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Networked Innovation in the Health Sector (NIHS): Comparative Evaluation of the Role of Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC)

This evaluative research project about the UK’s CLAHRC initiative is a study funded by the Service Delivery Organisation (SDO) of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) [SDO project 09/1809/1075]. It has a lead time of 36 months, and commenced in January 2010. It is being conducted by a team based in the UK and USA:-

  •  IKON (Innovation, Knowledge & Organisational Networks) Research Unit at Warwick Business School, University of Warwick
  • Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick
  • Bentley University in Boston, USA
Project Summary

The aim of this comparative evaluation is to highlight the development of the CLAHRCs’ role in developing capabilities that are supportive of innovation and knowledge translation between the ‘producers’ and ‘users’ of research evidence. Nine CLAHRCs were co-funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) to develop collaborative partnerships between a university and the surrounding NHS organisations, focused on developing new and better approaches to healthcare services through the conduct and application of applied health research. These collaborations are a response to the “second gap in translation” in which Sir David Cooksey’s ‘Review of Health Research’, identified difficulties with translating research findings into NHS practice.

Our study also includes a comparison of the activities of UK CLAHRCs with equivalent bodies in the Canada and the USA, thus enabling lessons to be learned from international experience. This project seeks to evaluate the CLAHRCs initiative through the lens of ‘networked innovation’. This perspective reflects the development of new collaborative, inter-organisational approaches to innovation.

We are working with three CLAHRCs in the UK:

  • Birmingham & Black Country CLAHRC
  • Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire & Lincolnshire CLAHRC
  • South Yorkshire CLAHRC

We are also working with equivalent bodies in Canada and the USA including:

  • Boston University ACTION NetworK
  • Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO)
  • St Mary’s Montreal

For further details about this study, please feel free to download our project information sheet (see the panel on the right), or visit our 'Project Update' pages.


This study uses a multi-method approach to collect data from members of the CLAHRC and international initiatives. We are using the following methods:

  • Qualitative study and semi-structured interviews: This focuses on the management of the initiatives, and how project teams are able to conduct their work programmes within the collaborative environment.
  • Social Network Mapping: This allows us to map the social networks of participants through identifying who are the most important people in supporting their work.
  • Cognitive mapping exercises: This data helps to highlight what are the most important features and attributes of our initiatives in helping them to be successful.

Please follow the links to learn more about how the different methods used have supported the work in our study.

  • Insight from our qualitative study: ‘Bridging’ and ‘blurring’ types of boundary spanning mechanisms
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Cognitive Mapping

Engagement Activities

We have worked closely with the CLAHRCs and international comparators to use the data collected to help these initiatives with their formative development through reflecting on the types of capabilities each of these cases is developing. In addition to producing tailored presentations and briefing reports for our case-sites, we are also contributing to the wider-learning experience about collaborative translational work in both UK and international contexts.

For further details about the activities we are engaging in, including events that our study team are involved with, and outputs that we are generating, please go to our ‘News & Events’ section.

Project Outputs

The outputs from the project can be found on the NIHR website here.



Project Team

Professor Harry Scarbrough (Warwick Business School) Principal Investigator

Professor Sue Newell (Warwick Business School & Bentley University, USA) Co-Investigator(PDF Document)

Professor Jacky Swan (Warwick Business School) Co-Investigator

Professor John Powell (Warwick Medical School) Co-Investigator

Dr Sarah Evans (Warwick Business School) Research Fellow

Dr Marco Marabelli (Warwick Business School & Bentley University, USA) Research Fellow

Dr Daniela D'Andreta (Warwick Business School) Research Fellow

Project Information Sheet (PDF Document)