“Let’s be Honest” Rules the Roost

The Chinese New Year celebrations begin at the end of the month and 2017 is the year of the rooster (back to the chicken blogs Dr Peter Jones!). Apparently the rooster is a Chinese symbol of honesty, a quality that could be said to make or break a business. This led me to ponder on the requirement for honesty within an organisation and, despite the fact that truth is said to hurt, the difference that honesty can make.

Honesty is the best policy

How often have you heard that said? It’s certainly true in terms of crisis management and at some point or other all businesses will find themselves dealing with some form of crisis. Historically those businesses that have been dishonest have fared badly in these situations; BP notoriously handled the oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 poorly and dishonestly. Alton Towers on the other hand, have been repeatedly praised for their honest and straightforward response to the Smiler crash in June 2015. I’m a firm advocate of holding your hands up and admitting it when you get something wrong, then throwing all energies into making good any damage done and moving on.

I can see you!

Of course in these days of instant digital communication, businesses can’t hide their mistakes for long. There’s always some follower with a bug to bear that can’t wait to post or tweet negatively about a brand the minute a mishap occurs. Businesses seem to be getting wise to this and there are numerous examples of how organisations responded cleverly to crisis situations via their social media channels. The secret seems to be responding in a timely and appropriate manner…as well as being honest!

Lies, damned lies and statistics

Are dishonesty and lying the same thing do you think, or is one more intentional than the other? Either way, Volkswagen was hauled over the coals for lying about their emissions tests. That faux pas cost the company dearly, posting their first quarterly loss for 15 years in October 2015. Clearly it doesn’t benefit businesses to lie…unless they can get away with it.

One would hope that the businesses of today have learnt from these examples and that honesty and integrity prevail in order for the wheels of the business world to turn. The Federation of Small Businesses appears to be confident in the current economic forecast, so all bodes well for both the old red hens and the hatching businesses of 2017.

Doctor of Business Administration – a way to link industry with academia

Our Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) students are well established and recognised professionals in their fields in high-powered executive level jobs in various industries ranging from retail to corporate banking, from academia to government. One of our DBA students completed Staffordshire University’s Masters in Strategic Human Resource Management (HRM); another one had completed Staffordshire University’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) before joining the DBA programme, which demonstrates the varied progression options. Our DBA students come from diverse backgrounds both cultural and educational. They all have in common one thing though – they want to advance their careers as well as their respective fields, industries or companies through research.

Our DBA candidates use academic literature and rigorous research to develop new marketing metrics that will help firms in different industries predict their sales growth; they develop family business succession plans in countries where no such things exist; they investigate international trade opportunities in education services so that universities in their country can grow; some test existing models in new contexts, others develop new concepts and theories.

Such exciting collaboration enables Staffordshire University to be incredibly close to businesses at the highest level and contribute to their strategic decision making. One such example is a project that has spun out of a DBA research initiated by the HR Director of DFS.  A team of high calibre researchers presented findings directly to the DFS team and the cooperation flourishes. Read this post and this article to learn more.

In May our DBA students presented their research at a DBA symposium organised by the Chartered Association of Business Schools and Aston University Business School, where they worked with their peers from other DBA programmes and discussed their research under supervision of experienced academics, researchers and doctoral supervisors. The event was preceded by the Postgraduate Research Conference at Staffordshire University, to which our DBA students made a valuable contribution. In fact, authors of the very best papers were selected by the conference organisation committee to chair a session, giving students an important experience valued highly in academia. Later this year, our DBA students contributed to a very successful and productive DBA symposium organised by Cranfield School of Management and the British Association of Management in October. DBA candidates met with DBA supervisors, programme directors, and DBA students and graduates from universities all over the UK and abroad. Liaising with them enabled students to set a benchmark against the market standard and gauge their own progress. Debates and discussions about their research helped our students to develop confidence in articulating their research to specialist and non-specialist audiences. This is a key skill DBA candidates need to develop in order to be able to disseminate their research to practitioners as well as academics. This will also help them tremendously when they eventually defend their thesis during a viva voce examination.

     

Networking however doesn’t only happen at symposia or conferences. During the BAM symposium residential week our DBA students enjoyed an evening playing bowling with their peers and the Programme Director (who broke her finger trying to lift the side bars for them!). This was a great opportunity for our DBA candidates to get to know colleagues from other cohorts, who are in different stages of their doctorate, whilst trying something new as most of them had never bowled before. It strengthened the cohesion between and within cohorts and facilitated better teamwork and peer support amongst the DBA candidates, who are from different parts of the world.

To find out more about Staffordshire DBA contact the Programme Director
Dr Jana Fiserova, visit our website or follow us on Twitter #staffsDBA

The Six S’s of Social Success

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For the third month running Staffordshire University Business School’s social media presence has dominated the rankings in EduRank, the Education sector’s digital benchmarking platform. There’s been some serious online activity going on to get us there; Undergraduate Business Course Leader, Angela Lawrence, shares our Six S’s of Social Success, to let you into the secret of how we did it:

1. Spice It Up!
They say variety is the spice of life, so we like to spice things up with lots of different types of post. Everyone knows that pictures and videos go down well on social media platforms, but daily streaming of Facebook Live or Periscope is just going to bore followers. Our posts mix business news, staff and student news, education sector news, trending videos and yes, Facebook Live and Periscope from time to time too. All with a common business thread, to attract followers who are eager to see what we’ve got to say each day

2. Seamless Scheduling
We scoff at the cry “but I don’t have time to be posting on social media!” Regular feed is made easy by scheduling your posts, whether by adopting a social media management tool such as HootSuite or by using the simple scheduling tool available on Facebook pages. Half an hour a week and you can schedule an interesting post for each day; then supplement these with emerging news and trends, as and when something newsworthy arises.

3. Share the Load
It’s only fair that everyone contributes towards our social media presence; after all it belongs to students and staff alike. So we recruit student social media “gurus” who adopt a channel, be it Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram, then focus on contributing to that channel from time to time. The job of maintaining an engaging social media presence shouldn’t have to be onerous for a select few, neither should it adopt the same tone of voice; freshen it up with views from different angles!

4. Say it Again
Quite simply, repurpose the good stuff! Our Mothership, Staffordshire University social media, posts some great content; as do the Student Union, the Student Guidance team and other schools within the university. So why reinvent the wheel? If it’s relevant to our Business audience, then we repost it on our Business channels…simples!

5. Sound it Out
There’s nothing quite like keeping your ears to the ground. Follow the blogs and websites that are going to create interesting posts for your platforms. If you’re using a Social Media Management tool then you can set it up to do this for you. Klout is one of our favourites; not only does it measure our social media presence and suggest posts of interest, but it tracks how retweets, likes and shares change our Klout score, helping us to identify the posts that work well.

6. Shareability
We won’t baffle our audience with academic gobbledygook; we just say it as it is. Social media should be conversational, interesting and fun – it’s not the place to post your 10,000 word dissertation! It’s all about understanding Social Media Etiquette and maximising the shareability of your social messaging. The more shares, the higher the exposure and the higher you climb the rankings. So make it a conversation that followers want to join in on.

Technology, Opportunity and Entrepreneurship

Technology has fabulously changed our jobs market since it transformed the production landscape during the industrial revolution, but even more so in the past three decades. Like in the 16th century, many jobs that were once considered crucial are now obsolete, and new job descriptions are being created in the labour market even as many forms of automation are presently being integrated into the production process. One does not have to go far to see how technology has changed our lives in forms of communication, transportation, work and leisure. Your being able to read this article has been greatly enhanced by technology and I as the writer have had to have some basic skills in technology to be able to deliver this article to you.

As an economist, there used to be a time when my profession worried about what humankind would do when we ran out of oil but recent technological advancements have once again rendered that discussion archaic. There also used to be a time when the factors of production were firmly believed to be land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship but some economists will argue that there is a need to include one additional factor of production in the modern era – you guessed it “technology”.

So what does this mean for young people as they decide their future? Should we be scared of this trend? How far reaching will advancements in technology be felt? Humankind has been very fortunate to have been able to grasp the benefits of technology and we have used it to live longer healthier lives, explore space and other planetary objects, and open great doors for the future but we have also made many mistakes along the way. Young people need to wary of this and know that they have to be the ones to decide on how we harness this power and what we use it for.

Business Management students at BMW in Munich

Business Management students at BMW in Munich

My area of focus in economic research right now is entrepreneurship and I became interested in entrepreneurship particularly because entrepreneurs are the ones who combine all the other factors of production to actually benefit humankind. Without the entrepreneur, other factors of production would be idle. Entrepreneurs however need to be somewhat knowledgeable to be able to do their jobs properly. Adam Smith, one of my favourite economists used the example of a small grocery to illustrate this point:

“The owner of such an enterprise [a business] must be able to read, write, account, and must be a tolerable judge too of perhaps, fifty to sixty different sorts of goods, their prices, qualities, and the market where they are to be had cheapest.”

This example shows that a business owner needs a modest amount of education to function profitably. This education might not necessarily be formal but the entrepreneur must know their stuff.

In our current society we are awash with technological advancements and these seem to be changing the way we live and do business. Businesses that have not kept abreast of current vagaries or have been slow to make investments in innovation have found themselves left behind, and entrepreneurs will need to know that they will face the same fate if they do not stay knowledgeable about technological developments that affect their customers and market.

This also presents some opportunities for entrepreneurs as they can be avant-gardists and influencers of the future. Imagine the impact that innovators have had on our current society not just in terms of social media but virtually in all productive fields. The world needs smart means of using its limited resources to improve the quality of our lives, and individuals who can do this successfully will be blessed with the commensurate rewards.

A holistic education is thus needed to be successful in the present climate as well as an open mind and the right sort of social capital. As the saying goes “no one is an island” and “many hands make light work”. Business owners and potential successful entrepreneurs will also be wise not to jump into the water with both feet but to test out their ideas and products carefully before venturing out boldly into the wide world.