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
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.
The British Academy (the United Kingdom’s national academy for the humanities and the social sciences) has tasked us with investigating the specific challenges that UK business owners faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the strategies that they used to keep their businesses afloat, and how they engaged with financial and regional support.
We are also interested in how best to support members of the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) business community.
To participate in our study, kindly fill the survey below and/or please share the URL with your networks if you know any other business owners:
Ethnic minorities were particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and US, as in some other countries. In particular, the risk of death for some ethnic minority individuals who contracted COVID-19 in these countries was two to three times more compared to white individuals.
This disparity was a result of the underlying social and economic risk factors that ethnic minorities face, such as living in overcrowded and urban accommodation, being employed in riskier lower-skilled jobs, reduced access to healthcare, and structural racism. In other words, ethnic poverty in developed countries is driving higher infection and consequently death rates for ethnic minorities.
Despite facsimile policies that emphasize equal access to education and employment in many developed countries, discrimination remains a critical barrier to equal employment. Several studies have found that both ethnic minorities are called back for interviews 50% less frequently than comparable whites, hired less often for high-skill jobs, and once hired are paid less. Thus, despite the increasing educational gains made by ethnic minority individuals, many are overqualified for the jobs that they do. Ethnic minority workers also often report not being given pay rises and being passed over for promotion.
Another very important driver for the disproportionately high poverty rates among ethnic minority groups is the concentration of such workers in low-paid work. Ethnic minority workers are more likely to work in low-paid sectors with limited progression opportunities and lower wages. Lack of movement out of low-paid work increases the risk of poverty among ethnic groups. In addition, there is generally a lower percentage of ethnic minority workers who are managers, directors, and senior officials.
Business Ownership Disparities
Before the pandemic, BAME business owners were less likely than non-BAME business owners to obtain mainstream business support and in the early days of coronavirus, nearly two-thirds of BAME business owners felt unable to access state-backed loans and grants, leaving many on the brink of financial ruin.
BAME-owned businesses are traditionally concentrated in the sectors worst hit by lockdown such as retail, health and social care, education, restaurants and accommodation.
The economic crisis facing these businesses is aggravated by the fact that they are more likely to hire a considerable number of BAME employees and attract more BAME customers. The significantly higher risk among such groups from COVID-19 implies that these businesses would have had to incur considerable costs to protect their staff and customers.
Ethnic minorities consistently report reduced access to education, lack of social and financial capital, unemployment, low-pay, and poor progression from low-paid sector work. This suggests similar solutions for all groups, which would lead to better-quality jobs and higher pay. However, given that some of the drivers of poverty, such as higher unemployment and inactivity rates disproportionately affect ethnic groups, specific forms of outreach activity and drawing on local knowledge may be needed in these contexts.
Similarly, government solutions to reduce ethnic poverty in developed country contexts include interventions that ensure that education, training and apprenticeships are provided for ethnic minorities as well as schemes that help tackle low pay among ethnic minority workers. There is a need for policies that focus the on education, skills and training for ethnic groups particularly digital, literacy, and numeracy skills. Moreover, policies should also be encouraged that monitor the workforce in relation to ethnicity, which should include the recruitment, retention and progression phases of jobs.
Authorities need to work with employers to provide better-paid jobs and they should do more to listen to and encourage employers to hire a diverse range of skills and experiences. It is advisable to consider putting targets for ethnic minority representation on boards, something that has proven successful in the case of gender. It is also important to recognise the benefits of positive discrimination in the labour market, rather than view legislation to combat ethnic inequality as red tape or political correctness. Mortgage market discrimination needs to be eliminated as this would allow ethnic minorities to take advantage of the benefits that come with owning a home.
State-backed grants and loans should be made more accessible as an incentive to business owners who have incurred additional costs to protect customers and staff. Crucially, the process to obtain them should not be too onerous and the criteria should be fair. Regional governments should also take care to plug BAME businesses into the supply chains of local projects in response to the pandemic.
All these should reduce ethnic poverty and the economic and health inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted.
Staffordshire Business School
aspires to be a leader in making a real impact on business and society through
research and innovation. Our team have successfully delivered many industry/business
and government funded research projects and have extensive experience of
leading large team projects including local, UK, EU and internationally funded
projects. Many of our team members combine rich industry and practitioner
experience with academic rigour in conducting world-leading research in the
areas of entrepreneurship and innovation, digital transformation, environmental
health etc. Here are some of the exciting research projects that researchers at
Business School have been doing:
Austerity, Welfare and Work: Exploring Politics, Geographies and Inequalities
In his new book, Prof David Etherington provides bold and fresh perspectives on the link between welfare policy and employment relations as he assesses their fundamental impact on social inequalities. Drawing on international and national case studies, the book reviews developments, including rising job insecurity, low pay and geographical inequalities.
Environmental health inequalities resource package
Prof Jon Fairburn is the lead author of a recent World Health Organization publication. The publication is aimed at local, regional and national policy makers hoping to improve environmental health especially for deprived and other groups. Jon has been collaborating with WHO for over 10 years on this subject.
Covid-19 and Smart Cities – What’s Changed? Getting ahead of the Game
Prof Fang Zhao and her team have been conducting research and analysis of a range of changing scenarios of smart cities in post-Covid-19 and pinpoint the opportunities and challenges for businesses, city councils and universities. Their research focuses on strategies, tactics and digital transformation.
The Impact of COVID-19 on BAME Owned Businesses in the UK
The project led by Dr Tolulope Olarewaju is investigating the specific challenges that BAME business owners faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the strategies that they used to keep their businesses afloat, and how they engaged with financial and regional support. The project is funded by the British Academy.
People, Place and Global Order: Foundations of a Networked Political Economy
This book co-authored by Dr Andrew Taylor explores how the convergence of technology and globalisation is shifting value creation out of products and processes and into digital networks and, in the process, leaving many people behind. He is looking into examples and models of how people and place may flourish within global networks.
Leadership typology reveals how smart city leaders prefer to tackle inequality
The research of Associate
Professor Alyson Nicholds sheds light on how leaders, operating in different
organisations, roles and sectors prefer to tackle inequality differently. Her
latest writing draws on organisational concepts of leadership and philosophy to
show the benefits this type of understanding can reap for society.
Entrepreneurs in Residence
Business School has recently
appointed Entrepreneurs in Residence providing students and staff with hands-on
experience in conducting research to spot business opportunities, conduct market
analysis and better understand consumer behaviour, leading to business venture
For more information and collaboration
and partnership, please contact Prof Fang Zhao – Associate Dean Research and
Enterprise at email@example.com.
The Hult Prize returns in 2020 and we’re on the hunt for students across Staffordshire University to enter as teams in this year’s competition ahead of the closing date on Tuesday 3 December 2019.
The Hult Prize is both the world’s largest student enterprise competition and the world’s largest movement for social impact. Students from universities around the globe compete to win $1,000,000 in start-up funding to start a business that solves a pressing social issue.
For 2020, the Hult Prize challenges teams from universities globally to build bold businesses that:
1. Have a positive net impact on the environment with every sale completed, dollar earned, and decision made; and
2. Reach no fewer than a million consumers within a decade.
This year’s business challenge concerns climate change and is our chance to show the world that our institution is dedicated to Impact. There are many benefits of competing apart from the chance to win the $1,000,000 in start-up funding.
Students will get to hone their business skills, develop exciting business ideas, engage with fellow students from every part of our planet, and represent the university at a global level.
They will compete across hundreds of cities en-route to regional finals and the summer Hult Prize Accelerator. A final round and awards ceremony is hosted by Former President Bill Clinton each year at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting.
How do you compete in the Hult Prize at Staffordshire University?
All students need to do is develop an idea and form a team.
Each team (of between three to four students) should fill the form here and click the submit button.
This will qualify them for our on-campus event which takes place on Wednesday 4 December at LT001 Ashley Lecture Theatre (Leek Road). At the event each team will get ten minutes to pitch their idea to our judges and will go through five minutes of questioning.
Where can I get more information or register for the Hult Prize 2020?
Visit the Staffs Uni page on the Hult Prize website to register teams and/or to contact Tolu Olarewaju our University Hult Prize Campus Director.
Friday 29 November 2019: Q&A Session at LT001 Ashley Lecture Theatre (Leek Road) – 2 pm.
Tuesday 3 December 2019: Team Registration Deadline – 6 pm. All teams must register here.
Wednesday 4 December 2019:The Main Event On-Campus Team Business Idea Pitches. Venue: LT001 Ashley Lecture Theatre (Leek Road) – 11 am to 1 pm.
All students and members of staff are welcome to watch the business idea pitches.
Professor Fang Zhao, Staffordshire Business School
Digital revolution is in its full swing now. Digital technologies become pervasive and ubiquitous, disrupting and reshaping business models and processes. According to the estimation of McKinsey Global Institute (2017), by 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers, about 3 to 14 percent of the global workforce will have to change their job categories thanks to digital disruption. Digital technologies have also created and grown the gig (or sharing) economy and generated new entrepreneurial opportunities and new types of entrepreneurship called digital entrepreneurship. The forecast is that digital entrepreneurship may add $1.36 trillion to the future world top ten economies and could generate 10 million additional jobs by 2020 (Nanterne 2014).
is digital entrepreneurship?
Based on our team’s research, digital
entrepreneurship is a distinctive concept signifying a strategic mindset and transformation,
through which entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organisations pursue business
opportunities and create new and transformative services/products, processes,
digital ecosystems, markets, business models, and ventures involving digital technologies.
What are the opportunities for
businesses and organizations?
There are many opportunities that digital
technologies can give rise to, in terms of the growth of digital
entrepreneurship. In short, they present three key opportunities: connectivity,
scalability and speed. Social media, one aspect of digital technologies, plays
a key role in connectivity through network relations which may lead to co-creation
and co-ownership. Digital connections are the veins of new venture creation
linking creative people and focusing minds and actions on making something
people want. On the other hand, the scalability and fast speed allow start-ups
to scale up and down quickly and extend their reach across borders and time
What are the key challenges?
However, the low barrier to use digital
platforms increases competitions and minimizes the chances of distinguishing one’s
products/services from its rivals. There are also intellectual property issues,
cyber security, data protection, to name a few. Digital entrepreneurs need to
learn fast to upgrade their capability and skills. New learning becomes a
continuous part of venture and business capability development. Knowledge bytes
are a daily venture building feature as learning and working become integrated
and fused in the digital entrepreneur’s world. Last but not the least, technology
is just a tool, just a conduit, just a pathway, the goal is the business.
The ultimate objectives that you use technologies for your business count the most.
For further discussion on the topic area, please contact Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise in Staffordshire Business School, Staffordshire University at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Global Entreprenuership Week:
From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading
There are several possible interpretations of the fundamental role of a university, however the one that holds close to my values and beliefs is “the university” as an institution for the creation and dissemination of knowledge, creating graduates who have a genuine commitment to making the world a better place and of being significant players in civil society. The western university model has been a remarkable success and is one in which we should have immense pride. Operational freedom within an interactive setting which enables excellence across teaching, research, learning and enterprise opening unlimited opportunities for many. However, in an increasingly complex and uncertain world the role of the university is constantly being questioned. In particular there has been a recent drive for developing “value”, in the form of employable work ready graduates. This may be interpreted as a set of desirable skills and attributes to be embedded within the curriculum or perhaps and more importantly the development of an entrepreneurial mind-set. The ability to think outside the box, to adapt and respond to change in a fast paced environment and more importantly the ability to be able to communicate within and beyond their academic discipline is perceived key to graduates contributing to societal challenges.
In today’s global economy and in society as a whole we are faced with many complex challenges (clean water, ageing population, disaster management, global-warming, sustainable food production, transitioning populations), which require new ways of working. It is widely accepted that innovative and sustainable solutions for many complex global social issues reach far beyond the boundaries of a single academic discipline or methodological approach and as such the practical argument for embedding interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities into the learning experience within universities is strong. Interdisciplinary working is widely accepted to be the new mode of knowledge production, it focuses on building intellectual capacity and is supported by government policy makers and research funding agencies. Many of the most exciting developments cross traditional disciplinary boundaries and therefore have great potential to break through complex societal problems and foster innovation.
The concept of interdisciplinarity within Higher Education is not new: Thompson and Fogel (1921), acknowledged in their publication ‘Higher Education and Social Change’ that all social problems require interdisciplinary skills and knowledge. They expanded on this by stating: “if graduates … are to be societies’ leaders …they need a broad social and historical perspective that is difficult to achieve in one discipline”. Thompson and Forgel’s (1921) paper highlighted specifically the need for Higher Educational institutions to promote interdisciplinarity as a means of developing the essential skills of leadership required to impact on civil society.
So, what is a university for? It is to change mind-set, opening up opportunities to bring together individuals to generate knowledge to solve societal problems for the good of mankind. Thus, the connections we make, the disciplines we cross and the knowledge we form are only part of the picture, it is the transformative impact on people’s life’s that we make that hold the true meaning of the value of a university, which instil the leadership qualities desired to make the world a better place.
Thompson, K.W. & Fogel, B.R. (1921). Higher Education and Social Change: Promising Experiments in Developing Countries. Vol 1 Reports. US: Praeger.
From 2016 to the present day, Brexit vote has already led to the numerous consequences on the UK economy. Some of the consequences involve: fall of sterling; higher inflation; higher uncertainly which further had an impact on investment and productivity growth; and lower GDP level than projected had the Brexit vote never happened (Bank of England, 2018). Furthermore, the evidences suggest that the anticipated trade costs related to the Brexit vote have already had a significant negative impact on the business investment in the UK (Gornicka, 2018).
Reports published two years ago on the potential consequences of Brexit did not widely discuss, or sometimes did not even acknowledge, its potential impact on productivity and innovation (discussed in greater details in my previous blog. However, in the reports published this week, the impacts of the vote on productivity are widely acknowledged.
The Bank of England’s (2018) report, published this Wednesday, looks at different scenarios and short-run impacts of Brexit on the UK economy. In the scenarios where the Economic Partnership between the UK and the EU is implemented, it is estimated that output per hour will be lower by 1.25% to 3.5% by the end of 2023 compared to May 2016 trend, depending on the exact terms of the Economic Partnership. The negative impact on GDP will be between 1.25% to 3.75% over the similar time period. In case no deal is negotiated and there is no transition period, by the end of 2023 compared to May 2016 trend, the negative impact on the output per hour will be approximately 5%, while the impact on GDP will be between -7.75% to -10.5%.
The Centre for Economic Performance and the UK in a Changing Europe’s (2018) report looks at the long-run consequences of Brexit and the Withdrawal Agreement on the UK economy, compared to the UK staying in the EU. The estimated long-run impact on GDP per capita from changes in trade and migration, in the case where the deal is reached, ranges from -1.9% (without productivity assumption) and -5.5% (with productivity assumption).
The impact on GDP per capita will be larger in case of no deal being reached and ranges from -3.5% (without productivity assumption) and -8.7% (with productivity assumption). The estimated fiscal impacts, as a percentage of GDP, in case the deal is reached, range from -0.4% (without productivity assumption) and -1.8% (with productivity assumption). However, in case of no deal being reached, the estimated impacts range between -1.0% (without productivity assumption) and -3.1% (with productivity assumption).
The Brexit vote has led to the numerous consequences on the UK economy. However, from the reports published this week, it is clear that it will have a significant impact on the economy both in the short- and the long-run.
Written by Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean at Staffordshire business school
There’s an Autumn nip in the air, the Great British Bake Off has begun and the annual McMillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is just around the corner. Kenwood mixers are whirling into action in kitchens across the UK.
Meanwhile, bags are being packed, goodbyes said, and freshers are itching to begin their university life. Around the World lecturers are preparing to welcome their new students and planning for the academic year to come.
It strikes me that these two situations have something in common. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that all lecturers are good bakers (far from it!), but there is something vaguely familiar about the nurturing, caring principles of baking and lecturing; the desire for a good outcome and the commitment to working hard to achieve this.
Ever tried baking a cake with less than quality ingredients – with a dodgy cooker and scales that don’t quite weigh correctly? The chances are your cakes won’t turn out to be as good as you would like them to be. Quality, fit-for-purpose equipment and excellent ingredients are needed to guarantee the bake that you are looking for.
When choosing a university to spend three or more years of their life at, prospective students similarly seek quality – high rankings in the league tables and TEF, good NSS scores, high levels of student satisfaction and committed, highly qualified academics. A quality university is needed to turn out a top-notch, highly qualified and work-ready graduate.
The Recipe Even quality ingredients can’t ensure a perfect bake if the recipe is wrong. One too many eggs or not enough baking powder and the cake’s a flop.
The same balance needs to be considered within the course that a student selects. The onus is on academics to create a balanced mix of exciting learning content, activities, guest lecturers, trips and course materials to ensure that students learn exactly what they need to know. Miss out a vital ingredient and students will struggle to achieve success in their assessments.
Too hot an oven and your cake will burn. Too cool an oven and your cake won’t rise. Getting the temperature right is as important as having the correct recipe.
Lifelong friendships are made at university, so a good balance between studying and fun is needed. The correct work-play balance creates an environment in which students flourish – without the fun some students struggle with the pressure of study and can be tempted to drop out. Too much fun and grades may suffer. A good university seeks to provide exactly the right balance between social and study. Student Unions, personal tutors, pastoral care and student guidance teams are all there to support students in getting it right.
Jam and cream fillings, a sprinkle of icing sugar here, a coating of chocolate there and your cake is more than a cake, it’s a thing of beauty. It’s those finishing touches that make your cake the one that everyone wants to take a bite out of.
Similarly, a degree is not enough. Employers are inundated with graduate applications for advertised vacancies, and applications that stand out are those where the candidate has more than just a degree. Work experience, success in student competitions, self-awareness, confidence, professional presentation, global awareness…these are many of the added extras that lead an employer to choose YOU over other applicants.
3.The Events Management Degree is a top ten course* according to The Complete University Guide League Tables 2019. We’ve also added some new modules this year like ‘experiential marketing’ and ‘managing the visitor experience’ which mean you get out and about straight away and start working with companies to design their systems. You’ll also get to go on an overseas residential in your second year – last year we went to Iceland.
4.Business degrees are the same wherever you go – right? Wrong! Our Business Degree covers topics you won’t find anywhere else, we worked with employers to come up with them. You’ll study Business Agility, Big Data, Authentic leadership and Customer Experience Strategy (CX) – don’t know what these are? Google them – these are vital topics for 21st Century leaders.
Productivity differences between different producers exist and persist, even among those operating within the same industries (Syverson, 2011; Van Reenen, 2011). Achieving higher productivity is of an utmost importance for firms as it leads to better firm performance and leads to increased profits. These increased profits can be used for future investment and wage rises. The panacea for low productivity is often sought, however, the factors determining productivity are numerous, differing in their scope, level of influence and complexity.
One of the factors determining productivity is innovation. While some studies establish that innovation in general is positively linked with productivity (Movahedi et al., 2017), some limit this link to product innovation (Cassiman and Golovko, 2011). Porter (1990) argues that firms often have no choice but to innovate, as they face competitive pressures coming from their buyers or competitors.
The productivity of a firm may be determined by talents and practices of its managers. Bloom and Van Reenen (2010) have shown that firms that employ better management have higher labour productivity. Management practices differ widely both among different firms and different countries. They are influenced by numerous factors, some of them being: product market competition, labour market regulations, relationship between ownership and management of a firm, education of managers and workers, etc. (Bloom and Van Reenen, 2010).
Quality of inputs is another factor that determines productivity. Rather than clinging on basic resources (or lack of those), it can be argued that productivity is mainly determined by superiority of labour and capital inputs (Porter, 1990; Syverson, 2011). Education, training and experience can all affect quality of labour inputs. Quality differences of capital inputs can influence productivity (Syverson, 2011). The lack of basic resources can push firms to innovate and improve (Porter, 1990). It has been shown that differences in intangible capital and IT can also affect productivity (Syverson, 2011).
Another significant factor that can influence productivity are different decisions regarding the organisation and structure of a firm. Different process improvements through learning-by-doing can also influence productivity (Syverson, 2011).
Productivity spillovers and competition are important external determinants of productivity of a firm. Productivity spillovers occur mainly within the same or similar industries. Competition can hugely affect productivity and firms can face competitive pressures from both other domestic and foreign firms (Syverson, 2011).
The theoretically established ‘learning-by-exporting’ hypothesis states that exporting can improve productivity of a firm. On the one hand, a firm participating in an export market is exposed to a larger competition. On the other hand, by participating in an export market, a firm can gain new knowledge from its buyers and competitors (Wagner, 2007). Some empirical research has confirmed this hypothesis (Damijan et al., 2010).
As discussed above, productivity of a firm is influenced by a numerous factors. Some of the above-mentioned factors can be influenced to a greater extent than the others and some of those factors require shorter periods to be adjusted than the others. However, given that there is variety of factors, their complexity and the level of their potential interactions, the question still remains: is there really a panacea for low productivity?
Bloom, N. and Van Reenen, J. (2010) ‘Why do management practices differ across firms and countries’, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(1), pp. 203-224. Available at: https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25703489 (Accessed: 24th June 2018)
Cassiman, B. and Golovko, E. (2011) ‘Innovation and internationalization through exports’, Journal of International Business Studies, 42(1), pp. 56-75. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25790105 (Accessed: 28th March 2018)
Damijan, J.P., Kostevc, C., & Polanec, S. (2010) ‘From innovation to exporting or vice versa?’, The World Economy, 33(3), pp. 374-398. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 24th March 2018)
Movahedi, M., Shahbazi, K., & Gaussens, O. (2017) ‘Innovation and willingness to export: Is there an effect of conscious self-selection?’, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, 11(25), pp. 1-22. Available at: http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/journalarticles/2017-25 (Accessed: 1st May 2018)
Porter, M. (1990) ‘The competitive advantage of nations’, Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/1990/03/the-competitive-advantage-of-nations (Accessed: 4th June 2018)
Syverson, C. (2011) ‘What determines productivity?’, Journal of Economic Literature, 49(2), pp. 326-365. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/23071619 (Accessed: 30th April 2018)
Van Reenen, J. (2011) ‘Does competition raise productivity through improving management quality’, International Journal of Industrial Organisation, 29(3), pp. 306-316. Available at: https://ac-els-cdn-com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/S0167718711000208/1-s2.0-S0167718711000208-main.pdf?_tid=48b828f4-40fc-4fad-a130-5cec9cbc83ab&acdnat=1530139607_684e48c04c59ac476baa4ece54f7c606 (Accessed: 22nd June 2018)
Wagner, J. (2007) ‘Exports and productivity: A survey of the evidence from firm-level data’, The World Economy, 30(1), pp. 60-82. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 16th April 2018)