Design Study for a Survey of UK Management Practices (CBR project)



The ESRC commissioned the Centre for Business Research and Cambridge Judge Business School to examine the strategic and scientific case for conducting a survey of management practices in the UK, and to make recommendations on how such a survey might best be carried out.


The study had a short timeline of two months, and so an innovative research method using an expert panel was adopted. The panel comprised experts in a number of disciplinary fields who had three principal roles:

  • To identify key literature on Management Practices in particular disciplinary areas
  • To facilitate contact with other scholars and professionals with relevant knowledge of Management Practices using a snowball sampling technique
  • To act as sounding boards for themes that emerged during the research

In addition to the information supplied by the expert panel and snowball sample other stakeholders were consulted using both questionnaires and interviews. This process was linked to an extensive review of extant literature on Management Practices, enabling us to draw some firm conclusions about the current state of knowledge in this area and thence, drawing on expertise from the Centre for Business Research’s (CBR) Survey and Database Unit, to formulate three options for a large-scale survey of Management Practices.

Key findings

Justification for a new survey

  • Addressing the role of management practice in explaining perceived productivity gap between the UK and other nations
  • Addressing the skewness of current research on Management Practices towards large firms
  • Joining-up disparate extant research on different practices
  • Creating a ‘spine’ of panel data for on-going research of both qualitative and quantitative kind Which Management Practices to Measure?
  • Key practices were identified in seven domains, namely: Finance, HRM, Innovation, Marketing, Operations, Strategy and Values.

Survey design options proposed

  • Option 1: Combined postal and interview survey
  • Option 2: Postal survey
  • Option 3: A mixed model to provide a core postal survey based panel element supplemented by in-depth interview based data gathering in selected firms

Project team

  • Alan Hughes
  • Simon Learmount
  • Ben Hardy
  • Anna Bullock
  • Isobel Milner



Hardy, B., Hughes, A. Learmount, S., Bullock, A. and Milner, I. (2009) Study for a survey of UK management practices. Report to the ESRC by Centre for Business Research and Cambridge Judge Business School, 12 June.