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Thematic Partnerships


The ADRN was originally established to negotiate research access to administrative data on a bespoke basis for individual ADRN approved research projects.

To provide greater value for money and enable Government departments to provide data more effectively and efficiently for research, the ADRN are now working with partner organisations across Government departments, research organisations and academia to create and curate a number of substantial, complex, persistent, and stable datasets, each of which will support the work of a theme of social and economic research.  Over time, these datasets will grow to satisfy as many research and statistical inquiries as possible.    

The way forward

The ADRN has put together four Partnerships to deliver data that supports research in four Themes.  Each Partnership is made up of the relevant government departments, What Works Centres, and research organisations.  An ADRN Director leads every partnership to ensure the research community is represented, and is chaired by a person with a significant public profile.  The role of the Partnership is to identify the key objectives of its data Theme (i.e., important social and economic issues that can benefit from evidence based research), then agree a Data Design Proposal to commission the construction of relevant a dataset.  By agreeing to the objectives and to the Design Proposal, government departments and other partners are committing to the supply, linking, documenting, and functional anonymisation of their data, to create a new research data source. 

Partnership decision making and direction

The Partners work together to consider research needs (based on research interest shown to the ADRN and the ESRC priority research areas) and data availability under the data theme for which they are responsible. All Partnership group decisions are made by consensus which is vital to providing surety of data provision.  It is the role of the Chair to bring the Partnership to consensus decisions.

Thematic Partnerships

The Partnerships are focusing on developing datasets around the following four data themes:

The Productive Society Partnership focuses on developing a linked dataset with emphasis on enabling research around employment related productivity through analysis of any impact of employee and employer characteristics.

Scope and purpose

The Productive Society Theme is focusing on employment, in particular business employment and business growth.  Its first priority is to gain a better understanding of the ‘productivity puzzle’, and to that end wishes to work with ONS and others to build a dataset that links relevant data about employers with relevant data about their employees (or vice versa).  Such a dataset would be designed to enable research exploring what explains differences in productivity in different sectors of the economy, in different regions, in businesses with different leadership and management practices, according to different patterns of trade, or with different investment behaviours.  In some ways this work will inform the World Of Work theme, and vice versa. 


The Productive Society Partnership will adopt objectives at each of its Partner meetings. At the first meeting, it was proposed “To construct a dataset linking employees and their characteristics to their employers and their characteristics, initially for the purposes of examining the productivity puzzle but to provide a basis for adding future variables that can describe economic change.” This objective is subject to agreement once its feasibility has been explored and reported to partners.

Such a dataset would form a basis for future enhancement that would include other administrative records relating to employees and employer characteristics being added in accordance with the Partnership’s understanding of research and policy evidence needs.

The process we follow from agreement of objective through to use 

There are two main approaches to the use of administrative data to enhance research and to fill evidence gaps for themes.

  1. we will seek to enhance existing longitudinal and cohort studies by assisting them in the acquisition of administrative data to extend the breadth and depth of these studies capabilities, and
  2. we will create new study datasets, and curate them to provide a data resource that can form the foundation of new scientific research and respond to policy evidence inquiries.

Work currently underway

Initial scoping and partnership development.

Partnership Meetings

The first meeting was held on 10th October 2017 and was attended by representatives from invited Partner organisations.   The agenda asked Partners for their views on the key social and economic issues faced by employees and employers in relation to productivity, what insights are needed to better understand those issues, and therefore what administrative data should be prepared and used to support the necessary scientific research and provide the information for the targeted insights.


Paul Johnson, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

Theme leader

This them is led by Peter Smith, Director of the Administrative Data Research Netowrk (ADRN) and the Administrative Research Centre for England (ADRC-E). Peter is Professor of Social Statistics at the University of Southampton. His research interests are in developing new statistical methodology, including methods for handling non-response and for modelling longitudinal data, and applying sophisticated statistical methods to problems in demography, medicine and health sciences. He was Joint Editor of the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series C (Applied Statistics) from 2013 to 2016 and was awarded the Society’s Guy Medal in Bronze in 1999.

Partner organisations

Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Office for National Statistics, HM Revenue and Customs, What Works Centre for Wellbeing, Department for Communities and Local Government, The Nuffield Foundation, Institute for Fiscal Studies, The Turing Institute, Centre for Cities, ESRC, University of Essex, Centre for Longitudinal Studies.

Correspondence sent out to Partners

Letter of invitation to join the Partnership

Follow-up letter for first Objective

Next meeting(s)


Page last updated: 20/12/2017