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Sarah Forbes
Senior Lecturer



Dr. Sarah Forbes is an academic researcher at the University of York School for Business and Society with a keen interest in research with impact. Sarah is a member of the Work Inclusivity Research Centre and an Associate of the Centre for Responsible Business who actively works with organisations and policymakers to create positive change. Sarah’s research focuses on encouraging voluntary behavioural change and her methodology research has received recognition with prizes awarded by Harvard University and the Academy of Marketing. She has also supplied comment and/or had her research featured in, for example, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Telegraph, New Statesman, Financial Times, BBC, Los Angeles Times, Sydney Morning Herald and the Harvard Business Review.

Given Sarah’s cross-disciplinary research profile and experience in methodology and policy research, she is an invited member of Government Equalities Office Work and Gender Equality (WAGE) Research Programme and is a member of the Academic Steering Committee for the third sector organisation Working Families. In addition to academic articles, Sarah’s research has led to a broad variety of engagement work with Government Departments, MP's, Third Sector Organisations, Public Sector organisations and private companies. Her engagement activities have included running policy workshops in Westminster, contributing to HR conferences and policy advisory events for the private
sector and regularly providing specialist advice and support to organisations and government departments. For example, Sarah acted as special academic advisor for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to support the update of the revised Maternity and Paternity Rights Survey and the policy review of Shared Parental Leave.



At the University of York Sarah teaches ‘Contemporary Consumer Behaviour’ and 'Research in Marketing' and has had extensive experience in teaching research methods at both the undergraduate and Masters level.

Sarah strives for excellence in the implementation of research-led teaching and both undergraduate and Masters-level teaching. Additionally, Sarah has vast experience in module and programme development. Her experience in this area has benefited other institutions where she also external examines.



Sarah’s research is multidisciplinary and she engages in multi-method research.

As a researcher Sarah strives to undertake research that is both engaged and able to make a positive change in society. Her research interests and publications cover two key themes, namely family friendly policies and methodology.

Sarah’s first research theme involves the advancement of knowledge and practice in the area of family friendly policies. As a Co-Director of the Equal Parenting Project, Sarah’s research is nationally recognised for advancing knowledge around the subject of parental leave and flexible working. She has also completed research on behalf of the Government Equalities Office for a report titled ‘What motivates employers to improve their Shared Parental Leave and pay offers?’ which relied on her extensive connections across industries, as well as published research in, for example, Policy Studies and Gender and Society. Consequently, the Policy Studies publication was recognised by the Financial Times as being one of the Top 100 research publications worldwide with societal impact in 2020.

Her contribution to methodology research is specifically in the area of measurement and is reflected by her publications being recognised as world leading as evidenced by awards. For example, her amusing 2014 publication ‘The brand personality of rocks: A critical evaluation of a brand personality scale’ in Marketing Theory used reductio ad absurdum to demonstrate the issues surrounding the brand personality scale. Specifically, her research highlighted that the inputs into the scale were in fact the by- product of the research methodology developed by the researcher and raised concerns about the survey scale itself. The paper has since been recognised for its use of humour to enlighten and educate by Harvard University who awarded it (out of over 3000 nominations) the 2016 Ig Nobel prize for Economics which further raised the profile of the research amongst practitioners to highlight the importance of avoiding construct creation. A further paper titled ‘Construct Creation from Research Questions’ in the European Journal of Marketing (EJM) published late 2020 debated the conditions that enable construct creation, which should be avoided under most circumstances, to occur. The EJM paper had also been recognised for its contribution by being awarded Best in Track at the Academy of Marketing Conference in 2018.


Full publications list

Chung, H., Seo, H., Birkett, H. &; Forbes, S. (2022). Working from Home and the Division of Childcare and Housework among Dual-Earner Parents during the Pandemic in the UK. Merits 2(4),270-292

Wells, V., Forbes, S., Powell, M. &; O’Reilly, D. (2022) Segmentation, Environmental Identity and Stages of Change: An application to a wildlife trust. Business Strategy and the Environment, 31(3), 934-949. (ABS 3*; internally reviewed 3*; impact factor 10.302)

Chung, H., Birkett, H., Forbes, S. &; Seo, H. (2021). Covid-19, Flexible Working, and Implications for Gender Equality in the United Kingdom. Gender and Society, 35(2), 218–232. (ABS 3*;internally reviewed 3*; two impact factor 2.742)

Forbes, S., Birkett, H., &; Smith, P. (2021). What motivates employers to improve their Shared Parental Leave and pay offers? 

2934/What_motivates_employers_to_improve_their_Shared_Parental_Leave_and_pay_offers.pdf Retrieved from Government Equalities Office (Cabinet Office), London, UK (internally reviewed 3*)

Forbes, S., &; Avis, M. (2020). Construct Creation from Research Questions. European Journal of Marketing. 54(8), 1817-1838. (ABS 3*; internally reviewed 3*; 2019 impact factor 2.135)

Birkett, H., &; Forbes, S. (2019). Where’s Dad? Exploring the low take-up of inclusive parenting policies in the UK. Policy Studies. 40(2), 205-224. (ABS 2*; internally reviewed 3*; 2019 impact factor 1.2)

Robertson, K., Forbes, S., &; Thyne, M. (2017). Perpetration of alcohol-related aggression by male and female college students: An examination of overt and relational aggression. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 35(5-6), 1454-1475. (two year impact factor 3.573)

Avis, M., Forbes, S., &; Ferguson, S. (2014). The brand personality of rocks: A critical evaluation of a brand personality scale. Marketing Theory, 14(4), 451-475. (ABS 3*; internally reviewed 3*; two year impact factor 2.815)

Lawson, R., Forbes, S., &; Williams, J. (2011). Patterns of Trust in Sources of Health Information. New Zealand Medical Journal. 124(1328); 98-105. (impact factor 0.97)

Robertson, K., &; Forbes, S. (2011). Maximum consumption: Heavy quantity drinking amongst university students. Australasian Marketing Journal. 19(3); 196-202. (impact factor 0.863)

Other notable reports:

Forbes, S., Birkett, H., Evans, L., & Chung, H. (2022). Flexible Working and the Future of Work: Managing Employees Since COVID-19. Retrieved from Equal Parenting Project, United Kingdom.

Birkett, H., Forbes, S., Evans, L., &; Chung, H. (2021). Managing employees during COVID-19: Flexible Working and the future of work (Phase Two). Retrieved from Flexible Working and the Future of Work (Equal Parenting Project), University of Birmingham

Forbes, S., Birkett, H., Evans, L., Chung, H., &; Whiteman, J. (2020). Managing employees during the COVID-19 pandemic: Flexible working and the future of work. Retrieved from Flexible Working and the Future of Work (Equal Parenting Project), University of Birmingham

Chung, H., Seo, H., Forbes, S., &; Birkett, H. (2020). Working from home during the COVID-19 lockdown: Changing preferences and the future of work. Retrieved from the Equal Parenting Project, University of Birmingham

Examples of research informed tools to support positive change:

Fathers in the workplace toolkit (a free toolkit to help organisations support fathers in with the use of a parenting passport, improved communication, parenting groups for fathers, improved accessibility of policies and better support for the return to work): Working Preferences Tool (a free tool to facilitate the discussion between the manager and employee about appropriate working arrangements, e.g., flexible working):


School for Business and Society
University of York
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