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Grant research projects

In 2021, Misum put out a call for proposal to affiliated researchers, post docs and PhD students on the topic of COVID-19 and its impact on sustainable and resilient markets. The projects below were selected for the grant.

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Ting DongMisum, Assistant Professor, SSE 

Florian EugsterMisum, Associate Professor, University of St. Gallen 

Antoine Roy, University of St. Gallen 

Liwei ZhuMisum, SSE 

Research focus

In this study, the authors provided evidence on auditors' actual quantitative materiality assessment for a sample of FTSE 350 firms from 2018 to 2022. The materiality assessment is a key component of the audit assurance process and one of the most critical cogwheels an auditor has to steer audit quality. However, little is known regarding:

(1) whether and how auditors' materiality judgment responds to a major global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic

(2) whether the implications of materiality assessment on audit pricing and outcomes differ during crisis periods from the normal time. In this study, we provide archival evidence on both questions

Findings

The evidence suggested that auditors, in assessing the materiality threshold, reacted to the negative impact of COVID-19 primarily by altering their approach to assessing the materiality threshold, whereas the looseness of the materiality judgment did not change significantly. The determinants of auditors' materiality assessment were also examined. The findings showed that the effects of several factors relating to firm performance and risk on materiality assessment are significantly different during the pandemic than in pre-pandemic time. Finally, the evidence also showed that the implications of materiality judgment on audit fee pricing and audit outcomes changed during the pandemic. These findings should help practitioners, policymakers, and academics further understand the relationship between auditors' judgment, audit practice, and audit outcomes in extreme economic situations. 

This paper is currently under second round review at Auditing: a journal of practice and theory

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Rhiannon Pugh, Misum, CIRCLE, Lund University, House of Innovation SSE

Maribel GuerreroArizona State University, School of Public Affairs (SPA), Global Center for Technology Transfer

Research focus

In this project, the authors wanted to extend their previous work into the role of universities in regional economic development to update it for the Covid era, and try to capture some of the major shifts occurring in how universities are working, as and when this was actually happening. They were interested in how the university relates externally to it’s region, and specifically how it is helping the region to both survive the crises unfolding due to Covid-19 and to also establish a more sustainable mode of regional economic development going forwards out of the crisis. The researchers were also interested in how the university has changed “internally” in terms of how university employees are working on research, teaching, and engagement activities during the Covid 19 crisis.

A qualitative approach to addressing these broad interests was taken, conducting approximately 40 in-depth and semi-structured interviews with university employees working around the world in different countries and institutions. Focus was placed on colleagues working in management related topics, partly due to the narrow scope of the data collection, and because the researchers wanted to interview those researching, teaching, and engaging via third mission activities with sustainable regional development agendas. 

Findings

The project funding was used to employ a research assistant to help with data collection, and as such a huge amount of qualitative data collected from university employees around the world stretching from Africa to India, to Europe and North and South America. The researchers noted that they have only really scratched the surface of this amazing qualitative data resource, and so far have published one paper in a well regarded journal, about the shifts we saw taking place: 

Guerrero, M., & Pugh, R. (2022). Entrepreneurial universities’ metamorphosis: Encountering technological and emotional disruptions in the COVID-19 ERA. Technovation, 118, 102584. 

Due to the sheer scope of the data, the authors can forsee at least two more papers being published from this work, and are currently working on analysing the data. One research paper will discuss the changes in how universities worked with their regional partners (from business and government) during this period, and the other will explore how members of the university innovated during the Covid period through shifting to digital and new ways of working, and to what extend those temporal shifts have spurred longer term changes in the way universities work.  

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Enrico Fontana, Misum, Senior Lecturer, Cranfield School of Management

Sanne FrandsenAssociate Professor, Lund University

Mette Morsing, Misum, Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and Professor of Business Sustainability, Oxford University. 

Research focus

The authors believe that transgender women remain highly stigmatized, not least in countries of the Global South. Entrepreneurship could be a solution to empower them. They are interested in understanding how trans women advance their business through practices of body work (e.g., the fashioning of the flesh and aesthetic appearance to overcome challenges and advance in professional settings) and how body work could possibly enable or constrain their emancipation, in line with their definition of emancipation. Data was collected through multiple sources for this project (e.g., 50 interviews, 5 focus groups, more than 70 hours of shadowing, and 25 drawings) between 2019 and 2022 in Bangladesh, in-person and online. Initially, the researchers started a project that was titled: Understanding the influence of Covid-19 on transwomen (Hijra) entrepreneurs in Bangladesh: Work challenges and opportunities. We have now a paper that we are reframing titled: Entrepreneurship as emancipation? The body work and endeavours of the hijra ‘third gender’ entrepreneurs. This was accepted at several conferences in 2023, e.g. AOM in Boston, Business and Society in Bath and EGOS in Sardinia. They have been working with Bandhu social welfare society in this project.

Findings

The researchers note that the current challenges are mostly at the level of the paper. They have a lot of data and could adopt multiple angles as part of the process of theorizing. They hope that the upcoming conferences will help shed light on which theoretical angle is most suitable. 

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Raj M. Desai, Georgetown University 

Anders Olofsgård, Misum, Associate Professor, SITE, SSE 

Research focus

The purpose of this research project was to evaluate the extent to which a long-running institutional development program run by an Indian grassroots NGO named Seva Mandir (external partner) had made participating villages in Udaipur district in Rajasthan more resilient against the economic and health shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a previous study done before the pandemic the researchers conducted a broad impact evaluation of this program and found positive impact in the areas of governance, social welfare, public goods provision and to a more limited extent social capital. In a time of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and the stress on village life and on families that this means, it was hypothesized that the effective delivery of public goods and services can help smooth consumption. Additionally, the quality of local governance and individual’s access and representation in decision-making can also shape the capacity of villages to manage and avoid conflicts and to engender mutual trust and cooperation. Finally, the quality of local governance can facilitate transparency, communication, and information flows.  

To evaluate the impact of the program the researchers hired and trained a team of field enumerators who in late April 2022 set out to conduct interviews. The sample was set to 200 villages across two blocks of Udaipur district, Rajasthan, 100 of which were Seva Mandir villages (the treatment sample) and 100 of which were comparable non-Seva Mandir villages. In these villages 10 households were interviewed following a geographical pattern to avoid selection of particular households. Providing a total sample of 2 000 household surveys. To identify the causal impact of the intervention the researchers take advantage of the historical pattern of Seva Mandir expansion. The organization started out creating adult education centres (AECs) as commissioned by the Indian government in the 1960’s in a restricted number of villages. After that the organization in an organic fashion driven by demand and available resources over time expanded its activities to neighbouring villages and broadening its scope beyond adult education. This form of gradual expansion offers us an opportunity to use geographical distance to the initial AEC villages as instruments for Seva Mandir presence.  

Findings

They found no strong and consistent differential impact on physical health and livelihoods, but they did find positive impact on mental health/anxiety/fears, on food security, and in some areas of female well-being. For instance, the found that households in treatment villages are significantly less likely to respond that fear of COVID has “considerably or extremely” affected their life. They were also less fearful of getting tested, and less fearful of revealing a positive result if tested. The researchers also found that women in treatment villages were less likely to have suffered from intimate partner violence, or other forms of conflict, during the pandemic. In terms of mechanisms, little evidence of differences in terms of information or knowledge about the disease, access to external support, or preventative behaviour was found. Differences though in terms of participation in groups and activities engaged in reducing the consequences of the pandemic, and higher levels of trust and cooperation within treatment villages were found. The researchers tentatively conclude that the existence of these participatory village institutions has had a positive impact on Covid-19 resilience in some areas, and that it has operated most clearly through more household level engagement in activities meant to reduce village and household level risk from the negative impact of the pandemic.