What is a university for?

Professor Jess Power, Associate Dean – Students


There are several possible interpretations of the fundamental role of a university, however the one that holds close to my values and beliefs is “the university” as an institution for the creation and dissemination of knowledge, creating graduates who have a genuine commitment to making the world a better place and of being significant players in civil society. The western university model has been a remarkable success and is one in which we should have immense pride. Operational freedom within an interactive setting which enables excellence across teaching, research, learning and enterprise opening unlimited opportunities for many. However, in an increasingly complex and uncertain world the role of the university is constantly being questioned. In particular there has been a recent drive for developing “value”, in the form of employable work ready graduates. This may be interpreted as a set of desirable skills and attributes to be embedded within the curriculum or perhaps and more importantly the development of an entrepreneurial mind-set. The ability to think outside the box, to adapt and respond to change in a fast paced environment and more importantly the ability to be able to communicate within and beyond their academic discipline is perceived key to graduates contributing to societal challenges.

In today’s global economy and in society as a whole we are faced with many complex challenges (clean water, ageing population, disaster management, global-warming, sustainable food production, transitioning populations), which require new ways of working. It is widely accepted that innovative and sustainable solutions for many complex global social issues reach far beyond the boundaries of a single academic discipline or methodological approach and as such the practical argument for embedding interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities into the learning experience within universities is strong. Interdisciplinary working is widely accepted to be the new mode of knowledge production, it focuses on building intellectual capacity and is supported by government policy makers and research funding agencies. Many of the most exciting developments cross traditional disciplinary boundaries and therefore have great potential to break through complex societal problems and foster innovation.

The concept of interdisciplinarity within Higher Education is not new: Thompson and Fogel (1921), acknowledged in their publication ‘Higher Education and Social Change’ that all social problems require interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. They expanded on this by stating: “if graduates … are to be societies’ leaders …they need a broad social and historical perspective that is difficult to achieve in one discipline”. Thompson and Forgel’s (1921) paper highlighted specifically the need for Higher Educational institutions to promote interdisciplinarity as a means of developing the essential skills of leadership required to impact on civil society.

So, what is a university for? It is to change mind-set, opening up opportunities to bring together individuals to generate knowledge to solve societal problems for the good of mankind. Thus, the connections we make, the disciplines we cross and the knowledge we form are only part of the picture, it is the transformative impact on people’s life’s that we make that hold the true meaning of the value of a university, which instil the leadership qualities desired to make the world a better place.

 

Thompson, K.W. & Fogel, B.R. (1921). Higher Education and Social Change: Promising Experiments in Developing Countries. Vol 1 Reports. US: Praeger.

www.staffs.ac.uk 

The past, the present and the future

By Ema Talam

From 2016 to the present day, Brexit vote has already led to the numerous consequences on the UK economy. Some of the consequences involve: fall of sterling; higher inflation; higher uncertainly which further had an impact on investment and productivity growth; and lower GDP level than projected had the Brexit vote never happened (Bank of England, 2018). Furthermore, the evidences suggest that the anticipated trade costs related to the Brexit vote have already had a significant negative impact on the business investment in the UK (Gornicka, 2018).

Reports published two years ago on the potential consequences of Brexit did not widely discuss, or sometimes did not even acknowledge, its potential impact on productivity and innovation (discussed in greater details in my previous blog. However, in the reports published this week, the impacts of the vote on productivity are widely acknowledged.

The Bank of England’s (2018) report, published this Wednesday, looks at different scenarios and short-run impacts of Brexit on the UK economy. In the scenarios where the Economic Partnership between the UK and the EU is implemented, it is estimated that output per hour will be lower by 1.25% to 3.5% by the end of 2023 compared to May 2016 trend, depending on the exact terms of the Economic Partnership. The negative impact on GDP will be between 1.25% to 3.75% over the similar time period. In case no deal is negotiated and there is no transition period, by the end of 2023 compared to May 2016 trend, the negative impact on the output per hour will be approximately 5%, while the impact on GDP will be between -7.75% to -10.5%.

The Centre for Economic Performance and the UK in a Changing Europe’s (2018) report looks at the long-run consequences of Brexit and the Withdrawal Agreement on the UK economy, compared to the UK staying in the EU. The estimated long-run impact on GDP per capita from changes in trade and migration, in the case where the deal is reached, ranges from -1.9% (without productivity assumption) and -5.5% (with productivity assumption).

The impact on GDP per capita will be larger in case of no deal being reached and ranges from -3.5% (without productivity assumption) and -8.7% (with productivity assumption). The estimated fiscal impacts, as a percentage of GDP, in case the deal is reached, range from -0.4% (without productivity assumption) and -1.8% (with productivity assumption). However, in case of no deal being reached, the estimated impacts range between -1.0% (without productivity assumption) and -3.1% (with productivity assumption).

The Brexit vote has led to the numerous consequences on the UK economy. However, from the reports published this week, it is clear that it will have a significant impact on the economy both in the short- and the long-run.

References:

  1. Bank of England (2018) ‘EU withdrawal scenarios and monetary and financial stability: A response to the House of Commons Treasury Committee’. Available at: https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/report/2018/eu-withdrawal-scenarios-and-monetary-and-financial-stability (Accessed: 28th November 2018)
  2. Centre for Economic Performance and the UK in a Changing Europe (2018) ‘The economic consequences of the Brexit deal’. Available at: http://ukandeu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/The-economic-consequences-of-Brexit.pdf (Accessed: 28th November 2018)
  3. Gornicka, L. (2018) ‘Brexit Referendum and Business Investment in the UK’, Working Paper No. 18/247. Available at: https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2018/11/21/Brexit-Referendum-and-Business-Investment-in-the-UK-46318?cid=em-COM-789-38014 (Accessed: 27th November 2018)

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.

Undergraduate courses

Postgraduate courses

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

 

Undergraduate courses

Postgraduate courses

Is there a panacea for low productivity ?

By Ema Talam   on twitter as @ematalam

Productivity differences between different producers exist and persist, even among those operating within the same industries (Syverson, 2011; Van Reenen, 2011). Achieving higher productivity is of an utmost importance for firms as it leads to better firm performance and leads to increased profits. These increased profits can be used for future investment and wage rises.  The panacea for low productivity is often sought, however, the factors determining productivity are numerous, differing in their scope, level of influence and complexity.

One of the factors determining productivity is innovation. While some studies establish that innovation in general is positively linked with productivity (Movahedi et al., 2017), some limit this link to product innovation (Cassiman and Golovko, 2011). Porter (1990) argues that firms often have no choice but to innovate, as they face competitive pressures coming from their buyers or competitors.

The productivity of a firm may be determined by talents and practices of its managers. Bloom and Van Reenen (2010) have shown that firms that employ better management have higher labour productivity. Management practices differ widely both among different firms and different countries. They are influenced by numerous factors, some of them being: product market competition, labour market regulations, relationship between ownership and management of a firm, education of managers and workers, etc. (Bloom and Van Reenen, 2010).

Quality of inputs is another factor that determines productivity. Rather than clinging on basic resources (or lack of those), it can be argued that productivity is mainly determined by superiority of labour and capital inputs (Porter, 1990; Syverson, 2011). Education, training and experience can all affect quality of labour inputs. Quality differences of capital inputs can influence productivity (Syverson, 2011). The lack of basic resources can push firms to innovate and improve (Porter, 1990). It has been shown that differences in intangible capital and IT can also affect productivity (Syverson, 2011).

Another significant factor that can influence productivity are different decisions regarding the organisation and structure of a firm. Different process improvements through learning-by-doing can also influence productivity (Syverson, 2011).

Productivity spillovers and competition are important external determinants of productivity of a firm. Productivity spillovers occur mainly within the same or similar industries. Competition can hugely affect productivity and firms can face competitive pressures from both other domestic and foreign firms (Syverson, 2011).

The theoretically established ‘learning-by-exporting’ hypothesis states that exporting can improve productivity of a firm. On the one hand, a firm participating in an export market is exposed to a larger competition. On the other hand, by participating in an export market, a firm can gain new knowledge from its buyers and competitors (Wagner, 2007). Some empirical research has confirmed this hypothesis (Damijan et al., 2010).

As discussed above, productivity of a firm is influenced by a numerous factors. Some of the above-mentioned factors can be influenced to a greater extent than the others and some of those factors require shorter periods to be adjusted than the others. However, given that there is variety of factors, their complexity and the level of their potential interactions, the question still remains: is there really a panacea for low productivity?

References:

  1. Bloom, N. and Van Reenen, J. (2010) ‘Why do management practices differ across firms and countries’, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(1), pp. 203-224. Available at: https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25703489 (Accessed: 24th June 2018)
  2. Cassiman, B. and Golovko, E. (2011) ‘Innovation and internationalization through exports’, Journal of International Business Studies, 42(1), pp. 56-75. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25790105 (Accessed: 28th March 2018)
  3. Damijan, J.P., Kostevc, C., & Polanec, S. (2010) ‘From innovation to exporting or vice versa?’, The World Economy, 33(3), pp. 374-398. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 24th March 2018)
  4. Movahedi, M., Shahbazi, K., & Gaussens, O. (2017) ‘Innovation and willingness to export: Is there an effect of conscious self-selection?’, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, 11(25), pp. 1-22. Available at: http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/journalarticles/2017-25 (Accessed: 1st May 2018)
  5. Porter, M. (1990) ‘The competitive advantage of nations’, Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/1990/03/the-competitive-advantage-of-nations (Accessed: 4th June 2018)
  6. Syverson, C. (2011) ‘What determines productivity?’, Journal of Economic Literature, 49(2), pp. 326-365. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/23071619 (Accessed: 30th April 2018)
  7. Van Reenen, J. (2011) ‘Does competition raise productivity through improving management quality’, International Journal of Industrial Organisation, 29(3), pp. 306-316. Available at: https://ac-els-cdn-com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/S0167718711000208/1-s2.0-S0167718711000208-main.pdf?_tid=48b828f4-40fc-4fad-a130-5cec9cbc83ab&acdnat=1530139607_684e48c04c59ac476baa4ece54f7c606 (Accessed: 22nd June 2018)
  8. Wagner, J. (2007) ‘Exports and productivity: A survey of the evidence from firm-level data’, The World Economy, 30(1), pp. 60-82. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 16th April 2018)

 

 

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 

 

Recent Trends in Microfinance

The term Microfinance is derived from the word microcredit which means “small credit” in simple terms. However, with the expansion of services from Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), different people, agencies, and institutions have defined Microfinance differently. Generally, microfinance is defined as the provision of financial and non-financial services from microfinance institutions to low-income households and small business who were excluded by commercial banks.

The term Microfinance now covers a wide range of product and services such as microloans, savings, insurance, and remittance. Some scholars believe that the first formal microcredit institution was “Grameen Bank”, which was established in 1976 in Bangladesh by Dr Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel peace prize winner in 2006.

The term Microfinance covers a wide range of product and services such as microloans and savings.

The institution was set up as a non-profit institution to provide small credit, especially to women in the rural part of Bangladesh because it was difficult for them to receive loans from commercial banks. Over time, Grameen Bank grew in popularity and customer base and more MFIs started to emerge following the Grameen Model.

What is the Grameen Model?

The Grameen Model was created by Grameen Bank of Bangladesh which has currently the widest replication in many developing countries across the world. In Grameen model Five unrelated, self-selected prospective borrowers are formed and required to make a savings deposit and payment on a loan at given period. The institution does not evaluate these loans as individual loans but as group loans and also leaves members to do most of the management and financial services.

First, two members of the group will receive the loan and then the group members determine the rotation of access to credit, and after timely repayments, an additional two members receive loans. If any member in a group fails to make an installment payment on time, then the borrower or group will be cut off from the future borrowing. However, if the borrower/group makes payment on time and in an orderly manner then bigger loans are granted in the future.

The Grameen model provides credit to the very poor in rural areas without requiring any collateral. The model also has low transaction costs and focuses on women. The Grameen Bank approach is currently being applied in many countries. A few of such countries are Bhutan, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Chile, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zambia Some developed countries like Canada, France, and the U.S., have also adopted a version where it is being used to help people become income generators.

Trends in Microfinance

Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) have had global influence and spread around the globe because microfinance has been regarded as one of the effective tools for fighting poverty. Initially, MFIs depended on donations, grants and government subsidies. However, in last decade, some microfinance institutions have realised that they might need to make a profit to provide continuous service, cover their administrative, financial and operational cost, and also budget for the future development without needing any government funds or donations.

In recent years, MFIs have been focusing slightly more on their financial side and as a result, the industry is moving towards profit-oriented MFI’s which means that these MFIs are applying market-based principles. This implies that we have had three stages of MFI’s since their conception which can be seen from the following figure.

Trends in Microfinance Institutions

Some of the first microfinance institutions to adopt the profit-orientated approach were Bank Rakayat Indonesia (BRI), K-Rep in Kenya, Mibanco in Peru, First Microfinance Bank (FMFB) in Pakistan, and CARD Rural Bank in the Philippines. Similarly, PRODEM, the leading Microfinance NGO in Bolivia, transformed into a financial bank called BancoSol.

In conclusion, although MFIs were established as non-profit institutions to provide social services, it seems that microfinance institutions are becoming more like profit-oriented institutions for various reasons.

Sanjib Sherpa (sanjib.sherpa@research.staffs.ac.uk) is currently undertaking his PhD study at Staffordshire University in the area of Microfinance under the supervision of Dr Tolu Olarewaju.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: BREXIT SPEECH VS DONALD TRUMP’S TARIFFS

On Friday, 2 March 2018, at the Mansion House in London, Theresa May delivered her most comprehensive Brexit speech to date. It was a speech designed to bridge the divide between Remain and Leave voters as she tried to explain Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

To international business economists like myself, this was a welcome speech, with very insightful details into how Britain was looking to trade with the EU and other countries after D-day a.k.a. “Transition Period“. The Prime Minister spoke about approaching a crucial moment in the negotiations and specified that existing models like the Norway model would not work because that would mean having to implement new EU legislation automatically and, in its entirety and would also mean continued free movement.

A Canada model would also not be suitable on World Trade Organisation terms because that would mean customs and regulatory checks at the border and damage the integrated supply chains of both EU and British firms – inconsistent with the commitments that both Britain and the EU have made in respect of Northern Ireland.

The most positive thing about the speech however was its tone. It was in many ways a call to partnership and not protectionist mantra. Mrs May is right in many aspects but in one key detail in particular.

 

When other countries seek to become part of the EU, they have to make their laws, regulations and standards align with those of the EU. In this case however, Britain is already aligned with the EU. What Britain wants is some leeway to be different in certain respects. When Britain leaves the EU, the Withdrawal Bill will bring EU law into UK law.

In the future, Parliament might choose to pass an identical law to EU law in some cases – when businesses who export to the EU indicate that it is in their interest to have a single set of regulatory standards that mean they can sell into the UK and EU markets. If Parliament on the other hand decides not to achieve the same outcomes as EU law, it would be in the knowledge that there may be consequences for British market access.

 

 

TRUMP’S PROTECTIONIST TARIFFS 

A few days after the British Prime Minister’s speech, the US President, Mr Trump signed an order for a 25% tariff on imports of steel and a 10% tariff on aluminium into the US, saying some exceptions will be made for Canada and Mexico, prompting fears of trade war. While the US steel industry is obviously happy about the plans, it seems everyone else is upset.

Recall that Mr Trump campaigned on saving US steel and aluminium jobs, which have been lost to cheap foreign imports. But these tariffs threaten to undermine decades of agreement in international trade and have split the Republican party. There was no congressional member of his own party present for the White House announcement.

The US President is planning tariffs on $60bn worth of Chinese goods, in part because of alleged Chinese theft of intellectual property – which means design and product ideas. The White House said it has a list of more than 1,000 products that could be targeted by the tariffs of 25%. Companies will get a chance to comment before they are put into effect. Mr Trump wants to cut the trade deficit with China – a country he has accused of unfair trade practices since before he become president.

Officials from China and Europe have threatened retaliation. Richard Warren, head of policy at UK Steel, said the US was a significant export market for British producers, accounting for around 15% of UK steel exports. “This really does throw a spanner in the works” he said. The European Union has indicated it could retaliate, potentially starting a trade war with the US.

 

 

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk.” “I had the occasion to say that the EU would react adequately and that’s what we will do.” “The EU will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests. The Commission will bring forward in the next few days a proposal for WTO-compatible counter-measures against the US to re-balance the situation.”

It’s not just Europe and the UK that have voiced concern, Australia’s trade minister said it will distort global trade and cost jobs. He also highlighted the risk of retaliatory measures as Asian exporters sought more detail on the plans.

 

 

AN OVERVIEW

trade war is when countries try to attack each other’s trade with taxes and quotas. One country will raise tariffs, a type of tax, causing the other to respond, in a tit-for-tat escalation. This can hurt other nations’ economies and lead to rising political tensions between them. This is a form of protectionism. Protectionism is trying to use tariffs to boost your country’s industry and shield it from foreign competition.

trade war will be bad in this scenario, but Mr Donald Trump does have a point. China has been flouting international property rules and will have more to lose in a trade war. This flouting of international property rules has also resulted in a huge US trade deficit with China.

No party wants a trade war. Britain’s tone on Brexit is much softer and open to compromise. The US tone on trade seems to indicate a much tougher stance. Analysts might argue that this is because one side has more to lose than the other. Maybe what all sides need however is a more reconciliatory tone. Partnership will be better than conflict.

On Monday, 2nd of April 2018, China imposed tariffs of up to 25% on 128 US imports, including pork and wine, affecting some $3bn (£2.1bn) of imports. Beijing said the move was to safeguard China’s interests and balance losses caused by new US tariffs. The markets fell as a result, International Business Economists continue to monitor the situation.

Dr Tolu Olarewaju is a lecturer in Economics at Staffordshire University. For more information on International Business and Business Strategy courses at Staffordshire University, please visit www.staffs.ac.uk.

 

 

Evaluating the potential of public policy to jointly promote firms’ exporting and innovation – new PhD for Ema Talam

Ema Talam - a new PhD student in the Business School

Ema Talam – a new PhD student in the Business School

Ema Talam has recently joined the Business School to start research for her PhD.  Her topic is “Evaluating the potential of public policy to jointly promote firms’ exporting and innovation”, supervised by Dr Mehtap Hisarciklilar-Riegler and Professor Geoff Pugh.

Ema completed her Bachelor’s degree in the field of management at the School of Economics and Business of University of Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and received the Golden Badge of the University of Sarajevo for her accomplishments.

Ema then completed her Master’s degree in Economics at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia). Her Master’s thesis explored the link between (un)employment, income and ethnic tensions and was titled “The link between ethnic tensions and unemployment in multiethnic countries: The case of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

At the beginning of 2018, Ema has received the Preseren Award of the Faculty of Economics of University of Ljubljana for her Master’s thesis. Ema has attended several other notable educational programmes, such as the International Summer School in Human Rights at University of Oslo (Norway) in 2014. So far, Ema has written and published two papers that covered two distinct topics: “Socialism and Marxian economics: An overview” and “The link between globalization and gender equality”.

Currently, Ema is surveying the literature. Generally exporting and innovation are treated as separate activities. Only a small portion of the literature recognises that the link between the two exists and explores the link between exporting and innovation (i.e. how exporting influences innovation and vice versa). Furthermore, public policies aimed at promoting exporting and innovation are directed towards just one of the activities. Numerous studies have evaluated the effects of such policies.

The research will examine the links between exporting and innovation. The research will explore how exporting and innovation affect firm performance, both when undertaken separately and jointly. Furthermore, it will analyse the impact of public policy support on exporting and innovation activities.

Finally, based on the all of the previously stated, the research will examine the implications of findings for policy and institutional design. The focus of this examination will be to explore whether programmes for firms aimed at supporting exporting and/or innovation activities should be designed and implemented jointly or separately.

Ema is on linkedin here

or email her on t028882h@student.staffs.ac.uk.