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.
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!).
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
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.
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.
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).
performance in the UK is “good” but in the EU “bad”.
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 theUK 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, theEU 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
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
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. 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.
 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.
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.
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
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
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.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulmddobson/
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
the number of cooperation partnerships has a positive impact on all measures of
The MAPEER project focused on innovation support for SMEs more
generally. Three articles arising from this project reported:
“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
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
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.
Small and medium enterprises, evaluation, traditional
manufacturing, innovation support, innovation outputs
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
SMEs; traditional sectors; low-tech; policy evaluation; manufacturing; process innovation
The global pandemic has put resiliency on the agenda of every company in the world. As they cope with the seismic changes brought about by COVID-19, businesses of all sizes and types have needed to adapt to remote work, reconfigured physical workspaces, and revised logistics and supply networks. They’ve also changed operating procedures to cope with the pandemic’s risks and effects.
But what do companies do now?
The reality is that supply chain shocks are usually impossible to
predict but happen with frustrating regularity. That means real value is at
The promising news is that organisations can both protect against
downside risks, such as pandemics, and gain substantial economic returns from
increased output and productivity.
The successful organisations today, and in the years ahead, will redesign their operations and their supply chains to protect against a wider and more acute range of potential shocks and disruptive events. Thus, there is a need for increased visibility on both the demand and supply side.
Supply chain digitization can enable organisations to have visibility
across the whole value chain—from the production of raw materials to the end
customer—and better meet the needs of their customers. A bonus: it improves the
agility and responsiveness of operations without increasing costs. In fact,
research by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with McKinsey,
shows that companies often achieve significant and simultaneous improvements in
multiple performance measures when they integrate advanced digital technologies
across the value chain.
Before the coronavirus hit, most companies were already accelerating the digital transformation of their customer journeys and value chains. The expectation is digital technologies to be at the core of the new normal, enabling organisations to better meet the needs of their customers, and improving the agility and responsiveness of operations without increasing their costs. Companies often achieve significant and simultaneous improvements across multiple performance measures when they integrate advanced digital technologies across the value chain. This also allows them to build resilience which is an internal trait, but the disciplines and strategies that support it can also have a far wider reach.
During the crisis, many businesses have been able to overcome staff
shortages by automating processes or developing self-service systems for
customers. These approaches can accelerate workflows and reduce errors—and
customers often prefer them.
Digital approaches can transform customer experience and significantly
boost enterprise value when applied end to end.
Also, technology-enabled methodologies can significantly accelerate
cost-transparency work, compressing months of effort into weeks or days. These
digital approaches include procurement-spending analysis and clean-sheeting,
end-to-end inventory rebalancing, and capital-spend diagnostics and portfolio
rationalization. However, the businesses
will need to be smart and careful in their approach. Leading organisations are
adopting increasingly sophisticated techniques in their strategic planning, assessing
each resource and opportunity very carefully as the environment changes and new
Now, with the likelihood of prolonged uncertainty over supply, demand, and the availability of resources COVID-19 represents the trigger for operations functions to adopt an agile approach to transformation.
is my 3rd blog and I will continue with the theme of sharing my
thoughts from previous corporate employment. So, this one is dedicated to
While teaching on a level 6 module ‘Change and Transformation’ we watched a video where the HR Manager for sales in Google was talking about creating trust and people management (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRsJbpppvEU). She stated that she does not check on how much time her team spends in office or how many sick days they take. She further said that there was no rule on specific office timings. It was all about performance which was evaluated quarterly and an individual could decide how they met their targets as they were adults and could work out their own schedules and holidays; thus, managing their work/life balance.
reminded me of one of my favourite bosses in the corporate world. I had to
travel home which was in another city on a personal emergency and in my request
did mention that all work will be taken care of – his reply – I don’t care if
you work out of Timbuktu, till the work is done. That was the trust my boss had
in me and that trust helped in creating the best work/life balance I had in my
A checklist by CMI, confirms that the employers need to provide the control to employees to manage their working arrangements taking into consideration their social aspects and also achieve organisational objectives.
If organisations offer flexitime, the communication should be clear and the corporate culture should support it. Creating a culture of respect and trust (Grimes, 2011) is the first step towards successful flexitime policies supporting work/life balance. This is not easy and has its challenges; however, with correct implementation, this can lead to employer/employee satisfaction, thriving organisations and increased employee retention.
the face of the pandemic, when working from home has become the ‘new normal,’
the need for trust between employer and employee has further heightened. Many
companies like Unilever have gone on record about increased productivity and increased
employee engagement as an outcome of remote working.
In a study conducted on ethical behaviours by managers, trust shown by senior management and supervisors and their support for work/life balance was perceived to be ethical (Cowart, et al., 2014).