Business Research Seminar Series 2021-2022

The Research Seminar Series during the period October 2021 – January 2022 will be centered around the topics of innovation and entrepreneurship and will include the talks by Ema Talam, Dr Frederick Nyakudya, Professor Geoff Pugh and Dr Nebojsa Stojcic.

All our research seminars will be held on the last Wednesday of the month (detailed schedule is provided below) between 12.00 – 13.00 via Microsoft Teams

12.00-13.00, 27th October Innovation policies: How to enable firms to innovate more? – Speaker Ema Talam, Lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Staffordshire University

12.00-13.00, 24th November The effect of gender and resources on entrepreneurial activitySpeaker Dr Frederick Nyakudya, Senior Lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurhip, Staffordshire University

12.00-13.00, 15th December Promoting innovation by SME’S in traditional manufacturing industries: Why and how? – Speaker Geoff Pugh, Professor of Applied Economics, Staffordshire University

12.00-13.00, 26th January The spatial impact of entrepreneurial zones: Firm, city and inter-city evidence – Speaker Dr Nebojsa Stojcic, Vice Rector for Business affairs, University of Dubrovnik and Visiting Professor Staffordshrie University

Please contact Ema Talam (organiser of the series) if you have any queries ema.talam@staffs.ac.uk

Ema Talam and Dr Frederick Nyakudya both work on the new Help to Grow project linking research with knowledge exchange to regional businesses. Sign up now if your business would benefit from training and mentoring.

New Air Quality Guidelines from the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization has released new air quality guidelines (the first since 2005) which show that most people live in areas with poor air quality for one or more pollutants.

The new standards are the result of an enormous scietific review which has taken place over the last few years. The headline changes can be seen in Table 1 below

New Air quality stanards from WHO

I’m pleased to say I had a small part in the process attending a couple of international meetings to discuss and report on a systematic review that was carried out for WHO namely:

Fairburn, J.; Schüle, S.A.; Dreger, S.; Karla Hilz, L.; Bolte, G. Social Inequalities in Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution: A Systematic Review in the WHO European Region. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health201916, 3127. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16173127

The UK along with many other European countries had already been struggling to meet air quality standards agreed years ago with actions by the Commission against 18 member states.Of particular note are the new standards set for Nitrogen oxides and Particulates (PM2.5) which will be especially challenging.

The situation is already so bad in many UK cities that Clean Air Zones are either in place or being planned for many cities including Stoke on Trent, Bristol, Birmingham , and Manchester.

A large number of research programmes are examining ways to deal with this issue including Transitions Network (I chair the Advisory Board of this project), BioAirNet, Breathing City, CleanAirV, HEICCAM, and TAPAS.

The EU has already stated that they will be placing greater empahsis on the WHO standards and have recently opened a consultation on cleaner air.

Good practice exists particularly for some cities in continental Europe – the problem in the UK has long been a lack of political will to deal with the problem BUT radical measures will be needed to get the UK anywhere near to these standards and so reduce the 40,000 premature deaths due to air pollution which happen in the UK every year.

WHO Guidelines for air quality 2021

WHO AIR QUALITY GUIDELINES 2021

Resources

Air pollution data for every European country 1990-2019

Costs and health aspects of air pollution in the UK

State of Global Air and profiles for lots of countries

I maintain an air quality list on twitter here and you can follow me @profjonfairburn

You can read about some of my recent work with the World Health Organization here

Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship


Dr Bharati Singh, Course Leader, Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship


The Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship course is not only about being an entrepreneur or setting up your own business but it is actually understanding how innovation and entrepreneurship should really be at the heart of any business decision. Successful businesses today are the ones who have been really innovative, they have fresh thinking with an entrepreneurial mindset. In today’s dynamic business setting, both small and large companies harness entrepreneurial streaks.  

Business photo created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com

Entrepreneurship and innovation play a very important role within businesses of all shapes and sizes. Employees are expected to think outside the box which can only happen if employees can think innovatively. Today’s world is rather dynamic with the speed of innovation becoming faster, a shorter product life cycle, ever-changing consumer taste, technological advancement, competitor threat, changing government and legal landscape and other external factors not in the control of businesses.

In the face of the current pandemic, it becomes ever so important to be aware of the surrounding economic conditions and the political climate. To explore the ethical and unethical anomalies in the contemporary global political and global economic systems. Such systems can provide both challenges and opportunities.  

Sustainability has become a buzz word today. It is not only about shareholders and profitability anymore. Consumers, suppliers, governments and many other stakeholders now question the practices of businesses. Companies are expected to run their businesses with a social responsibility. The triple bottom line (Elkington 2018); which translates to people, profit and planet, need to be considered.  

Social vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Creative Destruction (Schumpeter, 1942) has taken a different meaning altogether in todays business environment. We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution and ‘disruption’ is at the heart of it. Companies go through continuous organisational change and hence, have to assess how to leverage innovative business models to remain competitive.   

Of course, to innovate or have an entrepreneurial streak and to sustain a competitive edge, it is imperative for individuals and companies to have a strategy. Strategy is key in business planning and entrepreneurial success. 

Thus, to gauge global challenges and opportunities, understand about the social enterprise, develop an entrepreneurial mindset, to be creative and innovative, develop sustainable business practices, leverage change management and have a strategy to maintain competitive advantage, reading for a degree in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship will enable students to hit the ground running. 


References: 

Elkington, J. (2018). 25 Years Ago I Coined the Phrase “Triple Bottom Line.” Here’s Why It’s Time to Rethink It. Harvard Business Review, June 25, 2018  

Schumpeter, J. 1942. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. New York: Harper & Bros.  

Marketing Campaigns that hit the mark


Angela Lawrence, Chartered Marketer, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Associate Dean in Staffordshire Business School


I’ve always been a lover of clever marketing campaigns and frequently pondered on what makes a campaign so successful. Having identified some really smart campaigns over the years, I decided that four things matter and I developed my own model. There are already a couple of well-known marketing models with four-letter acronyms, to support marketing communications planning – Chris Fill’s DRIP model and Elmo Lewis’ classic, long-established AIDA model. I’d like to propose a third, MIMI. Here’s how it goes:


The first M stands for MEMORABLE. If you remember a marketing campaign then you probably talk to your friends and family about it. Word of mouth is like a bush fire – it spreads! Getting people to talk about your marketing campaign is a sure way to drive engagement and acquisition.

One of the most memorable campaigns of my lifetime was probably the 1971 Coca Cola advert which was absolute genius in its time and one of my first early memories of colour TV. “It’s the Real Thing”, the famous Coca Cola tagline will forever ring out to the tune of “I’d like to teach the world to sing” for me – most definitely memorable!


The I is for IMPACTFUL. If a campaign doesn’t make an impact, doesn’t drive a call to action, doesn’t change anything, then its probably a wasted investment. We invest in marketing campaigns because we want something to happen, whether that be purchase of a product or service, driving awareness or encouragement to sign up for further communications.

My favourite campaign in terms of the impact that it had, was the 2004 Dove Real Beauty campaign by the then Ogilvy and Mather. In terms of impact, this campaign

  • displaced 171 million banners with negative impact
  • reached 5.5 million unique women
  • drove 50% of the women who visited the Dove Ad Makeover site to create a message

The campaign extended beyond promoting a vision for beauty equality, by increasing sales of Dove from $2.5 to $4 billion in the campaigns’ first ten years. Dove soap bars became Unilever’s best-selling product company wide. That’s what I call impact!

The second M of my model stands for MEASUREABLE. Marketing costs money and every good finance officer will demand to know what the ROI will be before agreeing to your budget request. In todays world of digital marketing this is so much easier, with metrics such as Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost per Impression (CPI), Click Through Rate (CTR), conversion rate, number of visitors, post engagement, interactions, page views and many, many more. The hashtag has become a strong indicator of success – #MeToo, #BeKind, #LikeaGirl, #BlackLivesMatter and #NeverAgain resonate with me and illustrate the power of the online environment.

A truly measurable campaign that I think was just brilliant in its time was the EPICA award-winning Mini Getaway campaign in 2010. iPhones had only been around for 3 years, so a campaign developed around an app, to engage and encourage involvement was truly genius. I would hazard a guess that not many readers of this blog have ever seen this campaign, watch the video at the link above and I think you’ll agree that it’s Memorable, Impactful and Measurable without a doubt.


Finally, there is another I, this time for IDENTIFIABLE. It’s imperative that receivers of any campaign messaging need to be able to identify the product or brand. Some brands are identifiable purely by their colour – did you know that RAC orange is a unique colour? What colour are the McDonald arches? If I mention Cadburys, what colour would you associate with the brand?

Other brands are identifiable by a tune containing the tag line or even the brand name – think of Go Compare and you will no doubt sing it. The monotone, single note tune for We Buy Any Car still ring in my head, and as I’ve already said, Coca Cola is the Real Thing in the song from the 70’s ad. Other brands are identifiable by a character, such as the Compare the Market meercats, the Michelin Man, the Jolly Green Giant providing your sweetcorn, the Pillsbury Doughboy and my personal favourite, Captain Birdseye.

Memorable, Impactful, Measurable and Identifiable – I challenge you to apply my MIMI model to your favourite marketing campaign. In fact, why not come and study a marketing qualification with us at Staffordshire Business School, to learn for yourself how to develop and deliver marketing campaigns that truly hit the mark.

BA (Hons) Digital and Social Media Marketing

Masters in Digital Marketing Management

CIM Certificate or Diploma in Professional Digital Marketing

Research on SME innovation especially in traditional manufacturing regions Part 2

By Prof Geoff Pugh and Prof Jon Fairburn

Part 1 of this article can be found here

  • Radicic, D., Pugh, G. and Douglas, D. (2018). Promoting cooperation in innovation ecosystems: Evidence from European traditional manufacturing SMEs, Small Business Economics. Accepted 01-08-2018. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11187-018-0088-3

Abstract

We investigate whether public support for innovation increases the propensity of SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries to cooperate for innovation—in particular, for incremental innovation—with other firms and external knowledge providers. Using data from seven EU regions, we find that support programmes do not promote cooperation with competitors, marginally promote cooperation with customers and suppliers and strongly promote cooperation with knowledge providers. These findings suggest that, in this case, the role of public policy is systems conforming rather than systems creating. Innovation support programmes can assist SMEs in traditional manufacturing industry to consolidate and/or extend their innovation ecosystems beyond familiar business partners by promoting cooperation with both private and public sector knowledge providers. Finally, our findings suggest that evaluation studies of innovation support programmes should be designed to capture not only input and/or output additionality but also behavioural and systemic effects.

Keywords

SMEs; Traditional manufacturing industry; Innovation ecosystems; Innovation policy; Cooperation for innovation; Behavioural additionality 

  • Radicic, D., Douglas, D., Pugh, G. and Jackson, I. (2018). Cooperation for innovation and its impact on technological and non-technological innovations: empirical evidence for European SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries, International Journal of Innovation Management. Accepted 07-09-2018. https://doi.org/10.1142/S1363919619500464

Abstract.

Drawing on a sample of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in traditional manufacturing industries from seven EU regions, this study investigates how cooperation with external organisations affects technological (product and process) innovations and non-technological (organisational and marketing) innovations as well as the commercial success of product and process innovations (i.e., innovative sales). Our empirical strategy takes into account that all four types of innovation are potentially complementary. Empirical results suggest that cooperation increases firms’ innovativeness and yields substantial commercial benefits. In particular, increasing the number of cooperation partnerships has a positive impact on all measures of innovation performance. We conclude that a portfolio approach to cooperation enhances innovation performance and that innovation support programs should be demand-led.

From the MAPEER project:

  • Radicic, D. and Pugh, G (2016).  R&D programmes, policy mix, and the “European Paradox”: evidence from European SMEs, Science and Public Policy, 44 ( 4 ) ( 2017 ), pp. 497 – 512. doi: 10.1093/scipol/scw077. First published online: October 2, 2016.

Abstract

Using a sample of small and medium-sized enterprises from twenty-eight European countries, this study evaluates the input and output additionality of national and European Union (EU) R&D programmes both separately and in combination. Accordingly, we contribute to understanding the effectiveness of innovation policy from the perspective of policy mix. Empirical results are different for innovation inputs and outputs. For innovation inputs, we found positive treatment effects from national and EU programmes separately as well as complementary effects for firms supported from both sources relative to firms supported only by national programmes. For innovation outputs, we report no evidence of additionality from national programmes and cannot reject crowding out from EU programmes. However, crowding out from EU support is eliminated by combination with national support. These findings have policy implications for the governance of R&D policy and suggest that the European paradox—success in promoting R&D inputs but not commercialisation—is not yet mitigated.

Key words: R&D support; SMEs; policy mix; input and output additionality; European paradox

  • Radicic, D. and Pugh, G. (2017). Performance Effects of External Search Strategies in European Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Journal of Small Business Management, 55, 76-114. First published on-line: Feb.15th 2017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jsbm.12328                                      

Abstract.

There is little evidence regarding the performance impact of open innovation on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially across different firm-size categories and sectors. Using new survey data from 28 European countries, we specify ordered logit and generalized proportional odds models to explore how seven individual external search strategies (knowledge sources) affect SME innovation performance across different size categories and sectors. While we find some consistently positive effects, in particular from using customers as an external knowledge source, we also find that some search strategies may not be beneficial. These findings suggest managerial and policy implications.

  • Radicic, D. (2020). National and international R&D support programmes and technology scouting in European small and medium enterprises. Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management 11(4), 455-482.  https://doi.org/10.1108/JSTPM-10-2019-0091

Abstract

Purpose. This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of national and international R&D support programmes on firms’ technology scouting, defined as firms’ use of external knowledge sources.

Design/methodology/approach. Drawing on a unique data set on R&D support programmes for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in both manufacturing and service sectors across 28 European countries, this study reports treatment effects estimated by the copula-based endogenous switching model, which takes into account unobserved firm heterogeneity.

Findings. Empirical results indicate that R&D support programmes have heterogeneous effects on technology scouting. In particular, a crowding-out effect arises in the case of informal sources of external knowledge, whereas additional effects are reported for formal, strategic sources.

Practical implications. For informal sources of external knowledge, a random distribution of R&D measures would have a substantially larger effect rather than using current selection criteria.

Originality/value. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to explore the policy effects on technology scouting applying a copula-based endogenous switching model. Most cross-sectional empirical studies use matching estimators, although their main disadvantage is the selection on observables.

Key words External knowledge search; Behavioural additionality; Copula-based endogenous switching model; European SMEs; Technology

Email g.t.pugh@staffs.ac.uk or jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk

Part 1 of this article can be found here

Research on SME innovation especially in traditional manufacturing regions Part 1

By Prof Geoff Pugh and Prof Jon Fairburn

Introduction

About the projects

The two projects are the following.

  • GPrix project (November 2009 – February 2012) commissioned by the European Commission’s DG-Research. Full title: Good Practices in Innovation Support Measures for SMEs: facilitating transition from the traditional to the knowledge economy; Instrument: SP4-Capacities—CSA—Support Action; Call: FP7-SME-2009-1; Grant agreement Number: 245459. The website for this project, including aa very large number of deliverables etc., is currently available at http://business.staffs.ac.uk/gprix/en/index.htm
  • MAPEER project commissioned by the European Commission’s DG-Research. Full title: Making Progress and Economic Enhancement a Reality for SMEs. Funded under FP7-SME. Grant agreement ID: 245419. The MAPEER project website is no longer available but the results are reported in summary form on CORDIS: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/93511/factsheet/en

The two projects coordinated their questionnaire surveys to facilitate analysis and eventual publication. Together, participants at Staffordshire University contributed to seven publications arising from these datasets.

The GPrix project focused on evaluating innovation support measures for SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries. In brief, three published articles and a UNI-MERIT Working Paper arising from the project reported that:

  • the estimated effects of innovation support programs are positive, typically increasing the probability of innovation and of its commercial success;
  • although innovation support measures in the EU are mostly designed to support product innovation in R&D intensive sectors, for firms in traditional manufacturing industries a broader innovation (policy) mix is more appropriate, including support for product innovation, process innovation, marketing and organizational innovations (of particular importance), together with internationalization, design and cooperation;
  • innovation support programmes can assist SMEs in traditional manufacturing industry to consolidate and/or extend their innovation ecosystems by promoting cooperation with both private and public sector knowledge providers, suggesting that initial input and/or output additionality from public support may be propagated and amplified by behavioural and systemic effects; and
  • increasing the number of cooperation partnerships has a positive impact on all measures of innovation performance.

The MAPEER project focused on innovation support for SMEs more generally. Three articles arising from this project reported:

  • that the “European paradox” regarding SME support — i.e. success in promoting R&D inputs but not commercialisation — is not yet mitigated;
  • new evidence on “open innovation” strategies, suggesting not only some consistently positive effects, in particular from using customers as an external knowledge source, but also that some search strategies may not be beneficial;  and
  • evidence that R&D support programmes have heterogeneous effects on technology scouting – defined as firms’ use of external knowledge sources – including a crowding-out effect on informal sources of external knowledge but additionality with respect to  formal, strategic sources.

For convenience, the abstracts of all seven contributions are reproduced below

From the GPrix project:

  • Radicic, D., Pugh, G., Hollanders, H., Wintjes, J., and Fairburn, J. (2016). The impact of innovation support programs on small and medium enterprises innovation in traditional manufacturing industries: An evaluation for seven European Union regions. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 34(8) (December): 1425-1452. First published online December 18, 2015. doi:10.1177/0263774X15621759 

Abstract

We evaluate the effect of innovation support programs on output innovation by small and medium enterprises in traditional manufacturing industry. This focus is motivated by a definition of traditional manufacturing industry that includes capacity for innovation, and by evidence of its continued importance in European Union employment. We conducted a survey in seven European Union regions to generate the data needed to estimate pre-published switching models by means of the copula approach, from which we derived treatment effects on a wide range of innovation outputs. We find that for participants the estimated effects of innovation support programs are positive, typically increasing the probability of innovation and of its commercial success by around 15%. Yet, we also find that a greater return on public investment could have been secured by supporting firms chosen at random from the population of innovating traditional sector small and medium enterprises. These findings indicate the effectiveness of innovation support programs while suggesting reform of their selection procedures.

Keywords

Small and medium enterprises, evaluation, traditional manufacturing, innovation support, innovation outputs

Abstract

Innovation support measures in the EU are mostly designed to support product innovation in R&D intensive sectors. To increase the still considerable contribution to regional employment and competitiveness from SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries a broader innovation (policy) mix is more appropriate. This paper draws data from a survey of more than 300 SMEs from seven regions within the European Union, as well as case studies, to address the question: How can innovation policy interventions be improved to support SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries more effectively? We claim that innovation support should be sensitive to the way SMEs in traditional manufacturing sectors innovate and grow. We find that product innovation (and support used for product innovation) is less likely to generate growth, than (support used for) process innovation. Also (support used for) marketing innovations and organizational innovations are of particular importance – together with internationalization, design and cooperation. The increasingly selective application procedures applied are not the most efficient to generate impact, since those who are supported (and those who are supported more frequently), are the ones who are most likely to take the same innovative steps anyhow, irrespective of policy support.

Keywords

Innovation; SMEs; traditional sectors; low-tech; policy evaluation; manufacturing; process innovation

Part 2 of this article can be found here

Email g.t.pugh@staffs.ac.uk or jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk

Resilience is the new normal

By Marzena Reska

The global pandemic has put resiliency on the agenda of every company in the world. As they cope with the seismic changes brought about by COVID-19, businesses of all sizes and types have needed to adapt to remote work, reconfigured physical workspaces, and revised logistics and supply networks. They’ve also changed operating procedures to cope with the pandemic’s risks and effects.

But what do companies do now?

The reality is that supply chain shocks are usually impossible to predict but happen with frustrating regularity. That means real value is at stake.

The promising news is that organisations can both protect against downside risks, such as pandemics, and gain substantial economic returns from increased output and productivity. 

The successful organisations  today, and in the years ahead, will redesign their operations and their supply chains to protect against a wider and more acute range of potential shocks and disruptive events. Thus, there is a need for increased visibility on both the demand and supply side.

Supply chain digitization can enable organisations to have visibility across the whole value chain—from the production of raw materials to the end customer—and better meet the needs of their customers. A bonus: it improves the agility and responsiveness of operations without increasing costs. In fact, research by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with McKinsey, shows that companies often achieve significant and simultaneous improvements in multiple performance measures when they integrate advanced digital technologies across the value chain.

Marzena Reska
Marzena Reska

Before the coronavirus hit, most companies were already accelerating the digital transformation of their customer journeys and value chains. The expectation is digital technologies to be at the core of the new normal, enabling organisations to better meet the needs of their customers, and improving the agility and responsiveness of operations without increasing their costs. Companies often achieve significant and simultaneous improvements across multiple performance measures when they integrate advanced digital technologies across the value chain. This  also allows them to build  resilience which is an internal trait, but the disciplines and strategies that support it can also have a far wider reach.

During the crisis, many businesses have been able to overcome staff shortages by automating processes or developing self-service systems for customers. These approaches can accelerate workflows and reduce errors—and customers often prefer them. 

Digital approaches can transform customer experience and significantly boost enterprise value when applied end to end.

Also, technology-enabled methodologies can significantly accelerate cost-transparency work, compressing months of effort into weeks or days. These digital approaches include procurement-spending analysis and clean-sheeting, end-to-end inventory rebalancing, and capital-spend diagnostics and portfolio rationalization.  However, the businesses will need to be smart and careful in their approach. Leading organisations are adopting increasingly sophisticated techniques in their strategic planning, assessing each resource and opportunity very carefully as the environment changes and new data emerge.

Now, with the likelihood of prolonged uncertainty over supply, demand, and the availability of resources COVID-19  represents the trigger for operations functions to adopt an agile approach to transformation.

Useful articles

‘’Risk, Resilience, and rebalancing in global value chains’’, (2020), S. Lund; J. Manyika; J. Wotzel, E. Barribal; B. Krishnan; A. Knut; M.

https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/coronavirus-leading-through-the-crisis

20 years’ smart city research marching on – what’s next?

Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean Research and Enterprise, Staffordshire Business School


By 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in towns and cities, resulting in the consumption of over 70% of energy, and the emission of an equal amount of greenhouse gases (European Commission, 2019). The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating the challenges that cities have already been facing from multiple fronts such as rapid urbanisation, digital disruptions, demographic, climate and environmental changes, economic restructuring and reforms. Covid-19 is changing how urban residents live, work and commute and reshaping economic structures and business models. In the current global battle against Covid-19, smart cities have a pivotal role to play in responding to the crisis in terms of track-and-trace of coronavirus cases using smart technologies, enforcing social distancing rules, getting homeless people off the streets, and special emergency measures for care homes, to give just a few examples.

The concept of a smart city has been seen as a strategy to tackle the grand challenges facing urban planning and development. Smart city is a fuzzy word with various terms being used – intelligent city, digital city, green city, knowledge city, and smart sustainable city. Research on smart city can be traced back to the 1990s, taking on many perspectives, mostly in four aspects: the technological aspect including the technological infrastructure and support network for building smart cities, the socio-cultural aspect, or citizen engagement, the political-institutional aspect, such as government support and policies, and the economic-business aspect, namely business models and profitability.

A team of researchers (Prof Zhao, Dr Olushola Fashola, Dr Tolulope Olarewaju and Dr Ijeoma Onwumere) at Staffordshire Business School have been investigating what has been done in smart city research over the past 20 years. After a systematic and comprehensive literature review, the research team found that smart city research tends to revolve around six key areas: digital technology diffusion, smart city strategy and implementation, supply chains and logistics, urban planning and governance, smart city entrepreneurship and innovation, and Smart city evaluation and measurement. The team also identified four major challenges for small city research: (a) smart city research is often fragmented and technology-driven; (b) many studies are on perceived benefits of smart cities and fewer on the downsides of the effect of technologies and failure projects; (c) there is a need to build new theories for smart city research; and (d) there is a lack of empirical testing of the conceptual frameworks developed in smart city research. Furthermore, the team found that there was very limited research on crisis management in smart city before 2020. However, the research landscape is changing with emerging literature investigating how smart cities respond to crises and pandemics, and exploring strategies that can be used to tackle swiftly the crisis effectively at both strategic and operational levels.

Directions for future research and practice in smart cities are proposed.  If you want to know more and/or seeking for collaboration, please contact Prof Fang Zhao – Associate Dean Research and Enterprise at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.

Awareness and Corporate Social Responsibility

Storm Barratt, Course Director, Staffordshire Business School


Almost never a day goes by, when we aren’t reminded that “today” is National, International or even Global “something” awareness day or week or month. From the ever-popular Christmas Jumper day to my own particular favourite – National Squirrel Appreciation Day (!), from National Allotment week to Fairtrade fortnight to National Bed month.

All of these campaigns are designed to raise awareness and/or funds for some serious and not so serious issues. So, why as a business, would you want to know this?

Firstly, all businesses have basic ethical and legal responsibilities; however, the most successful businesses establish a strong foundation of corporate citizenship, showing a commitment to ethical behaviour by creating a balance between the needs of shareholders and the needs of the community and environment in the surrounding area. These practices help bring in consumers and establish brand and company loyalty.

It is considered normal for businesses to balance the other stakeholders’ needs with those of the shareholders during the decision-making process. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goes even further, making the general public a stakeholder and shows that the business wishes to actively improve things for everyone.

Image Source: www.growthbusiness.co.uk

For any business making a profit is still key and, of course, the needs of employees, customers and suppliers must be satisfied if the business is to survive. However, Corporate Social Responsibility has become far more important over the last few decades with consumers worrying about how the products they buy were made and how companies that they buy from are run. On many company websites there will be narratives of how they look after the environment and all the CSR initiatives of which they are a part.

Corporate social responsibility comes in many forms. Even the smallest company impacts social change by making a simple donation to a local food bank. Some of the most common examples of CSR include:

  • Reducing carbon footprints
  • Improving labour policies
  • Participating in Fairtrade
  • Charitable giving
  • Volunteering in the community
  • Corporate policies that benefit the environment
  • Socially and environmentally conscious investments

The growing popularity of National Awareness Days can tap into these initiatives helping a company both internally and externally.


One internal perspective is if your employees can see that the business is taking a caring approach, by raising funds for charity for instance, involving the staff may mean that they become more motivated to engage with each other working towards a common goal. In fact, whilst “Wear a Christmas Jumper to Work” day seems an opportunity to raise a smile amongst colleagues as we approach the long dark winter months, the serious aspect is that the jumper wearers are raising money for a great cause.

Another perspective is using “Awareness Days” to help a business promote their product or service (all the better if this can also highlight the CSR approach taken by the company). The issues can make an ideal marketing tool for a business, providing inspiration for marketing content.

By adding context to an awareness day, a business can plan their content by linking a day to their product or service, so for example an artisan baker could showcase their expertise and knowledge during Real Bread Week, or a nutritionist could use National Allotment Week to encourage healthy and organic eating whilst promoting their own healthy eating programme.

It’s not just about direct promotion though. Awareness days can provide a great opportunity for a business to engage in conversation with future consumers via social media using hashtags associated with the cause, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This will allow people to find and contact you, consequently building your audience.

From engaging with employees to good PR to corporate social responsibility, supporting a national awareness day is a great way to show which values are important to you and your business. It can differentiate you from your competitors and allow you to build partnerships with charities and organisations that share your beliefs. With the potential to build trust as well as give a little back, it’s a win-win situation for all.


Become a responsible leader of global business.

Do you want to be at the forefront of modern enterprise? Our BA (Hons) Business Management and Sustainability course challenges the traditional interpretations of enterprise and will open your mind to a broad range of contemporary themes in business.

Our emphasis on ethical business and sustainability will position you to create long-lasting value for your organisation and you will learn the practical skills needed to become a responsible business leader.

Innovation to survive and thrive Part 2

By Tanya Hemphill

Part 1 of Tanya’s article can be found here

STAGE TWO

Once you have used these initial basic filters to find the strongest ideas, the next stage is to use a more in-depth filter to make decisions on the remaining ideas. Day (2007) recommends using a risk matrix. The R-W-W matrix is based to three key questions:

  • Is it Real?
  • Can we Win?
  • Is it Worth doing?

This is expanded into the following set of questions:


Is it
real?

Is the market real?
Is there a need or desire
for the product?
Can the customer buy it?
Is the size of the
potential market
adequate?
Will the customer buy the
product?

Is the product real?
Is there a clear concept?
Can the product be made?
Will the final product satisfy
the market?

Can we
win?

Can the product be
competitive?

Does it have a competitive
advantage?
Can the advantage be
sustainable?
How will competitors
respond?

Can our company be
competitive?

Do we have superior
resources?
Do we have appropriate
management?
Can we understand and
respond to the market?

Is it worth doing?

Will the product be
profitable at an
acceptable risk?

Are forecasted returns
greater than costs?
Are the risks acceptable?

Does launching the product
make strategic sense?

Does the product fit our
overall growth strategy?
Will top management
support it?

STAGE THREE

Once a few viable marketing innovation ideas remain, the next stage is to consider the risks even further. This is where conducting a pre-mortem is a useful tool. This helps organisations identify the possible failures of a project before they happen and mitigate risk by pre-planning so that those failures don’t occur.

The following pre-mortem exercise has been adapted from Gray et al. (2010).

Activity
Step 1Imagine we are two years in the future.
Things have gone completely wrong.
What could have caused this? Generate a list of all the reassons failure occurred.

Step 2List all concerns and rank them to
deterimine priority
Step 3Address the 2 or 3 items of greatest
concern and list what actions you would
need to take to stop the issues
happening.

The list of risks and actions that need to be taken to mitigate the risk can be used as Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for an innovation or project launch.

Hopefully, this article has helped you think about the different types of innovation you can potentially pursue and how to evaluate the best route forward, using a systematic filtering process.

STOP PRESS -We are now recruting for cohort 5 of the Small Business Leadership Programme (free starts 30th March)

References

Day, G. (2007) Is it real? Can we win? Is it worth doing? Managing Risk and Reward in an Innovation Portfolio. [Online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2007/12/is-it-real-can-we-win-is-it-worth-doing-managing-risk-and-reward-in-an-innovation-portfolio (Accessed 11 February 2021).

Fisk, P. (2017). Gamechangers: Are you ready to change the World? Creating Innovative Strategies for Business and Brands. West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Gower, L. (2015) The Innovation Workout. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

Gray, D., Brown, S. & Macanufo, J. (2010) Game Storming: A Playbook for Inovators, Rulebreakers, an Changemakers. Sebastopol: O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Keeley, L., Pikkel, R., Quinn, B. and Walters, H. (2013). Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of Building Breakthroughs. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Osterwalder, A. and Pigneur, Y. (2010). Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.