Financial Times listed top Business School Research with Social Impact

Two recent publications from the School of Business that focused on social impact were included in the FT top 100 list. The list used social media attention as one of its indicators.
Ewald Kibler ja Matti Sarvimäki
Assistant Professors Ewald Kibler and Matti Sarvimäki. Photo: Roope Kiviranta / Aalto University.

One of the papers, Collective emotions in institutional creation work by Post-Doctoral Researcher Steffen Farny, Assistant Professor Ewald Kibler and co-author Simon Down, observed a Haitian community affected by the 2010 earthquake, and addressed the often overlooked issue of how local social entrepreneurs help communities rebuild long after the large international aid organizations and NGOs have moved onto the next disaster.

‘We at the Department of Management Studies, are pleased to see that FT now explicitly promotes management research that is not only published in top academic journals but which also offers practical solutions to solving our societies’ grand challenges such as natural disaster management, which was the focus of our research highlighted by FT’  says Kibler.

The other paper, Age at arrival, parents and neighbourhoods: understanding the educational attainment of immigrants’ children by Assistant Professor Matti Sarvimäki and co-authors Laura Ansala and Ulla Hämäläinen documented how children of immigrants cope during early adulthood in Finland. It showed that, on average, these children have dramatically lower educational attainment than children of natives. However, the study also concluded that Finnish-born children of immigrants obtained more education than children of Finnish native heritage that grow up in the same zip codes and with similar parental income and family structure.

‘The paper highlighted by the FT is just one example of how the economics community at Aalto University and Helsinki Graduate School of Economics provides hard facts for policy debates that tend to be dominated by misconceptions’ says  Sarvimäki.

‘Our academic research is often directly relevant for different policies so  we also work closely together with policymakers through the Aalto Economic Institute, which coordinates our Department's collaborative efforts with external partners’.

Social media attention as one indicator of social impact

The Financial Times wanted to feed a growing debate concerning research in business schools that sometimes focus too much on abstract and overly academic topics; but which have little resonance beyond the higher education sector.

Therefore the journal asked leading business schools to select recent papers that they considered to have social impact. The business schools were not informed on how the Financial Times would analyze the suggested papers, and the analysis was done by utilizing a service called Altmetric. This service quantified the online resonance that each paper had with the broader world beyond universities, utilising references ranging from academic citations to social media posts.

The survey by the Financial Times showed a rich and varied range of research on topics with strong social value.

Dean of the School of Business, Timo Korkeamäki, says, ‘Leading Business Schools have an obligation to aid the world in finding solutions for a sustainable future. Aalto University School of Business is taking on the challenge with a wide range of sustainability-related research being conducted across our departments, and I am proud of the highlighted examples of our researchers’ contributions in this area. I am also delighted that the Financial Times is giving exposure to this crucial research focus area’.

The School’s Vice Dean of Research, Matti Suominen continues, ‘Generating research with high social impact is a key objective for us at Aalto. I am proud of the papers that made it to this list and thank FT for bringing the topic up for discussion. Hopefully it encourages researchers to work even more on areas with high social impact and to disseminate their important work to the public at large’.


Article Academic focus limits business schools’ contribution to society in the Financial Times:

Farny Steffen, Kibler Ewald, Dow Simon. Collective emotions in institutional creation work. Academy of Management Journal 2019; 62(3): 765-799.

Ansala Laura, Hämäläinen Ulla, Sarvimäki Matti. Age at arrival, parents and neighborhoods: understanding the educational attainment of immigrants’ children. Journal of Economic Geography 2019: 1-22.

More information

Department of Management Studies

Department of Economics

Helsinki GSE

Aalto Economic Institute

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