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Understanding Covid-19's impact on business, employment and consumer behaviour

Our researchers are at the forefront of understanding the impact of Covid-19 on businesses, workers and consumer behaviour and developing solutions that can make a difference to economic and societal wellbeing. Here are just a few of the research projects underway.


Controlling the Urge: Combatting Impulsive Consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Before COVID-19 lockdowns started we saw panic buying around the world. As restrictions continue, people are growing increasingly restless, and in those countries where they are being gradually lifted, signs are now emerging of over-consumption in newly opened shops, restaurants, or tourist sites.

Dr Ilias Danatzis, Lecturer in Marketing Analytics, is studying the reasons why we shop or consume impulsively in the face of a crisis. He and his team will use qualitative and quantitative research efforts to design and test the effectiveness of different interventions such as short online training sessions on restaurant booking sites or messages, displays, verbal announcements and other messaging from staff and simple layout changes in shops, pubs, and restaurants in redirecting our attention and combatting our urge to buy or consume excessively. These interventions will be tested across different types of products and hospitality outlets in the UK and Australia.

The research will help retailers, service providers, and governments to prevent panic buying, hoarding and overcrowding in order to help control infection rates, reduce waste and ensure that everyone has access to essential products and services.


Gendering the UK's social policy response to the COVID-19 crisis

The COVID-19 outbreak and resultant economic crisis have resulted in extraordinary government action in support of citizens facing unprecedented shocks to their livelihoods. It is already documented that women have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, but is this disproportionate impact reflected in the nature and distribution of public support packages?

Professor Damian Grimshaw is a co-investigator on a project led by Dr Rose Cook at the King’s Global Institute for Women’s Leadership that will map and understand the extent to which social policy interventions in the UK and around the world are gender-sensitive and how they have been accessed by different demographics and household types. The project will develop a policy tracker to enable learning from other countries’ experiences, and will also assess whether the UK’s social policy response to COVID-19 has furthered or inhibited progress towards gender equality.


Entrepreneurial resilience and well-being in times of crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic threatens the mental wellbeing of the small businesses owners and self-employed who make up the backbone of our economies in unprecedented ways. This matters on more than just a personal level, because when entrepreneurs feel well, they are more persistent, productive and innovative, and their businesses perform better.

Understanding their resilience – how they adapt positively in the face of adversity - will help us to understand how they may successfully navigate the current Covid-19 crisis. This includes how entrepreneurs handle the uncertainty and stress produced by this crisis to protect their well-being and keep their businesses alive; or potentially innovate and change their businesses to emerge even stronger.

Professor Ute Stephan, Dr Przemek Zbierowski and PhD student and former entrepreneur-in-residence at Citi Ventures, Pierre-Jean Hanard, are leading a study of more than 2,000 entrepreneurs in over 28 countries from around the world during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. The project will generate new theoretical and practical insights about the resilience processes that enable entrepreneurs to navigate crises successfully.

The challenges of fake news

Social media fundamentally change the ways information is disseminated and reacted upon. ‘Filter bubbles’ can reinforce opposing views into polarized tensions, which hampers institutions’ ability to engage the public’s support for measures to tackle crises, such as COVID-19. Little is known about these dynamics and responses to them in an increasingly fragmented public sphere.

Dr Michael Etter, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Digitization, and Dr Jonathan Schad, Lecturer in Strategy, aim to understand social media dynamics that lead to the strongly polarised views and debates and how institutional responses can ease or reinforce them. Their study will contribute to a better understanding of how the public perceive and respond to the information they are given during a pandemic health crisis. It will also assist central and local government regulators and other public institutions in their future crisis responses.

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Statistical methods for modelling and forecasting the evolution of the current and future outbreaks of COVID-19

While there is some work on time series forecasting models for epidemiology, there has yet to be a full and detailed discussion of the models used, nor a forecasting evaluation of recent models developed in machine learning or econometrics.

This project, led by Professor George Kapetanios and colleagues working within our Qatar Centre for Global Banking and Finance, will provide central banks and others with approaches that enable more sophisticated modelling and forecasting of the evolution and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, these techniques will be combined with economic forecasting models to obtain estimates of the effects of the pandemic on macroeconomic variables. The project will be based on aggregate modelling of the pandemic within the UK and will also benefit from cross country comparisons.


Don't just clap for carers; change policy to ensure fair employment for care workers

Professor Ian Kessler, together with Professor Stephen Bach, Professor Damian Grimshaw, and Richard Griffin, Visiting Senior Research Fellow, have published a paper urgently calling for a new deal for health and care employees.

They say that the sector needs a new model of employment that reflects their worth to our individual and communal well-being as highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and tackles the challenges faced by workers in the sector who are typically in undervalued, relatively low paid and insecure employment. Their recommendations explore four key dimensions: pay, outsourcing, training and the position of migrant workers.

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