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Our research interprets patterns of economic, business and social life in a manner that fosters new theories and ideas; engages in empirical research grounded in current practices; and develops suggestions for public policy as well as for institutional and organizational innovations. The core purpose is to deepen understanding of how markets, business organizations and social institutions evolve over time.

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Latest News July 2019


A research study from Queen’s University Belfast’s Management School has found that members of Nazi organisations were more upwardly mobile and climbed higher up the social ladder than non-members during the Third Reich.

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Latest News May 2019

The Future of Economic History

Researchers from Queen’s Management School lead a pedagogical research project aiming to reform the way economists are trained. Read an op-ed by Dr Chris Colvin explaining how they plan to affect change.

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Meet some of our researchers

Does the type of investor impact oil prices?

Fearghal Kearney

Introduction:  Recent fluctuations in crude oil market prices have increased public attention on what is driving the market movements. Fearghal investigates if the type of investor trading in the market impacts such price changes. More specifically, Fearghal distinguishes between those firms who traditionally trade oil to hedge against their own future demand, and those speculative investors who take positions in the market only to profit from expected future price movements.

Crude oil price movements greatly impact airlines, utilities, homeowners, automobile firms, central banks, and even climate change advocates. As a result academics have proposed many models to predict the evolution its future price. The main models proposed are based on either observable macroeconomic indicators or unobservable statistical factors. Fearghal considers both types and utilises them in parallel with a CFTC Commitment of Traders report, to provide a proxy of speculative participation in oil markets.

Despite both types of models showing relatively similar performance in terms of predicting the evolution of oil prices, Fearghal finds that an increased presence of speculative investors leads to the link between the traditional macroeconomic indicators and oil prices breaking down. Fearghal has co-authored a research article on the topic with a collaborator from the University of Leeds. Their work was published in the Economics Letters journal.

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Historical episodes of de-globalization

Michael Aldous

In light of current debates about globalization, and growing tensions around international trade regulations, I am working with a number of co-authors to examine historical episodes of de-globalization. We are seeking to understand how firms strategically responded to the challenges of increased barriers to trade and investment.

Currently we have focused on an episode in India in the period after independence in 1947. The Indian government introduced a range of policies known as ‘Indianization’ which sought to increase the number of Indian nationals in senior management roles, and to increase the proportion of equity owned by Indians in foreign firms. While economic policies focused on industrial development through import substitution utilising tariffs, duties and capital controls. These policies restricted how and where foreign firms could operate in the Indian economy. 

Our research analyses the strategic responses of British firms to these developments. Many had a long history of operations in India, with significant levels of Foreign Direct Investment in diverse industries. Using a range of historical data and sources the research identifies long-run trends in the ownership, management and operations of these firms. The findings show that three common strategies were followed: managed exit, compliance or negotiation. Factors that affecting the firms’ decisions were the nature of the industry and outlook for future intervention, and the depth of relationships with Indian business and government interests. Historical study of such episodes improves understanding of the effects of policy changes on foreign investment, and can help managers to identify survival strategies when markets become hostile.

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Origins of the Sicilian Mafia: The Market for Lemons

Arcangelo Dimico

Introduction: The Sicilian Mafia is arguably the most famous and one of the most successful criminal organizations in the world. Its origins, however, is still largely debated.

Research: Arcangelo Dimico, in collaboration with Alessia Isopi (University of Manchester) and Ola Olson (University of Gothenburg) consider the impact that an external surge in the demand for lemons in the 19th century has had on the consolidation and growth of the Sicilian Mafia. This external surge in the demand of lemons occurred after the discovery of the effective use of citrus fruits to prevent scurvy by James Lind. As a result, the Sick and Hurt Commission agreed to supply all naval ships on Foreign Service with lemon juice. Given Sicily’s already dominant position in the international market for citrus fruits, the increase in demand resulted in a very large inflow of revenues to citrus-producing towns during the 1800s. The combination of high profits, a weak rule of law, a low level of interpersonal trust, and a high level of local poverty made lemon producers a suitable target for predation. The hypothesis is tested using data from the Damiani Inquiry (a parliamentary inquiry conducted between 1881–1886) which represents one of the earliest sources about the economic and social conditions of Sicily in the 1880s. Using this data, Arcangelo and co-authors show that mafia presence in the 1880s is strongly associated with the prevalence of citrus cultivation and no other crop or industry has a robust impact on mafia activity.

Outcome: The development of the Mafia in Sicily has often been considered as the consequence of institutional absence which allowed a private organization to provide a typical public good. This study differs from other works because emphasizes the importance of an exogenous shock in the international demand (specifically lemons) which combined with the general political insecurity and weak rule of law, provided an ideal breeding ground for the emergence of a mafia. The paper has now been published, following peer review, in the Journal of Economics History.

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In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), which assesses the quality of research in UK higher education institutions, 70% of our research output was world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour. This placed us 9th out of 101 business schools in the UK on research intensity and recognises our innovative approach to research.

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Research Centres


Queen's University Centre for Economic History

An interdisciplinary research centre which investigates the past to help economists understand the present.

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Centre for Health Research at the Management School

An interdisciplinary research centre which aims to promote social, behavioural, and management science research into issues relating to health and other dimensions of human wellbeing.

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The Centre for Not-for-profit and Public-sector Research

Promoting research focusing on the themes of accountability in the charity and public sectors; financial institutions; and managing in the charity and public sectors.

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Working papers

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Research Ethics

The approach to research ethics in the School rests on the basis that ethical considerations must be integrated into consideration of research, from the inception of research projects, in a deep and substantive manner.  The focus is upon serious substantive consideration of ethical issues.


All projects are run in accordance with University principles.  Further information and documentation is available on QMS Ethical Approval

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