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Oxford Brookes Business School
This forward-thinking book examines the potential impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on productivity. Productivity and the Pandemic features 21 chapters authored by 46 experts, examining different aspects of how the pandemic is likely to impact on the economy, society and governance in the medium- and long-term. Drawing on a range of empirical evidence, analytical arguments and new conceptual insights, the book challenges our thinking on many dimensions. With a keen focus on place, firms, production factors and institutions, the chapters highlight how the pre-existing challenges to productivity have been variously exacerbated and mitigated by the pandemic and points out ways forward for appropriate policy thinking in response to the crisis.
Productivity Perspectives offers a timely and stimulating social science view on the productivity debate, drawing on the work of the ESRC funded Productivity Insights Network. The book examines the drivers and inhibitors of UK productivity growth in the light of international evidence, and the resulting dramatic slowdown and flatlining of productivity growth in the UK. The reasons for this so-called productivity puzzle are not well understood, and this book advances explanations and insights on these issues from different disciplinary and methodological perspectives. It will be of value to all those interested in, and engaging with, the challenge of slowing productivity growth.
Providing a coherent and clear narrative, Creating Resilient Economies offers a theoretical analysis of resilience and provides guidance to policymakers with regards to fostering more resilient economies and people. It adeptly illustrates how resilience thinking can offer the opportunity to re-frame economic development policy and practice and provides a clear evidence base of the cultural, economic, political and social conditions that shape the adaptability, flexibility and responsiveness to crises in their many forms.
Entrepreneurship does not occur in a vacuum. The institutions which provide the framework for economic activity matter. As countries around the world strive for economic growth, this book examines how institutional arrangements are critical in fostering entrepreneurship. Through 12 case studies drawn from Asia, Europe and America the book demonstrates how different institutional arrangements impact the nature, scope and scale of entrepreneurial activity. Each chapter highlights how the prevailing formal and informal institutional arrangements interact, and how this has consequences for the development of more entrepreneurial economies. By synthesizing empirical and theoretical insights the book explores how fostering more entrepreneurial economies is as much a question of institutional alignment as it is the creation of more supportive formal and informal institutions.
The study of technical innovation in Professional Services has attracted growing interest among scholars, who have sought to analyze the process of organizational change and service transformation. However, very little attention has been devoted to understanding the process of adoption and diffusion of technical innovation in professional sectors. In this paper, we suggest that the relevance and peculiarity of institutional dynamics at play in the professional sectors warrant a specific focus aimed at laying out how they affect adoption and diffusion of technical innovation.
In particular, we highlight that cultural-cognitive and normative pillars, embedded in the classic or regulated professions, may significantly insulate professionals from efficient-choice lenses and act as either drivers or barriers of adoption of technical innovations depending on the nature of the technology in question. Our proposed hypothesis is that institutional mechanisms act as drivers for the adoption of trajectorial innovations i.e. technologies that improve existing sets of practices and routines, and as barriers for paradigmatic innovations i.e. technologies that substantively alter existing practices and/or strip away certain tasks from the hands of professionals.
Finally, we illustrate the role that social norms play as a transmission mechanism of cultural-cognitive and normative pressures.
The emergence of new industries that are not closely related to existing regional paths remains an underexplained process in evolutionary economic geography. This paper responds to this gap through a case study of a maturing ecosystem of activity related to artificial intelligence in Montreal. Conceptually it brings together recent thinking in economic geography about agency in path development with complementary concepts from the literature on technological innovation systems. The empirical findings demonstrate the role of multiple agents in system building and legitimation activities that have varied across pre-formative and formative phases of new path development in this analytical knowledge field.
SMEs are the lifeblood of economies around the world. They play an important role in productivity growth, which is crucial for developed economies as they adjust to major trends such as the industrial revolution, an aging population, and changes in the nature of work. This study maps the SME productivity research landscape by way of a systematic literature review focusing on the direct, indirect, as well as mediating/moderating factors that enable or constrain productivity in SMEs. We review 109 empirical studies and highlight the fragmented nature of the extant research in this field. Our thematic analysis identifies six key themes, namely organizational environment, organizational capabilities, investments, types of innovation, external knowledgebase and commercialization. By taking stock of existing knowledge, we highlight critical gaps and methodological issues that limit our understanding of SME productivity. We propose a future research agenda to address current shortcomings and advance knowledge on this topic. Implications for policy are also discussed.
This article advances knowledge on the diversity and heterogeneity of women-led small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK by analysing how gender intersects with ethnicity and place to influence their engagement in innovation. We adopt an intersectional perspective, and base our analyses on the Longitudinal Small Business Survey (LSBS) data of 29,257 SMEs over the period 2015 to 2018. Our findings suggest that despite their limited number, as well as firm size and industry sector constraints, women-led SMEs are actively engaged in innovation activities (i.e. process innovation, product innovation, investment in research and development). In addition, our results on the effects of intersecting categories of gender, ethnicity, and place on innovation, further emphasises the heterogeneity of women-led SMEs, both with regard to their likelihood to engage in innovation, as well as the place where innovation is most likely to occur. Implications for policy and practice are highlighted.
This paper explores how local communities in formerly industrialized places make sense of industrial decline and how the historical experience of industrialism has influenced the subsequent development of local entrepreneurship cultures. Based on a study with entrepreneurs and policymakers in Doncaster, a post-industrial English town in South Yorkshire, the paper demonstrates how legacies of the past persist through local informal institutions and permeate local perceptions of place and opportunity, stymieing the development of an entrepreneurship culture in the locality. Drawing on Cresswell’s three-dimensional framework of place, the paper shows how place meanings can lag significantly behind material transformation and slow the adoption of new practices. The study reflects on these challenges and discusses the policy implications.
This paper examines how family members support each other’s entrepreneurial activities through sharing resources created at the business-level. Drawing on the concept of ‘enterpriseness’ the study examines the flows between a family and the business and how it influences the impacts of the businesses on the family (enterpriseness). We capture the enterpriseness by focusing on entrepreneurial families where more than one member is an owner-entrepreneur. Through in-depth interviews with entrepreneurial families in Mexico, we show how different forms of capital resources emerging from multiple businesses flow back into the family and contribute to enterpriseness. The entrepreneurial family enables access to human, social and financial capital resources that are easily mobilized and combined by other members for their multiple firms, showing a subsequent effect to the business-level. Consequently, enterpriseness influences entrepreneurial behaviours which have a variety of consequences for the entrepreneurial family and their businesses. The paper concludes with a number of contributions to theory.
There is a lack of understanding of how social enterprises with their partners co-create opportunities to concurrently generate both social and economic value across the pyramid. Drawing on evidence from multiple case-studies, this paper addresses this gap to further our understanding of opportunity co-creation by social enterprises. We find that social enterprises co-create opportunities to simultaneously generate social and economic value with both the top of the pyramid (TOP) and bottom of the pyramid (BOP) partners; we thus call them Transcending Pyramid Social Enterprises (TPSEs). Opportunity co-creation comprises commercialising the social opportunity characteristics of prevalence, relevance, and accessibility to create both the demand and supply sides of a market. Supply side opportunity co-creation involves fulfilling institutional voids, developing relational capital with the BOP, and meeting the needs of the BOP. Demand side opportunity co-creation involves generating market access to the TOP, raising awareness of value generated by TPSEs, and fulfilling the needs of TOP customers. Co-created opportunities are thus capable of both addressing the economic and social and/or environmental issues of the BOP and meeting the altruistic and consumption needs of the TOP. The implications for social enterprises, their partners, and policy makers are discussed.
This paper explores to what extent the new localism has effectively empowered local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and local communities to deliver localized, place-based enterprise policy at the subnational level. It identifies externally imposed constraints on local enterprise policy-making that have seen this reoriented towards the support of high-growth potential businesses. However, the scope and focus of enterprise policy at the LEP level contrast with heterogeneous local realities and needs, highlighting a pronounced rhetoric–reality gap. With little evidence of local knowledge transcending policy boundaries, the paper reveals that the current arrangements constrain local agency and reduce the effectiveness of enterprise policy-making at the local level. It concludes that the power to develop localized, place-based enterprise policy exists only in rhetoric.
Purpose.The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the role of public policy in the formation of entrepreneurial ecosystems in Poland.
Design/methodology/approach.The paper assumes a qualitative approach to researching and analysing how public policy enables and constrains the formation of entrepreneurial ecosystems. The authors conducted a series of focus groups with regional and national policy makers, enterprises and intermediaries in three Polish voivodeships (regions) – Malopolska, Mazowieckie and Pomorskie.
Findings.The paper finds that applying the entrepreneurial ecosystems approach is a challenging prospect for public policy characterised by a theory-practice gap. Despite the attraction of entrepreneurial ecosystems as a heuristic to foster entrepreneurial activity, the cases highlight the complexity of implementing the framework conditions in practice. As the Polish case demonstrates, there are aspects of entrepreneurial ecosystems that are beyond the immediate scope of public policy.
Research limitations/implications.The results challenge the view that the entrepreneurial ecosystems framework represents a readily implementable public policy solution to stimulate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial growth. Insights are drawn from three regions, although by their nature these are predominantly city centric, highlighting the bounded geography of entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Originality/value.This paper poses new questions regarding the capacity of public policy to establish and extend entrepreneurial ecosystems. While public policy can shape the framework and system conditions, the paper argues that these interventions are often based on superficial or incomplete interpretations of the entrepreneurial ecosystems literature and tend to ignore or underestimate informal institutions that can undermine these efforts. As such, by viewing the ecosystems approach as a panacea for growth policy makers risk opening Pandora’s box.
The effects of regulations on small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs) have garnered significant political attention internationally, yet, in the academic literature, these effects remain contested. This article presents findings from a systematic literature review of qualitative evidence on the effects of regulation on SMEs. It sets out the strengths of qualitative approaches in relation to more prominent and influential quantitative approaches. It conducts a thematic synthesis of the qualitative research to develop a conceptual framework that provides a processual, embedded understanding of the effects of regulations on SMEs. The conceptual framework highlights four key, interconnected processes: identification–interpretation; strategization; negotiation; and adaptation. This conceptual framework generates insights into dynamic and potentially indirect effects of regulations in relation to a complex array of influences external to and within the business. On the basis of these insights a new research agenda is proposed.
Purpose.Focusing on the family as the central unit of analysis, the purpose of this paper is to examine how entrepreneurial families, with more than one owner/entrepreneur, utilise social capital in a challenging institutional environment.
Design/methodology/approach.The empirical focus of this paper is the institutional context of Mexico and how it impacts on entrepreneurial families and their access to social capital. The authors employ an in-depth qualitative approach to understand entrepreneurs’ perspective as being part of an entrepreneurial family. A total of 36 semi-structured interviews were conducted with multiple respondents of each entrepreneurial family.
Findings.This study shows that social capital allows members in the entrepreneurial family to access a wider pool of resources to utilise to benefit their ventures, while also helping them to operate in a challenging institutional environment. It also illustrates how social capital is used to overcome institutional asymmetries.
Originality/value.This paper contributes to research by examining the links between institutions and entrepreneurial families through a focus on social capital. It provides a nuanced understanding of how the entrepreneurial family serves as an intermediary through which social capital gives family members access to resources and capabilities to enable their pursuit of entrepreneurial endeavours and overcome the institutional challenges they face in Mexico.
Purpose.The aim of this paper is to unpack the nature of business innovation and understand the impact on regional innovation and competitiveness.
Design/methodology/approach.The paper is based on a qualitative study of Advanced Manufacturing and Advanced Materials businesses in the Sheffield City Region (UK). Interviews were conducted with 23 firms in exploring how innovation in the firm translates to innovation-led regional economic growth.
Findings.The paper demonstrates that there is a tendency of owner managers to focus on innovation in terms of the development of new products, processes and/or services. Many of the businesses interviewed were technologically innovative, yet there was little evidence of wider business model innovation. This, the authors conclude, stymies regional innovation and with it regional economic growth.
Research limitations/implications.This study is based on a case study of the Sheffield City Region and is not generalizable, but offers insights into the nature of business model innovation which are valuable in generating questions for further research.
Practical implications.The paper highlights the need to think of innovation in broader terms and the scope of business model innovation to not only improve the performance of firms but also regional economic growth.
Originality/value.Business model innovation is a growing domain of the literature, and this paper highlights how narrow interpretations of innovation may serve to limit growth business growth, and with it regional economic growth.
This article examines how the legacies of the past in peripheral post-industrial places serve to shape current and future entrepreneurial activity, and with it local economic resilience. Drawing on in-depth qualitative interviews with key regional stakeholders, the article reveals how peripheral post-industrial places are constrained by their histories. This is found to be manifest in different ways, such as low aspirations, generational unemployment and a loss of identity which are in turn compounded by negative perceptions of place and opportunity. These issues culminate in institutional hysteresis at the local level and constrain entrepreneurial ambition. The article argues that the rigidity and reproduction of informal institutions continues to stymie economic resilience and growth. We conclude by reflecting on the implications for entrepreneurship in peripheral post-industrial places as well as with recommendations for policy.
There has been increasing interest in understanding the factors that contribute to the development of employee resilience. Despite such interest, there is a dearth of research examining the contributory role played by HR practices in enhancing employee resilience. Looking at the context of Pakistan’s telecommunications sector and deploying a qualitative methodology, this paper examines the impact of HR practices on employee resilience. The findings indicate that four key areas of HR practices – job design, information sharing and flow within an organisation, employee benefits (monetary as well as non-monetary), and employee development opportunities – enable the development of employee resilience. Consequently, the effective implementation of HR practices in these areas has been the key factor for the development of employee resilience.
Drawing insights from the national systems of innovation and social entrepreneurship literature, this article examines how national systems of innovation (NSI) and social entrepreneurship interact to generate social innovation in emerging economies. Through the examination of a case study of the Emergency and Management Research Institute (EMRI), a public private partnership (PPP), social innovation is found to be an interactive bottom-up collective learning process where EMRI has developed a new model of social innovation. It also highlights the complex context in which social innovation occurs. As a boundary-spanning activity across the public and private sectors, the interactive learning process and associated capability building for social innovation has provided a catalyst for wider social reform and for the development and redesigning of NSI for social innovation-led value creation in emerging economies. Through such an approach, the EMRI has overcome the institutional voids and developed legitimacy through social innovation tailored to the local context; it thereby represents an alternative approach to the often top-down NSI organisations of developed economies.
The aim of this article is to examine the impact of institutional development on entrepreneurship in post-conflict environments. Drawing on in-depth interviews with Kosovar entrepreneurs the article highlights how the experience of fostering entrepreneurship in a post-conflict, new born state is distinct from transition economies. The article finds that Kosovo has not encountered the same institutional challenges which have stymied entrepreneurship in transition economies which have been hampered by ‘path extension’ of institutions. Instead there has been a ‘path break’ resulting in a reshaping of formal and informal institutions as supportive of entrepreneurship. However, while positive, the prevailing nature of much entrepreneurial activity is localized with only a limited impact on economic growth. The article concludes by making a number of contributions to institutional theory and policy.
This article examines the impact of corruption on entrepreneurship in transition economies. Utilising in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs in Sofia, Bulgaria, and Bucharest, Romania, the article finds that despite economic reforms, corruption occupies a pervasive space which impacts entrepreneurial strategy. In both countries, entrepreneurs operate within a ‘devil’s circle’, in which they are unable to operate entirely independent of corruption. This is caused by a combination of weak formal institutions and a weak entrepreneurial culture leading to entrepreneurs either seeking to avoid the attention of government officials by hiding some or all of their activities with little prospect of sanction, limiting their growth aspirations, or engaging in corruption as a way of furthering their activities. The research contributes to understandings of corruption and its impact on entrepreneur strategies to avoid, minimise or benefit from it.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected many of the factors shaping the R & D and innovation landscape. Innovative businesses, including early stage companies, face running out of cash due to a lack of availability of external finance or funding, and parts of sectors face being wiped out by economic contraction. R & D projects have hit the buffers due to operational restrictions. At the same time, however, there have been some potential positive effects. Businesses have had to innovate rapidly to adapt to new circumstances, resulting in business model changes and investment in new technologies, especially digital solutions. With digitally-enabled solutions becoming in demand, technology companies have made their products freely available. This chapter reviews these changes and discusses the potential impacts of COVID-19 going forward. In this context, the chapter looks at how policies and programmes could be used to best respond to the crisis in ways that may assist with longer-term competitiveness, and the challenges and opportunities that could shape a recovery that places innovation at its centre. It does this through the lens of priorities related to the 2.4% R & D target, supporting innovative companies, and improving innovation diffusion.
The existing literature has highlighted the complexities of productivity puzzle in the UK, with the systems lens providing a mean to both explore a more holistic approach as well as examining the intersections and interdependencies of productivity policies and outcomes. As the economic implications of the COVID-19 crisis continue to become apparent this presents an opportunity to reconceptualise how the future of the productivity debate might be reimagined from a systems perspective with a focus on future economic resilience. This chapter explores where and how the manifest points of crisis, and subsequent policy interventions, can serve to focus the attention on specific sub-systems of activity that are sensitive to the ways in which policies and processes are embedded in the wider system. The chapter concludes by identifying and advocating the need for more experimental and adaptive approaches based on evidence and insight emerging in real time.
Small businesses are widely regarded as an important aspect of the productivity puzzle in the UK, representing over 98 per cent of the business base. At the start of 2019 SMEs under 250 employees accounted for 61 per cent of total employment and 52 per cent of turnover in the private sector, with micro businesses and sole traders employing under 10 accounting for 33 per cent and 22 per cent respectively. The concept of this long tail of less productive businesses is one that has come to capture the imagination of researchers and policymakers alike. Current analysis of the productivity puzzle suggests that this tail is considerably longer in the UK when compared to elsewhere. The long tail of companies was described by Haldane (2017) as those firms with low and slow productivity growth which are unable to keep up, much less catch up with frontier companies. However, the composition of the long tail is contested. As these numbers imply, it is true that small businesses are inevitably less efficient than their larger counterparts which benefit from scale and specialisation. However, the highly heterogenous base of small unproductive firms is not responsible for all of the UK’s productivity issues.
Many of the smallest businesses have borne the brunt of the immediate economic shock resulting from the Covid-19 global health crisis. However, this diversity of small businesses means that while some have experienced very dramatic reductions in turnover and needed to make temporary or possibly permanent adjustments to employment, others have found themselves presented with new opportunities with potential for productivity enhancement. Furthermore, supporting sole traders and micro businesses is not straightforward – a fact borne out in small business policy over the past three decades. The first section of this chapter begins by reflecting on the nature of sole traders and micro businesses, before the second section reviews emerging evidence and insights as to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on micro businesses. A third section discusses the immediate responses and experiences of these businesses. A fourth section discusses the wider economic outlook and the prospects for recovery in a post-Covid world where productive sole traders and micro businesses continue to be important to the economy.
Through the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan launched in 2013, the European Commission set out its agenda for how entrepreneurship could help tackle the problems associated with the 2008 financial crisis. In this chapter we present how STARTIFY7, a project funded by the Commission’s Horizon 2020 initiative, sought to respond to the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan. The STARTIFY7 project was created as a thematically focused and lean-training summer academy system with the aim of creating pan-European teams of young entrepreneurs in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. The project and its underlying pedagogic approach, derived from Neck and Greene’s (2011) work on ‘worlds’ of entrepreneurship education, is discussed along with the outcomes achieved
SMEs are the lifeblood of many economies. The important role of SMEs’ growth to the economy is evident through their positive impact on employment creation, productivity and competitiveness; and makes them a key focus area for researchers and policymakers alike. SMEs also have the potential to ensure more inclusive growth, assist economies to adapt to major trends in the new industrial revolution, as well as to address challenges arising from changing demographics. Gaining a better understanding of how different factors interact to impact SME productivity is therefore crucial. Our study carries out a systematic review of empirical studies on SME productivity over the last two decades. We find that current research is highly fragmented and geared towards understanding ‘hard’ factors. Our study makes the following contributions: first, we provide a thematic overview that maps existing studies into six key themes, namely organizational innovation, innovation inputs and innovation capabilities (i.e. firm perspective), and innovation sources, commercialization sources and contextual factors (i.e. regional/national perspective). Second, we identify substantial gaps existing in the research that restricts our knowledge of SME productivity. Third, we propose a research agenda to guide future research. Implications for policy are also highlighted. Keywords: SMEs; productivity; innovation; western economies