Strengthen ties between academia and the "real world", UWE researcher will tell inaugural lecture

Issue date: 04 February 2016

Professor Tim Hughes

Should universities and academics do more to share their leading edge research with the “real world”?

That's a question Professor Tim Hughes will explore in an inaugural lecture at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) on Wednesday (February 10).

The Professor in Applied Marketing will consider whether many academics spend too much time and effort conducting research with the sole aim of receiving coverage in journals read only by fellow members of academia.

In his address, Rigorous relevance: Connecting with the real world in Business & Management, he will argue that academics should place more emphasis on distributing the findings of their research to the business community in an effort to bridge the gap between universities and commerce.

He will tell an audience that greater interaction and engagement with industry can bring mutual benefits, but also pose big challenges.

Professor Hughes, who has been teaching and carrying out research in UWE Bristol's Faculty of Business and Law for 14 years, said: “When I started working in academia, what surprised me about the education system, in general, was that there is less interaction with business than I expected. Many academics prioritise academic-to-academic dissemination of research rather than with the wider world. There is lots of emphasis on academics getting journal articles published which are just read by other academics.”

Professor Hughes will explain that UWE does place emphasis on the application of research in the wider community. During his time at UWE, he has made business engagement an important part of his research; working with large organisations including IBM, Sainsbury's and Lidl, as well as with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) through the Environmental i-net and through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. He has also successfully used existing business networks in the Bristol area to help share his research beyond academia.

He said: “It is fundamental we are engaging all the time with practise. For example, the current priority for my research relates to the relationship between marketing agencies and their clients. This means engaging extensively with agencies and marketing practitioners in this region. With social media, the world of marketing is changing so quickly. If we don't keep up with that real world then what I teach my students will be out of date. We get professional people from outside to come in and do guest lectures and get students out to go into the real world.”

Professor Hughes worked in senior marketing management roles at Heinz and Nestle before moving into financial services marketing at Skipton and Bristol & West Building Societies. He ran his own marketing consultancy for seven years, working in the UK and internationally before joining UWE Bristol in 2002.

Professorial Inaugural Lectures are a series of events that celebrate excellence in research undertaken by UWE Bristol's recently promoted and appointed professors.

The free lecture will take place at 2B020 at Frenchay Campus between 5.30pm and 8pm. You can register for the event here.

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