A day out at Conkers

Simon Hughes, Student, Staffordshire Business School


‘Conkers’ is a day out at an activity centre in Derbyshire, where a group of new Staffordshire University students spent a day during Welcome Week. The day is used to bring people out of their shell and get them involved with various activities that involve communicating and working as part of a team.

The day started out and there was not much interaction between each member of the group and when we arrived at conkers there was still very little interaction while waiting to be split into teams to take part in several activities throughout the day.

When the students were separated into teams, I could see how they were bonding and forming a rapport with their teammates. I strongly recommend this to any person looking to improve their team working skills plus it’s a great confidence booster. It will also help them to ‘find their voice’ to help with communication skills.

The first part of the day was mainly about the communication within their teams. They had to get a bucket of water through an obstacle course, without losing too much water and not letting it touch the ground.

All the teams seemed to have a lot of fun no matter what the weather.

The second activity of which the teams took part in, was aimed at helping them build their self-confidence and to believe in themselves with a high wire walk.They also had a lower wire for those who had not got as much confidence.

The third activity the team took part in was called `bush craft` where they were split into smaller groups to build a shelter showing their ability to work together as part of a team.
They also had to build a fire under the instructor’s guidance, by gathering wood so that they could toast their marshmallows.

By the end of all the activities, it was apparent that all who took part gained something positive from their experiences. Team working skills and communication were improved and it also helped with their self-confidence.

 

Would you like to market to customers when they’re in your area or about to go to a competitor’s location?

Paul Dobson, Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Business School


The ability to market to customers or potential customers by their location has been around for a while. However, in my conversations with local businesses not many are aware of this facility.

The number of mobile users is consistently on the rise and already outnumber PC users for internet access.  Therefore, it is a necessity for businesses to make sure their marketing is working as effectively as possible for mobiles. Geolocation is the ability to show where the mobile device, and the user of the device, are located using the built in GPS.  The best thing about using geolocation data is that it knows where mobile users are in-real-time.  Therefore, it enables businesses to create a tailored and relevant promotion to target these potential customers in a more effective way.  For example, it can be used for presenting coupons or adverts to potential customers when they are in the same street.  Geolocation can target users in a few different ways. However, the three most common are:-

  • Geo-targeting is the act of reaching someone based on their location.
  • Geo-fencing is typically used when targeting small regions like specific streets or towns. These targets are especially useful for apps that want to direct foot traffic to business premises, such as shops and restaurants.
  • Beacons are the narrowest of the three location targeting methods. A beacon is a small, Bluetooth device that receives location data from nearby mobiles, if the mobile Bluetooth is switched on. Often these are deployed in the interior of building such as shops, and airports etc.

Search results on a mobile can also be an effective location based marketing tool, for example if potential customers do a Google search for an Italian restaurant near them.  The search results can display the nearest restaurants and, at the press of an icon, the customers can: call the restaurant, get navigation instructions to the restaurant, or have a look at the website and menu.

Screenshot from Google Maps showing local Italian restaurant

Unfortunately, I’m not aware of a single marketing tool that works for everybody all the time, and this is no exception.  The biggest downside of using geolocation data for mobile marketing is that it is easily blocked by mobile users.  Although there are many mobile users that use apps with the GPS location feature enabled, there are also many users that don’t. Also, geolocation-triggered ads may not work on all devices due to ad blockers.

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Introducing Dr Alyson Nicholds, our new Associate Professor

 

Dr Alyson Nicholds, Associate Professor (Business Management), Staffordshire Business School

I am delighted to be joining Staffordshire Business School as Associate Professor (Business Management).  This is my 5th University, having previously worked at Leeds Beckett, Birmingham, Middlesex and Coventry in various teaching/ research roles.

Dr Alyson Nicholds

Dr Alyson Nicholds

I’m probably best described as an ‘interdisciplinary’ academic of all things Public Policy. What this means, is that I bring to bear all my past professional experience (as Nurse, Health Promoter and Development Officer) to analyse, empirically, ‘what works’ in health, social care, urban, science and technology policy.

I do this by exploring ‘why policy fails’, but this is not by evaluating the impact of policy is (i.e. rationally), but by analysing ‘why practitioners do what they do’ (i.e. the accounts that professionals provide of their practice). We call this more novel type of research ‘discourse analysis’ and it works by paying close attention to the language embedded in what practitioners say and do i.e.:-

  • How professionals ‘describe’ how they do what they do (‘functionalist discourse’);
  • How professionals ‘interpret/ frame’ why they do what they do (‘constructivist discourse’);
  • How the context ‘shapes/ constrains’ what professionals say and do (‘dialogic discourse’);
  • How society ‘influences’ what it’s possible to say and do (‘critical discourse’)

Discourse analysis is therefore important because it addresses some of the limitations of more rational/ scientific approaches to traditional policy analysis which typically ignores the human voice. Hence, much of my early work has involved applying the second type of discourse (constructivist discourse) to real-life cases, as with my PhD, which revealed regeneration professionals’ shared experiences of the barriers to effective regeneration in the East and West Midlands[1] [1a].  Indeed, this was so compelling, that I’m now reanalysing this data using the third type of discourse (i.e. dialogic discourse) to understand ‘why actors don’t do what they say’!

Other work, using this more ‘constructivist discourse’ approach, involved a large scale NHS funded study (Post Doc) to ascertain the value of different joint commissioning arrangements in health and social care (i.e. in 6 NHS Trusts in England)[2]; and scientists’ preferences for sharing knowledge in a global network (i.e. the large-scale physics experiment known as the hadron collider at the CERN facility in Switzerland) [3].

More recently I’ve been working with colleagues from Birmingham and Middlesex to analyse how formal and informal leaders prefer to lead in sub-national urban development places (i.e. the Smart Cities policy initiative)[4]. My latest work explores the practical applications of all of this type of discourse work in transforming the social outcomes of public policy through greater reflexivity in management learning. In future blogs, I’ll be writing about this and the different ways we might better research these complex types of policy problems, to address widening social and economic inequality.

[1] http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/3495/1/Nicholds12PhD.pdf

[1a] Alyson Nicholds (2011) Making sense of urban policy failure in complex times, Regional Insights, 2:2, 18-20, DOI: 10.1080/20429843.2011.9727924

[2] Helen Dickinson, Stephen Jeffares, Alyson Nicholds & Jon Glasby (2014) Beyond the Berlin Wall?: Investigating joint commissioning and its various meanings using a Q methodology approach, Public Management Review, 16:6, 830-851, DOI: 10.1080/14719037.2012.757353

[3] Mabey, C. & Nicholds, A. (2015) Discourses of knowledge across global networks: What can be learnt about knowledge leadership from the ATLAS collaboration? International Business Review, Volume 24, Issue 1, February 2015, Pages 43–54. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0969593114000754

[4Alyson Nicholds, John Gibney, Chris Mabey & Dan Hart (2017) Making sense of variety in place leadership: the case of England’s smart cities, Regional Studies, 51:2, 249-259, DOI: 10.1080/00343404.2016.1232482

It’s never too late to get an education

by Justyna Podymna 

Did you ever think about going to University to gain new skills and qualifications? Did you let a lack of confidence and the fear of being a foreign student stop you? I wrote this blog to inspire people and to share my journey.

Justyna Podymna (right) receives her certificate at the celebration

Justyna Podymna (right) receives her certificate at the celebration

The biggest mistake you can make is limiting yourself. My story is similar and started a few years ago. Before I moved to the UK I always wanted to go to University to gain higher qualifications and to get a better job in the future. I wanted to be able to fulfil my dreams and just be happy. I came to the UK in 2007 and for the first few years I was jumping from one job to another but none of them were satisfying.

I decided to fulfil my ambition of gaining higher qualifications and returned to education as a mature student. After researching my nearest universities, I chose Staffordshire University and made an appointment with an International Advisor to find out what options were available to me, both as a mature and an international student.

Why did I choose Staffordshire University? Employability. This was the winning point in my decision. They advised me that their Step Up to HE Course would be beneficial for me to adjust to academic life after such a long time away from education.

The Step-Up course teaches you academic writing skills, research techniques, how to correctly reference and how to get out as much as you can from all available resources. At the end of the course, not only do you have valuable experience and insight, but you are a step ahead of the other students and are able to offer help and support. Furthermore, after completing the course you are awarded with a Foundation Certificate in Higher Education. This is handed out during an awards evening, along with loads of delicious free food and drink to celebrate!

Celebrations for completing the Step Up award

Celebrations for completing the Step Up award

The tutors and the course leader, Ashley, are friendly and approachable. They will help you with all the formal stuff too, like your university application, student finance and your personal statement.

You get loads of support as student. There are well-being counsellors, a student enablement centre and academic skills resources to help with your academic skills! You can access the academic skills resources here.

I’m in my second year now and I’ve realised that the support of another student is really useful and important. Everyone at Staffs is super friendly and you can expect loads of help.

Believe me your future is in your hands and anyone can do it. Don’t limit yourself because of the language barrier. You will learn something new daily. Remember, knowledge is like a tool in your hand and if you use it effectively it will push you to success.

More on Step Up here 

Course details here 

 

Jobs of the future

Written by Rachel Gowers, Associate Dean


By 2025 it’s estimated that we will lose over five million jobs to automation. Don’t worry though – jobs are getting more interesting with machines handling the more mundane tasks. Your time will be freed up from performing the repetitive tasks of the past so you can focus on more fun stuff like knowledge creation and innovation. Here are some of the jobs to look out for:

Data Analyst – Data analysts are in high demand across all sectors, such as finance, consulting, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, government and education. Data analysts translate numbers into plain English. Every business collects data, whether it’s sales figures, market research, logistics, or transportation costs. A data analyst’s job is to take that data and use it to help companies make better business decisions.

Forensic Accountant – As a forensic accountant, you’ll utilise your accountancy skills to investigate financial discrepancies and inaccuracies such as fraudulent activity, financial misrepresentation or misconduct and disputes. The role involves an integration of accounting, auditing and investigative skills. You will carry out meticulous investigations to uncover information, identify specific irregularities in financial documents and reports, quantify the exact losses and trace and recover illegitimate funds.

UX Analyst – User Experience (UX) roles involve delivering the best possible experience for the user of a website, with the aim of making the website as straightforward to use as possible. The term UX analyst arises as the role involves a lot of analysis of users’ behaviours and preferences in order to create the best experience for the user. As a UX analyst you will look at the content of websites, and also the design elements, such as colours and images. Within some companies you’ll focus on research skills and psychology, in others you’ll concentrate on design and in some you’ll fulfil a more technical IT role.

Content Creator – A content creator is someone who is responsible for the contribution of information to any media and most especially to digital media. They usually target a specific end-user/audience in specific contexts. Facebook hires thousands of content creators and editors every year to not only provide content but also to monitor what is happening on-line.

Talent Manager – A talent manager’s responsibilities include designing employee training programs, building succession plans and crafting an internal promotion process. To be successful in this role, you should have a solid understanding of full-cycle recruiting along with a strategic mind-set in order to develop a skilled workforce. Ultimately, you will build a talent pipeline that aligns with our hiring needs and business objectives.

Customer Experience Manager – Customer Experience Managers can be in any industry, here are responsibilities for a manager in the leisure and Theme Park Business. You’ll propose and implement strategies to constantly improve customer satisfaction and park development. Additionally, you may also oversee or take sole responsibility for the marketing of the park in order to generate business. You’ll be involved in all areas of the park, including rides, retail and food and beverages. Theme park managers may also be known as guest experience managers, rides and operations managers or attractions managers.

 

If you’re interested in a job of the future our Business and Accounting Degrees prepare you for these roles.

If you’re interested in a career in Leisure why not try the FdA in Visitor Attraction and Resort Management in partnership with Alton Towers.

A Recipe for Success

Written by Angela Lawrence, Senior Lecturer & Esports course leader


There’s an Autumn nip in the air, the Great British Bake Off has begun and the annual McMillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is just around the corner. Kenwood mixers are whirling into action in kitchens across the UK.

Meanwhile, bags are being packed, goodbyes said, and freshers are itching to begin their university life. Around the World lecturers are preparing to welcome their new students and planning for the academic year to come.

It strikes me that these two situations have something in common. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that all lecturers are good bakers (far from it!), but there is something vaguely familiar about the nurturing, caring principles of baking and lecturing; the desire for a good outcome and the commitment to working hard to achieve this.

Quality Ingredients

Ever tried baking a cake with less than quality ingredients – with a dodgy cooker and scales that don’t quite weigh correctly? The chances are your cakes won’t turn out to be as good as you would like them to be. Quality, fit-for-purpose equipment and excellent ingredients are needed to guarantee the bake that you are looking for.

When choosing a university to spend three or more years of their life at, prospective students similarly seek quality – high rankings in the league tables and TEF, good NSS scores, high levels of student satisfaction and committed, highly qualified academics. A quality university is needed to turn out a top-notch, highly qualified and work-ready graduate.

The Recipe

Even quality ingredients can’t ensure a perfect bake if the recipe is wrong. One too many eggs or not enough baking powder and the cake’s a flop.

The same balance needs to be considered within the course that a student selects. The onus is on academics to create a balanced mix of exciting learning content, activities, guest lecturers, trips and course materials to ensure that students learn exactly what they need to know. Miss out a vital ingredient and students will struggle to achieve success in their assessments.

The Temperature

Too hot an oven and your cake will burn. Too cool an oven and your cake won’t rise. Getting the temperature right is as important as having the correct recipe.

Lifelong friendships are made at university, so a good balance between studying and fun is needed. The correct work-play balance creates an environment in which students flourish – without the fun some students struggle with the pressure of study and can be tempted to drop out. Too much fun and grades may suffer. A good university seeks to provide exactly the right balance between social and study. Student Unions, personal tutors, pastoral care and student guidance teams are all there to support students in getting it right.

Decorations

Jam and cream fillings, a sprinkle of icing sugar here, a coating of chocolate there and your cake is more than a cake, it’s a thing of beauty. It’s those finishing touches that make your cake the one that everyone wants to take a bite out of.

Similarly, a degree is not enough. Employers are inundated with graduate applications for advertised vacancies, and applications that stand out are those where the candidate has more than just a degree. Work experience, success in student competitions, self-awareness, confidence, professional presentation, global awareness…these are many of the added extras that lead an employer to choose YOU over other applicants.

Staffordshire University has a recipe for success. A university that has risen to within the top 50 universities in the league tables, been awarded a silver in the TEF, achieved one of the highest graduate employability rates in the UK and provided a supportive and fun environment in which students flourish.

Would you like a taste of our recipe? Come and visit us at one of our Open Days to find out for yourself – we can promise you a delicious time.

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Five things you didn’t know about Staffordshire Business School!

Written by Rachel Gowers, Associate Dean Recruitment


1.    We are one of the leading Business Schools in the world for Social Media. We’ve won the Edurank ‘Best Twitter Performance’ award twice in the Business School category (beating Harvard into second place) and we’ve also come in the top 20 Business School blogs in the Top 20 Business Education Blogs And Websites To Follow in 2018

2.    Our Marketing Management course includes exemptions from The Chartered Institute of Marketing and also Google Garage Exams, covering SEO, PPC and loads of other practical skills so you can start to build your own digital marketing campaign straight away.

3.    The Events Management Degree is a top ten course* according to The Complete University Guide League Tables 2019. We’ve also added some new modules this year like ‘experiential marketing’ and ‘managing the visitor experience’ which mean you get out and about straight away and start working with companies to design their systems.  You’ll also get to go on an overseas residential in your second year – last year we went to Iceland.


4.   
Business degrees are the same wherever you go – right? Wrong! Our Business Degree covers topics you won’t find anywhere else, we worked with employers to come up with them.  You’ll study Business Agility, Big Data, Authentic leadership and Customer Experience Strategy (CX) – don’t know what these are? Google them – these are vital topics for 21st Century leaders.

5.    Accounting and Finance degrees at Staffordshire Business School offer more than just a degree.  You will also gain exemptions from three professional bodies meaning you can fast-track to professional qualifications when you’ve finished you’re degree. Plus we were ranked 1st for ‘Students Satisfied with Teaching’ in the Guardian League Tables 2018.

As if five wasn’t enough, did you know we are the first Business School in the UK to launch an Esports degree…don’t know what this is? Find out here.

*ranked 7th in the ‘Hospitality, Leisure, Recreation & Tourism’ category

Thinking of joining us? Find out more about our courses in clearing

 

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BHS Death: Who is to Blame?

Image: The Herald, Scotland https://goo.gl/X59KeM

British Home Store (BHS) was born in 1928 with steady expansion growth and increasing competition with rival stores that bring excitements to the British workforce and customers. In pursuit of survival, BHS has undergone several successful surgical operations in the post-war era such as expansion across the UK, merging and franchising its brand. Many feared that BHS survival chances would diminish in 2000 when Sir Philip Green took charge of the company health affairs, but he dismissed the fears. However, sickness symptoms were confirmed in 2005 when BHS announced its losing customers to rivals. After several attempts to revive BHS, the health continued to deteriorate. This continued until 2015 when it was transferred to Dominic Chappell, unfortunately for BHS its health has gone beyond resuscitation. In 2016, the once healthy and competitive BHS was in coma without a chance of survival.

Losers

Although all BHS stakeholders were disappointed in the news of its death, this has different implications for different stakeholders. During its heyday, BHS had 163 stores, 11,000 British workforce that comprised direct and indirect staff, servicing 22,000 pensioners, tax-payer, and 1.2m British loyal customers. These were the biggest losers as the death of BHS significantly changed their way of life and in some cases, it threatened their survival as well.

Image: Drapers, https://goo.gl/vDGG41

Companies Act 2006

The Companies Act 2006 s830 specifies that companies should only distribute a dividend to the shareholders from the profit available or accumulated profits. This profit should be after deducting its accumulation losses. Also, Companies Act 2006 s172 specifies the duties of company’s directors to act in good faith with the aim of promoting the company’s success for all its members. In the case of BHS, members include all the stakeholders such as employees, pensioners, customers, suppliers, creditors, government, UK taxpayers, and shareholders.

Many commentators argued that Sir Philip Green and his family members along with other shareholders did not regard corporate governance or Companies Act 2006; and they made decisions on the BHS activities in their personal interest to the detriment of the other BHS members. Other commentators believed that The Green family and other shareholders enjoyed unfettered access in the heart of BHS; that was cleverly done with a complex company structure and inter-company transactions that include £422m dividend pay-out against £208m profit, £10m loan interest, £151m rent received from sales and lease-back, £250m management charges and £3m ground rent, all received from BHS. As a result, between 2000 and 2015, the pension fund has fallen from £5m surplus to 571m deficits and BHS survival and going concern was set on a slope.

Structure of Taveta Group (Controlled by the Green Family): Source from HC Committee Reports, https://goo.gl/reA7Er


International Standards on Auditing

The International Standards on Auditing (UK) specifies that the objective of the audit work on the financial statement is to give reasonable assurance. This assurance should be included in the auditor’s report to highlight whether the financial statement is free of error or fraud. Although, it is not a guarantee that material misstatement due to error and fraud will always be detected when audit work complies with ISA (UK). However, the ISA (UK) requires that auditor should exercise professional judgment in identifying and assessing the material risks in the financial statements. Auditors are required to design and perform audit procedures that are responsive to material risks, and to obtain appropriate, and sufficient evidence regarding the business activities from audit procedures upon which audit opinion will be formed. In this regard, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) audit design and procedures failed to detect or raise going concern issue during 2015 audit when BHS was sold for £1.

PwC Leeds firm audited BHS Group Ltd financial accounts for the 74 weeks to 29 August 2009 and since then they continued to audit BHS financial account till 2015. They are also the auditing firm for other Green Family companies such as Taveta Investment Limited and Taveta Investment (No.2) Limited, the parent companies of BHS. Commentators believe that this could have created threats to their objectivity due to possible close or personal relationship with the Green family and non-audit fee (audit fee ratio of up to 8:1). These threats include familiarity, intimidation, and self-interest as the audit firm and senior partner may not be necessarily sceptical and may be sympathetic towards the directors and employee with whom they have a relationship.

Image: Accountancy Age, https://goo.gl/ZVN1Yu

On the 13 June 2018, the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) halted the over 30 years career of Steve Denison a senior partner with a 15-year ban and £325,000 fine. PwC accounting firm was fined £6.5m and FRC will be monitoring their practice over the next three years.

Blame

In my opinion, the directors of BHS acted unethically and with total disregard for the Companies Act 2006 and corporate governance in discharging their duties between 2000 and 2015. Considering the consequences of their actions, the innocent pensioners, direct and indirect employees and taxpayers will pick up the bill for the BHS pension deficit. It is unfortunate that those directors got away with just over £363m fines without a ban from serving as company directors in the future or possibly jail terms.

However, as much I would like to agree with  PwC that their failure could not have contributed to BHS death, from a professional viewpoint, they have the duty not only to advise the BHS board of directors, but the 2015 Audit Report should have explicitly raised going concern issues. This would have raised other stakeholder’s awareness as the Audit Report would have been available to the public through Company House.

Mayowa Akinbote ACCA, MA, PGCHP, FHEA, BSc.                                                Lecturer in Accounting and Finance                                                                        Staffordshire Business School

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Untangling the link between productivity, exporting and innovation of a firm through Brexit

By Ema Talam  and on twitter @ematalam

It is often claimed that the United Kingdom has benefited from joining European Union in terms of its economic performance. On the other hand, some authors argue that the rate of economic growth in the United Kingdom did not rise as a result of its accession to the European Union in 1973[1] (Coutts et al., 2018).

However, different estimates show that the United Kingdom will experience negative consequences of its exit from European Union, but the magnitudes of those estimates vary. The impacts on productivity are argued and there is no general consensus of the scale that Brexit will affect overall productivity in the United Kingdom.

Coutts et al. (2018, p. 20) state that “no aggregate link exists between trade and productivity for advanced open economies, unlike emerging economies where a relaxation of constraints on trade allow multi-national companies to enter, and to raise both exports and productivity”. At the same time, Dhingra et al. (2017) recognise that losses in terms of productivity are possible and list several factors that may contribute to productivity and welfare losses such as: “reductions in the variety of goods and services, weaker competition, the erosion of vertical production chains, falls in foreign direct investment (FDI), slower technology diffusion, less learning from exports or lower Research and Development” (p. 3).

Productivity, exporting and innovation of a firm are three seemingly distinct concepts. More in depth analysis shows that these concepts are indeed related and that it is almost impossible to examine either one of them without examining the other two. Characteristics of exporters and innovators depict well the extent of the link between the three concepts:

  • Exporters tend to be more productive than non-exporters (Wagner, 2007; Damijan et al., 2010; Caldera, 2010; Movahedi et al., 2017) and often have higher productivity growth (Wagner, 2007).
  • Furthermore, exporters are more likely to innovate (Damijan et al., 2010; Caldera, 2010), spend more on innovation (Caldera, 2010; Monreal-Perez et al., 2012) and have more (major) innovations (Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002; Monreal-Perez et al., 2012) than non-exporters.
  • Innovators tend to be more productive (Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002; Damijan et al., 2010; Caldera, 2010; Cassiman et al., 2010; Movahedi et al., 2017) and are more likely to export (Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002; Damijan et al., 2010; Cassiman et al., 2010) than non-innovators.
  • Exporters and innovators also share the set of common characteristics: they pay higher wages (Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002; Caldera, 2010) and are present in the sectors characterised with higher R&D intensity and greater amount of intra-industry trade (Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002).

A recent report published by Centre for Cities (2018) shows that in Britain, exporters constitute more productive firms. Figure 1 shows that British economy is characterised by large number of firms with low levels of productivity, but also that local service firms are predominantly less productive firms. Exporting firms account 13.2% of all the firms examined. The share of exporting firms among the top ten per cent of the most productive firms in 2015 was 31.2%, while the share of exporting firms among bottom 33 per cent was 5.6% in the same year. (Centre for Cities, 2018).

Figure 1: Productivity of all firms

Figure 1: Productivity of all firms, UK (2015)

Figure 2 Productivity of exporting firms compared to local service firms in the UK (2015)

Source: Centre for Cities (2018) The wrong tail-Why Britain’s ‘long tail’ is not the cause of its productivity problems.

*The report indicates that productivity was calculated as “gross value added per worker at a branch level” (Centre for Cities, 2018).

** Original data source is limited to non-financial business economy

***Only private sector productivity was examined

**** Article in Financial Times (Strauss, 2018) on the report indicates that, in this case, all firms engaged in markets beyond their local one are considered to be exporters. However, it can be assumed that certain portion of these firms export abroad as well.

The link between exporting and productivity is also theoretically grounded. It is commonly hypothesised that exporting and productivity are linked in the following manners:

(1) self-selection hypothesis, suggesting that more productive firms self-select into export markets, and

(2) learning-by-exporting hypothesis, suggesting that firms increase their productivity by participating in export markets (Wagner, 2007). Empirical findings prove the existence of both the link leading from productivity to exporting (Caldera, 2010; Cassiman and Golovko, 2011; Movahedi et al., 2017), as well as the link leading from exporting to productivity (Damijan et al., 2010).

Furthermore, previous research shows that exporting is linked to innovation (Damijan et al., 2010) and, at the same time, that product, process and organisational innovation have an influence on exporting (Basile, 2001; Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002; Caldera, 2010; Cassiman et al., 2010; Cassiman and Golovko, 2011; Monreal-Perez et al., 2012; Fryges et al., 2015; Azar and Ciabuschi, 2017).

Some authors suggest that there exists complementarity between exporting and investment in productivity, in the sense that one raises the profitability of the other (Lileeva and Trefler, 2010). Firm’s productivity can be tackled through factors internal to a firm (i.e. managerial practice and talent, quality of labour and capital inputs, decisions about firm’s structure, etc.) and influenced by the factors that are external to a firm (i.e. productivity spillovers, intramarket competition, regulations, etc.) (Syverson, 2011).

Empirical research has shown that innovation positively influences productivity (Cassiman and Golovko, 2011; Movahedi, Shahbazi and Gaussens, 2017).

Four types of innovation can be distinguished:

(1) product innovation, “the introduction of a good or service that is new or significantly improved with respect to its characteristics or intended uses” (OECD/Eurostat, 2005, p. 48),

(2) process innovation, “the implementation of a new or significantly improved production or delivery method” (OECD/Eurostat, 2005, p. 49),

(3) marketing innovation, “the implementation of a new marketing method involving significant changes in product design or packaging, product placement, product promotion or pricing” (OECD/Eurostat, 2005, p. 49), and

(4) organisational innovation, “the implementation of a new organisational method in the firm’s business practices, workplace organisation or external relations” (OECD/Eurostat, 2005, p. 51). Schmookler (1954) suggests that size of the market is one of the determinants of the level of inventive activities.

Brexit will almost certainly result in larger trade costs for the firms involved. Van Reenen (2016) indicates that there are three distinct categories of trade costs that will increase following Brexit:

“(i) higher tariffs on imports;

(ii) higher nontariff barriers to trade, arising from different regulations, border controls, and the like; and

(iii) the lower likelihood of the United Kingdom participating in future EU integration efforts, such as the continued reduction of nontariff barriers”.

Following the lines of the discussion above, trade costs are likely to have a greater impact on the more productive firms in the British economy. Also, due to the existence and the complexity of the links between exporting, productivity and innovation, adverse effects can be expected to go beyond influences on productivity.

References – blog post – v246

By Ema Talam  and on twitter @ematalam

[1] EEC at the time.

‘Made in Dagenham’

By June Dennis, Dean of Staffordshire Business School

In 1968, some 50 years ago, a group of women machinists at Ford Dagenham went on strike and campaigned to be recognised as skilled workers.  The women trained for 2 years as machinists but were paid just 85% of what male unskilled workers received.  Although they only achieved partial success – the women did not get upgraded but received an increase in pay to 92% of what a male cleaner would earn – this well publicised campaign was considered a major stepping stone in the establishment of the Equal Pay Act of 1970, now superseded by the Equality Act 2010.

I recall watching the film ‘Made in Dagenham’ about the Ford Dagenham workers some years ago whilst on holiday with my two daughters, then aged 15 and 12.  As we discussed the film afterwards, I realised even then that it was going to be one of those defining moments in their development.  It also gave me an opportunity to tell them of some of my experiences. For example, as a final year student at a job interview I was asked ‘shouldn’t you be warming your husband’s slippers by the fireplace rather than working here’.

Dr June Dennis - the new Dean of Staffordshire Business School

June Dennis – the new Dean of Staffordshire Business School

Later in my career, I recalled being told by a very well meaning male colleague that I hadn’t been given the role as link tutor for a partner in India because I had a young family and might not be able to cope with a couple of trips abroad.  I was also able to tell them about my parents being role models – both were nurses and on the similar pro-rata salaries for much of their careers, although, it was my mother who worked part-time and unsociable hours to fit around the family.  I started my own business and subsequently became a lecturer because I could not maintain an international marketing role with a young family.  Neither of my daughters had been aware that such discrimination had existed to such an extent nor that their aspirations might still be curtailed by social and workplace norms about gender roles.  Some seven years later, both are intelligent, articulate and confident women who are already role models to younger teenagers.

This year, around 10,000 organisations with more than 250 staff were required to publish data about their gender pay gap on a Government website.  The results, released in April 2018, showed that there are still stark differences in the amount women get paid compared to men and also in the proportion of women on higher incomes within organisations.  The median pay for women is nearly 10% lower than for men and some 78% of organisations pay men more than women overall.  Smaller organisations, with less formal pay structures may have even greater variances.

Some 50 years on, it is less likely that a woman will be paid less for the same job, although the recent revelations about the pay of BBC staff demonstrates that this still exists. However, some of the pay difference can be attributed to the fact that women are still more likely to take part-time and lower paid jobs which they can work around other commitments.  This may be by choice or by necessity.  Career breaks also have an impact on overall salary.  However, there are still many structural inequalities of opportunity and social barriers that hinder progression for those women who wish to progress.  Such barriers include expectation to attend early morning or ad hoc late meetings, ‘golf course’ business networking events, requirement for overseas travel when promoted and, more subtly, expectations from friends and family – I don’t recall any well-meaning friends questioning my husband about his family loyalties when he had to work away from home, for example….

Until societal views permit both men and women to choose whether they want to work full or part-time, progress up the ladder or not or take parental leave or not, then I suspect any legislation will have limited impact on these statistics.

Contact June at june.dennis@staffs.ac.uk