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Sector, Economic Equality, and Responsible Finance Studies

The Sector, Economic Equality, and Responsible Finance Studies cluster was formally established in May 2016, following the arrival of Professor Glauco De Vita, a renowned applied economist.

Focus of our research

The Sector, Economic Equality, and Responsible Finance Studies cluster consists of a highly transdisciplinary group, with a strong social science foundation, undertaking innovative research at the intersection between international economics, finance and sectoral studies.

The cluster’s three main areas of focus revolve around the study of economic, financial and social phenomena and how these, alongside the role of policy, impact on economies, industries, individuals, communities and societies at large. This includes the examination of wide-ranging issues, such as economic growth and social development, FDI, exchange rates, industry performance, productivity, efficiency, financial inclusion, responsible lending and borrowing, equality and fairness. Several levels of analysis characterise this work, from international trends to individual behaviours. A major, but not exclusive, lens through which many of the above phenomena are examined is sector specific, including the banking, personal community finance, tourism and hospitality, sport, and automotive sectors.

Core cluster themes

  • Macroeconomics and international finance
  • Personal and community finance
  • Sector studies
  • The cluster’s macroeconomics and international finance stream of research has produced influential contributions in peer-reviewed journals of very high repute on theoretically charged and policy relevant debates. These include the public debt– economic growth nexus, and the role of exchange rates on economic variables ranging from growth and oil price to tourism and FDI flows. FDI flows are also investigated in the context of the trends in inward/outward FDI in/by developing and emerging economies (including China) and their link to institutional differences and intellectual property rights alongside aspects related to the determination and impacts of financial liberalisation, financial openness, financial crises and the association of these macro phenomena to sectoral issues such as bank productivity and efficiency.

    A second stream of research concerns personal and community finance. This focuses on responsible lending and borrowing, subprime credit markets and payday loans, financial capability (saving and access to finance), long-term financial planning (including financial well-being in retirement), consumer engagement and trust in financial services, and financial inclusion (including how financial products and services can be fairer for consumers and enterprises). This work has had considerable impact on the policies and practices of national and community organisations working to reduce financial vulnerability as well as on the public. The area of financial services is also explored at the retail banking level from a service marketing perspective, with a critical emphasis on the concepts of fairness, trustworthiness and trust. Demonstrating further strength and impact, the commercialisation of this stream of work is embodied in a spin-off innovative platform (, now part of the Exasoft PLC Group). This is aimed at improving financial resilience by creating awareness of the Credit Unions that provide affordable finance for those who may otherwise rely on expensive doorstep or payday lenders.

    The third research stream, sector studies, reflects work on economic and sociological impacts relating to the sport, tourism and hospitality, and automotive sectors. Sociological and historical aspects of paralympic and disability sport are examined mostly with a focus on the legacy of the Paralympic Games and the role of sport in the lives of disabled people. The tourism and hospitality industry serves as another rich sectoral context in which to explore the role of a variety of economic and social variables, relationships and theoretical constructs. These include exchange rates, the link between tourism specialisation, absorptive capacity and growth, the association between value co-creation and the willingness to engage in customer citizenship behaviour, and the nature of liminality as a critical conceptual tool to better understand tourist experiences. The quality of this research stream and the group’s expertise has been recognised by publication of this work in all the top-rated field journals in the ABS sector studies JQL. Members of the group have been invited as keynote speakers at prestigious international conferences.

    Finally, as part of our intrinsically interdisciplinary, cross-cluster approach to scholarly inquiry, the cluster’s researchers have, in conjunction with several faculty members, made significant and highly impactful contributions to the study of the transitions characterising the automotive sector. This research stream, which mostly tackles the challenges in delivering a low emission strategy and fostering consumer and business adoption of electric vehicles, has provided insights and policy solutions that extend to transport, local infrastructure and smart cities.

Key researchers

This cluster is led by Professor Glauco De Vita and Dr Harjit Sekhon, and is supported by a diverse team of researchers and PhD candidates.

Professor Glauco De Vita

Professor in Business Management

Cambridge University alumnus and former senior analyst for an American multinational, Glauco De Vita is a Professor of International Business Economics in the Centre for Business in Society (CBiS).

Glauco joined Coventry University in November 2015, from Oxford Brookes where over the years he held several key roles including Research Area Leader for Economics, Strategy and International Business, and Associate Dean Research and Knowledge Exchange. Glauco has over 60 publications in various areas of economics, international finance and business and management. Some journal high spots include: Economics Letters; Journal of International Money and Finance; Energy Economics; Journal of Financial Stability; Urban Studies; International Journal of Management Reviews; Journal of Small Business Management; Tourism Management; and Journal of Travel Research.

He has published extensively also in management education, where he has also earned an international reputation. He has a track record of successful bid writing, including as ESRC grant award holder (Principal Investigator), and considerable experience of successful supervision of master and doctoral students as well as PhD examining. He is a member of various editorial boards and a Fellow of The HE Academy (UK). He also served as a Member of the Advisory Panel to the UK Government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Dr Harjit Sekhon

Reader in Marketing

Since entering academia, after holding various marketing research and marketing posts in the UK financial services sector, Harjit continues to take a keen interest in developments in financial services. After holding a number of University leadership positions for more than a decade, he joined CBiS as a Reader. His particular areas of interest fall under the broad area of services management and/or marketing with an emphasis on topics such as trust, fairness, professionalism and excellence in financial services.

He has published more than 50 papers on the topic of marketing/ management. These papers have appeared in marketing journals of international and national repute, such as the European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Management, Journal of Services Marketing, Service Industries Journal, and Journal of Strategic Marketing, as well as conferences across the globe. As well as mainstream marketing journals, he has published in other journals such as Studies in Higher Education.

Harjit is Chair of the UK Academy of Marketing’s Services & CRM SIG and serves on the editorial board of a number of journals. Harjit has extensive experience of seeing a number of PhD students through to successful completion and has examined numerous PhDs in the UK and overseas.

PhD opportunities

The Sector, Economic and Financial Studies research cluster welcomes PhD applications aiming to develop an understanding of how alternative financial institutions - such as credit unions and community development finance institutions (CDFIs) - are shaping the responsible finance landscape in the UK. We are also interested in proposals that look into the attitudes towards financial services, particularly from a young person’s perspective, in order to increase engagement levels in pensions. Finally, we welcome applications that propose panel data econometric analyses of the impact of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on foreign direct investment (FDI).

Proposals for the following projects are welcome:

  • Intellectual Property Rights Protection: the impact on Foreign Direct Investment.  An econometric panel data analysis in developed and developing countries (Prof Glauco De Vita).
  • Risk Adoption in Financial Services: understanding consumers’ risk adoption in the financial services sector (Dr Harjit Sekhon).
  • Advocacy Behaviour: its role in financial services and the impact on long-term savings such as pensions (Dr Harjit Sekhon).
  • Responsible Finance: shaping the alternative economic landscape (Dr Lindsey Appleyard).

Self-funding or corporately sponsored PhD applications are always welcome. Some fees-only bursaries and full studentships might be available on a competitive basis.

For all enquiries in the first instance, please contact Professor Glauco De Vita, Dr Harjit Sekhon or Dr Lindsey Appleyard.

Researchers sat in the communal space in the Jaguar building

Sector, Economic Equality, and Responsible Finance Studies

Hear more from the researchers within this cluster.

We study how economic, financial and social phenomena – alongside the role of policy - impact on economies, industries, individuals and societies.

Professor Glauco De Vita, Cluster Co-Lead
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University of the year shortlisted
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