Staffordshire Business School

Featured

In this blog you can find links to all of our courses and social media pages

Kerry Edge, Administrative Assistant Recruitment


At Staffordshire Business School we offer a range of undergraduate, postgraduate and professional courses, delivered either full-time, part-time or via distance learning. More information on each individual subject and course can be found below:

Undergraduate

Postgraduate

PhD

Professional Courses

We also have a selection of professional courses in Business, Marketing and Human Resource Management.

Social Media

To keep up to date on all of our latest news and events make sure you follow us on social media. Here are links to all of our social media channels:

Webinar: Air Quality Inequity for Clean Air Day 2021

On Clean Air Day 17th June 2021, the Environment Agency will be hosting presentations and panel discussions on environmental equity and presenting interim findings from the ‘Joint Air Quality Health Inequalities’ project. Join us to hear the latest air quality and inequity updates with a focus on the ‘lived experiences’ of those most effected by inequity.

Date: Thursday 17th June 2021 Time 10:00 – 12:00

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84418088277?pwd=L09oU0grYkYraFBVeEVMbTJWTkp2QT09

Meeting ID: 844 1808 8277 Passcode: 7ARbT0

Overview:

At a population level air pollution presents the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. Air pollution can lead to both short and long term health term issues for all, but impacts on some groups more than others, such as the young and elderly, minority ethnic communities, those living in areas of high deprivation, those with existing health inequities and those working in high exposure jobs. We know that the inequities gap is widening and that these inequities have been exacerbated by Covid-19.

Webinar 1# : Inequities, Challenges, ‘AQ Inequalities Project’ Summary & Review

Overview: Framing key issues and the main challenges that exist, as well as presenting interim findings from the ‘Joint Air Quality Inequalities’ project.

Time: 10:00 – 11:00

  • Presentation on ‘Joint Air quality Inequalities Project’ – Joe Swift & Julian Watkins (Environment Agency)

Webinar 2#: Lived Experiences – Outcomes/Actions/Solutions

Overview: NGO and community action and lived experience; exploring success stories; interventions and innovative projects.

Time: 11:00 – 12:00

  • Panel discussion

#CleanAirDay

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84418088277?pwd=L09oU0grYkYraFBVeEVMbTJWTkp2QT09

Meeting ID: 844 1808 8277 Passcode: 7ARbT0 Time 10.00-12.00 17th June

Author details

Jon Fairburn is Professor Sustainable Development at Staffordshire University. He maintains an air quality list on twitter here. You can access his publications here.

Email jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk

Clean Air Day 2021
#CleanAirDay 2021

Digital Entrepreneurship in the Wake of Covid-19

As part of Staffordshire University’s Innovation Enterprise Zone webinar series, Professor Fang Zhao – Associate Dean Research and Enterprise and Julia Roberts, Entrepreneur in Residence of Staffordshire Business School presented a webinar titled ‘Digital Entrepreneurship in the wake of Covid-19’ on 5th May 2021. The presentation explored and discussed a range of opportunities of the digital transformation accelerated by Covid-19 for digital entrepreneurship from both research and practice perspectives. (https://www.staffs.ac.uk/events/2021/05/digital-entrepreneurship-in-the-wake-of-covid-19)

Please email fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk should you wish to know more.

Waking up from a Pandemic: Some personal reflections and questions

Dr Jenny Gale – Senior LEcturer, STaffordshire Business SChool


One of the initial objectives of the incoming Conservative government in 1979 was to reduce the size (cost) of the public sector through a major privatisation programme.  This included British Telecom in 1984, British Gas in 1986, British Steel in 1988, Water in 1989, and Electricity in 1990 to 1991.  However, reducing the size and cost of the public services presented a more difficult challenge. As well as contributing to social stability, public services that are free at the point of delivery are politically sensitive, due to their value and importance in the eyes of the British electorate. Disposing of a free public good through wholesale privatisation would evoke too much hostility, risking serious social and political consequences. Furthermore, unlike other tangible products, public services cannot be stored, making the prospect of disruption of services highly undesirable. Consequently, attention turned to neo-liberalism including the ‘marketisation’ of the public services, as a way of  reducing their cost and drain on the UK economy.

The above is an abridged excerpt from my PhD, completed in 2008.  I revisited it recently during my personal reflections after a year of social restrictions and unprecedented government intervention to shore up businesses and peoples’ working lives.  At the time I wrote my thesis I harboured that familiar feeling of unease that something was lurking in our future.  Something that would force a re-think of these ideas and about how we should work and live particularly with regards to climate change and our provisions for managing future health crises. 

The debates relating to the value of public services-vs-being a drain on the economy, particularly with regard to health has been thrust back into the spotlight in a way that was, actually, not hard to imagine and was in fact predicted (but not really acted on).  Sure, there was always the possibility of a pandemic, after all they have happened before and during a time when the NHS didn’t even exist.  However, the 21st century, characterised by a complex technological and geographical inter-connectedness has intensified the pursuit of economic wealth accompanied by the sheer speed of capital, people (and viruses) moving around the globe. The pursuit of wealth and its continuing concentration into fewer, ever more powerful hands, was already argued to be a glaring betrayal of the needs of humanity – ‘Profit over People’ to quote the title of a publication by Noam Chomsky.   

Dame Vivienne Westwood and actor Ralf Little joined a march in London in protest at NHS underfunding. Photograph: Szymanowicz/REX/Shutterstock

In the UK, the media, public service employees and their unions have highlighted the lack of investment (often disputed by government ministers) in the NHS – OK, whatever.  However, neither austerity nor any supposed investment prepared us for COVID.  Like many people, I am now reflecting on certain questions.  Will the investment in scientific endeavour as a way of improving human health, equality and the planet increasingly morph into meaningful international cooperation on a grand scale?  Are governments going to press on with neo-liberal, free-market policies and consumerism despite their inability to build a prosperous and fair global society for most people?  Or, will we see a return to the Big State long-term and if so, what other problems would that create and for who?

Alternatively, are we heading towards a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism (circa 2030) where, apparently, ‘you will own nothing and you will be happy’, because you will rent everything from those who do? Note that the wealthy and powerful proposing this ‘alternative’ at the World Economic Forum did not say ‘we will have nothing, and we will be happy’.  Such a ‘Great Reset’ could further increase dependency on fewer but bigger and more powerful players providing our commodities – is this a solution, or a magnification of the existing problem?  

Anyway, our current political spectrum is unlikely to produce the necessary vision for business, health or the environment particularly while those with vested interests in the status quo keep calling the shots.  If the combined crises of a pandemic and global warming are not enough for us all to really ‘wake up’ and work collaboratively towards a new vision, nothing ever will be (apart from maybe an alien invasion or a very large meteorite!).

Is there a chance of rejoining the EU?

Professor Geoffrey Pugh, Staffordshire Business SChool


This blog considers the political potential for the UK to rejoin the EU in, say, the next ten to 15 years.

Before the 2016 Referendum, Leavers displayed most of the passion. Remainers tended to be lukewarm in their support for the EU. Yet, after the Referendum, there was an upsurge in commitment to “Europe” – displayed in hundreds of thousands marching and six million people signing a petition to cancel Brexit – with a consistent minority wanting to commit to rejoining. If remainers display the kind of commitment displayed by UKIP, so the argument goes, then over time the ground might be prepared for a similarly spectacular reversal.

Whether this perspective can gain traction depends on both (i) long-run demographic and cultural changes in the UK and (ii) economic developments in the UK but also in the EU. Rob Ford and Maria Sobolewska (https://ukandeu.ac.uk/demographic-change-public-opinion-and-brexit/) demonstrate that generational change and the increasing share in the UK population of graduates are steadily increasing the relative political weight of the more Europhile social groups.

Against the background of long-run demographic and cultural trends, the point of this article is to argue that economic developments in both the UK and the EU will also be a major influence on the politics of rejoining. My argument can be reduced to a 2´2 matrix highlighting four potential outcomes.

  1. Economic performance in both the UK and the EU continues to be “bad”. By bad, I mean average annual economic growth at around one per cent (so that a doubling of average living standards takes about 70 years). This is almost too slow to notice and too little to satisfy competing demands.
  2. Economic performance in both the UK and the EU proves to be “good”, which means average annual economic growth at around 2.5 per cent (so that a doubling of average living standards takes less than 30 years). This should be sufficient to address competing claims on national income (e.g. for both reducing regional inequalities and investing in green technologies).
  3. Economic performance in the UK is “good” but in the EU “bad”.
  4. Economic performance in the UK is “bad” but in the EU “good”.

In each of the four cells, I add the implications for a successful campaign to create momentum to rejoin the EU.

Post-Brexit economic outcomes (Bad or Good) and
prospects for a movement to rejoin (cell contents)

Next, I explain (i) the economic reasoning that makes each set of outcomes plausible together with (ii) the reasoning behind each set of implications.

1) EU “bad” + UK “bad”.

Productivity growth (as measured by, say, the value of output per worker per year) has been very low in all the developed countries since the Global Financial Crisis. If this “secular stagnation” continues, then the economic outlook for the EU and UK alike is “bad”. The UK has probably made a bad situation somewhat worse by weakening trade integration with the EU, which will reduce incentives for the most innovative and productive firms to invest, produce and employ in the UK.

For its part, the EU seems unable to resolve the macroeconomic imbalances and consequent growth constraints imposed by the single currency. For different countries to share a single currency, their economies need to be much more deeply integrated than is the current position in the Eurozone. For example, if some countries are experiencing trade deficits and recession (e.g. Italy) while others are in surplus and growing (e.g. Germany) then to compensate for the absence of independent monetary policy (which would enable Italy to reduce interest rates and depreciate its currency) there needs to be offsetting fiscal transfers (enabling Italy to contribute less tax outflow and/or receive revenue inflows). However, fiscal transfers on a significant scale require a federal state with a very large budget. This is why the UK and USA are successful monetary unions (in both cases, around 40 per cent of GDP passes through the hands of central government). In contrast, the EU is not (the EU budget accounts for around only one per cent of EU GDP, although this is set to double in the next seven-year fiscal period as a result of the Next Generation EU Fund).

In the medium to long term, EU members (or, strictly speaking, the Eurozone countries) will either move towards greater integration or accept a continued brake on growth together with divergence in the economic performance of member states. In this situation, the EU will have little to gain from the renewed membership of a country likely to resist deeper integration. At the same time, lacklustre EU performance will be a strong disincentive to the UK to rejoin.

2) EU “good” + UK “good”.

Technological progress resulting in new fields of productive investment, high-wage employment and growth could provide a favourable context for pursuing different national growth models. In the UK it is possible that Brexit will administer a shock enabling useful reforms – e.g. under the banner of the now fashionable “industrial policy” – that will enable productivity growth to recover along with wages and output. For its part, the EU might achieve greater political integration and, on this platform, underpin the single currency with a transfer union, thereby enabling macroeconomic imbalances to be resolved and better advantage to be taken of the single currency for trade and investment. In this scenario, political pressure for the UK to rejoin is likely to be muted within the UK and to find little support from within the EU.

3) EU “good” + UK “bad”.

In this scenario, the EU establishes the political prerequisites for a single currency and sustained growth, while the UK experiences the downside of Brexit with few offsetting benefits. Faced with a thriving EU and the steady drip-drip effect of bad news about the UK economy, the apologists for Brexit may find their excuses wearing thin. The appeal of “sovereignty” may fade in the face of lack of tangible outcomes and with the passing of the generation for whom the idea of sovereignty signifies much of importance. Conversely, an increasing number of younger voters may be attracted by the relative success of the EU.

4) EU “bad” + UK “good”.

In the event of continued political and consequent economic failure in the EU combined with a successful model in the UK, re-joining a failed EU is likely to have little attraction outside the ranks of the ideologically committed.

From these four scenarios, only the third – EU “good” + UK “bad” – reinforces favourable long-run demographic and cultural trends with an economic environment in which a “rejoin” movement might gain traction. So how likely is this scenario? To answer this question, we calculate a probability for each cell in the matrix. This involves making some big assumptions; however, these can be adjusted for different judgements and thus different numbers.

My assumptions are as follows.

  • For the EU, “Bad” and “Good” economic outcomes are equally likely (remember, the Eurozone did survive the last outbreak of the euro crisis and the will among member states to make the EU work is greater than typically recognised in the UK). So, we assume that both outcomes have a probability of 0.5.
  • For the UK, let’s say that the “Bad” and “Good” economic outcomes are also equally likely, each with a probability of 0.5.

These are my preferred assumptions, because – in my view – long-run forecasts about the relative performance of economies do not permit any greater precision. However, many will disagree. On the one hand, Europhiles might prefer the following indicative scenarios and corresponding probabilities: Britain is most likely doomed to decline outside of the EU (80% chance of a “bad” outcome for the UK); and the EU will be economically successful as it progresses towards an “ever expanding union of the European peoples” (80% chance of a “good” outcome for the EU). On the other, Eurosceptics might reverse these probabilities: seeing great opportunities for a Britain freed from the deadweight of inflexible regulations and an EU endlessly preoccupied by attempts to reconcile the contradictions of a doomed single currency. Allowing for caricature, such views are common among the hard cores of the respective camps.

According to my 50-50 assumption, each of the four outcomes depicted in the matrix have a probability of 0.25 (0.5´0.5=0.25, i.e. a one-in-four chance). If you are not a gambler, then odds of three to one against a favourable economic environment for rejoining – i.e. EU “good” + UK “bad” – might be discouraging.[1] Yet, for revolutionaries, these are rather good odds.

The “hard core” in both camps will take comfort from different assumptions:  on the indicative 80-20 assumptions,

  • Europhiles will see overwhelmingly favourable economic terrain for re-joining (an 80% chance of a “good” EU outcome and an 80% chance of a “bad” UK outcome jointly suggest a 80% ´ 80% = 64% probability of Outcome 3, favourable to re-joining, while
  • Eurosceptics will see a 20% chance of EU “good” and a 20% chance of UK “bad” outcomes, hence 20% ´ 20% = 4% probability of Outcome 3, so virtually no chance of a future case for re-joining on economic grounds.

Europhile assumptions suggest an increasingly supportive economic context for rejoining, and even for European federalism, should Britain prove unable to turn its new found sovereignty into economic advantage. Yet the EU’s trajectory towards, and economic need for, a deepened “union of the European peoples” currently has little support in the UK, even among remainers (Rob Ford and Maria Sobolewska note that “60% of Remain voters in the 2016 British Social Attitudes survey also wanted to see the EU’s powers reduced”). Consequently, even in a political environment in which demography, cultural change and economic developments create opportunity for undoing the UK’s current “hard Brexit”, political agency will be decisive. If a “rejoin” movement succeeds in winning hearts and minds, thereby moving European Federalism into the political mainstream, then a majority may be created for the UK to rejoin a future, more deeply integrated EU. Conversely, if the argument is conducted on the basis of an instrumental balancing of costs and benefits, then the outcome may well be prolonged renegotiation leading to closer cooperation – heading towards a “Norway” type of relationship – rather than to renewed membership.


[1] Each outcome has a probability of 0.25 (i.e. a one-in-four chance). Three outcomes (cells) thus have a joint probability of 0.75. One cell (say, Number 3) has a probability of 0.25. Hence, the odds of any single outcome are 3 to 1 against.


Change is Inevitable: Adapt to Survive

Dr. Mohammad Ali Wasim – Lecturer, Staffordshire Business School


In the last year we have all come to realise that whatever plans we had cannot bear fruit. It may be surprising to know that it was not just individuals who faced this conundrum but also businesses, small and large, including societies as a whole. We keep hearing we are all in this together, but are we really?

A recent report by the BBC talks about the impact on child development and how infants and toddlers have faced significant challenges in the pandemic impacting their growth and development specially their social skills. Having a 3 year old who is about to start play group in the next week or so I can relate to the findings of the report. Similar issues have been highlighted with teens suffering from loneliness and mental health issues. Students struggling with being at home and trying to make sense of this ‘new normal’. Working adults have faced job loss, furlough and elements of losing focus facing domestic abuse causing a rise in divorce rates. Companies are struggling with their operations trying to retain staff, maintain existing business and survive. So when we say we are all in this together, it does hold true.

The things that I have discussed earlier would act as a context to the discussion which follows. We are here, we made it this far, we survived. How did we and others did it? What should be our learnings for the way forward to continue to be resilient, agile and a survivor to face the ‘new normal’.

Work From Home

This is here to stay and the more we deny it, the more we are at a loss. This is a skill a lot of us have developed over the year. Getting used to new software such as Teams and Zoom. The quicker we learn and adapt to this change the better. Organisations have seen this as an opportunity to cut down costs by getting rid of office space and individuals saving on commute cost. In addition, productivity has seen to go up. A happier employee in this scenario seems to be more productive. So, the flexible working arrangements have been quite beneficial and that is something a lot of companies are thinking of making permanent. A good employability strength we all need to focus on and develop further.

Increased Online Presence

A lot of businesses, whether large or small, have realised the importance of being online. With the support we provided at Staffordshire Business School to small business through our Survive and Thrive initiative, it was a key to their survival. The businesses need to make sure that not only do they have an online presence, but also they are able to communicate in a timely manner with their existing and potential clients. This trend has also been followed by small and local businesses where they have all signed up to delivery apps and other such platforms due to the risk of losing business if they don’t do so. This is also linked to the rising use of social media as a refuge and also connecting people together mechanism in these strange times, helping people cope better who would have been otherwise disconnected from it all.

Streamlining of Supply Chains

It was surprising to find out as consumers of global products that a lot of our products come from the same sources. This shock to the system took place when a major chunk of shipments stopped to large economies such as the UK and USA. This realisation of over dependence on China and other players in the market made companies shift to explore alternative suppliers and to re-align their supply chain. Some countries have also benefitted from this where the textile exports of countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh went up significantly due to the pandemic significantly impacting China at the start.

Cashless Payments

Another major shift was the move to card payments rather than cash, which has benefited many businesses, but has impacted others which were purely cash based. These are also the same businesses who have been unable to benefit from the furlough scheme in full because they were not fully part of the financial system they could not make use of the government scheme. This impact was seen across the UK to a number of Taxi, local shops and takeaway businesses who were unable to move to the new developing cashless environment due to the pandemic. All these examples provide us the opportunity to stop and think that the world has changed for the better or worse only time with tell. The key to our survival as individuals, organisations and societies is adapting to the change. Learning from our experience in the last year and evolving to see what can be done in a better way. How can we become more prepared and have the right contingency plans in place. The 1st wave was a shock to the system and we were all in it for the first time. We were all better prepared the second time round. Hoping that things continue to improve and with the roll out of the vaccines and people being more cautious we won’t be hit with a 3rd wave. It is all about taking a moment to reflect on how much we have come through as individuals, companies and society as a whole.

The light at the end of the tunnel is there and we all can make it brighter by reflecting on our strengths, learning from others and having a positive frame of mind. As Rumi rightly put it:

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi


The ‘Fantabulous’ Francis Jackson

Deon Wong, Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Student


On Wednesday 24th March 2021, Year 1 & 2 Fda Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Students (VARM) attended a virtual Q&A with extra special guest Francis Jackson (Alton Towers Resorts Operations Director). The meeting enabled students to ask Francis on all things Alton Towers, specifically his journey, COVID impacts, new role and advice on how to be successful within the industry. I (Deon Wong), one of the VARM students, was given the opportunity to become the master of ceremonies and lead the Q&A.

Francis Jackson began the Q&A by giving us a brief background history into his experience, from working at Australia’s Falls Creek Ski Lifts as the Director of Snowsports to being the beloved Operations Director at Alton Towers. He has a solid belief in transferring his knowledge gained and sharing them with his team to make them bigger and better. Francis expressed his huge heart towards Alton Towers and how he enjoys the customer focus moments, where he has built relationships to improve the customer journey. He regrets not having time to be out there with the customers and staff due to his administrative role.

Moving into the 2021 season, ATR aims to deliver a ‘thrilliant’ season of celebrations and fun. With an increase in footfall, new safety regulations are introduced to adhere to the safety guidelines. Francis mentioned various new additions to accompany guests’ safety and capacity, from utilising the lawn space, new ride openings, temporary flat rides, and monorail adjustments. Maintaining a ‘fantabulous’ presentation and customer journey is a massive priority for Francis. From ensuring cigarettes and chewing gum are picked up to repainting areas. Francis states it’s all about the “pursuit of guest excellence for the guest journey “- (Francis Jackson, 2021).

Francis Jackson discussed his new role as general manager. With over 30 years of experience in the leisure industry, he’s driven to make the customer journey and experience better. He understands change is always good, as businesses can’t stay static. They have to adapt, change and constantly move forwards to progress. He’s a firm believer in achieving an outstanding organisation by refocusing on corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion. Within his new role as general manager, he’s accountable for all things COVID related, capacity and having the final say in difficult decisions.

Lastly, Francis Jackson passed on specific advice on how to be successful within the leisure industry. From knowing your product, listening to guest feedback and continuously pushing the product your offering to entice guests. One advice he advises is for people to be authentic and be true to themselves; once you divert and create a fake facade, issues will arise. It’s important to feel confident and ensure you have questions to ask, as It’s constantly a lesson of growth and development.

#ProudtToBeStaffs
#VARM
#LifelongLearning
#SeekingOpportunities
#FantabulousFrancisJackson
#Inspirational
#StayVARM
#VARMtastic

All about business

Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean, Staffordshire Business School


Just about every university that you stumble across will offer degrees in Business – it’s an all-encompassing subject that prepares students for a multitude of careers. It’s popular and fun to study. So, what is a business degree?

The foundations

Business degrees usually cover a range of core knowledge that will help you to understand how businesses operate, whether you start work in the offices or as part of a management team. Learning core subjects such as marketing, finance, human resource management and organisational behaviour will equip you with knowledge that makes sense of the business environment within which you work. Modern businesses appear to be less hierarchical, so a good all-round knowledge of the mechanics of business operations is a great foundation for a career in any business sector.

Where will this take me?

Most students decide to study so that they can enhance their employment opportunities on completion of their degree. Business students often ask what careers may be opened up to them with a degree in Business and to be quite blunt, pretty much every organisation that you will work for throughout your working life will operate as a business. Whether public, private, not-for-profit (charity) or self-employed, the same business principles apply – an organisation has to make money to invest money in the growth of the business.

How can I specialise?

So, although a business degree gives you an all-round view of business operations, there are still ways in which you can specialise within your degree, to make it more enjoyable and more relevant to you:

1) Degree Choice

Students can specialise in their business degree choice. For example, at Staffordshire Business School we offer 3 business degrees, each of which has a specialised focus in contemporary areas of business:

Business Management and Sustainability
Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Finance and Business Enterprise

The beauty of each of these degrees is that during the first year, students follow a common syllabus regardless of which degree they have chosen. This means that should they decide to change their study focus having “dipped their toes” into the waters of business study, the transfer onto one of the other business courses is fairly seamless.

2) Different lengths of study

For some of our business degrees you can also specialise by choosing different lengths of study – we have accelerated two-year versions of both our Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship and our Finance and Business Enterprise degree. Two years of study means two years of fees, not three, so it costs less and you get to the job market more quickly! Added to this, employers recognise that students who have undertaken an accelerated degree are resilient and hard-working – you have to be to take on continual study without the Summer break afforded to most university students.

3) Options modules

You can also specialise by choosing optional modules that suit your interests and needs. All of our courses offer options modules in the second and third year of study, making it possible for you to control the content of your degree to suit your preferences. We recently asked students and graduates which options choices they would like and they chose subjects such as Psychology in Business, Social Media Strategy and PRINCE2.

4) Placement years

Taking a year out to undertake a business placement is possibly one of the best things you can do to add value to your degree. We know from experience that the students with placement year experience tend to do better in the jobs market when they leave university – which makes sense, as they have more to write about in their CV. One of our Business School students, Jack, had this to say about his placement year at Aldi:

“I have experienced first-hand just how relevant a Business Management degree from Staffordshire University can be. The theories we learn, practice, and apply to assignments can be similarly applied to real-life business situations. I completed a 12 month Industrial Placement with Aldi. Throughout the Placement I had the opportunity to lead various projects – looking at real business issues – where the models and approaches taught at Staffs proved to be instrumental in promptly understanding the situation and assessing the appropriate direction to take to find the most effective solution. A Staffs Business degree is your competitive advantage!” – Jack Tordoff.

Further study

And of course, many of our business graduates enjoy the university experience so much, that they decide to go on to study further on completion of their business degree. Fortunately, we have an attractive range of postgraduate degrees in subjects such as International Business Management, Digital Marketing Management and Accounting and Finance, so there are plenty of options to choose from. Going into the job market with a postgraduate qualification immediately gives employers an indication of how committed and capable you are – it’s a great asset to your CV.

Enterprise and entrepreneurship

Not everyone wants to work for someone else. In the UK currently, there are approximately 4.31 million self-employed workers. If you’ve got a business dream and want help in turning it into a reality, then on completion of your business degree you could get support from our Enterprise Zone, who can help with your business start-up challenges

Find out more about the range of courses on offer at Staffordshire Business School today – we don’t just teach business, we’re busINess.

Free Digital Marketing advice for local SMEs

Digital marketing is a rapidly changing business environment, Google has changed its algorithm several times and this is affecting SMEs website visibility, search engine ranking and therefore sales, plus customers have changed their use of social media, for example increased their use of Facebook and Instagram to purchase online.  As lock-down is being reduced and customers are used to viewing and purchasing online, businesses are substantially increasing their use of digital marketing.  The increase in competition to gain customers will makes sales tougher, especially as businesses look to recover their lost income.  So it is essential that business get their digital marketing right. 

I’ve been in the consultancy world for over 25 years and here at Staffordshire Business School (SBS) for over 10 years. During this time, I have helped numerous SMEs successfully grow their sales and develop their brand via effective targeted digital marketing, including changing a loss making organisation to making a profit in eighth weeks, increased sales by over 400% by advising on improvements to an organisations website, and increased sales by over 600%  by developing an organisations social media strategy.  We are now developing this further by pulling together teams of experienced digital marketing lecturers and trained students to offer support to our local SMEs.  This will be via free digital marketing clinics to support our local SMEs.  

The areas we’re starting to help business are :- 

  • SEO Audit – to help improve your page ranking on google and therefore help your customers find you. 
  • Local SEO Audit – to help local customers find and contact you  
  • Social Media Audit – to help improve the impact of your social media 
  • Competitor Analysis and Audit – to help see what your competitors are doing right… and wrong so that you can improve your competitive position. 

And soon we are extending these to include :- 

  • Mobile Marketing Audit – mobile is the most popular platform for most customers, so we help improve your online / digital marketing for mobiles. 
  • Customer Analysis – we’ll analyse your customers online buying behaviour, keywords that they use, what they use and when. 
  • Website and customer analytics – a combination of analysing your website and it’s effectiveness at gaining customers and enabling customers to buy from you or contact you. 


A big thank you to the North Staffs Dementia Support Charity Approach Staffordshire, for being involved in the pilot, their support has been invaluable. 


The clinics are starting on Wednesday 28th April at 17:00 and then next one is on Wednesday 26th May 17:00. Click here to book your slot on either of these dates.

Please note that places are limited so if you’re not able to get a timeslot please email me and we will start with an initial chat with myself to clarify which area you are interested in, plus I’ll booking you into a future 30 minute clinic with one of our teams at a later date.  For further details please contact paul.dobson@staffs.ac.uk or via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulmddobson/  

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