About us

A wide shot of London city skyline against a blue sky

The Applied Institute for Research in Economics (AIRE) fosters and develops excellent disciplinary and interdisciplinary research in economics that is characteristically policy-relevant, realistic and pluralistic. AIRE is at the forefront of attempts to broaden, deepen, and make increasingly pluralistic, economics research and teaching.

Through its pluralistic and yet rigorous ethos, AIRE achieves excellent publications, a high level and varied sources of grant income, depth and breadth of impact, and excellence in teaching and training.

AIRE research has a range of characteristics, reflecting its pluralistic ethos:

  • Taking multiple perspectives in economics
  • Operating at multiple scales eg cities, regions, nations, internationally
  • Using multiple methods: quantitative (applied econometrics, survey methods); qualitative (eg semi-structured interviews, ethnographic methods); and mixed (eg realist)
  • Engaging multiple disciplines eg economics, environment, engineering, sociology, geography, international business, history etc
  • Recognising importance of institutions, history, and political economy as well as individuals
  • Addressing pedagogical aspects and research-led teaching

Research themes and structure

AIRE is organised around five research themes that have been developed within the Economics Division of the Business School. Groups for each theme meet on a monthly basis, and include all levels of experience from Postgraduate Researcher to Professor. Theme leaders meet regularly with the AIRE Co-Directors to ensure two-way communication and strategy development. The theme titles are:

  • The macro economy and macroeconomic policy 
  • Work, labour and organisation
  • Financialisation and globalisation
  • Development and wellbeing
  • Environment, infrastructure, innovation and the circular economy

Collaborative contribution

Though based in the Economics Division, AIRE is highly collaborative and contributes to the Faculty, University and wider governmental and societal goals of bringing together perspectives and disciplines to address grand societal and global challenges. AIRE members are involved in cross-faculty University initiatives (such as the Cities theme, LSSI, FinTech, Centre for Global DevelopmentRealism Leeds, and Waste Network) as well as cross-divisional research within Leeds University Business School.

Since 2011 (the beginning of the large FESSUD project led by the division), members have led or been significant co-investigators in projects worth a total of around £20M external income, of which approximately £10M comes into the University and £3M to the Faculty of Business. The in-kind contributions from non-academic project partners is of high value. For example, there is £1.8M worth of in-kind contributions within the iBUILD project; these contributions facilitated the influencing of HM Treasury guidance on valuing infrastructure provision. 


The pluralistic ethos of AIRE is reflected in the breadth and depth of excellence in publications, across leading journals such as the Economic Journal, Journal of International Economics, Review of Economics and Statistics, British Journal of Industrial Relations, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organisation, Social Choice and Welfare, Economic History Review, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Cambridge Journal of Economics, Economics Letters, History of Political Economy, Journal of Economic Methodology, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Work Employment and Society, Journal of Operations Research, Journal of Productivity Analysis, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), Ecological Economics, New Political Economy, Environment and Planning A, Journal of Cleaner Production,  World Development, Review of Income and Wealth, Sociology, Journal of Business Ethics and MIS Quarterly.


We have a portfolio of more than £20m in recent and current grants for which our members are PI or Co-I, from diverse funders including ESRC, EU, EPSRC, NERC, ISCF, GCRF, BBSRC, national and local government, and stakeholders of many kinds. These generate approximately £10m for the University and £3m for the Faculty of Business. These grants include:

There are cumulative developments across several of these projects and they have increasingly large influence. For example, the ‘system of provision’ approach developed in FESSUD and iBUILD is central to the £1m ‘Living Well Within Limits’ Leverhulme project run in the Faculty of Environment.


We have several impact cases in preparation for REF 2021. More broadly our excellence and real-world ethos commit us to seek impact of all kinds, across all levels and scales. Many of our projects have dedicated resources for impact activity.

In addition to the extensive impact that is reported in our project web pages (eg FESSUD Mapping the Future of Finance workshopValuing Infrastructure conference) we are committed to the vision of the University as an anchor institution for the region as well as a resource for the national government. We work with the LGA and HEFCE and all relevant public and private stakeholders to realise this vision.