Academia-Industry collaboration in Risk Management – a case in the hospitality sector

Submitting Institution

Oxford Brookes University

Unit of Assessment

Business and Management Studies

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services: Business and Management
Studies In Human Society: Policy and Administration

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Summary of the impact

Dr Alexandros Paraskevas has demonstrated the benefits of implementing academic research and `scientific rigour' into global business practices. His conceptual approach to risk and crisis management has become highly acclaimed within the hospitality industry and has strengthened practices in a turbulent business environment. His research pioneered an effective partnership between the Oxford School of Hospitality Management and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), resulting in the Group developing new risk management practices, enhancing its effectiveness in managing risks, saving costs and gaining worldwide recognition as industry leader in the field. These practices are continuously shared with the broader H&T industry through appropriate fora and dissemination platforms.

Underpinning research

Between 2004 and 2006 Dr Alexandros Paraskevas, Senior Lecturer in Strategic Risk Management, undertook research on crisis management and terrorism published in Paraskevas (2006) and Paraskevas and Arendell (2007). The two research papers introduced a new conceptual approach to crisis response based on complexity theory principles as well as a more structured approach to anti-terrorism strategy in tourism destinations. These papers attracted the interest of InterContinental Hotels Groups (IHG) senior risk management who participated in the study and stated that it "put scientific rigour" in their practice and policies. With these studies as a background, a relationship of trust and sharing was formed, with IHG contributing and gaining insights from Dr Paraskevas' ongoing research. Where it was felt that the Group would benefit from this and further research, IHG-specific projects were initiated:

Project 1: The refined antiterrorism strategy framework presented in Paraskevas (2013) and in particular the aspects of business continuity covered in it, alerted IHG on the need to have more rigorous and dynamic crisis response plans, not only for its hotels (those were already in place) but also for its 30 corporate units or what they call Global Operating System. They formed a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Oxford Brookes, co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) by 75% and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) by 25%.The KTP focussed on the re-development of their Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) Plans for the 30 corporate units, with Dr Paraskevas as academic supervisor and Catia Guimaraes as KTP associate [1].

Project 2: The same work (as well as Paraskevas & Arendell, 2007) was the trigger of a second project for hotels during the London Olympics. The Holiday Inn (part of IHG's portfolio of hotels) was the official accommodation provider for the London Olympics and several hotels in the UK would host officials, athletes, visitors as well as the Olympic Torch, which could be a potential target for terrorists. In this one-year long project, Dr Paraskevas and Raksha Singh (research associate) were asked to develop a hotel health, safety and security audit methodology. The audit methodology was piloted in most of the 250 IHG hotels in UK before being launched globally to the 4600 hotels in the company's portfolio.

Project 3: The findings and insights of Paraskevas (2009) and Paraskevas and Altinay (2013) on crisis signal detection, in conjunction with Paraskevas (2006) on crisis response, were the triggers of a three-year KTP (co-funded by TSB by 75% and ESRC by 25%). In this project Dr Paraskevas (as academic supervisor) and Dr Chris Chu (as KTP associate) were asked to develop an ERM methodology for IHG. A large part of this project involved the development of leading and lagging risk indicators (crisis signals) and their supporting (crisis detection) system [2].

Project 4: The concepts and findings of Paraskevas et al (2013) on crisis knowledge flows, structures and governance initiated a one-year project in which Dr Paraskevas and Rachel Wang (research associate) were asked to identify IHG-specific ways and techniques for the codification and personalisation of risk knowledge and to further enhance the institutionalisation of this knowledge through the company's Risk Learning Centre.

References to the research

• Paraskevas, A. (2006). Crisis Management or Crisis Response System? A Complexity Science Approach to Organizational Crises. Management Decision, 44(7), pp. 892-907. [ABS ranking 2010 - 2*]


• Paraskevas, A. and Arendell, B. (2007). A Strategic Framework for Terrorism Prevention and Mitigation in Tourism Destinations, Tourism Management, 28(6), pp. 1560-1573. [ABS ranking 2010 - 4*]


• Paraskevas, A. (2013). Aligning Strategy to Threat: A Baseline Anti-terrorism Strategy for Hotels. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management. 25(1), pp. [ABS ranking 2010 - 2*]
Submitted to REF2014, Oxford Brookes University, UoA19-Business & Management Studies, REF2, A Paraskevas, Output identifier 8904


• Paraskevas, A. and Altinay, L. (2013). Signal Detection as the First Line of Defence in Tourism Crisis Management, Tourism Management, 34(1), pp. 158-171. [ABS ranking 2010 - 4*]
Submitted to REF2014, Oxford Brookes University, UoA19-Business & Management Studies, REF2, A Paraskevas, Output identifier 6424


• Paraskevas, A., Altinay, L., McLeane, J. and Cooper, C. (2013). Crisis Knowledge in Tourism: Types, Flows and Governance, Annals of Tourism Research, 41(2), pp. 130-152 [ABS ranking 2010 - 4*]
Submitted to REF2014, Oxford Brookes University, UoA19-Business & Management Studies, REF2, A Paraskevas, Output identifier 8905


Details of the impact

Although the projects described were IHG-specific, the underpinning research and the projects' outcomes and findings benefited five distinct groups: IHG, the broader H&T industry, communities of interest, H&T educational institutes and project researchers.

Impact on IHG:
Project 1: The project produced 30 BC/DR plans for all IHG corporate sites. The effectiveness of the plans was tested in a real crisis situation in Japan during the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. IHG has 39 hotels and a regional headquarter that were affected and recorded no human losses for the company and its customers throughout these disasters. Although this was the result of coordinated efforts of several stakeholders, TSB recognised its positive impact both to the company and the society. TSB then rated the project as `outstanding' and placed it at the top 5% KTPs nationally [3].

Project 2: The project (based primarily on the frameworks described in Paraskevas 2007 and 2013) developed a health, safety and security auditing methodology tested in all "high priority" (with regards to the Olympics) Holiday Inns. With the help of an IHG proprietary software it is now used globally and is a key source of information for key risk indicators and crisis signal detection.

Project 3: A core element of the ERM project was the development of a risk monitoring system, largely based on the findings and insights on crisis signal detection from Paraskevas (2009) and Paraskevas and Altinay (2013). An outcome example is the "Loss Leader Focus Programme". Analysis of data collected by the auditing methodology of Project 2 and by the risk monitoring system showed severe variances from occupational health and safety standards in 16 properties in North America. Further analysis allowed the identification of the sources and root causes of these variances which enabled appropriate interventions on risk leadership, culture structure and communication (Project 4). The claims in these hotels were reduced by 40% in one year, saving IHG an estimated $1,000,000. An independent committee appointed by TSB rated this project too as `outstanding' (as was the case with project 1).

Project 4: The Risk Learning Centre is now complete with all the existing IHG risk knowledge codified in training programmes, operational standards and toolkits shared by the 4600 properties in IHG's portfolio, including a communication strategy for these training tools. Training and culture changing interventions were planned using the framework in Paraskevas et al (2013) with the positive tangible outcomes described above. IHG's risk training programme won the Best Training Programme Award in the European Strategic Risk Awards 2012 [4]. It was recognised that elements of the interventions proposed by the study and the work of Rachel Wang in implementing the proposed plan made a strong contribution towards this award.

On 28 February 2013 IHG's partnership with OSHM was awarded by the Institute of Risk Management's "Partnership of the Year" Global Award [5] recognising it as a partnership that brings "academic rigour" into business practice and business relevance to academic teaching and research.

The Broader H&T Industry, Communities of Interest and H&T Education
The top six major companies, including IHG, together control approximately 42% of the 6.8 million branded rooms globally, with IHG having an estimated 9.8% share. The Group's brands have more leadership positions (top three by room numbers) in the six largest geographic markets (Europe, Middle East and North Africa, Asia, Australasia, Greater China and the Americas) than any other major hotel company. Therefore changes in its Risk Management practice have a significant impact in the industry overall since safety and security are increasingly becoming a selection criterion for many travellers and therefore a competitive advantage. IHG uses a number of platforms such as industry/academia conferences (e.gthe Cornell Research Summit [6]) and communities of interest (such as OSAC - particularly on security and terrorism) to share its risk management practices.

IHG is also working on developing a network of top hospitality education institutions (OSHM, Cornell, and HK PolyU) to shape risk management education for the hospitality leaders of tomorrow [7].

The Project Researchers
For her contribution and the leadership skills demonstrated during this crisis, the KTP associate, Catia Guimaraes, was awarded by the TSB prestigious "Business Leader for Tomorrow" award [8], presented to her by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable. At the end of Project 1, Catia was employed by IHG as the Group's Business Continuity Manager.

Similarly upon the completion of Project 2, the research associate Raksha Singh, was employed by IHG and is now the Risk Manager in charge of all the Group's hotels in India. At the end of Project 3 the KTP associate Dr Chris Chu was hired to continue his work as IHG's Corporate Risk Manager and was awarded by the TSB the "2013 Business Leader for Tomorrow" award [9].

Upon completion of Project 4 OSHM renewed Rachel Wang's contract for a further two years of research in IHG, to develop a framework for measuring the effectiveness of risk training and in extending the framework developed in Paraskevas et al (2013).

Sources to corroborate the impact

Factual statements that corroborate specific claims made in the case study and that could be made available to the REF team by the HEI if audited can be provided by Senior Vice President and Head of Global Risk Management, IHG (Corroborating contact 1).

[1] Knowledge Transfer Partnership and Funding details for Project 1(7691)

[2] Knowledge Transfer Partnership and Funding details for Project 3 (7689)

[3] KTP Certificate of Excellence:

[4] Insurance Times (2012). European StrategicRISK Award winners 2012.

[5] InterContinental Hotels Group and Oxford Brookes University win prestigious award

[6] InterContinental Hotels Group shares best practice in Risk Management with academia and industry

[7] The UK's Oxford School of Hospitality Management and InterContinental Hotels Group Collaborate on Strategic Risk Management Course

[8] TSB (2011). Best of the Best: KTP Awards 2011

[9] Corroborating statement author 2. TSB (2013) E-mail announcing Chris Chu as Award Winner