Category Archives: Press Release

What is the future of reservists in the Armed Forces?

The ESRC is pleased to announce that £1.35 million has been awarded to four universities to undertake innovative research projects to help inform some of the pressing issues facing the armed forces in the process of integrating regular and reserve components into a ‘Whole Force’ structure.

1 August 2014

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is pleased to announce that £1.35 million has been awarded to four universities – Edinburgh, Exeter, Lancaster and Newcastle – to undertake innovative research projects to help inform some of the pressing issues facing the armed forces in the process of integrating regular and reserve components into a ‘Whole Force’ structure.

The research is being undertaken in collaboration with the British Army and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and will help to identify, explain and understand the cultural, social and economic issues that impact on both regular and reserve personnel and to identify additional external factors which may have an influence on the successful integration.

Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the ESRC, welcomed the new investments, saying: “These innovative research projects will address a variety of important issues critical for the success of future reservists in the armed forces. Many of the issues are not unique to the military and have wider implications across society for families where one member is absent for long periods due to professional duties.”

Major General Kevin Abraham, Director General of Army Reform, which commissioned the work said: “This partnered research project is an important piece of work that will contribute towards the shaping of decisions and policy affecting the Reserves for years to come.”

The four successful investments are:

  • Keeping enough in reserve: the employment of hybrid citizen-soldiers and the future reserves 2020 programme
    Based at Newcastle University, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, led by Professor Rachel Woodward
    The research will focus on the consequences of the reservist policy for the relationship between the armed forces and their host society; what it means to be both a soldier and a civilian in citizenship and identity terms; how employers both view and respond to the Future Reserves 2020 programme; and ultimately, the likelihood that such a transformation will succeed.
  • Negotiating civilian and military lives: reserves, family and work
    Based at the University of Edinburgh, led by Professor Sarah Cunningham-Burley
    The research will involve a multi-methods study of the experiences of reserves, their families, their civilian employers and work colleagues, to better understand how part-time military service impacts upon families and relationships over time and how the intersecting domains of military service, families and civilian work are negotiated. The insights gained from detailed analysis of everyday experience will enrich and inform policy and practice by identifying what constitutes successful integration and appropriate support.
  • Sustaining future reserves 2020: assessing organizational commitment in the reserves
    Based at University of Exeter, led by Dr Sergio Catignani
    This project will consider factors that shape and influence the commitment of volunteer reservists to serving in the British Army Volunteer Reserves and what issues might motivate them to continue serving or restrict them from doing so. It pays particular attention to the influence of family life and the pressures of civilian employment on the decisions that reservists make about their commitment to serving and intentions to remain in the Reserves, because the Army is becoming increasingly reliant on reservists at a time when changes to employment patterns and family life may also be placing greater pressure on reservists.
  • The role of army reservists: an analysis of their experiences and the attitudes and perceptions of civilian employers, regulars and significant others
    Based at Lancaster University, led by Dr Sabir Giga
    This study aims to explore the experiences of British Army reservists. It includes an analysis of their positive and negative interactions in regard to army employment, civilian employment and home lives, as well as the attitudes and perceptions of their civilian employers, regulars and significant others. This study will engage with reservists as well as their families, employers and regular service colleagues in order to explore the issues critical for their successful recruitment and deployment.

In addition to the four projects above, a Research Integrator team within the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships based at the University of Edinburgh has been appointed to enhance the potential economic and societal impact of the initiative, engage in knowledge exchange activities and build synergies across the programme. This team will be led by Zoe Morrison of the University of Aberdeen.

The research projects will also have a wider remit, as some of the issues to be addressed are not unique to the Armed Forces it is hoped that the outcomes will help address similar circumstances outside of the military, for example understanding the implications for families where one member may be absent for a long period of time due to professional duties.

The projects will start from September 2014 and the research will be conducted over the next three years.

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Notes for editors

  1. A total budget of £1.35 million has been made available over three years.
  2. All applications underwent an independent assessment process of peer review led by the ESRC before being awarded their grants.
  3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funds research into the big social and economic questions facing us today. We also develop and train the UK’s future social scientists. Our research informs public policies and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. Most importantly, it makes a real difference to all our lives. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.
  4. Established in 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities and regularly ranks among the top 50 universities in the world.  The Centre for Research on Families and Relationships was established in 2001 as a consortium research centre based at the University of Edinburgh, with partners at the Universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, Highlands & Islands and Stirling.
  5. The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university and in the top one percent of institutions globally. It combines world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction. Exeter has over 18,000 students and is ranked eighth in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide league table, tenth in The Complete University Guide and twelfth in the Guardian University Guide 2014. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 90 per cent of the University’s research was rated as being at internationally recognised levels and 16 of its 31 subjects are ranked in the top 10, with 27 subjects ranked in the top 20. Exeter was The Sunday Times University of the Year 2012-13. The University has invested strategically to deliver more than £350 million worth of new facilities across its campuses in the last few years; including landmark new student services centres – the Forum in Exeter and The Exchange on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, together with world-class new facilities for Biosciences, the Business School and the Environment and Sustainability Institute. There are plans for another £330 million of investment between now and 2016.
  6. Lancaster University is ranked among the top 15 universities in the UK and the top 150 in the world. It is the highest ranked University in the North West of England in the Guardian, Times/Sunday Times and Complete University Guide. It is also top for employability and student satisfaction in its region. More than 90 per cent of Lancaster’s research is judged to be internationally excellent and we have many subject areas which are ranked amongst the best in national and international league tables. The University has a strong focus on working with business and has helped create more than 4,000 new jobs.
  7. Newcastle University is a Russell Group University. We rank in the top 20 of UK universities in The Sunday Times 2013 University Guide and in the 2015 Complete University Guide. Amongst our peers Newcastle is: fifth in the UK for graduates into jobs (HESA 2011-12), tenth in the UK for student satisfaction, Ranked eighth in the UK for Medical research power, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) top 20 strategic partner, 95 per cent of our students are in a job or further training within six months of graduating. We have a world-class reputation for research excellence and are spearheading three major societal challenges that have a significant impact on global society. These themes are: Ageing, Sustainability, and Social Renewal. Newcastle University is the first UK university to establish a fully owned international branch campus for medicine at its NUMed Campus in Malaysia which opened in 2011. We get a 92 per cent satisfaction rating from our international students (ISB 2013).