Who run the world? MUMS!

by Stef Price  (student)

It’s 2018 and the term ‘mumpreneur’ seems to pop up everywhere just lately. But why? And what does it mean?

Well, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a mumpreneur is “a woman who sets up and runs her own business in addition to caring for her young child or children”. But why? It seems like a lot of work on top of the endless list of mum duties!

Is it because us mums want to spend as much time as possible with our little darlings? Is it the getting up 20 kazillion times in the night to return a lost dummy to tiny mouths that has us too tired to get up for the old 9 to 5? Or are we just kick-ass independent women, confident enough to give the finger to corporate fat cats whilst lining our own pockets instead of theirs?

For me, it was all of the above….and then some.

In 2013, at the grand old age of 32, baby #1 came along. I loved being a mum and wanted to spend as much time with him as possible but when he was only 5 months old, it became too much trying to survive on a single poor salary and statutory maternity pay. I reluctantly trundled back to the corporate world to help put food into his little mouth.

Being able to contribute financially again felt great, but the cost, to me, was massive. I missed his first words, the first time he clapped, his first crawl, the first time he pulled himself up to standing, his first steps.…pretty much his first everything. It sucked, but I smiled and cracked on. As you do.

Stef Price Mumpreneur

Stef Price Mumpreneur

Fast forward 3 and a half years and baby #2 rocks up, yay! However, this time I wanted to cling to as many precious moments as possible for as long as possible so I vowed that I would have the full 9 months of maternity entitlement if it killed me! We planned, we saved and we stocked up on nappies to within an inch of our lives to make sure it happened…and it did! And it was amazing!

Getting a bit of help

Getting a bit of help

But something else happened too. I became a shirker! Well, kind of. I didn’t want to not work, I just didn’t want to work for somebody else – I was a shirker of the corporate world. I didn’t want to go back to my old job. I didn’t even want a new job. I just didn’t want a job.

I googled, I pondered and I scratched my head about how I could live the impossible dream of being a ‘stay home mum’ who works around the school run. I had a couple of embarrassing attempts at network marketing, but it didn’t feel right. I didn’t love it and I didn’t feel like I was being me.

I wanted to do something that I love, when it suited me and I wanted people to pay me for it. Is that too much to ask? Probably. Did I do it anyway? Yes!

And so was born Frog Princess, Hand Crafted Gifts.

An outlet for my ever-present creative streak, I began to make and sell hand crafted and personalised gifts. I touted my wares on my personal Facebook page and received a few sales and some positive feedback. It spurred me on and I decided to set up a Facebook group, a Facebook page and more recently, a website and an Instagram page in order to reach more people.

Some of the products available at Frog Princess

Some of the products available at Frog Princess

In the meantime, I’m in my second year of studying for a Bachelors degree in Business Management at Staffordshire University so I don’t have as much time as I would like to spend on my little venture, so for now, it will stay just that. Little.

However, I love what I do and I love the extra bit of money it brings. Most of all, I love that I can do it around family life and around my studies and that I have the flexibility to ramp it up or step back as and when life dictates.

According to Small Business, in 2016, 17% of Millenial mums said they planned on setting up their own business within 12 months. And whatever their reasons for doing so, whether they’re the same or different to my reasons, watch out cos mumpreneurs are taking over the world!

Frog Princess website 

Frog Princess facebook  group

Frog Princess page

Frog Princess on Instagram 

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

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.

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.

Business School Research News April 2018

Recent papers

Adnan Efendic and Geoff Pugh (2018). The effect of ethnic diversity on income – an empirical investigation using survey data from a post-conflict environment. Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, 12(2018-17): 1-34. http://dx.doi.org/10.5018/economics-ejournal.ja.2018-17

This paper was picked up and promoted on twitter by Lars-Gunnar Wigemark (@LarsGWigemark ) who is the EU Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Vishwas MaheshwariPriya GuneshGeorge LodorfosAnastasia Konstantopoulou, (2017) “Exploring HR practitioners’ perspective on employer branding and its role in organisational attractiveness and talent management“, International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 25 Issue: 5, pp.742-761, https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOA-03-2017-1136

Vishwas Maheswari & Priya Gunesh (accepted for publication 2018 ) ‘Role of Organisational career websites for employer brand development’ in International Journal of  Organizational Analysis

Olarewaju, Tolulope (2017) Organising Household Consumption and Occupational Proportions: Evidence from Nigeria. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 26 (4). ISSN 1934-8835

Almond K and Power J (2018) Breaking the tile in pattern cutting: An interdisciplinary approach. Journal of Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education, 17 (1) pp 33-50 ISSN 1474273X

Book chapters

Carol Southall has a chapter on Family Tourism in a new book – Special Interest Tourism: Concepts, Contexts and Cases (2018) eds Agarwal S, Busby G and Huang R.

https://www.cabi.org/bookshop/book/9781780645667

Carol Southall with the new book

Carol Southall with the new book

 

Jess Power has a chapter  Embedding interdisciplinary and challenge-led learning into the student experience. In: Experiential Learning for Entrepreneurship (2018) eds Hyams-SSekasi D & Caldwell E Palgrave, UK. https://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319900049

Conference papers

Vicky Roberts will present her paper Understanding the role of Value Co-creation in Building New Luxury Brands: A Social Network Analysis Approach (Vicky Roberts, Stuart Roper & Sabrina Thornton). At the 13th Global Brand Conference 2-4th May Northumbria University

Angela Lawrence will present her paper Adopting Social Media For Stakeholder Engagement: A Case Of UK HEI at the Academy of Marketing Conference 2018 2nd to 5th July, University of Stirling

Tolu Olarewaju will present a paper Corruption, The Great Value Destroyer: The Role of Generalised Trust in Social Networks, Social Media Participation and Legal Institutional Quality for Corruption”. At the First Global Conference on Creating Value; at Leicester Castle Business School, De Montfort University from 23rd May, 2018 – 24th May, 2018. 

Carol Southall jointly delivered a paper with Dr Maren Viol (British University Vietnam) ‘Western-centrism in Internationalised HE Tourism Curricula: Perspectives from Vietnam’. at International Conference of Critical Tourism Studies – Asia Pacific. Held 3-6 March at University Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Upcoming events at the University

5th July Silver Workersover 50s conference at Staffordshire University – save the date more details to follow, please register on the link. Organised by Hazel Squire and Prof Jon Fairburn

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/silver-workers-free-interactive-conference-registration-44791156555

International Erasmus Week 12-16th November

Wendy Pollard and Jon Fairburn are organising an international week on the themes Enterprise, Employability and Entrepreneurship. Please let your international partners know.

Full details and how to register on the link

http://staffmobility.eu/staffweek/erasmus-enterprise-employability-and

Funded by the ERASMUS + PROGRAMME

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.

 

 

Using Digital to Build Your CV

If you’re anything like me, you would have read enough tips on CV building to write your own novel. But what do we really learn? How do we know that the document we’ve just spent four hours putting together is even going to get a second look from our dream company? We don’t. But if we do know what tools are available to build a great CV, maybe we’d one step closer to the dream.

Example of Canva Free Resume Template

Gone are the days that a CV format consists of a black and white document with Times New Roman font and maybe the odd line of bold. Employers want to get a glimpse of you from the first few seconds. So, my first tip, do not be afraid to be yourself and make the use of digital tools that are available.

Firstly, ask yourself which industry you are trying to enter, this is key to choosing the type of design for your CV as it has to be relevant. If you’re looking to build something a little more interesting that gives you the freedom to show some of your personality through colour and images, try Canva, a free online design tool. This has a range of templates with suggestions of content and layout, but also allows you to amend any settings to your personal taste.

On the other hand, you may be looking for a professional CV with a moving edge. Video CV’s are increasingly common particularly in the creative and also sporting sectors due to the nature of the roles. Software such as Windows Movie Maker, Apple iMovie or something more sophisticated like Adobe Premier Pro are great for editing your own footage.

Credit: powtoon.com

Finally, and this is exciting, how about creating your own animated video of a day in the life of you? Powtoon is a free online tool that allows you to create a cartoon character and tell a story of your education, experiences and skills through video. Powtoon is YouTube certified and has recently become partnered with HubSpot, meaning it’s great not only for personal development but for work related projects too. It is a simple to use, flexible tool that allows you to create approachable content and particularly for a CV, include a visualisation of a persons skills and knowledge.

A CV doesn’t have to be a chore, take the opportunity that digital has given us to explore creative ways to present yourself as a professional.

Author: Kathryn Taylor, MSc Digital Marketing Management Student

Digital Marketing Assessor at Total People Ltd

How YOUR Business Can Benefit From Machine Learning!

It is no secret that the landscape of marketing is changing, with a huge shift in activity from traditional methods to digital marketing methods. Machine Learning is at the absolute forefront of this change, and is tipped to be the key to successful business online.

What is Machine Learning?

Machine Learning (ML) is closely related to Artificial Intelligence (AI), a topic of discussion that is prevalent not only in marketing, but as a cultural issue. ML is the application of AI to systems, allowing them to learn from experience. This involves complex algorithm’s that allow a machine to use data to produce predicted outputs.

In marketing terms, this means that a program can gather relevant information, analyse it, and give a specific output, whether that is a prediction or action. This is an exciting prospect for businesses as it can lead to increased efficiency and decreased costs.

So, how can you, as an organisation, utilise machine learning?

Utilising Big Data – 

Digital is growing rapidly, and is fuelled by the amount of data available online, labelled as ‘Big Data’. IBM reported in 2013 that 90% of the world’s data had been produced in the last 2 years. Although this number may seem overwhelming, analysing it is HUGE business, with International Data Corporation predicting it to reach a value of $203 billion in 2020.

With this mass of data, analyst’s need the help of machines if they wish to be able to analyse it fully. Data Analytic programs allow this to an extent, but ML programs, such as Torch, have the ability to spot hidden correlations and patterns in this data, which can be used strategically.

Chat bots – 

Creating a dialogue with customers is crucial to businesses online, and one way to do this effectively is to use chat bots. Chat bots are becoming increasingly popular, and with good reason. Using a chat bot, a customer can open a dialogue to, for example, buy a coat. In this example, a customer would message the business through a messaging app such as Facebook Messenger, and the bot would then reply. The customer would then tell the bot what style/colour of coat it desires, and the bot would provide you with options matching your needs.

As a business, it allows you to communicate with huge numbers of customers on an individual basis, without the need for humans for each customer. This not only saves costs, but is a method that is increasingly preferred by customers, especially millennials. Although Chat bots are already beginning to revolutionise customer service, it is important to realise that the tool is still in its infancy, and so inevitably as technology advances, more and more opportunities concerning them will arise.

Image result for chat bot

Recruitment – 

Another way ML can improve your business activities involves recruitment. This is no more apparent than in ML tools used by companies like Zoho, such as Spark, which allows you to flip the equation in job searching – instead of candidates giving information and a list of vacancies being provided, Zoho uses information regarding the vacancy provided by the business, and supplies a list of candidates that best fit the role.

This can benefit your business because it ensures your prospective employees possess the traits you are seeking.

Oho landing page

Content Management –

With the swathe of content available to consumer’s, it is only natural that it becomes difficult for them to find the content they want to see. Businesses can address this problem through machine learning. By using a machine learning platform, businesses can use the data from previous content consumers have interacted with to predict other content that would be liked, and to ultimately produce content that resonates with their consumer’s. One such example of this is Pinterest. Pinterest use the previous images that their users have ‘pinned’ to suggest other images and content that users would like to see.

Image result for pinterest

This is Just the Start!

The benefits listed above should make it clear that ML has immense potential for business and marketing. It is now being used by giant companies, such as Google and Amazon, but there is no reason smaller companies could use it with just as much benefit. As the technology behind this area grows, organisations will be able to interact with and influence consumers like never before. Make sure you aren’t left behind.

Does your business use machine learning? How does it benefit you? What other benefits are available to businesses through this platform? Please share your opinion below.


by Rory Tarplee

LinkedIn

MSc Digital Marketing Student (Full Time)

 

8 Trends To Keep Your Eyes On In 2018

1. Instagram Stories Drive Upcoming Instagram Trends

Instagram Stories is a big deal and they’re not going away. Daily viewers of Instagram Stories surpassed daily SnapChat viewers just one year after launch, and the growth isn’t stopping.

Instagram Stories was likely the biggest single change in the Instagram UX, and its marketing implications are huge.

A huge deal with Instagram Stories is this: accounts with over 10,000 followers can now add a link within the feature. Considering the fact that the only other place you can put a link on Instagram is just the one buried on your profile page, this is a huge deal, as it multiplies buying or inquiry opportunities by orders of magnitude.

Instagram Stories in particular will be relevant from a marketing perspective because, compared to other transitory video platforms, Instagram metrics are eminently trackable.

A final note on Instagram Stories: Their foundation is social media engagement gold. Video drastically outperforms all other forms of content on every test.

2. Influencer Marketing Makes Major Contributions to Social Media Engagement

Influencer marketing is big business — a billion dollar industry by some counts. There is an exhaustive list of micro-celebrities who earn six figure incomes. And this isn’t a fluke. Influencer marketing is uniquely keyed to exploit certain facts about a growing number of buyers.
As Millennials advance their careers, and Generation Z starts theirs, an enormous population’s purchasing power is increasing swiftly. These two groups — who, combined, literally comprise most of the world’s population — are uniquely influenced by this marketing method.

3. Generation Z to Decide Social Media Trends

We’ve mentioned Generation Z in both of the previous topics for good reason.

RetailDive had this to say about Generation Z and their associated social media trends:

“Gen Z is two- to three times more likely to be influenced by social media than by sales or discounts — the only generation to value social media over price when it comes to making purchase decisions…”

Furthermore, 81% report watching at least one hour of online video per day, or more, according to a study by Fluent, covered by AdWeek. Combine these facts and realize that droves of Generation Z will graduate college and/or start careers next year, and you start to see the powder keg.

4. Messaging Platforms Make Companies Accessible

 

What do you know about WeChat? They’re a wee little Chinese messaging company . . . errr, one that’s looking to cross 1 billion users this quarter. WeChat and WhatsApp are absolutely ubiquitous across either ocean, reaching across many different functions to dominate social media, direct messaging, and even purchasing and commerce.

Every year more and more buyers are Millennials and Gen Z, and fewer and fewer are older. In case you’re not aware of these people’s overwhelming preferences when it comes to talking to a company, we’ll illustrate in their native language:

top-social-media-trends-20185. Live Streaming Explodes

Live streaming isn’t about live streaming. At least not in the way we’re going to be talking about it. You’re going to see a lot more of it in 2018, and the people who do it well will be fully with the times and accelerating. Its prevalence will increase because it works.

But there’s something more at work here.

It’s actually about technology. We get better phones every year. Does that mean that we’re running the same apps better? Sometimes. But once the technological baseline of the average user has clearly moved up a notch, it becomes about making more robust apps that do more and fully take advantage of that new technology.

The smartphones of today are better than what we used to have by orders of magnitude. Furthermore, our data speeds are better, and are poised to make yet another insane leap in the next few years when 5G becomes the standard.

Live streaming is a medium or implementation of social technology that’s uniquely positioned to take advantage of hardware improvements for the next several years. The resolution of an image the size of a phone screen can only get so good before you have to zoom in to see a difference.

But better video processing across the board means all devices involved can handle more streaming at a better quality across more channels at the same time. This is such a huge change that it’s possibly unclear that anyone is even capable of fully understanding the ramifications.

6. Twitter is Going to Change

And they themselves might not even know how just yet.

Twitter has been slowly circling the drain, in some respects, for a long time now. 2017 pulled no punches with the social network, either. Twitter needs to make some big changes to stay relevant, as its growth is the slowest of all the major social media platforms.

7. Online Hangouts Become the Norm

Online hangouts go hand-in-hand with the live streaming trend, and with Generation Z. Consider Houseparty — an app for multiple friends to essentially FaceTime with each other in a group setting.

Houseparty made quite a wave in 2017 with rapid growth, and hit its stride well enough to inspire copycats, including perhaps an effort on the way coming from (no surprise here) Facebook.

The online hangouts trend is also going to intersect with VR. Sure, everyone promised everything this year with VR and AR, and all that ultimately came of it was two weeks of Pokemon GO.

But this year actually has the potential to be different. Many promising programs have another year of beta testing still left under their belts, but the technologies are improving in exciting ways. Once again, Facebook is at the epicentre, with Facebook Spaces.

8. Social Platforms See More Hardcore Moderation

The last year or so has forced the hand of several tech and social media titans to intervene and play a more active role in content moderation. Those manoeuvres, in retrospect, felt more like damage control than any sort of final solution.

We’re likely going to see companies revisit this in a more significant or longer-lasting way, and definitely more proactive than reactive.

As leveraging social media outlets for marketing first took flight, some were dubious of their staying power. The years since have changed sceptic’s into believers, and what’s on the forefront will clearly and easily amplify the channels’ relevance even further.

2018 is here… but were you prepared?

2018 social media trends predict that time on social media platforms will increase. This means you will need to improve your online presence in the year to come.

 

By Richard Holland – MSc Digital Marketing Student

 

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