link to their publications.


Professional Development (CPD) and identity

Margaret Mackay researches into the role of continuing professional development (CPD) in the workplace with a focus on Higher Education and other practitioners’ perceptions of professional learning. Her qualitative research contributes directly to business education by enhancing skills development for both educators and individual learners.

Claire Sparrow is an Associate Member of Lancaster University's HERE (Higher Education Research and Evaluation) Centre. She has recently given a conference paper on the role of self-evaluation by academics in Higher Education and is currently researching how academic research and teaching activities interact with each other and affect academic practice.

Becky Quew-Jones is starting her DBA exploring professional identity in modern apprentices.


Employability and entrepreneurship

Employability and entrepreneurship

Charlotte Harrison with Alex Tymon Sassa Batistic are currently engaged in a longitudinal study of second year undergraduate Law students which explores the extent to which students’ self-perceived employability and confidence changes before, during and after engagement with a dedicated employability unit. The research also explores the impact those changes might have on students’ job search behaviours and career planning quality. 

Karen Knibbs is researching the role and contribution of students and graduates to SMEs. Her work, in collaboration with Judith Fletcher-Brown and Karen Middleton, focuses on students involved in the study of marketing and she is comparing the different placement experiences and outcomes that occur from live client projects in large and small organisations from the perspectives of students, employers and educators.

Sassa Batistic and Alex Tymon are involved in several mixed methods projects connected to graduate employability including: an exploration of ways to enhance the employability of graduates with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) with Beatriz Lopez, from the department of Psychology; and a longitudinal look at placement seeking behaviours in second year undergraduates with Margaret Mackay.



Management and leadership development

Alex Tymon works with colleagues in Durham, Warwick and Berlin, using a novel research technique to explore implicit leadership.  A drawing exercise is completed to uncover images and schema of leaders which helps avoid the pitfalls of socially desirable responses, common in leader and leadership training.  Drawings are analysed and coded to establish themes.  Results consistently demonstrate a disparity between organisational rhetoric, academic teaching and leader prototypes.   

Margaret Mackay and Alex Tymon  are interested in the concept of the `business buccaneer` based on research they have carried out with employers exploring emergent leader competencies. Their findings open up debate about the role of the modern university business school in the context of massification and consumerization of higher education.



Organisational learning

Emma Winter and Helen Thompson-Whiteside continue their research into the contribution of location to university identity, branding and service-scape. 



Building on their published work linked to reflective practice and pedagogy of risk, Alex Tymon and Margaret Mackay are using mixed methods to further explore learning transfer.  Using models of significant learning and training evaluation they seek to uncover evidence of learning impact from professional development for individuals and organisations.

Sue Davey Evans is exploring the impact of internationalisation in Higher Education on the personal and professional outlook of the lecturer. Although internationalisation is a ‘hot topic’ in HE very little research has examined its impact on the working lives of HE practitioners. Sue’s research focuses on how lecturers narrate their perceptions of the increasingly multi-cultural student population for learning and teaching both inside and outside of the classroom. 

Valerie Anderson and Sasa Batistic are part of a cross-institutional team currently undertaking a HEFCE funded project to pilot and evaluate measures of learning gain in Higher Education to develop and evaluate valid and sustainable measures of learning gain associated with undergraduate participation in UK Higher Education and to ensure that measures developed have viability, suitability and scalability across the UK HE sector as a whole. 


Technology enhanced learning

Our PhD students is a new BERG sponsored PhD students exploring technology enhanced learning within legal education.

David Starkey leads a team exploring a Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) teaching facility in Portsmouth Business School. This is one of the UK’s first such teaching spaces designed to use emerging technologies to significantly enhance tutor–student engagement in the active, collaborative process of knowledge construction, production and dissemination.

Heather Short, a former BERG PhD student, was awarded her PhD in 2016 with her thesis entitled “The Hidden World of e-learning in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)” which was based on her ethnographic research in local SMEs. Currently she is Managing Editor of Human Resource Development Quarterly (HRDQ) and lectures on HR, Business and Management topics as well as undertaking independent consultancy projects. She is leading the Learning in SMEs stream at the University Forum for Human Resource Development (UFHRD) conference in Lisbon in June 2017 with Prof Mark Saunders of the University of Birmingham. She is also contributing a chapter to Prof  Saunders’ next book  "How to keep your research project on track: Insights from when things go wrong". Heather’s research interests are focussed on e-learning and SMEs, as separate areas as well as in combination.



PBS academic appointed as editor of leading HRD journal

Valerie Anderson has been appointed as a joint Editor-in-Chief of Human Resource Development Quarterly. HRDQ is the leading HRD refereed quarterly journal focused on publishing original empirical research. It is one of only two HRD journals to be listed as part of the prestigious Social Science Citation Index (SSCI). Valerie has been appointed as the lead joint editor and will work with colleagues from University of Texas-Tyler and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the USA. The editorial office will be established in the Business School in December this year and this move represents a first for the journal – it has never previously been managed from within Europe. 


Recent publications relevant to BERG 322 KB

Publications produced by members of the BERG Research Group


BERG Members

To see BERG publications, please click on the members below: