Importance of Research EHL

July 09, 2023 •

9 min reading

Why is research important for an educational institution?

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Research is typically separated into two different types: fundamental and applied research. While fundamental research aims to bring knowledge from a natural phenomenon and improve our understanding of it, applied research uses existing scientific knowledge to solve real-world problems or address other practical issues. But why are fundamental and applied research so important in our society? Why is it critical for an educational institution to invest its resources in research and development? How does this apply to the hospitality industry?

In today’s world, research is becoming increasingly important. Indeed, the total global spending on research & development (R&D) has increased steadily over the past 25 years and reached USD 2.34 trillion in 2021, according to Statista.i In the European context, Horizon Europe is considered the key funding program for research and innovation, with an overall budget of EUR 95.5 billion (2021-2027). But why is so much investment poured into research?

The strong impact of research in today's world

Research impact is defined by the Research Excellence Framework as having “an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment, or quality of life, beyond academia”.ii As a result, educational institutions, with both fundamental and applied research, have a major role to play and can positively contribute to those aspects. In this article, we aim to show in 3 key reasons why it is important for educational institutions to contribute to research. 


1. The role educational institutions play in addressing global problems and fostering innovation via research

“Science lies at the heart of solutions to important problems” and management scholars have a distinctive advantage in tackling significant societal issues. They can confront key obstacles related to individuals, behaviors, organizations, and institutions that frequently arise when addressing society-wide challenges. By overcoming these obstacles, they can help create a more inclusive society.iii According to a recent study, 36% of researchers believe that solving political, social, economic or environmental problems is one of their most important roles. The European Council Resolution describes European universities as being at the forefront of “Europe’s drive to create a knowledge-based society and economy and improve its competitiveness”.iv 

As a result, educational institutions can make a significant contribution to the economy and society through research, more specifically on companies, cultural and social-health institutions, the authorities and civil society. For example, in 2020, the collaborative efforts of Oxford University and AstraZeneca resulted in the successful development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine, offering widespread protection against the global pandemic. Similarly, researchers at University College London made significant strides in breast cancer treatment, showcasing a pioneering therapy that proved to be as effective as traditional approaches.

Addressing complex global challenges requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses effective policymaking. Consequently, it becomes imperative for policy changes to be grounded in rigorous fundamental research, as emphasized by Aurélie Boulos, Head of Faculty Affairs at EHL Hospitality Business School.


Also, the impact of university-industry links on innovation has been studied by scholars in various fields such as management, economics, sociology, science, and technologyv and 46% of researchers believe that their main role in society involves “enabling innovation”.  As a result, educational institutions play an important role in technological, cultural and societal innovations and value creation. As mentioned at the 2023 World Economic Forum in Davos: “Fundamental scientific research has laid the foundations for many of today’s most important innovations”, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA or the invention of the internet.

It is also important to develop new knowledge that is both of high quality and reliable in order to foster the innovation of products and services that meet existing The European Innovation Council (EIC) supports start-ups, SMEs and research teams in creating innovation, and has a budget of EUR 10.6 billion (2021-2027) for innovation, including European innovation ecosystems. In some cases, research can have a broad impact if it causes a shift in thinking that extends beyond its original scope and is applied to new organizations and institutions. One salient example is the advent of the sharing economy, which has become ubiquitous around the globe in just a few years.vii

2. Educational institutions have an impact on knowledge sharing and dissemination via scientific partnerships

Developing cross-collaborations between universities and industries, and across different fields of expertise, is important to create accurate knowledge and understanding of the world phenomena. Interestingly, 43% of researchers surveyed prefer to involve people outside of their specific field in order to better shape their research. This is therefore not surprising to see that, according to statistics from Horizon 2020, more than 1.5 million research collaborations have been created from more than 150 countries. The Covid-19 pandemic has indeed proven that “science has become a team activity”, and that a strong partnership will only bring better solutions to the current world. Indeed, the complexity of this crisis has encouraged the collaboration of molecular biologists, epidemiologists, clinicians, social scientists, engineers, material scientists, among others.

Creating collaborations is one important thing, sharing new knowledge to the public is another, as a majority (63%) of researchers believe they contribute to “educating others”. Indeed, 57% of Americans are more likely to believe in research if the data is publicly available. The pandemic also had an impact on knowledge sharing, with 78% of researchers surveyed agreeing that the pandemic increased the importance of science bodies and the need for researchers to explain research findings to the public.

EHL Research  Collaborate with our Researchers  Opportunities for collaborative research range from dedicated applied research  projects by selected faculty members to sponsorship of a long-term research  institute at EHL.  Contact us

3. Research contributes to the growth and success of higher education institutions

While the impact of educational institutions’ research on society has been widely explored, it is worth remembering that research also has a strong impact on the institutions themselves. First, research has an impact on teaching that helps “the training of responsible and autonomous professionals, who take a reflective look at their practice and have acquired the ability to constantly develop their skills”. However, the benefits are not only for the teachers but also for the students. Students who engage in research tend to have higher critical thinking and problem-solving skills.viii

Also, research plays a significant role in accreditations as well as the competitiveness of the university, which ultimately enables it to attract top talent in terms of both students and faculty. It has been shown that research productivity is positively correlated with institutional ranking and reputation.ix

The focus is now on finding ways to evaluate and compare the quality and effectiveness of university teaching, learning, and research. Over the past few years, there has been a gradual increase in techniques for assessing higher education activities and results, especially when it comes to university-based research. For example, university rankings have become ubiquitous across the globe.x However, measuring research impact needs to go beyond numbers and understand its overall impact on society. As the world becomes more interconnected, there will be more and more global evaluations of research quality and performance.xi


As a result, a multidimensional system combining indicators and expert knowledge is needed. In order to have a better assessment of universities’ research, combining quantitative data with qualitative information, recognizing disciplinary differences, assessing impact and benefits, and integrating self-evaluation seem to be the key.xii

Collaborations, communication and funding help educational institutions develop research, even in the hospitality industry

Universities play a multifaceted role beyond education, as exemplified earlier. It is crucial for these educational institutions to prioritize research investment, given its profound positive impact on global society. Research can continue to be developed and enhanced through partnerships and collaborations, along with good communication and funding mechanisms. Horizon Europe supports, through the European Research Council (ERC), frontier research, fellowships, doctoral networks, training, and exchanges for researchers. It also develops research infrastructure, with an overall investment budget of EUR 25 billion. At the Swiss level, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) in 2022 has approved 2,732 new grants with a total of CHF 1.08 billion for researchers in all research institutions.

The hospitality industry also relies on partnerships with the universities for its development. Indeed, the research developed in educational institutions enables “shedding new light on various fields such as management, human behavior, finance, planning, marketing and many more”, which are very relevant to the hospitality industry, particularly in the areas of technology and sustainability. Research in this field is crucial because consumer demand and market conditions are fluctuating all the time, which has a direct impact on the industry. As hospitality is a sector that is fluctuating and—by nature—highly international, research also enables industry players and the general public to have a better understanding of various issues when a crisis erupts, such as the one we faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.xiii By critically evaluating research as a significant scientific endeavor, universities can develop accessible and credible methodologies, addressing current challenges and providing practical solutions. This emphasis on research not only contributes to economic development, but also enhances practices and services in the hospitality sector.xiv

At EHL Hospitality Business School, many fundamental and applied research partnerships are possible within the broad industry of hospitality and tourism. Should you be interested in a potential collaboration in the future, you can use the contact form directly available on the EHL Hospitality Business School research website.


  2. Ozanne, J. L., Davis, B., Murray, J. B., Grier, S., Benmecheddal, A., Downey, H., & Veer, E. (2017). Assessing the societal impact of research: The relational engagement approach. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 36(1), 1-14.
  3. George, G., Howard-Grenville, J., Joshi, A., & Tihanyi, L. (2016). Understanding and tackling societal grand challenges through management research. Academy of management journal, 59(6), 1880-1895.
  4. Hazelkorn, E. (2010). Assessing Europe’s university-based research. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
  5. Perkmann, M., & Walsh, K. (2007). University–industry relationships and open innovation: Towards a research agenda. International journal of management reviews, 9(4), 259-280.
  6. Ozanne, J. L., Davis, B., Murray, J. B., Grier, S., Benmecheddal, A., Downey, H., & Veer, E. (2017). Assessing the societal impact of research: The relational engagement approach. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 36(1), 1-14.
  7. ibid.
  8. Yuan, R., Yang, M., & Stapleton, P. (2020). Enhancing undergraduates’ critical thinking through research engagement: A practitioner research approach. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 38(July), 100737.
  9. Porter, S. R., & Toutkoushian, R. K. (2006). Institutional research productivity and the connection to average student quality and overall reputation. Economics of Education Review, 25(6), 605–617.
  10. Hazelkorn, E. (2010). Assessing Europe’s university-based research. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
  11. ibid.
  12. ibid.
  13. Baum, T., & Hai, N. T. T. (2020). Hospitality, tourism, human rights and the impact of COVID-19. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 32(7), 2397-2407.
Written by

Research Assistant at EHL Hospitality Business School

“I know most of the knowledge fundamental researchers create may not have an immediate impact on policymaking or practical applications, but the untapped potential of such knowledge is immense, and integrating fundamental research into the policymaking process can unlock novel insights and drive innovation in unforeseen ways.”
Aurélie Boulos, Head of Faculty Affairs at EHL Hospitality Business School
“The current rankings, based on bibliometrics or citations, tend to overlook the crucial aspect of research’s impact on society, innovation, and institutions. Funding and research partnerships are determined by these rankings. This does not give much room for acknowledging how research can truly make a difference in our society. Also, in universities, the impact of researchers on societal or industrial issues should also be considered further, when possible, in their evaluation alongside their publications and the funds they raised.”
Aurélie Boulos, Head of Faculty Affairs at EHL Hospitality Business School