Details of previous grants held.

BAM – Hillards Supermarket

Project URL: The Hillards Archive

Funder: British Academy of Management, £4000

Project Title: Taking Over Hillards

Abstract: Founded in 1885 Hillards PLC was a major force in the UK supermarket retail sector with more than 100 stores at its peak in the 1980s. In 1987 the firm was subject to a £220 million hostile takeover from rival supermarket chain Tesco. Hillards resisted for months but the firm was eventually acquired. The Hillards brand then disappeared and like many successful firms taken over by a competitor, Hillards have largely been forgotten despite their importance to regional grocery retail for over a century. We have been given exclusive access to a large volume of corporate records by the last managing director of the firm, including a detailed account of the public floatation of the firm, and the takeover by Tesco. This is a unique, detailed archive of an important Northern retail company. Providing an opportunity to study the transition of a family firm into a public company, in a period when supermarkets were rapidly changing. This project will focus on the period in 1987 when Hillards was attempting to resist the takeover by Tesco.


Economic History Society – Inter-Firm Networks and Population Change in the British Banking and Mining Sectors

Funder: Economic History Society, ~£4200

Project Title: “Inter-Firm Networks and Population Change in the British Banking and Mining Sectors”

In recent years, there has been a growing amount of interest amongst economic and business historians in the role that inter-firm business networks have played in the growth and development of different industries and in different regions. Much of this work has been focused on uncovering the informal and familial networks that emerged within, and then subsequently affected the economic development of, different cities and districts during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (see, Cookson, 1997; Newton, 1996; Pearson and Richardson, 2001). On top of this, there has also been a considerable amount written about the various interpersonal relationships that affected the commercial development of specific industries (see, Carnevali, 1996; Godley and Ross, 1996; Wilson and Popp, 2003a), along with a certain amount of research on how far religious and ethnic ties and connections impacted upon business decision-making (see, Cookson, 2003; Maifreda, 1998).

Yet, despite the many valuable insights gleaned from these various different studies, there still remain a number of notable weaknesses in the current historical literature on inter-firm networks. In particular, too many of the studies in this area have used datasets that cover comparatively short, or insufficiently precise, time-spans. As Wilson and Popp (2003b) have previously noted, this is problematic in that it makes it that much harder to carry-out detailed longitudinal analysis or accurately assess how these relationships have changed over time. In addition, there has also often been a tendency in these sorts of studies to focus only on specific regions or localities, with the result being that it becomes harder to chart larger and more systemic trends and patterns.


  • Simon Mollan, Liverpool Management School, University of York.
  • Kevin Tennent, York Management School, University of York.
  • Philip Garnett, Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, University of Durham.
  • Matthew Hollow, Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, University of Durham.

Horsemeat Scandal and Big Social Data: Understanding Consumer Perceptions towards Food Fraud and Retailer and Food Standards Agency Responses

Funder: British Academy/Leverhulme, ~£10,000

Project Title: Horsemeat Scandal and Big Social Data: Understanding Consumer Perceptions towards Food Fraud and Retailer and Food Standards Agency Responses

A series of product recalls of adulterated ready meals and meat products has revealed that adulteration in supply chains can trigger a knock-on effect in society, creating enormous implications for consumer confidence, brand identity, and regulatory issues. This project will employ advanced analytical methods, such as network analysis and modelling of social data, to investigate how the horsemeat scandal impacted on consumer attitudes and behaviours, and to scrutinise how retailers’ announcements change patterns of consumer perceptions.

We are interested in using the tweets archive (Twitter posts provided by GNIP) to analyse consumer attitudes towards quality risk under threat of recall, and to investigate how different responses from supermarket retail firms and announcements from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) influence their changes of attitude. The results will increase the level of knowledge about risk management, providing a powerful instrument to understand the social impact of food fraud, which will be explored and analysed using a statistical/economic approach.

In the context of addressing critical issues that impact food security and safety.


  • Mike Tse,York Management School, University of York.
  • Bob Doherty, York Management School, University of York.
  • Philip Garnett,York Management School, University of York.

Nvidia Equipment Grant

Funder: Nvidia

Nvidia provided a Tesla K20 for agent based modelling and data mining. This card has been used to accelerate a number of the software systems developed for my research.

Nvidia Logo

Network Analysis for Technology Discovery

Title: Automatic discovery of new technologies.

Duration: Summer 2012.

This project aimed to detect the likely source of new technology development in the scientific community.

Funder: Funded by Procter and Gamble $10,000

Procter and Gamble

AlKan Project

Title: Feasibility study investigating methods suitable for the modelling of human prostate
cancer development.

Funder: Funded via competitive grant £13,939 (submitted internally to the larger York University – Transit Grant).

Duration: 01-11-2010 to 28-02-2011.
This project aimed to use the CoSMoS (Complex Systems Modelling and Simulation Infrastructure developed at the University of York) process to assess different methods for the modelling of the development of human prostate cancer. The aim of the project is twofold. To identify modelling techniques that can assist biologists with progressing understanding of cancer development, and to suggest possible gaps in current biological data that could be addressed by future experiments. The ideas generated with be take forward in future projects.

This project has been very successful and has identified a method for combining aspects of Petri Net models with Statecharts. The Petri Net is used to show the topology of the human prostate gland’s cell differentiation pathway, including when cells under go division. The Statecharts are then used to describe the internal workings of the cells as they move between the different points of the Petri Net. A ‘toy’ demonstration model has been implemented in Java. A paper is in submission, and we believe it has applications beyond modelling cancer development.