By Prof Jon Fairburn – Lead for Business and Management UoA
Business and Management research has been highly rated by peers and stakeholders in the HE sector. Our work is interdisciplinary and highly collaborative with members in several research centres across the University. Our research has focused on:
Inequalities, employment and welfare
Innovation and leadership
4* research is defined as ‘Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour.’
3* Quality that is internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour but which falls short of the highest standards of excellence
As a group of Applied Researchers we are especially pleased to have our work so highly rated on impact (our Environment statement documents many examples of this) including work at the local, regional, national and international level. We have made extensive contributions to the tackling austerity, economic development in the Balkans and environmental justice nationally and internationally as well as a range of projects for sustainable businesses. In terms of Impact we are now ranked 17th in the country.
106 units were submitted to the Business and Management panel and Staffordshire Business School now ranks joint 51st in the sector overall.
I’d like to say a big thank you to all of the staff submitted to the unit, the team at RIIS including Tim Horne, Jackie Reynolds, Cathal Rogers, Emma Davies, Holly Hoar, Yolanda Granja-Rubio. For research and review Ema Talam, Sarah Beighton and Bella Reichard. Thank you also to Deans and senior managers during the REF period including Susan Foreman, Peter Jones, David Williamson, June Dennis, Hazel Squire and Angela Lawrence.
Studying Visitor Attraction & Resort Management opens up a wide range of roles for students from working on rides at Scarefest, to working in the hotels over the Christmas period. This allows me to gain new and exciting experiences in a fast paced industry, which also allows us to network with industry specialists. As part of the course students complete 10 weeks of paid placement with Alton Towers Resort. Placement is important for studying Visitor Attraction & Resort Management, as this allows students to apply the theory learnt in lectures to practice. There are a range of modules in Visitor Attraction & Resort Management; for example business based modules such as Human Resources, Operations management, to more creative based modules e.g. Brand Me presentations and Strategic Management, where students get to design and market a theme park.
As part of our course, this week we attended the Hotel & Hospitality tour and Q&A session with the Alton Towers reception, housekeeping and leisure team to discuss the operations behind the hotels. Visits are important as it allows students to learn on the job, students have the amazing opportunity to talk directly to heads of departments and apply this to our assignments. For example, In year 1 students undertake a Hotel and Hospitality module. From the Q&A session students were able to ask “How does Alton Towers compete with their competitors?” and “How do hotels use capacity management to keep the hotels profitable?”.
Attaining a degree with Staffordshire University “can help fast track your career at Alton Towers to help progress to a managerial role” the Head of Front of office exclaimed. With a degree, students can learn the theory behind resort strategy and allows students to go in any direction in the future. With being a student in a small group of individuals, this helps differentiate yourself from other more traditional courses. As this is the only course in the country that allows students to attain a degree and work in conjunction with one of the UK’s most popular theme park.
He holds Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Marketing from the British University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He possesses corporate experience of more than eighteen years, and teaching experience of more than four years. He has designed and delivered Digital Marketing Professional courses supporting 38 entrepreneurs and marketing practitioners to develop and execute digital marketing strategies including SEO, PPC search and display campaigns, social media and email campaigns.
Before joining Staffordshire University, he has served as Lecturer and the Head of the Marketing department at The British University in Dubai, and as an adjunct Lecturer at University of Wollongong Dubai. He is a Certified Practising Marketer from the Australian Marketing Institute. He is a member of the American Marketing Association (AMA) and the Australian Marketing institute.
His research portfolio includes several research papers published in the top-tier marketing journals such as Journal of Strategic Marketing and Journal of Marketing Theory & Practice among others. His scholarly interests are broadly within the field of international and digital marketing. He is particularly interested in the development of cross-cultural, digital and social media marketing capabilities that may play a role in improving customer experience and organisational performance.
he is an expert in data analysis using SPSS and AMOS statistical packages,
Structural equation modelling and multi-group moderation analysis, Search
engine marketing including search engine optimisation and pay per click search,
display google campaigns, Social media campaigns including Facebook business
manager and LinkedIn, Email campaigns using Mailchimp and constant contact,
Website optimisation using WordPress content management system.
He holds Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Marketing from the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Malaysia. He possesses corporate experience of more than seven years, and teaching experience of more than five years. He has worked in different capacities at leading multinational corporations such as the British Council, Nestle, the Coca-Cola Company and Marriott Hotel.
Before joining Staffordshire University, he has served in senior academic positions at University of Westminster in Tashkent, Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Webster University, SZABIST University, and UCSI University Malaysia. He had been a member of the American Marketing Association (AMA).
Moreover, he has been providing trainings on quantitative and qualitative research-based tools like SPSS, AMOS, R, Mplus, SmartPLS and NVIVO. He is a proficient user of digital marketing tools like Power BI, Alexa and Tableau. His research interests include digital marketing, marketing analytics, tourism marketing, technology management, and consumer psychology
Heather Wingfield – Second year Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Student
On Friday the 28th of January the second year Visitor Attraction and Resort Management Students had the opportunity of presenting a Visitor Attraction to members of the senior leadership team at Alton Towers Resort. As part of the Business Development and Sales Management module we were tasked with creating a feasible visitor attraction in just ten weeks! Working in small groups we designed everything from logos to rollercoasters and even the small details of the operational features.
The group I worked in created the Highlandia Resort. This would
be Scotland’s first indoor theme park, located in Livingston, aimed at the
family market. Week one consisted of deciding which of our dream rollercoasters
we wanted to put into our theme park, from there we developed six themed areas,
14 food and beverage outlets and a yearlong event schedule. After completing
several placements at the Alton Towers Resort and visiting many theme parks
over our lifetimes this didn’t feel like a university assignment!
By week four we had decided upon the basics for the Highlandia Resort and began to use our knowledge acquired from the first year of our degree to write a 2,000-word feasibility report. This report consisted of market research, a competitor analysis and even a marketing strategy for our theme park!
Before we knew it, it was week ten. We had compiled our theme park into a 15-minute presentation for the judging panel, we were joined by Kate McBirnie, Head of Guest Excellence at Alton Towers Resort. After many rehearsals we began our presentation, a nerve wracking yet rewarding experience. We knew our product inside out and presented it while the judging panel enjoyed afternoon tea with a Scottish twist! After the presentation we felt very proud at what we had been able to achieve in just ten weeks, but also a little bit sad that it was all over! This module has definitely been my favourite on the Visitor Attraction and Resort Management course, on what other degree do you get to design your own theme park?!
FdA Visitor Attraction and Resort Management is a unique course taught in partnership with Alton Towers Resort, part of the World renowned Merlin Group. It includes 20 weeks paid work experience, and the opportunity to top up to a BA (Hons) degree in your third year.
We are currently exploring the use of Playmobil.pro with learners and are now in a position to be able to run playful, creative bespoke workshops with your students (and staff). These sessions range from icebreakers, team building, students modelling their futures, event overviews and timeline journeys and lots more.
Playmobil.pro is based around the iconic Playmobil figure, which has served as an educational toy encouraging imaginative play, now it is being used by adults in the frame of a professional context. Playmobil.pro is a complete modelling system for professionals, and by applying a playful pedagogy, great facilitation, and specific methodology the Playmobil.pro kit can be used in a wide range of fields.
Interested? Contact us and we will give you a demonstration and explore how we can use it with your students.
Etherington D and Jones M (2022 forthcoming) Political Economy of the Inclusive Labour Market Welfare through Work Revisited in P McGurk and J Ingold eds Employer Engagement: Making Active Labour Market Policies Work, Bristol Policy Press
Daguerre A and Etherington D (2022) Austerity, the Covid Crisis and Welfare Policies under the Conservative Government in Martin Powell and Hugh Bochel eds Conservative governments and social policy Bristol Policy Press (contract signed with publishers to deliver this chapter).
Etherington D and Jones M (2022) The Challenges of Levelling Up in England’s North Midlands: Post-Covid Precarity in Stoke-on-Trent to be submitted to Local Economy
Dodds K, Broto VC, Detterbeck K, Jones M, Mamadouth V, Ramutsindela M, Varsanyi M, Wachsmuth D and Woon CY (2022) ‘10th anniversary of Territory, Politics, Governance: achievement and prospects’ Territory, Politics, Governancehttps://doi.org/10.1080/21622671.2022.2038446
Fred Nyakudyais working on a paper “How do institutions affect entrepreneurs in South Africa” for submission to the Technological Forecasting & Social Change
Fred Nyakudyais working on a paper “The effect of gender and resources on entrepreneurial activity: Evidence from the UK East Midlands region. For submission to the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research
EtheringtonD, Jones M, Harris S, and Hubbard S, (2021) Powering up or reducing inequalities? Assessing the impact of benefit cuts and withdrawal of (Furlough) support on Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire University/Citizens Advice Staffordshire North & Stoke on Trent, http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/7031/1/
Book review byDuncan Adam of The Politics of Social Inclusion and Labor Representation: Immigrants and trade unions in the European context. Connolly, H., Marino, S. & Martinez Lucio, M., 15 May 2019, New York: Cornell University Press. 200 p. forthcoming in Transfer
Visiting Professor Mark Gregory gave a speech at the NHS Conferederation entitled “Identifying how health impacts economic and social outcomes – A bottom up view from Stoke-on-Trent”
M A Wasim & K Mitchell “The role of technology in student learning and engagement: the case of the webinar” for Springer’s series Eurasian Studies in Business and Economics (EBES conference proceedings).
M A Wasim & K Mitchell “Investigation of higher education teacher adoption of Microsoft teams: managing behaviour through online delivery and promoting positive usage” for Springer’s series Eurasian Studies in Business and Economics (EBES conference proceedings).
John Middleton, Paul Southon and Jon Fairburn are working on a paper for PETRA with the working title “Environmental provisions in trade agreements”
Ema Talam has won a bid to produce a literature review on ‘the potential of R and d tax credits to support the Creative industries’ for the West Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority.
Prof David Etheringon with Dr Luke Telford submitted to the British Academy under the small grants schemes The UK Government’s levelling up agenda in the Covid-19 era: Assessing the lived experience of poverty in ‘left behind’ Stoke – awaiting decision
PhD: Arbresh Raveni (10-2020). Fiscal Policy in small open economies in transition, with particular reference to Macedonia. Supervisor Prof Geoff Pugh
PhD: Berat Havoli (04-2021).Determinants and Economic Consequences of the Cost of Government Borrowing: With Particular Reference to Selected European Transition Economies. Supervisor Prof Geoff Pugh
PhD: Simon Milosheski (08-2021). The Detection and Quantification of House Price Bubbles for (i) United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany (ii) a Panel of East European countries. Supervisor Prof Geoff Pugh
DBA: Andrew Stephenson (03/2021). Using the Net Promoter System Methodology to Deliver Cultural Change in Retail Organisations: Impacting both the Customer and Employee Experience. Supervisor Prof Geoff Pugh
Research seminar series (recordings) organised byEma Talam
Visitor Attraction and Resort Managment student, Lewis, describes his experience of studying the unique course at Staffordshire University
I’m Lew – or
Lewis for long.
I’ll be honest, I’ve absolutely no clue how I’ll cram one of the most amazing and craziest experiences of my life into 500(ish) words, but I’ll give it a try!
Studying Visitor Attraction and Resort Management (VARM) was a total life-changing experience for me. I’d always subconsciously known that I’d work in theme parks somewhere down the line, but it’d never occurred to me until I was around 15 just how much was out there in terms of careers. They’ve always been really amazing places for me especially growing up. They bring out a real carefree happiness in everyone and that’s resonated with me for as long as I can remember.
Before university I was incredibly lacking in confidence in a whole host of ways, and I don’t mind sharing the fact that I was going through a very negative period of my life (don’t worry I’m not going to bore you with a sob story!) I really found my calling in the build up to uni and during it, and it’s been great to finally find exactly what it is I want to do in the long run, massively build my confidence and meet some fantastic people in the process.
Making lifelong friends at University was never an expectation for me, but the close nit nature of things made it so easy for all of us to get along and grow through things together – and without sounding like a walking-talking cliché, It’s really like one huge (crazy) family. I’ve been lucky enough to study and work alongside some absolutely amazing, passionate and genuine people and couldn’t be prouder to say I’ve been able to do that with them.
For me – Support in education is key. I’ve had times along the road where it felt as if teachers don’t care or don’t want to understand their students, but that couldn’t be further from the case with VARM. The ‘family’ feel of the course absolutely extends out to the lecturers who have never once stopped trying to push me and everyone else to get where they want to be.
Because of this course I’ve had some insane opportunities I never could’ve imagined, from being a Christmas Elf, spending Halloween in a spooky alien filled sewer, helping with website redesigns, conducting talks to school groups, managing social media, and even working with someone I really admire on an anniversary for my favourite rollercoaster– It’s been everything I wanted it to be and more.
Here are my few pieces of advice and bits I’ve learnt along the way :
you care goes a long way. Enthusiasm is never bad as long as you’ve got good
intentions and truly want to do the right thing.
friends, don’t ‘network’. Genuine connections are the best connections.
– Forcing yourself into uncomfortable situations is usually the best way to boost your confidence.
– Whatever it is, just do it. Stopping and thinking before doing something is great, but don’t let overthinking and worrying about what people might think get in the way of making yourself happy.
reading my little bit.
no amount of words can sum up the feelings, experiences and funny stories I’ve
got from this course, but hopefully I’ve done it some justice. I really can’t
imagine my life without it.
(How are you
supposed to end these sort of things?)
Small breweries face a two-fold disadvantage in competition with larger breweries: (i) by their relative lack of scale economies in production; and (ii) by facing powerful buyers in the market for beer (e.g. national wholesalers and pub chains). Our contribution was to theorise and quantify the latter source of disadvantage – whereby powerful buyers can force down prices for the products of small breweries – as a “market access cost”. This new evidence contributed to HMT’s recent reform of Small Brewers’ Relief, which was designed to enable small breweries to compete in the market for beer by creating a more level playing field.
For more than 20 years a group of Staffordshire colleagues have analysed business support measures for small breweries in cooperation with the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and contributed to policy reviews conducted by HMT. The contribution and demonstrable impact of this work on introducing Small Brewers’ Relief (resulting in the remission of up to 50% of excise duty to small breweries) in the 2002 Budget was submitted as an Impact Case Study for the Business and Management Unit of Assessment in REF2014. Impact on HMT’s recently completed review of Alcohol Taxation (2019-2021) continues the story. To date, the main developments and evidence of impact are as follows.
HM Treasury’s Small Brewers Relief: Technical Consultation (January 2021) (henceforth HMT 2021a) cites our research at length, fully referencing two of our publications: see Paragraph 3.11 and Footnote 3 (p.16); Paragraph 3.24. (p.19); and Paragraphs 3.31 – 3.36) (pp.21-22). Our research is accurately summarised and introduced as follows: “The review team considered academic research by John Wyld, Geoff Pugh and David Tyrrall on the impacts of SBR on the brewing industry. Treasury officials met with the authors to discuss their research in August 2019.”
HM Treasury’s Small Brewers Relief: Technical Consultation Response (November 2021) (henceforth HMT 2021b) references the submission we made to HMT’s review, which developed the previous research referred to in HMT (2021a): “Along with feedback from brewers, the Government also received a paper from Geoff Pugh and David Tyrrall, the economists whose previous work on SBR was discussed in the technical consultation document. While produced independently, the paper was endorsed by SIBA and attached to their response” (HMT 2021b, ppp.10-11; see also p.26).
The particular impact of the Staffordshire research on HMT’s revision of Small Brewers’ Relief was endorsed by SIBA. The nature of the impact was summed up in SIBA’s public response to the changes in Small Breweries’ Relief announced by HMT on November 2021: “It is welcome that the Treasury has listened to SIBA’s representations on behalf of small brewers, and the views of MPs from across the political divide, to increase the 50% threshold from the proposed 2,100 hectolitres to 2,500hl … our worst fears have been averted and the rate is more manageable than was proposed in the consultation.” SIBA responds to Treasury publication of Small Breweries’ Relief changes – SIBA – The Voice Of British Brewing, 30-11-2021). In turn, a direct link to our research was made both by HMT policy makers and by SIBA.
In a letter made available to the Staffordshire research team, Kemi Badenoch, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, replied to a communication regarding SBR from Owen Thompson MP: “The new academic research referred to in your letter was recently brought to my attention, and I have asked my officials to consider it within the scope of our review of the SBR scheme”.
In an email of November 30th 2021, Barry Watts, SIBA’s Head of Public Affairs and Policy, thanked the Staffordshire team, noting that “your research really helped to make the case to the Treasury and convinced them to alter course”.
Additional evidence of impact is that I was contacted by Paul Hegarty, Honorary Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Committee, to discuss wider issues “about the economics of the cask beer sector”.
The main contribution of our research was to demonstrate that small breweries face a two-fold disadvantage in competition with larger breweries: (i) by their relative lack of scale economies in production, which are well known, if not reliably quantified; and (ii) by facing powerful buyers in the market for beer (e.g. national wholesalers and pub chains).
Our contribution to the literature and to the policy debate was to theorise and quantify the latter source of disadvantage as a “market access cost”, an effect arising from goods market monopsony. This new evidence contributed to HMT’s decision to retain SBR, which benefitted all small breweries and their employees.
Although the precise impact of our research on HMT’s overall policy decision to retain SBR can be little more than conjectural – as one influence among many – the impact of our research on a particular feature of the reformed SBR can be precisely identified. This particular contribution – as attested to in Point 3 above – was to persuade HMT to “alter course” to retain the full SBR remission (50%) for all breweries producing up to 2500 hectolitres (hl) p.a. rather than up to the originally proposed 2100 hl (HMT, 2021a: Paragraph 1.4). This change will help to secure the future viability of almost 100 breweries employing more than 500 full-time and more than 200 part-time . The importance of retaining the full SBR for these breweries is confirmed by the responses to the following question included in the 2019 SIBA Industry Survey: “How important is Small Breweries Relief to your ability to work and compete as a small business?” On a five-point Likert scale – from “Not important” to “Extremely important”, 86% responded “extremely important”.
 The original Staffordshire team comprised Geoff Pugh, David Tyrrall and John Wyld. Geoff (still 0.5 FTE at Staffordshire) and David (now retired) have continued this long-standing project, in part as a scholarly memorial to our colleague and friend John Wyld who passed away in January 2021. In the most recent phase of our research, we have been joined by Dr Dragana Radicic, currently an Associate Professor at Lincoln University and a former Staffordshire PhD student.
 This calculation is based on the most recent data available. In 2019, SIBA’s annual Industry Survey yielded a sample of 280 breweries, each reporting their current annual production of beer (in hl). Of these, 14 produced between 2100 hl and 2500 hl p.a. (5%), employing an average of 5.43 full-time and 2.23 part-time employees. In the same year, according to HMT (2021a: Annex A), there was a total of 1900 breweries in the UK. Hence, scaling up from the SIBA sample size to the population size (5% of 1900) yields 95 breweries producing between 2100 and 2500 hl p.a. which, when multiplied by the mean employment for the breweries in this production range, yields total employment of 516 full time and 212 part time. Of course, we cannot know how representative the SIBA survey is of all breweries. However, these indicative calculations suggest modest but not insignificant consequences of the decision to include breweries in the 2100 hl to 2500 hl range in the full rather than in the initially proposed reduced rate of SBR.
 12 from the 14 breweries producing in the range 2100 to 2500 hl responded “Extremely important”, which scaled up from the sample (280) to the population (1900) gives 81 breweries (rounded) (86%).
Linzi has been working within Health and Safety at Alton Towers for 15 years as part of a close-knit team of 5 and worked on the ‘Protecting the Magic for Managers’ training with a collective team from numerous Merlin Entertainments UK Theme parks and Legoland Resorts. This interactive training session taught us that safety at Merlin is a whirlwind; it spans from rides, hotels, and restaurants, to the work-shops, contractors and events of every attraction. As Linzi detailed the responsibilities of the HSE, EHO, and ORR at the park, she included relevant guidance documents and legislative works that must be abided by within each corner of every department – relevant to our own Law and Legislation module that we’re currently studying at Staffordshire University.
“Safety should always be a moving target – it is never complete.”
Linzi Ticehurst, 2021
During the session, the
one-and-only Francis Jackson (Alton Towers Resort Operations Director) stopped
by for a couple of minutes to offer a few words on the topic – “the ability to
foresee; therein lies the challenge.” (Francis Jackson, 2021). Agreeing with
what Francis has said, protecting our guests and staff is the primary focus of
our safety department. The responsibilities lie not only in rectifying an
incident, but to prepare and take away the hazard in order to maintain the
magic for our guests.
I, myself (Lucy Moseley) have
been a part of the Health and Safety team at Alton Towers for 2 months up to
this publication and working close with the rides department as a fresh pair of
eyes on the resort has been an incredible, and rare, opportunity. It is my
responsibility to complete administrative work, inspect the rides on resort and
bring forward solutions to any arising issues – it’s the kind of role where no
two days are the same.
Finally, I would once again like to thank Linzi for taking the time to come and speak with us and share her knowledge on the significance of keeping safe at all times whilst working at the resort. The session that she provided was incredibly informative and well structured, so thank you, Linzi.