Public Affairs Management
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Chester
Unit of AssessmentBusiness and Management Studies
Summary Impact TypePolitical
Research Subject Area(s)
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration, Political Science
Law and Legal Studies: Law
Summary of the impact
This case study refers to the development of strategic public affairs
management and associated research on political risk and the regional
economy at the University of Chester. It demonstrates both impact on
business strategy at international levels and influence on government
policy. The Bank of America (MBNA) case is evidenced as an example of
effective public affairs research. The business is the largest service
based centre in the region, accounting for 3% of Cheshire's GDP (2011).
The research has informed both strategy and policy for business and
government resulting in the retention of a major international business in
the North West.
This case study refers primarily to the founding role and pivotal work of
Harris and Moss in developing and establishing the body of public affairs
management knowledge in the UK. This has led to the establishment of a
network, with international reputation, of public affairs academics and
practitioners that has not only helped to shape the development of the
public affairs discipline but has also contributed to significant
advancements in professional practice. This research group has established
links with the leading professional and research bodies in the field in
America, Australasia and Europe as is evidenced by the membership of the
editorial board of the Journal of Public Affairs. A body of
research, comprising journal articles, books, book chapters, industry
research, political and industry policy briefs produced by Harris and Moss
spans two decades and underpins their claim to have been instrumental in
building the public affairs body of knowledge and discipline in the UK and
Two significant and related developments help underpin the claims made
for the impact of this work. Firstly, the International Centre for
Corporate & Public Affairs has been established at the University of
Chester. This centre was relocated in 2009 from Manchester Metropolitan
University, where it was created in 1997 with funding and support
primarily from United Utilities, Granada (ITV) and Manchester Airport PLC.
This Centre has become an international focus for public affairs
scholarship, practitioner engagement and the dissemination of best
practice. The second development comprises the establishment and
editorship since 2001 of the Journal of Public Affairs. This
Journal is now widely recognized as the leading Journal in the field and
the completed twelve volumes of work that have now been published
represents a major contribution to the discipline. Moreover, The
Handbook of Public Affairs [Harris, P. & Fleischer, C. (eds)
(2005) Handbook of Public Affairs, London: Sage] remains one of
the seminal texts in this field and has been followed by the edited by
Harris, four Volume, Public Affairs Management published by Sage
One of the most important areas in which public affairs scholarship has
impacted on business and professional work is undoubtedly in the area of
lobbying and related areas of corporate social responsibility, political
marketing, and issues management.
This work on public policy is an important area of public affairs
scholarship that has undoubtedly contributed to, and shaped,
policy-makers' attitudes towards lobbying and to the regulation of the
professional lobbyist. This has assisted in illuminating and clarifying
questions that have surrounded the work of professional lobbyists and the
legitimacy of their role in helping to shape legislation. Evidence has
been presented to a number of parliamentary bodies including the All Party
Small Business Group Report, Breaking Down the Barriers to
Entrepreneurship (2012), Parliamentary Enquiry into Lobbying and the
House of Lords Enquiry into Small Business Exports and informed policy.
Research with international institutions continues and the public affairs
agenda is reinforced by engagement with both business policy makers and
academics of international repute. The first International Conference on
Public Policy and Public Affairs was held in Beijing (June 2013) to share
best research practice internationally.
Key participant researchers in this case study are Harris (Dean
at the University of Chester since March 2009 - present) and Moss
(Professor at the University of Chester since April 2010 - present).
References to the research
Harris, P. (ed) (2013), Public Affairs Management (four volumes),
Sage, London. ISBN: 978-1-4462-5480-6
Moss, D.A., McGrath, C., Tonge, J. and Harris, P. (2012) "Exploring
the management of the corporate public affairs function in a dynamic
global environment" Journal of Public Affairs 12,1, pp. 47 - 60. ISSN:
Baines, P. and Harris, P (2011) "Marketing in the 2010 British General
Election - Perspectives, Prospect and Practice" Journal of Marketing
Management, 272,7/8 pp 647 - 655. ISSN:0267-257X
Harris, P. and Lock, A. (2010) "Mind the Gap" The Rise of Political
Marketing and a Perspective on its Future Agenda, European Journal of
Marketing, pp. 44, 3/4.
pp.297-307. ISSN 0309-0566
Details of the impact
This research has had a number of impacts:
4.1. Firstly, in terms of its impact on the establishment and development
of the disciplinary field of public affairs in the UK and Europe and its
contribution to the international body of knowledge. This is demonstrated
by editorship of journals, research publications and recognition by
professional and academic institutions.
4.2. Secondly, in terms of how the research has been disseminated into
professional practice and influenced public and political debate about the
role, practice and regulation of political lobbying in the UK. This is
demonstrated by recognition by industry and government taking advice
resulting from research and presented at boards and committees by the
researchers. Harris first submitted evidence to the first Committee on
Standards in Public Life in 1997 a paper on the direct links between
lobbying and political fundraising, and in 2012 gave evidence to the
inquiry launched by the All Party Parliamentary Small Business Group
considered the role of entrepreneurs in driving economic growth (Breaking
Down the Barriers to Entrepreneurship). This has been followed up
with a number of articles and presentations with a collaboration of
interests in Europe, Asia, Australasia and America. Attendance at events
in China in 2011 and 2013 have impacted on both Chinese academic and
business communities - evidenced by endorsement from the head of a
distinguished Institution based in Beijing (see section 5).
4.3. Thirdly, the research has had a direct impact on corporate public
affairs practice. This is particularly through the global research project
into best practice in global public affairs operations which has fed back
into the structures, training and policies of global operating companies.
The award of a major public affairs research project to Moss and Harris in
2010 by Unilever is further recognition of the work that has been
4.4. Public Affairs Management Research was used extensively by Harris,
Adderley and Russell with the support of Moss to pull together a report on
the impact of the potential closure of MBNA (Bank of America), Chester's
major Financial Services Business. MBNA is Chester's largest private
employer, employing approximately 3,550 people on site, with an annual
payroll of £155 million. The research indicated that there was a lack of
understanding of this company, its business and impact by local and
regional decision makers. The confidential report outlined the scale of
the Chester-based MBNA operations and its impact on the local, regional
and national economy. Another published report by Harris, Pyke and
Adderley (2011) referred to below further corroborates the impact of the
4.5. The University of Chester calculated that MBNA's overall economic
impact on the region is £543.9 million per annum making MBNA a major
contributor to the Financial Services Sector in the North-West of England
and an important part of the national economy. Significantly, 15% of
MBNA's annual payroll is paid to staff located in the Chester postal area
while there are also high concentrations of employees within areas already
known to be suffering from high levels of deprivation (e.g. Birkenhead,
Tranmere, and Ellesmere Port). This undoubtedly means that any job losses
would be significantly magnified in those areas. MBNA plays a key role in
training and building knowledge based skills within the region. In
addition, MBNA spends £215 million per annum in the supply-chain, which
equates to £10.75 million per annum of local spend. Over 1000 suppliers
have contracts with MBNA for less than £100,000, representing a range of
dependent small and medium size businesses. Given this, the University
calculates that MBNA's spend in the supply-chain leads to an additional
3,834 people being employed, in addition to staff directly employed by
4.6. MBNA is of significant importance to the economic well-being of the
UK economy as a whole. The report calculated that MBNA pays the UK
government £173 million in taxes, rates, NI and PAYE per annum (correct as
of 2010). MBNA is a major regional sponsor of cultural, economic, social
and sporting events and organisations and over the period 2010-2013 has
donated/committed £1.4 million to organisations and supplied £2.3 million
in corporate sponsorship. MBNA's operational transactions in the UK are
worth £11 billion per annum, which equates to 9% share of the market.
4.7. The report was given confidentially by the team to a number of
local, regional and national government decision makers, alongside a
number of local presentations by the team which informed decision making.
The research conducted helped communicate the impact of the potential sale
and closure of this business to regional and national decision makers
including the Secretary of State for Business and led directly to
increased stakeholder recognition and support for the retention of the
business. Furthermore, this allowed MBNA UK management to stabilise its
position and exert pressure to maintain a viable business in Chester and
contribute to wealth creation in the North-West.
4.8. Evidence of impact may be found in endorsements from organisations
named in section 5. Comments include "the business community is grateful
for the way the University is assisting to shape regional economic policy"
and "The Bank of America has benefitted greatly".
Sources to corroborate the impact
International Conference on Public Policy: Theory and Practice and
Governance, 5-6th June 2013, Beijing Normal University,
Beijing. Conference website: http://ag.bnu.edu.cn/.
Corroboration of paragraph 4.2.
Letter of endorsement from the President, Peking University corroborates
HMSO (2012), Oral and written evidence by Phil Harris in Report by the
All Party Parliamentary Small Business Group Report, Breaking Down the
Barriers to Entrepreneurship, London. Corroboration of paragraph
Harris, P., Adderley, S and Russell, N. (2011) Confidential Report,
Economic Impact Assessment of Bank of America Card Services (MBNA),
University of Chester. Corroborated paragraph 4.4 - 4.6.
Harris, P., Pyke, C and Adderley, S. (2011) An interim review into the
impact of the Financial Service Sector in West Cheshire and Chester and
its immediate sub region, University of Chester. ISBN:978-1-905929-96-2.
Corroborated paragraphs 4.4 - 4.6.
email from the President of MBNA sent to the Chief Executive of the North
West Business Leadership Team regarding the economic impact report.
Corroborates paragraph 4.7.
email from the Managing Director of a local company (also private sector
representative on the Public Service Board for West Cheshire, and as the
Past Chairman of the regional Chamber of Commerce) corroborates the quotes
in paragraph 4.8.