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ERC Research Showcase
February 22nd 2024
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Welcome and Introduction
❖ Mark Hart
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Opening Remarks
• Highlight 4 key areas of current research:
– Trade
– Climate change and digital technologies
– Rural SMEs and environmental action
– Workplace mental health
• ERC Manifesto for small business growth and productivity
• ERC Plans for 2024 and beyond
Business Dynamism in the UK
• Business Dynamism in long-term decline since 1998 - Job Allocation Rate (JAR)
falling from 35% in 1998 to 22% in 2022
• 400,000 more established SMEs (3 years +) since 2010 but proportion
registering growth in employment falling from 20% to 13%
• …. and yet, business support in England currently in a state of transition.
Jobs, Turnover and Productivity
• Developing a new focus for small business policy in the UK
• Previous research by the ERC showed that there was a very poor
correlation between jobs growth, increases in revenues and
productivity gains in the UK business population.
• Panel study of 250k employer enterprises (2008-15) - only 5% of
the firms studied managed to significantly increase turnover, jobs
and productivity at the same time – some 10,000 firms!
• The relationship between the growth of turnover and productivity
was strong and positive, with 3 out of 4 firms that grew turnover
also raising productivity.
Productivity Heroes
• We set out to investigate those firms that are registering productivity gains (i.e., turnover per
employee) and are doing so while still creating jobs.
• These small businesses we call ‘Productivity Heroes’ are defined as SMEs aged 3 years and over that
are growing both their revenues and headcount but their revenues at a faster rate.
• The base population used to identify the number of Productivity Heroes is all surviving private sector
SME employer enterprises (1-249 emps) in the UK in 2021-22 which are at least 3 years of age - i.e.,
not start-ups – 1.22m enterprises.
Productivity Heroes - Trends
• So, out of a total of 453,231 firms that had increased their productivity we can see
that there is a small group of SMEs (8% or 36,298 firms) aged 3 years and over
within this total that are creating jobs by an average of 29% growth but growing
revenue even more rapidly by an average of 196%
Year No. of SMEs
(3 years and
over)
No. and % of
businesses achieving
productivity growth
No. and % of
Productivity
Heroes1
2000-01 676k 347k - 51.3% 4.5% (15,622)
2007-08 825k 449k - 54.4% 8.8% (39,245)
2010-11 882k 358k - 40.7% 6.6% (23,740)
2018-19 1.13m 557k - 49.2% 6.7% (37,125)
2021-22 1.22m 453k - 37.0% 8.0% (36,298)
Productivity Heroes – what next?
• Enterprise policy should place a central focus on this newly identified small group of firms to
provide some evidence on how to address the UK’s long-standing productivity problem and
with it the long tail of unproductive mainly small firms.
• Next stage is to track their performance over time to investigate the persistence of their
productivity gains over time and indeed, looking back, identify in what year the 2021-22
cohort of Productivity Heroes first met the criteria.
• Engage in qualitative research to understand the drivers of these productivity gains –
especially leaders’ mindset and ambition
• Read more – Hart and Bonner (2024) “Productivity Puzzles, Long Tails and Productivity
Heroes: developing a new focus for small business policy in the UK”, ERC Insight Paper,
February 2024.
How do UK firms make export
decisions?
❖ Eugenie Golubova
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Introduction
Joint ERC-DBT project which aims to identify what factors influence
firms’ export decisions and what process the export decisions follow.
We focus on first export entry, exit & re-entry, persistence and export
changes.
▪ Three research elements:
▪ Rapid literature review (screened c. 2,800 papers, analysed 135)
▪ N=1,750 UK representative survey of exporters
▪ N=16 interviewed firms who took first entry or re-entry decisions
11
What first entry decisions do they make?
▪ New exporters make up 10% of the sample
▪ Prior to exporting, nearly half had exporting as an objective in their business plan
▪ First start exporting physical goods and physical services
▪ Top 5 first entry countries were:
▪ Republic of Ireland
▪ USA
▪ Netherlands
▪ Germany
▪ France
▪ First country choice was dictated by customer enquiries or its size & ease of access
▪ It mostly took firms less than a year to start exporting since they first considered it
▪ Less than 10% of firms had considered other forms of entering foreign markets
12
What exit and re-entry decisions do they make?
▪ 6% are intermittent exporters
▪ Mostly paused exports due to
COVID-19 and lack of customer
demand, though continued business
development activities – incl. in
preparation for exporting
▪ Intermittent exporters respond to
customer enquiries and maintain the
status quo:
▪ Over 8 in 10 re-entered to export
the same goods or services
▪ to all the same countries or
some of the same (over 8 in 10)
13
28% 28% 28% 28% 29%
30% 29% 29% 30% 30%
20% 21%
23% 24% 24%
9% 10%
6% 7% 8%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Exports as share of turnover
All Persistent New Intermittent
What persistence decisions do they make?
▪ 85% of the all exporters
▪ Persistent exporters mainly keep the
status quo, though a substantial
minority expand
▪ Very few firms undertake other forms
of entering foreign markets
▪ Nearly all firms stick to their primary
mode of exporting – but they use
multiple export modes and cover more
export markets
14
62%
8%
17%
2%
7%
0%
4%
Primary mode of exporting
Direct selling to customers
Selling through domestic
intermediaries or distributors
Selling through foreign
intermediaries or distributors
Selling through contract
manufacturing and assembly
Selling through e-commerce
and online marketplaces
Other
All modes are equal
What motivates different export decisions?
93%
87%
79%
43%
30%
26%
17%
10%
7%
79%
82%
49%
27%
22%
23%
8%
3%
12%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
To increase company profit
and growth
To respond to customer
enquiries from abroad
To re/establish/sustain
market presence
To diversify risks from
market concentration
To learn and innovate
To utilise excess capacity
To access resources
To take advantage of UK
government initiatives
To prepare for setting up
FDI overseas
Reasons to re-/start/continue to export
Persistent New Intermittent 15
62%
42% 37%
5%
5%
4%
17%
38%
41%
9% 9%
5%
1% 3%
7%
6% 2% 5%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Primary reason All equally important
Other
To re/establish/sustain
market presence
To respond to
customer enquiries
from abroad
To prepare for FDI / UK
government initiatives
To diversify risks /
utilise excess capacity /
access resources /
learn
To increase company
profit and growth
Who makes the decisions?
▪ The number of export decision-
makers is similar across exporters
▪ Export DMs are mainly different types
of directors, heads and senior
managers
▪ Interviewees told us of equal or
complementary decision-making of
multiple export DMs
▪ Other staff also contribute to export
decisions, essentially by providing
information
27%
7%
12%
27%
8%
17%
19%
5%
13%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
Share of
women export
DMs
Share of
minority ethnic
Share of
foreign-born
Export decision-makers
Persistent New Intermittent
16
What are impacts of other stakeholders?
▪ Connections vary a little, but the they have a similar level of impact on export
decisions
▪ Firms with any foreign connections report higher impact on export decisions
▪ Advice or support relating to exporting also impacts export decisions
96%
49%
14%
92%
33%
13%
94%
46%
18%
0%
20%
40%
60%
80%
100%
UK business
connections
Foreign
business
Foreign
personal
Connections
Persistent New Intermittent
17
Yes
30%
No, the firm
sought, but did
not receive any
7%
No, but the firm
did not seek any
59%
Don’t know
4%
Did a firm receive business
advice/support for exporting?
Summary
▪ There is no single export decision, but rather multiple decisions at
different times for different purposes
▪ Customer demand is an integral part of exporting at any stage though
its perceived importance changes over time and exporting patterns
▪ At first, exporting decisions seem immutable; but over time, in
persisting to export, firms change how and why they export, which
we can also expect in new and intermittent exporters (if they continue)
▪ Multiple internal and external stakeholders feed into export decision-
making
▪ There is scope for export support targeted at different exporting firms
at different points in time and over time – including for persistent
exporters
18
Link to the manifesto for small business growth
and productivity
Support and encourage more firms to export
…targeting initiatives at different points in the export journey
“We need to encourage and support more small firms to export. The external
shocks and crises of Brexit and Covid-19 have had a negative impact on export
activity that has hit smaller firms the hardest, and there is an urgent need for
policy action here, given the magnitude of the impacts on businesses and the
wider economy. ERC research has shown that there are close links between
international trade, growth ambition and innovation activity. There is a clear
rationale going forward for policy action to jointly promote exporting and
innovation in UK firms, targeting firms at different points in their export
journey. This will involve action on a range of fronts, including government,
education and business representative associations.”
19
Firms’ response to climate change and
digital technologies – insights from an
international comparative study
❖ Anastasia Ri
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Background and research question
Productivity in transition –
an international comparative analysis of the twin transition,
its enablers, and productivity implications
This 2-year project aims to explore relationships between the digital and net-zero transitions, on the one
hand, and between this twin transition and firm productivity, on the other.
+other underlying conditions (previous investment, finance)
+incentive structures – which are the most supportive?
Quantitative Perspective
In partnership with the European Investment Bank
(Luxembourg)
Qualitative Perspective
In partnership with Grenoble School of Management
(France)
Firms’ response(s) to climate change
Climate Adaptation
strategies designed to increase business resilience and
ensure business continuity in the face of changes in climate
related risks have benefits which are largely private.
Climate Mitigation
strategies designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions may have more limited private benefits but are
likely to have substantial public benefits linked to reduced
climate impacts
Background and research question
“Incentives to adapt are already in place… need not be
created by governments” (Toll, 2005)
Preconditions (access to information, knowledge, skills,
financial resources) may be facilitated by governments –
conducive environment (Fankhauser et al, 1999)
“Even though individuals (firms) will mitigate their
emissions, the incentives to do so are to be provided by
governments” (Toll, 2005)
Matter of national governments in the context of
international negotiations
RQ: Do digital technologies facilitate adaption and mitigation?
i.e. do digital technologies make businesses better equipped to tackle climate change
challenges, both through adaptation and mitigation strategies?
Background and research question
Why adaptation too?
• While there is a growing body of literature on business
mitigation, the knowledge of adaptation decision-making is still
very limited (Bleda & Pinkse, 2023; Clement & Rivera, 2017;
Linnenluecke, Griffiths, & Winn, 2013; Peregrino de Brito,
2021).
• Linnenluecke et al. (2013) highlight the lack of empirical studies
on firm adaptation to climate change.
• Most empirical studies focus on most exposed to climate
change impacts sectors: tourism, agriculture, winery, ski
resorts, energy sector (Peregrino de Brito, 2021). For firms in
less exposed sectors, the decision-making process is more
“ambiguous” (Bleda & Pinkse, 2023).
Twin net zero and digital transition is believed to be
an important pathway to sustainable recovery (Bai et
al. 2020; Hanelt et al. 2017).
Yet, little is known about how these two transition
processes relate to each other and how organisations
may leverage digital technologies and capabilities to
innovate for environmental sustainability.
Crucially, empirical quantitative micro-evidence of
their connection is scarce, especially in the context of
SMEs (OECD, 2021).
Conceptual framework
Adaptation
Mitigation
Digital
innovativeness
Constraints
Recognition
of the need /
opportunity
Incentives
Constraints
Incentives
Recognition
of the need /
opportunity
Capabilities
Business environment: natural,
regulatory and policy, social norms,
knowledge, customers, network…
Strategy Actions
Hypothesis 2.
More advanced digital adopters are more intensively engaged in climate
adaptation actions
More advanced digital adopters are more intensively engaged in climate
mitigation actions
Hypothesis 1. More advanced digital adopters have better ability to access and
process information and hence more likely to recognise the need of climate
response(s) by making strategic choice of adopting climate adaptation or climate
mitigation measures, or both.
Probability of climate response(s)
Intensity of climate response(s)
Hypothesis
Data overview
Type of climate response (0 to 3):
0 – No climate response;
1 – Adaptation only;
2 – Mitigation only;
3 – Both Adaptation and Mitigation
Probability of climate response(s) Intensity of climate response(s)
ICA - Intensity of
Climate Adaptation
(0 to 3)
measured by number
of CA practices
adopted
ICM - Intensity of
Climate Mitigation
(0 to 5)
measured by number
of CM practices
adopted
European Investment Bank Investment Survey, 2022-2023,
pooled cross-section ~25,000 firms across 27 EU countries and USA
Data overview
0.00
0.10
0.20
0.30
0.40
0.50
Intensity of Climate Adaptation (ICA)
Manufacturing Construction Services Infrastructure
0.00
0.50
1.00
1.50
2.00
2.50
Intensity of Climate Mitigation (ICM)
Manufacturing Construction Services Infrastructure
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
Intensity of Climate Adaptation (ICA)
Micro Small Medium Large
0
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3
Intensity of Climate Mitigation (ICM)
Micro Small Medium Large
Data overview
ҧ
𝑥 ҧ
𝑥 + 𝑠𝑑
ҧ
𝑥 − 𝑠𝑑 ҧ
𝑥 + 2𝑠𝑑
𝑑𝑖𝑔𝑖𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑖𝑛𝑛𝑜𝑣𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠
Innovators
2.5%
Early
adopters
13.5%
Early
majority
34%
Late
majority
34%
Laggards
16%
Respect Venturesome
Deliberate
Sceptical
Traditional
Digital innovativeness (0 to 8):
Constructed as a composite measure based on information for each of
the 4 ‘state-of-the art for the sector’ digital technologies
0 – Firm did not adopt the technology;
1 – Adopted partially;
2 – Adopted fully
Digital adopters’ categories (1 to 5):
1 – Digital Laggards
2 – Digital Late majority
3 – Digital Early majority
4 – Digital Early adopters
5 – Digital Innovators
European Investment Bank Investment Survey, 2022-2023,
pooled cross-section ~25,000 firms across 27 EU countries and USA
Data overview
Digital adopters’ categories by firm size
53%
48%
34%
19%
23%
23%
25%
23%
14%
15%
21%
24%
8%
10%
16%
28%
2%
3%
3%
6%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Micro
Small
Medium
Large
Laggards Late majority Early majority Early adopters Innovators
Data overview
Digital adopters’ categories by sector
In Information and Communication sector,
percentage of digital innovators is over 10%
36%
56%
41%
35%
24%
25%
24%
22%
19%
13%
19%
20%
18%
5%
13%
17%
3%
1%
3%
5%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Manufacturing
Construction
Services
Infrastructure
Laggards Late majority Early majority Early adopters Innovators
Data overview
Type of climate response(s) by digital adopters’ categories
24%
14%
11%
10%
14%
2%
2%
2%
2%
2%
55%
55%
52%
46%
49%
18%
29%
35%
43%
35%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Laggards
Late majority
Early majority
Early adopters
Innovators
No climate response Adaptation only Mitigation only Adaptation and Mitigation
Results
Probability of climate response(s)
Probability of climate
response(s) conditional on
perception of climate change
impact on business
Digitally more advanced firms are more
likely to formulate simultaneous
adaptation and mitigation response to
climate change.
e.g. Digital early adopters are 12.6
percentage points more likely than
digital laggards to undertake CA and CM
simultaneously.
Probability of simultaneous climate
response is higher for firms saying that
climate changes currently have impact
(minor or major) on the business.
Results
Intensity of climate response(s)
Predicted intensity of climate
adaptation (ICA) conditional
on perception of climate
change impact on business
Digitally more advanced firms are more
intensively engaged in climate
adaptation actions.
Non-linear relationship: Digital early
adopters show higher ICA compared to
digital innovators.
Climate change perceptions play a
moderating role: firms experiencing
climate change impact on the business
are more intensively engaged with CA.
Results
Intensity of climate response(s)
Predicted intensity of climate
mitigation (ICM) conditional on
risk/opportunity perception of
transition to stricter climate
standards and regulations in
the next five years
Digitally more advanced firms are more
intensively engaged in climate mitigation
actions.
Perceptions of risk/opportunity play a
moderating role: firms perceiving a
risk/opportunity of green transition in
the future are more intensively engaged
with CM.
Results
Results are robust to other specifications.
To address potential endogeneity issue, additional IV analysis was conducted. We instrument digital adopters’
categories by variables related to the performance of digital infrastructure at NUTS2 level: fixed average download and
upload speed, latency, etc.
The results confirm positive relationship between the stage of digital advancement and ICA and ICM.
Results
More advanced digital adopters are more intensively
engaged in climate adaptation actions across all
sectors, i.e. effect is rather homogeneous.
More advanced digital adopters are more intensively
engaged in climate adaptation actions across all firm sizes
with some nuances.
For micro and small businesses even a small improvement
in digital passing from Digital laggards to 2nd and 3rd groups
have much higher impact on ICA compared to medium and
large businesses.
Idem.
In Manufacturing and Services, there is an increasing
benefit of progressing on digital ladder on ICM, which
cannot be observed in Construction and Infrastructure
where first stepping from laggards to digital late majority
has already substantial benefits.
Idem
Intensity of Climate Adaptation (ICA) Intensity of climate Mitigation (ICM)
Sector
Size
Concluding remarks
• Robust evidence of Twin digital and green transition at firm level
• Low uptake of adaptation measures – low resilience?: despite private benefits of
climate adaptation (business continuity and resilience), the rate of uptake of CA
measures is very small.
• Double importance - role of digital in:
• Ability to recognise the need/opportunity to develop climate response(s)
leading to a climate response strategy
• Ability to act on this choice by intensifying engagement
• Not a substitution: digitally enabled businesses choose to do both Adaptation and
Mitigation in response to climate change
• Shaped by perceptions: the relationship between digital and CA and CM is also
shaped by perceived business exposure and vulnerability to climate change and
perception of risk/opportunity associated with transition to stricter climate standards
and regulations.
Link to the manifesto for small business growth
and productivity
Increase the adoption of digital technologies
…by increasing digital literacy and awareness
“We need more UK businesses to adopt digital technologies that can in turn
improve their productivity. ERC research has shown that digital adoption is
important for improving productivity in small firms. Targeted support
programmes and peer networking have been shown to be helpful in raising the
confidence of business leaders in terms of technology adoption. However,
digital readiness is key to adoption, and creating more ‘digitally ready’ firms
should be a policy focus. There are potential productivity benefits in targeting
those firms that do not currently recognise the benefits of digital
transformation for their businesses.”
Link to the manifesto for small business growth
and productivity
Improve the provision of quality, actionable information on net zero
…and develop agreed standards for measuring environmental impact
“The UK’s small businesses urgently need access to information and advice to
help them adopt net zero practices and measure their effectiveness. Small and
medium sized businesses are estimated to account for around half of all UK
business emissions, and as such they will play a crucial part in the net zero
transition. ERC research has shown, however, that there is much room for
improvement when it comes to the adoption of net zero practices in small firms
in the UK, especially amongst the smallest firms. The evidence shows that the
problem with adoption is not around intentions when it comes to sustainability
– but more around bandwidth, prioritisation and capability. At present the net
zero support landscape is fragmented, with only a small minority of firms
receiving support. Access to trusted and actionable information is vital in
supporting firms to implement sustainability practices, with government,
professional and industry associations all playing potentially important roles.
There are also potential advantages in designing future policy support that
grasps the complementary benefits of net zero and digital adoption.”
Rural SMEs, environmental action,
and perceived opportunities
❖ Kevin Mole
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Rural SMEs, Environmental
Action, and Perceived
Opportunities
State of Rural Enterprise Report nos. 2 & 3
Dr Kevin Mole with Serdal Ozusaglam, Stephen
Roper and Panagiotis Kyriakopoulos
Environment
Introduction
• Previous NICRE research highlights rural firms more likely (45%) than urban firms (37%) to take the
environment into account when making decisions (Wishart et al. 2021)
• Businesses are on a journey in terms of their environmental practices
• Much of the support for Net Zero does not consider rural aspects
• Drivers of environmental action include consumer pressure, competition, stakeholder perspectives
(e.g attitude of senior managers), external pressures and legislation
• Barriers include cost pressures, lack of knowledge and, in rural areas, transport costs
Including the environment in decision-making
• 41% of rural businesses always
consider the environmental impact,
compared to 37% of urban
businesses.
• 45% of rural businesses sometimes
consider it (42% urban).
• 14% of rural businesses never
consider the environmental impact
(21% urban).
14%
45%
41%
21%
42%
37%
20%
43%
37%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
45%
50%
Never Sometimes Always
Rural Urban Total
Knowing where to find reliable information to help
• Rural firms (69%) more likely
to know where to find help
than urban firms (66%), but
uneven:
• South West rural firms more
likely to know where to find
reliable information than in
North East and West
Midlands.
• North East rural firms less
likely than urban firms to
know where to find
information, with reverse
situation in South West and
West Midlands.
62%
72%
67%
70%
66%
64%
56%
58%
60%
62%
64%
66%
68%
70%
72%
74%
North East South West West Midlands
Rural Urban
Taking steps to reduce environmental impact
• 54% of businesses ‘take
environmental action’.
• More rural firms (57%) take
action (53% in urban areas).
• Driven by contrast between
rural and urban enterprises
in the West Midlands, where
55% of rural and 47% of
urban businesses have taken
action.
56%
58%
55%
56%
59%
47%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
North East South West West Midlands
Rural Urban
The ladder of environmental action
90%
46%
42%
38%
24% 23%
14%
2%
87%
43%
40%
43%
28% 28%
15%
3%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
90%
100%
Recycled waste, water,
or materials
Introduced new or
improved production
processes
Conducted training on
environmental matters
Introduced new low
carbon products or
services
Introduced new or
improved delivery,
transport, or
distribution systems
Undertaken
environmental reports
or audits
Put in place
environmental
certification
None of these
Rural Urban
Very few businesses measure their emissions
• Just 3% rural and 5%
urban businesses
measured their GHG
emissions “using an
online calculator”.
• 4% of rural and urban
businesses measured
GHG emissions through
“working with a
consultant or external
company”.
3%
5% 5%
4% 4% 4%
0%
1%
2%
3%
4%
5%
6%
Rural Urban Total
Yes, using an on-line calculator or tool Yes, working with a consultant or external company
Rural businesses more likely to face barriers in their
efforts to reduce carbon emissions
45%
40%
41%
37%
38%
39%
40%
41%
42%
43%
44%
45%
46%
Rural Urban Total
47% 47%
40%
41%
37%
42%
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
45%
50%
North East South West West Midlands
Rural Urban
What are the barriers?
• Cost of adopting greener technology
• Access to info, people and skills
development, especially in urban areas.
• Regulatory complexity less a concern.
• Lack of people locally to advise on Net
Zero indicates a perceived lack of
support.
• Rural firms more likely to report being
constrained; urban firms report a wider
variety of obstacles.
67%
33% 33%
30%
26%
0%
13%
66%
39% 38%
43%
31%
1%
17%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
Cost of
purchasing or
installing
greener
technology
Lack of
information on
low carbon
technologies
Lack of people
locally to advise
or install
solutions
Lack of relevant
skills within the
firm
Uncertain
demand for low
carbon products
or services
Complexity or
cost of meeting
regulations or
standards
None of these
Rural Urban
What benefits does environmental action bring?
49%
31%
23%
26% 25%
20% 21%
59%
41%
27%
24% 23%
25%
23%
57%
39%
26% 25% 24% 24%
22%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
Contributed to your company
identity or reputation
Helped your staff to develop
new skills
Created new profitable
opportunities
Helped you to develop new
products or services
Helped you to enter new
markets
Helped you to attract or retain
employees
Led to an increase in profits
Rural Urban Total
Conclusion – encouraging steps but we need to climb
the ladder
• Most businesses in rural and urban areas take the environment into
account when making decisions.
• Most have acted to reduce environmental footprint.
• There is a ‘ladder’ of environmental action with recycling and waste
reduction on the lower rungs.
• The middle rungs show 26% implementing process changes to reduce
carbon emissions.
• 21% have introduced new products and services, indicating a growing trend
towards environmentally responsible innovation.
• Environmental audits, certification, and greenhouse gas emissions
measurement prove more complex, particularly in rural areas.
Rural opportunities
An opportunity-driven mindset
• Businesses have faced perfect storm – disruption due to pandemic followed
by ‘cost of doing business crisis’. All in context of wider climate crisis
• Are changing conditions simply deepening deficits often discussed in terms of
rural firms or are they creating new opportunities?
• Is there an ability and willingness to invest to realise post-pandemic
opportunities?
• We ask:
• What opportunities are in your area?
• How well placed are you to take advantage of these?
Health and wellbeing and the environment provide opportunities for
local business growth
• Urban firms more likely to
see opportunities related to
health and well-being (rural
47%, urban 52%).
• Rural firms more focused on
environmental/ green
products and services (rural
44%, urban 40%).
• Fewer identify opportunities
linked to data skills and use
of data, tourism, and
exporting.
47%
44%
37%
37%
21%
52%
40%
40%
37%
17%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60%
Providing services and products
that improve health and wellbeing
Providing environmental/green
services and products
Improving data skills and use of
data
Expanding opportunities for
tourists and visitors
Increasing levels of exporting
Rural Urban
39% see themselves as well placed to take advantage of opportunities
• An equal proportion
(39%) of rural and
urban firms reported
that their businesses
are either ‘very well’
or ‘well’ placed for
potential
opportunities.
• But more North East
firms see themselves
as well-placed.
39%
25%
1%
34%
39%
26%
1%
35%
0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45%
Very well or well placed
Not likely to affect us
May negatively affect us
Not relevant to our business
Rural Urban
Well placed firms more likely to invest
• Well placed firms
more likely to
invest in
environmental
improvements,
new products,
marketing.
• But developing
international
markets is
different.
Perceived constraints by firm size: micro lack money; medium sized
lack people
• More medium
sized firms
report staff
recruitment
and retention,
lack of
transport, but
more
microbusinesse
s report a lack
of financial
resources
47%
40%
40%
38%
33%
33%
26%
20%
13%
67%
39%
45%
43%
38%
38%
23%
15%
9%
70%
28%
35%
47%
30%
34%
22%
17%
23%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%
Ability to recruit and retain staff
Lack of financial resources
Lack of availability of affordable housing…
Lack of transport services/infrastructure
Planning restrictions
Inadequate broadband capacity
Lack of availability of business premises
Lack of local business cooperation
Lack of cooperation with…
1 to 9 10 to 49 50+
From opportunities to investment
• Widespread perception among rural firms of opportunities for
developing products or services related to health and well-being, as well
as developing environmental or green products or services.
• Firms which see themselves well placed to take advantage of local
growth opportunities more likely planning to increase or maintain levels
of investment in environmental improvements, new products,
marketing, well-being and training.
• Familiar challenges threaten rural firms’ ability to grasp the
opportunities available, however, suggesting continued importance of
initiatives focused on improving rural transport, housing and broadband.
Opportunities
Well-placed
Investment
Constraints
Link to the manifesto for small business
growth and productivity
Improve the provision of quality, actionable information on net zero
…and develop agreed standards for measuring environmental impact
“The UK’s small businesses urgently need access to information and advice to
help them adopt net zero practices and measure their effectiveness. Small and
medium sized businesses are estimated to account for around half of all UK
business emissions, and as such they will play a crucial part in the net zero
transition. ERC research has shown, however, that there is much room for
improvement when it comes to the adoption of net zero practices in small firms
in the UK, especially amongst the smallest firms. The evidence shows that the
problem with adoption is not around intentions when it comes to sustainability
– but more around bandwidth, prioritisation and capability. At present the net
zero support landscape is fragmented, with only a small minority of firms
receiving support. Access to trusted and actionable information is vital in
supporting firms to implement sustainability practices, with government,
professional and industry associations all playing potentially important roles.
There are also potential advantages in designing future policy support that
grasps the complementary benefits of net zero and digital adoption.”
Lunch
WiFi for JCH guests
Citadel Community Wi-Fi
Password: all4birmingham1892
Workplace mental health in
England, Ireland and Sweden – a
comparative study
❖ Maria Wishart
WiFi for JCH guests
Citadel Community Wi-Fi
Password: all4birmingham1892
Workplace mental health in England, Ireland and
Sweden: a comparative study
1. Why England, Ireland and Sweden?
2. The dataset
3. Findings:
• Mental health absence and its impact
• Presenteeism
• Uptake of initiatives
• Hybrid working
4. Conclusions and implications
Healthcare overview
Ireland England Sweden
Population 5,194,336 67,736,802 10,521,556
Healthcare
funding model
Two tier
public/private
healthcare system,
private healthcare
insurance common
Publicly funded, private
care available for those
choosing it
Publicly funded,
private care has less
of a role than in UK
and Ireland
Primary care
access
Free primary care
for around 30% of
population
Universal free access to
primary care
Universal free access
to primary care
Sick pay
Statutory sick pay
for 5 days per year
Statutory sick pay for
up to 28 weeks
80% of salary for 364
days, extendable
OECD/European Union (2018)
Proportion of adults with mental disorders
3.7%
5.9%
4.7%
1.2%
18.5%
3.7%
5.4%
5.4%
1.4%
18.3%
3.7%
5.1%
4.8%
1.4%
17.7%
5.4%
4.5%
2.4%
1.3%
17.3%
0.0% 5.0% 10.0% 15.0% 20.0%
Others
Anxiety disorders
Depressive disorders
Bipolar disorders and…
Mental disorders
All EU United Kingdom Sweden Ireland
Estimated direct and indirect costs related to mental health
problems across EU countries, % of GDP
OECD/European Union (2018)
Estimated direct and indirect costs related to mental health problems
% of GDP
Total costs Direct costs Indirect costs
On health systems On social benefits On the labour
market
in million
EUR
% of
GDP
in
million
EUR
% of
GDP
in
million
EUR
% of
GDP
in
million
EUR
% of
GDP
EU28 607 074 4.10% 194 139 1.31% 169 939 1.15% 242 995 1.64%
Ireland 8 299 3.17% 2 232 0.85% 1 891 0.72% 4 176 1.59%
Sweden 21 677 4.83% 5 696 1.27% 7 558 1.68% 8 423 1.88%
UK 106 024 4.07% 36 353 1.40% 22 704 0.87% 46 967 1.80%
Data set
• Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) survey, for-profit and voluntary sector firms operating
for at least 3 years, with minimum 10 employees
▪ Ireland: Sep-Dec 2022: 1,501 firms
▪ England: Jan-May 2023: 1,902 firms
▪ Sweden: Sep-Dec 2023: 1,000 firms
• Business and employee characteristics
• General sickness and Mental health sickness absence measurement & practices
• Mental health initiatives and outcomes
• Presenteeism
• Technology and high-tech working practices
Headlines
• Significant country-level differences in:
• Patterns of mental health related sickness absence
• Patterns and types of presenteeism
• Engagement in mental health & wellbeing initiatives
• Adoption of hybrid working
• Reported impact of mental health on business operations
Mental health related sickness absence
41%
36%
17%
11%
17%
47%
46%
29%
17%
27%
69%
50%
31%
18%
32%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%
250 plus
50-249
20-49
10-19
All firms
Sweden England Ireland
Proportion of firms reporting MH sickness absence in the preceding 12 months
Sweden 1,000 firms, England 1,878 firms, Ireland 1,484 firms
Mental health related sickness absence
32%
47%
40%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Ireland
England
Sweden
Proportion of firms with long-term MH absence Proportion of firms with repeated MH absence
44%
38%
88%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Ireland
England
Sweden
Sweden 400 firms, England 471 firms, Ireland 291 firms
Mental health related sickness absence
Proportion of firms reporting that MH sickness absence impacted operations
46%
58%
43%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%
Ireland
England
Sweden
Sweden 400 firms, England 471 firms, Ireland 291 firms
Presenteeism
34%
32%
30%
22%
27%
43%
46%
39%
32%
37%
58%
65%
46%
44%
50%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
250 plus
50-249
20-49
10-19
All firms
Sweden England Ireland
Proportion of firms reporting presenteeism in the preceding 12 months
Sweden 1,000 firms, England 1,902 firms, Ireland 1,501 firms
Presenteeism
Type of presenteeism reported, by country
41%
78%
60%
79%
61%
32%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Working when unwell
Working beyond contract
Sweden England Ireland
3%
2%
10%
9%
19%
5%
4%
13%
9%
27%
4%
6%
9%
15%
37%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40%
Training for line managers
Leaders role modelling
Investigating causes
Reinforcing messages about life
work balance
Sending home people who are ill
Sweden England Ireland
Addressing presenteeism, by country
Sweden 543 firms, England 692 firms, Ireland 417 firms
Engagement in Mental Health & Wellbeing initiatives
85%
70%
46%
36%
46%
86%
64%
58%
42%
52%
90%
82%
77%
74%
78%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
250 plus
50-249
20-49
10-19
All firms
Sweden England Ireland
Proportion of firms disagreeing that MH is a personal
issue that should not be addressed at work, by country
73%
79%
67%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Ireland
England
Sweden
Proportion of firms offering MH initiatives, by country & size
Sweden 1,000 firms, England 1,902 firms, Ireland 1,501 firms
Engagement in Mental Health & Wellbeing initiatives
Adoption of strategic/policy initiatives, by country Adoption of skills training & monitoring initiatives, by country
23%
32%
20%
21%
22%
32%
45%
18%
44%
42%
39%
40%
46%
51%
63%
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
Mental health plan
MH lead at board level
MH budget
Have employee mental health
champions
Use data to monitor MH&W
Sweden England Ireland
68%
40%
53%
69%
74%
62%
66%
76%
49%
30%
57%
52%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80%
Awareness raising for staff on
mental health issues
Training for line managers in
managing mental health
Risk assessment/stress audits
Training and support for those
returning to work
Sweden England Ireland
Sweden 784 firms, England 970 firms, Ireland 722 firms
Engagement in Mental Health & Wellbeing initiatives
Investments in employee wellbeing, by country
Adoption of workplace practices to reduce risk factors, by
country
42%
38%
30%
41%
50%
46%
40%
31%
53%
30%
40%
22%
67%
72%
95%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Supplying healthy food and drinks
Financial wellbeing advice
Training aimed at building
personal resilience
Access to counselling support
Support with physical activity
such as gym memberships,…
Sweden England Ireland
90%
89%
68%
95%
95%
85%
81%
84%
90%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%120%
Encourage open conversations
about mental health in the
workplace
Make appropriate workplace
adjustments to those who need
them to support their mental…
Ensure all staff have a regular
conversation about their health
and wellbeing with their manager
Sweden England Ireland
Sweden 784 firms, England 970 firms, Ireland 722 firms
Hybrid working
7%
11%
16%
25%
16%
21%
68%
72%
63%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Ireland
England
Sweden
Yes, have always Yes, since COVID No
Hybrid working, by country
Sweden 1,000 firms, England 1,894 firms, Ireland 1,499 firms
Hybrid working
Encouraging a good work life balance for remote workers, by country
54%
74%
67%
64%
86%
63%
44%
76%
67%
70%
88%
72%
63%
66%
67%
72%
83%
86%
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Time sheets or other tracking method
Encouraging employees not to
answer email outside working hours
Company-wide communications, e.g.,
from HR department
Regular formal
conversations/reminders from line…
Regular informal
conversations/reminders from line…
Role modelling behaviour from
managers
Sweden England Ireland
Sweden 295 firms, England 438 firms, Ireland 404 firms
Conclusions
• Significant differences in MH absence, presenteeism and hybrid working - role of
culture and socio-political context
• Despite reporting higher levels of MH absence, Swedish firms significantly less likely to
report impacts of MH in the workplace
• Swedish firm interventions more likely to be focused on strategic initiatives and
investment in employees than on training and reducing risk factors
Implications?
• Mental health-related absence: should we be minimising or managing it?
• Encouraging work life balance with more embedded remote working: how should
employers manage psychological detachment issues?
• Presenteeism: is more presenteeism an inevitable consequence of remote working,
and if so, what should we do to address it?
• Mental health initiatives in the workplace: what should policymakers do to encourage
the adoption of mental health initiatives in the workplace? Which kinds of initiatives
should they encourage?
Link to the manifesto for small business growth
and productivity
Transform understanding about the connection between mental health and
productivity
…through improving access to information, training and support
“We need to transform understanding amongst small business leaders of the
importance of good mental health and wellbeing for productivity and improve
management behaviour in this area. The pandemic and subsequent cost of
living crisis has had major implications for the mental health and wellbeing of
the workforce and for business leaders, with serious implications for business
performance. ERC research has shown that presenteeism has increased and has
now surpassed pre-pandemic levels, and that new working practices have
brought new challenges. Although awareness of mental health issues amongst
employers has increased and more initiatives to improve support for
employees have been introduced, there is still considerable room for
improvement, particularly amongst the smallest firms. Looking ahead, firms will
need to be more engaged with the range of initiatives, advice and support
available and more carefully consider the wellbeing impacts of their
management practices. More attention needs to be paid specifically to the
training and support of line managers, who are often in the front-line in dealing
with the mental health issues experienced by employees. Small business
leaders and entrepreneurs themselves also need access to support in dealing
with the mental health challenges associated with running a business in times
of financial uncertainty and insecurity.”
ERC manifesto for small business
growth and productivity
❖ Vicki Belt
❖ Stephen Roper
WiFi for JCH guests
Citadel Community Wi-Fi
Password: all4birmingham1892
The State of Small Business Britain:
A manifesto for small business growth and productivity
• The ERC’s annual review of trends and issues affecting small businesses
• This time bringing together an entire decade of research insights!
• 110 research papers
• 61 research reports
• 60 SOTA Reviews
• 49 Insight papers
• Plus, numerous academic papers
• …and thousands of conversations with stakeholders and businesses
• A range of themes… from a focus on what prompts business growth to broader concerns with
productivity and sustainability
A decade of change
• A growing small business population in the UK
• 5.5 million small businesses in 2023 – growth driven disproportionately by the smallest, non-
employing businesses
• A nation of entrepreneurs - around one in three adults in the UK now either running a
business or looking at starting one
• But small businesses have faced some extreme pressures…
• Resilience has become a crucial trait
What promotes growth and productivity in small businesses?
• ERC research has shown that small business growth is multi-faceted and complex
• The volume of start-ups is not the problem - survival, scaling up and productivity is
• ERC research has provided evidence that a range of factors are important:
• But… the proportion of businesses undertaking some of these key growth-related behaviours (e.g.
innovation, accessing finance, exporting) has lowered in the past few years
Access to finance
• Seeking external finance is positively associated with faster growth and productivity
• But most UK small firms are permanent ‘non-borrowers’
• Shift in the willingness of small firms to seek finance since the GFC
• Reasons include inadequate information, fear of rejection, lack of focus on growth
• Evidence of the positive impact of Covid-19 financial support initiatives
• Inequalities exist by gender and ethnicity, also spatially
• As well as access to finance, late payment is also a major (under-appreciated?) issue
Business support
• Plays a role in business survival and growth, way of diffusing best practice to small businesses
• But the UK business support system is fragmented and unstable
• Uptake varies by range of factors, e.g. firm size and educational level of leaders
• Lack of tailored support for disadvantaged groups
• Quality of advice and personal relationships and expertise are important
• Firms also need to be ‘ready, willing and able’ to take on board advice
• Many firms first seek advice when they are already at the point of crisis - too late?
Innovation
• Strong link to survival, growth and productivity - new market opportunities, new ways of working
• Proportion of innovation-active firms in the UK has fallen sharply in recent years
• Impacts of economic shocks on innovation behaviour
• Spatial patterns of innovation - the ‘arc of innovation’, local strengths and weaknesses
• Range of factors influence innovation - openness and collaboration, absorptive capacity, diversity,
exporting
• Benefits of publicly-funded support for innovation - R&D grants, R&D tax credits, and academic-
industry collaborations, importance of ‘policy mix’
Management and leadership
• Positive associations between M&L and growth and productivity
• Importance of ‘growth-oriented’ actions - knowledge flows, risk-taking and innovation
• Link between use of key HRM practices and innovation
• HPW practices important in high growth firms, bundles of practices effective
• Positive work cultures and informal HR practices are associated with sustained growth
• Links between workplace mental health and wellbeing and productivity
• Pandemic challenges - new ways of working and rise in mental health issues
• Room for improvement in adoption of HPW and strategic approaches to mental health
Looking ahead –
ERC plans for 2024
❖ Stephen Roper
What’s coming up?
ERC through 2024
Projects and
partnerships
• Export decisions and mindsets – reporting
due February 2024 (DBT and ESRC)
• Investment mindsets – what shapes
investment decisions in the UK?
(Productivity Institute)
• Mental health, wellbeing and productivity
in the workplace – new survey data for
2024q1 and more on the benchmark
comparisons (ESRC, Nottingham, Lancaster,
Queens)
• Panel study of entrepreneurship – with a
focus on ethnic minority entrepreneurs
(Mastercard, Be-the-Business)
Projects and
partnerships
• Twin transitions study continues
(Productivity Institute, EIB)
• Innovation with new survey data for
2024Q2 and related work on inclusive
innovation) (IUK, UCC)
• Infrastructure for commercialization in agri-
tech (and other aspects of the effectiveness
of the R&I system) (IRC, Oxford Brookes,
Manchester, Birkbeck)
• Supporting rural enterprise (NICRE,
Newcastle, Gloucester and RAU, Stratford
Council)
How can ERC help you?
Rapid or
systematic
literature reviews
Collaborative
primary research
Survey conduct
and/or data
matching
Supporting policy
development and
design
Building internal
capacity (teach-
ins)
Convene round-
tables or expert
groups
Thank you
For further details please visit :
www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk
@ERC_UK

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Master SlideDeck Research Showcase 2024.pdf

  • 1. ERC Research Showcase February 22nd 2024 WiFi for JCH guests Citadel Community Wi-Fi Password: all4birmingham1892
  • 2. Welcome and Introduction ❖ Mark Hart WiFi for JCH guests Citadel Community Wi-Fi Password: all4birmingham1892
  • 3. Opening Remarks • Highlight 4 key areas of current research: – Trade – Climate change and digital technologies – Rural SMEs and environmental action – Workplace mental health • ERC Manifesto for small business growth and productivity • ERC Plans for 2024 and beyond
  • 4. Business Dynamism in the UK • Business Dynamism in long-term decline since 1998 - Job Allocation Rate (JAR) falling from 35% in 1998 to 22% in 2022 • 400,000 more established SMEs (3 years +) since 2010 but proportion registering growth in employment falling from 20% to 13% • …. and yet, business support in England currently in a state of transition.
  • 5. Jobs, Turnover and Productivity • Developing a new focus for small business policy in the UK • Previous research by the ERC showed that there was a very poor correlation between jobs growth, increases in revenues and productivity gains in the UK business population. • Panel study of 250k employer enterprises (2008-15) - only 5% of the firms studied managed to significantly increase turnover, jobs and productivity at the same time – some 10,000 firms! • The relationship between the growth of turnover and productivity was strong and positive, with 3 out of 4 firms that grew turnover also raising productivity.
  • 6. Productivity Heroes • We set out to investigate those firms that are registering productivity gains (i.e., turnover per employee) and are doing so while still creating jobs. • These small businesses we call ‘Productivity Heroes’ are defined as SMEs aged 3 years and over that are growing both their revenues and headcount but their revenues at a faster rate. • The base population used to identify the number of Productivity Heroes is all surviving private sector SME employer enterprises (1-249 emps) in the UK in 2021-22 which are at least 3 years of age - i.e., not start-ups – 1.22m enterprises.
  • 7. Productivity Heroes - Trends • So, out of a total of 453,231 firms that had increased their productivity we can see that there is a small group of SMEs (8% or 36,298 firms) aged 3 years and over within this total that are creating jobs by an average of 29% growth but growing revenue even more rapidly by an average of 196% Year No. of SMEs (3 years and over) No. and % of businesses achieving productivity growth No. and % of Productivity Heroes1 2000-01 676k 347k - 51.3% 4.5% (15,622) 2007-08 825k 449k - 54.4% 8.8% (39,245) 2010-11 882k 358k - 40.7% 6.6% (23,740) 2018-19 1.13m 557k - 49.2% 6.7% (37,125) 2021-22 1.22m 453k - 37.0% 8.0% (36,298)
  • 8. Productivity Heroes – what next? • Enterprise policy should place a central focus on this newly identified small group of firms to provide some evidence on how to address the UK’s long-standing productivity problem and with it the long tail of unproductive mainly small firms. • Next stage is to track their performance over time to investigate the persistence of their productivity gains over time and indeed, looking back, identify in what year the 2021-22 cohort of Productivity Heroes first met the criteria. • Engage in qualitative research to understand the drivers of these productivity gains – especially leaders’ mindset and ambition • Read more – Hart and Bonner (2024) “Productivity Puzzles, Long Tails and Productivity Heroes: developing a new focus for small business policy in the UK”, ERC Insight Paper, February 2024.
  • 9.
  • 10. How do UK firms make export decisions? ❖ Eugenie Golubova WiFi for JCH guests Citadel Community Wi-Fi Password: all4birmingham1892
  • 11. Introduction Joint ERC-DBT project which aims to identify what factors influence firms’ export decisions and what process the export decisions follow. We focus on first export entry, exit & re-entry, persistence and export changes. ▪ Three research elements: ▪ Rapid literature review (screened c. 2,800 papers, analysed 135) ▪ N=1,750 UK representative survey of exporters ▪ N=16 interviewed firms who took first entry or re-entry decisions 11
  • 12. What first entry decisions do they make? ▪ New exporters make up 10% of the sample ▪ Prior to exporting, nearly half had exporting as an objective in their business plan ▪ First start exporting physical goods and physical services ▪ Top 5 first entry countries were: ▪ Republic of Ireland ▪ USA ▪ Netherlands ▪ Germany ▪ France ▪ First country choice was dictated by customer enquiries or its size & ease of access ▪ It mostly took firms less than a year to start exporting since they first considered it ▪ Less than 10% of firms had considered other forms of entering foreign markets 12
  • 13. What exit and re-entry decisions do they make? ▪ 6% are intermittent exporters ▪ Mostly paused exports due to COVID-19 and lack of customer demand, though continued business development activities – incl. in preparation for exporting ▪ Intermittent exporters respond to customer enquiries and maintain the status quo: ▪ Over 8 in 10 re-entered to export the same goods or services ▪ to all the same countries or some of the same (over 8 in 10) 13 28% 28% 28% 28% 29% 30% 29% 29% 30% 30% 20% 21% 23% 24% 24% 9% 10% 6% 7% 8% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 Exports as share of turnover All Persistent New Intermittent
  • 14. What persistence decisions do they make? ▪ 85% of the all exporters ▪ Persistent exporters mainly keep the status quo, though a substantial minority expand ▪ Very few firms undertake other forms of entering foreign markets ▪ Nearly all firms stick to their primary mode of exporting – but they use multiple export modes and cover more export markets 14 62% 8% 17% 2% 7% 0% 4% Primary mode of exporting Direct selling to customers Selling through domestic intermediaries or distributors Selling through foreign intermediaries or distributors Selling through contract manufacturing and assembly Selling through e-commerce and online marketplaces Other All modes are equal
  • 15. What motivates different export decisions? 93% 87% 79% 43% 30% 26% 17% 10% 7% 79% 82% 49% 27% 22% 23% 8% 3% 12% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% To increase company profit and growth To respond to customer enquiries from abroad To re/establish/sustain market presence To diversify risks from market concentration To learn and innovate To utilise excess capacity To access resources To take advantage of UK government initiatives To prepare for setting up FDI overseas Reasons to re-/start/continue to export Persistent New Intermittent 15 62% 42% 37% 5% 5% 4% 17% 38% 41% 9% 9% 5% 1% 3% 7% 6% 2% 5% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Primary reason All equally important Other To re/establish/sustain market presence To respond to customer enquiries from abroad To prepare for FDI / UK government initiatives To diversify risks / utilise excess capacity / access resources / learn To increase company profit and growth
  • 16. Who makes the decisions? ▪ The number of export decision- makers is similar across exporters ▪ Export DMs are mainly different types of directors, heads and senior managers ▪ Interviewees told us of equal or complementary decision-making of multiple export DMs ▪ Other staff also contribute to export decisions, essentially by providing information 27% 7% 12% 27% 8% 17% 19% 5% 13% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% Share of women export DMs Share of minority ethnic Share of foreign-born Export decision-makers Persistent New Intermittent 16
  • 17. What are impacts of other stakeholders? ▪ Connections vary a little, but the they have a similar level of impact on export decisions ▪ Firms with any foreign connections report higher impact on export decisions ▪ Advice or support relating to exporting also impacts export decisions 96% 49% 14% 92% 33% 13% 94% 46% 18% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% UK business connections Foreign business Foreign personal Connections Persistent New Intermittent 17 Yes 30% No, the firm sought, but did not receive any 7% No, but the firm did not seek any 59% Don’t know 4% Did a firm receive business advice/support for exporting?
  • 18. Summary ▪ There is no single export decision, but rather multiple decisions at different times for different purposes ▪ Customer demand is an integral part of exporting at any stage though its perceived importance changes over time and exporting patterns ▪ At first, exporting decisions seem immutable; but over time, in persisting to export, firms change how and why they export, which we can also expect in new and intermittent exporters (if they continue) ▪ Multiple internal and external stakeholders feed into export decision- making ▪ There is scope for export support targeted at different exporting firms at different points in time and over time – including for persistent exporters 18
  • 19. Link to the manifesto for small business growth and productivity Support and encourage more firms to export …targeting initiatives at different points in the export journey “We need to encourage and support more small firms to export. The external shocks and crises of Brexit and Covid-19 have had a negative impact on export activity that has hit smaller firms the hardest, and there is an urgent need for policy action here, given the magnitude of the impacts on businesses and the wider economy. ERC research has shown that there are close links between international trade, growth ambition and innovation activity. There is a clear rationale going forward for policy action to jointly promote exporting and innovation in UK firms, targeting firms at different points in their export journey. This will involve action on a range of fronts, including government, education and business representative associations.” 19
  • 20. Firms’ response to climate change and digital technologies – insights from an international comparative study ❖ Anastasia Ri WiFi for JCH guests Citadel Community Wi-Fi Password: all4birmingham1892
  • 21. Background and research question Productivity in transition – an international comparative analysis of the twin transition, its enablers, and productivity implications This 2-year project aims to explore relationships between the digital and net-zero transitions, on the one hand, and between this twin transition and firm productivity, on the other. +other underlying conditions (previous investment, finance) +incentive structures – which are the most supportive? Quantitative Perspective In partnership with the European Investment Bank (Luxembourg) Qualitative Perspective In partnership with Grenoble School of Management (France)
  • 22. Firms’ response(s) to climate change Climate Adaptation strategies designed to increase business resilience and ensure business continuity in the face of changes in climate related risks have benefits which are largely private. Climate Mitigation strategies designed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions may have more limited private benefits but are likely to have substantial public benefits linked to reduced climate impacts Background and research question “Incentives to adapt are already in place… need not be created by governments” (Toll, 2005) Preconditions (access to information, knowledge, skills, financial resources) may be facilitated by governments – conducive environment (Fankhauser et al, 1999) “Even though individuals (firms) will mitigate their emissions, the incentives to do so are to be provided by governments” (Toll, 2005) Matter of national governments in the context of international negotiations
  • 23. RQ: Do digital technologies facilitate adaption and mitigation? i.e. do digital technologies make businesses better equipped to tackle climate change challenges, both through adaptation and mitigation strategies? Background and research question Why adaptation too? • While there is a growing body of literature on business mitigation, the knowledge of adaptation decision-making is still very limited (Bleda & Pinkse, 2023; Clement & Rivera, 2017; Linnenluecke, Griffiths, & Winn, 2013; Peregrino de Brito, 2021). • Linnenluecke et al. (2013) highlight the lack of empirical studies on firm adaptation to climate change. • Most empirical studies focus on most exposed to climate change impacts sectors: tourism, agriculture, winery, ski resorts, energy sector (Peregrino de Brito, 2021). For firms in less exposed sectors, the decision-making process is more “ambiguous” (Bleda & Pinkse, 2023). Twin net zero and digital transition is believed to be an important pathway to sustainable recovery (Bai et al. 2020; Hanelt et al. 2017). Yet, little is known about how these two transition processes relate to each other and how organisations may leverage digital technologies and capabilities to innovate for environmental sustainability. Crucially, empirical quantitative micro-evidence of their connection is scarce, especially in the context of SMEs (OECD, 2021).
  • 24. Conceptual framework Adaptation Mitigation Digital innovativeness Constraints Recognition of the need / opportunity Incentives Constraints Incentives Recognition of the need / opportunity Capabilities Business environment: natural, regulatory and policy, social norms, knowledge, customers, network… Strategy Actions
  • 25. Hypothesis 2. More advanced digital adopters are more intensively engaged in climate adaptation actions More advanced digital adopters are more intensively engaged in climate mitigation actions Hypothesis 1. More advanced digital adopters have better ability to access and process information and hence more likely to recognise the need of climate response(s) by making strategic choice of adopting climate adaptation or climate mitigation measures, or both. Probability of climate response(s) Intensity of climate response(s) Hypothesis
  • 26. Data overview Type of climate response (0 to 3): 0 – No climate response; 1 – Adaptation only; 2 – Mitigation only; 3 – Both Adaptation and Mitigation Probability of climate response(s) Intensity of climate response(s) ICA - Intensity of Climate Adaptation (0 to 3) measured by number of CA practices adopted ICM - Intensity of Climate Mitigation (0 to 5) measured by number of CM practices adopted European Investment Bank Investment Survey, 2022-2023, pooled cross-section ~25,000 firms across 27 EU countries and USA
  • 27. Data overview 0.00 0.10 0.20 0.30 0.40 0.50 Intensity of Climate Adaptation (ICA) Manufacturing Construction Services Infrastructure 0.00 0.50 1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50 Intensity of Climate Mitigation (ICM) Manufacturing Construction Services Infrastructure 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 Intensity of Climate Adaptation (ICA) Micro Small Medium Large 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 Intensity of Climate Mitigation (ICM) Micro Small Medium Large
  • 28. Data overview ҧ 𝑥 ҧ 𝑥 + 𝑠𝑑 ҧ 𝑥 − 𝑠𝑑 ҧ 𝑥 + 2𝑠𝑑 𝑑𝑖𝑔𝑖𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑖𝑛𝑛𝑜𝑣𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠 Innovators 2.5% Early adopters 13.5% Early majority 34% Late majority 34% Laggards 16% Respect Venturesome Deliberate Sceptical Traditional Digital innovativeness (0 to 8): Constructed as a composite measure based on information for each of the 4 ‘state-of-the art for the sector’ digital technologies 0 – Firm did not adopt the technology; 1 – Adopted partially; 2 – Adopted fully Digital adopters’ categories (1 to 5): 1 – Digital Laggards 2 – Digital Late majority 3 – Digital Early majority 4 – Digital Early adopters 5 – Digital Innovators European Investment Bank Investment Survey, 2022-2023, pooled cross-section ~25,000 firms across 27 EU countries and USA
  • 29. Data overview Digital adopters’ categories by firm size 53% 48% 34% 19% 23% 23% 25% 23% 14% 15% 21% 24% 8% 10% 16% 28% 2% 3% 3% 6% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Micro Small Medium Large Laggards Late majority Early majority Early adopters Innovators
  • 30. Data overview Digital adopters’ categories by sector In Information and Communication sector, percentage of digital innovators is over 10% 36% 56% 41% 35% 24% 25% 24% 22% 19% 13% 19% 20% 18% 5% 13% 17% 3% 1% 3% 5% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Manufacturing Construction Services Infrastructure Laggards Late majority Early majority Early adopters Innovators
  • 31. Data overview Type of climate response(s) by digital adopters’ categories 24% 14% 11% 10% 14% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 55% 55% 52% 46% 49% 18% 29% 35% 43% 35% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Laggards Late majority Early majority Early adopters Innovators No climate response Adaptation only Mitigation only Adaptation and Mitigation
  • 32. Results Probability of climate response(s) Probability of climate response(s) conditional on perception of climate change impact on business Digitally more advanced firms are more likely to formulate simultaneous adaptation and mitigation response to climate change. e.g. Digital early adopters are 12.6 percentage points more likely than digital laggards to undertake CA and CM simultaneously. Probability of simultaneous climate response is higher for firms saying that climate changes currently have impact (minor or major) on the business.
  • 33. Results Intensity of climate response(s) Predicted intensity of climate adaptation (ICA) conditional on perception of climate change impact on business Digitally more advanced firms are more intensively engaged in climate adaptation actions. Non-linear relationship: Digital early adopters show higher ICA compared to digital innovators. Climate change perceptions play a moderating role: firms experiencing climate change impact on the business are more intensively engaged with CA.
  • 34. Results Intensity of climate response(s) Predicted intensity of climate mitigation (ICM) conditional on risk/opportunity perception of transition to stricter climate standards and regulations in the next five years Digitally more advanced firms are more intensively engaged in climate mitigation actions. Perceptions of risk/opportunity play a moderating role: firms perceiving a risk/opportunity of green transition in the future are more intensively engaged with CM.
  • 35. Results Results are robust to other specifications. To address potential endogeneity issue, additional IV analysis was conducted. We instrument digital adopters’ categories by variables related to the performance of digital infrastructure at NUTS2 level: fixed average download and upload speed, latency, etc. The results confirm positive relationship between the stage of digital advancement and ICA and ICM.
  • 36. Results More advanced digital adopters are more intensively engaged in climate adaptation actions across all sectors, i.e. effect is rather homogeneous. More advanced digital adopters are more intensively engaged in climate adaptation actions across all firm sizes with some nuances. For micro and small businesses even a small improvement in digital passing from Digital laggards to 2nd and 3rd groups have much higher impact on ICA compared to medium and large businesses. Idem. In Manufacturing and Services, there is an increasing benefit of progressing on digital ladder on ICM, which cannot be observed in Construction and Infrastructure where first stepping from laggards to digital late majority has already substantial benefits. Idem Intensity of Climate Adaptation (ICA) Intensity of climate Mitigation (ICM) Sector Size
  • 37. Concluding remarks • Robust evidence of Twin digital and green transition at firm level • Low uptake of adaptation measures – low resilience?: despite private benefits of climate adaptation (business continuity and resilience), the rate of uptake of CA measures is very small. • Double importance - role of digital in: • Ability to recognise the need/opportunity to develop climate response(s) leading to a climate response strategy • Ability to act on this choice by intensifying engagement • Not a substitution: digitally enabled businesses choose to do both Adaptation and Mitigation in response to climate change • Shaped by perceptions: the relationship between digital and CA and CM is also shaped by perceived business exposure and vulnerability to climate change and perception of risk/opportunity associated with transition to stricter climate standards and regulations.
  • 38. Link to the manifesto for small business growth and productivity Increase the adoption of digital technologies …by increasing digital literacy and awareness “We need more UK businesses to adopt digital technologies that can in turn improve their productivity. ERC research has shown that digital adoption is important for improving productivity in small firms. Targeted support programmes and peer networking have been shown to be helpful in raising the confidence of business leaders in terms of technology adoption. However, digital readiness is key to adoption, and creating more ‘digitally ready’ firms should be a policy focus. There are potential productivity benefits in targeting those firms that do not currently recognise the benefits of digital transformation for their businesses.”
  • 39. Link to the manifesto for small business growth and productivity Improve the provision of quality, actionable information on net zero …and develop agreed standards for measuring environmental impact “The UK’s small businesses urgently need access to information and advice to help them adopt net zero practices and measure their effectiveness. Small and medium sized businesses are estimated to account for around half of all UK business emissions, and as such they will play a crucial part in the net zero transition. ERC research has shown, however, that there is much room for improvement when it comes to the adoption of net zero practices in small firms in the UK, especially amongst the smallest firms. The evidence shows that the problem with adoption is not around intentions when it comes to sustainability – but more around bandwidth, prioritisation and capability. At present the net zero support landscape is fragmented, with only a small minority of firms receiving support. Access to trusted and actionable information is vital in supporting firms to implement sustainability practices, with government, professional and industry associations all playing potentially important roles. There are also potential advantages in designing future policy support that grasps the complementary benefits of net zero and digital adoption.”
  • 40. Rural SMEs, environmental action, and perceived opportunities ❖ Kevin Mole WiFi for JCH guests Citadel Community Wi-Fi Password: all4birmingham1892
  • 41. Rural SMEs, Environmental Action, and Perceived Opportunities State of Rural Enterprise Report nos. 2 & 3 Dr Kevin Mole with Serdal Ozusaglam, Stephen Roper and Panagiotis Kyriakopoulos
  • 43. Introduction • Previous NICRE research highlights rural firms more likely (45%) than urban firms (37%) to take the environment into account when making decisions (Wishart et al. 2021) • Businesses are on a journey in terms of their environmental practices • Much of the support for Net Zero does not consider rural aspects • Drivers of environmental action include consumer pressure, competition, stakeholder perspectives (e.g attitude of senior managers), external pressures and legislation • Barriers include cost pressures, lack of knowledge and, in rural areas, transport costs
  • 44. Including the environment in decision-making • 41% of rural businesses always consider the environmental impact, compared to 37% of urban businesses. • 45% of rural businesses sometimes consider it (42% urban). • 14% of rural businesses never consider the environmental impact (21% urban). 14% 45% 41% 21% 42% 37% 20% 43% 37% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% Never Sometimes Always Rural Urban Total
  • 45. Knowing where to find reliable information to help • Rural firms (69%) more likely to know where to find help than urban firms (66%), but uneven: • South West rural firms more likely to know where to find reliable information than in North East and West Midlands. • North East rural firms less likely than urban firms to know where to find information, with reverse situation in South West and West Midlands. 62% 72% 67% 70% 66% 64% 56% 58% 60% 62% 64% 66% 68% 70% 72% 74% North East South West West Midlands Rural Urban
  • 46. Taking steps to reduce environmental impact • 54% of businesses ‘take environmental action’. • More rural firms (57%) take action (53% in urban areas). • Driven by contrast between rural and urban enterprises in the West Midlands, where 55% of rural and 47% of urban businesses have taken action. 56% 58% 55% 56% 59% 47% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% North East South West West Midlands Rural Urban
  • 47. The ladder of environmental action 90% 46% 42% 38% 24% 23% 14% 2% 87% 43% 40% 43% 28% 28% 15% 3% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Recycled waste, water, or materials Introduced new or improved production processes Conducted training on environmental matters Introduced new low carbon products or services Introduced new or improved delivery, transport, or distribution systems Undertaken environmental reports or audits Put in place environmental certification None of these Rural Urban
  • 48. Very few businesses measure their emissions • Just 3% rural and 5% urban businesses measured their GHG emissions “using an online calculator”. • 4% of rural and urban businesses measured GHG emissions through “working with a consultant or external company”. 3% 5% 5% 4% 4% 4% 0% 1% 2% 3% 4% 5% 6% Rural Urban Total Yes, using an on-line calculator or tool Yes, working with a consultant or external company
  • 49. Rural businesses more likely to face barriers in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions 45% 40% 41% 37% 38% 39% 40% 41% 42% 43% 44% 45% 46% Rural Urban Total 47% 47% 40% 41% 37% 42% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% North East South West West Midlands Rural Urban
  • 50. What are the barriers? • Cost of adopting greener technology • Access to info, people and skills development, especially in urban areas. • Regulatory complexity less a concern. • Lack of people locally to advise on Net Zero indicates a perceived lack of support. • Rural firms more likely to report being constrained; urban firms report a wider variety of obstacles. 67% 33% 33% 30% 26% 0% 13% 66% 39% 38% 43% 31% 1% 17% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Cost of purchasing or installing greener technology Lack of information on low carbon technologies Lack of people locally to advise or install solutions Lack of relevant skills within the firm Uncertain demand for low carbon products or services Complexity or cost of meeting regulations or standards None of these Rural Urban
  • 51. What benefits does environmental action bring? 49% 31% 23% 26% 25% 20% 21% 59% 41% 27% 24% 23% 25% 23% 57% 39% 26% 25% 24% 24% 22% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Contributed to your company identity or reputation Helped your staff to develop new skills Created new profitable opportunities Helped you to develop new products or services Helped you to enter new markets Helped you to attract or retain employees Led to an increase in profits Rural Urban Total
  • 52. Conclusion – encouraging steps but we need to climb the ladder • Most businesses in rural and urban areas take the environment into account when making decisions. • Most have acted to reduce environmental footprint. • There is a ‘ladder’ of environmental action with recycling and waste reduction on the lower rungs. • The middle rungs show 26% implementing process changes to reduce carbon emissions. • 21% have introduced new products and services, indicating a growing trend towards environmentally responsible innovation. • Environmental audits, certification, and greenhouse gas emissions measurement prove more complex, particularly in rural areas.
  • 54. An opportunity-driven mindset • Businesses have faced perfect storm – disruption due to pandemic followed by ‘cost of doing business crisis’. All in context of wider climate crisis • Are changing conditions simply deepening deficits often discussed in terms of rural firms or are they creating new opportunities? • Is there an ability and willingness to invest to realise post-pandemic opportunities? • We ask: • What opportunities are in your area? • How well placed are you to take advantage of these?
  • 55. Health and wellbeing and the environment provide opportunities for local business growth • Urban firms more likely to see opportunities related to health and well-being (rural 47%, urban 52%). • Rural firms more focused on environmental/ green products and services (rural 44%, urban 40%). • Fewer identify opportunities linked to data skills and use of data, tourism, and exporting. 47% 44% 37% 37% 21% 52% 40% 40% 37% 17% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% Providing services and products that improve health and wellbeing Providing environmental/green services and products Improving data skills and use of data Expanding opportunities for tourists and visitors Increasing levels of exporting Rural Urban
  • 56. 39% see themselves as well placed to take advantage of opportunities • An equal proportion (39%) of rural and urban firms reported that their businesses are either ‘very well’ or ‘well’ placed for potential opportunities. • But more North East firms see themselves as well-placed. 39% 25% 1% 34% 39% 26% 1% 35% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% Very well or well placed Not likely to affect us May negatively affect us Not relevant to our business Rural Urban
  • 57. Well placed firms more likely to invest • Well placed firms more likely to invest in environmental improvements, new products, marketing. • But developing international markets is different.
  • 58. Perceived constraints by firm size: micro lack money; medium sized lack people • More medium sized firms report staff recruitment and retention, lack of transport, but more microbusinesse s report a lack of financial resources 47% 40% 40% 38% 33% 33% 26% 20% 13% 67% 39% 45% 43% 38% 38% 23% 15% 9% 70% 28% 35% 47% 30% 34% 22% 17% 23% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Ability to recruit and retain staff Lack of financial resources Lack of availability of affordable housing… Lack of transport services/infrastructure Planning restrictions Inadequate broadband capacity Lack of availability of business premises Lack of local business cooperation Lack of cooperation with… 1 to 9 10 to 49 50+
  • 59. From opportunities to investment • Widespread perception among rural firms of opportunities for developing products or services related to health and well-being, as well as developing environmental or green products or services. • Firms which see themselves well placed to take advantage of local growth opportunities more likely planning to increase or maintain levels of investment in environmental improvements, new products, marketing, well-being and training. • Familiar challenges threaten rural firms’ ability to grasp the opportunities available, however, suggesting continued importance of initiatives focused on improving rural transport, housing and broadband. Opportunities Well-placed Investment Constraints
  • 60. Link to the manifesto for small business growth and productivity Improve the provision of quality, actionable information on net zero …and develop agreed standards for measuring environmental impact “The UK’s small businesses urgently need access to information and advice to help them adopt net zero practices and measure their effectiveness. Small and medium sized businesses are estimated to account for around half of all UK business emissions, and as such they will play a crucial part in the net zero transition. ERC research has shown, however, that there is much room for improvement when it comes to the adoption of net zero practices in small firms in the UK, especially amongst the smallest firms. The evidence shows that the problem with adoption is not around intentions when it comes to sustainability – but more around bandwidth, prioritisation and capability. At present the net zero support landscape is fragmented, with only a small minority of firms receiving support. Access to trusted and actionable information is vital in supporting firms to implement sustainability practices, with government, professional and industry associations all playing potentially important roles. There are also potential advantages in designing future policy support that grasps the complementary benefits of net zero and digital adoption.”
  • 61. Lunch WiFi for JCH guests Citadel Community Wi-Fi Password: all4birmingham1892
  • 62. Workplace mental health in England, Ireland and Sweden – a comparative study ❖ Maria Wishart WiFi for JCH guests Citadel Community Wi-Fi Password: all4birmingham1892
  • 63. Workplace mental health in England, Ireland and Sweden: a comparative study 1. Why England, Ireland and Sweden? 2. The dataset 3. Findings: • Mental health absence and its impact • Presenteeism • Uptake of initiatives • Hybrid working 4. Conclusions and implications
  • 64. Healthcare overview Ireland England Sweden Population 5,194,336 67,736,802 10,521,556 Healthcare funding model Two tier public/private healthcare system, private healthcare insurance common Publicly funded, private care available for those choosing it Publicly funded, private care has less of a role than in UK and Ireland Primary care access Free primary care for around 30% of population Universal free access to primary care Universal free access to primary care Sick pay Statutory sick pay for 5 days per year Statutory sick pay for up to 28 weeks 80% of salary for 364 days, extendable
  • 65. OECD/European Union (2018) Proportion of adults with mental disorders 3.7% 5.9% 4.7% 1.2% 18.5% 3.7% 5.4% 5.4% 1.4% 18.3% 3.7% 5.1% 4.8% 1.4% 17.7% 5.4% 4.5% 2.4% 1.3% 17.3% 0.0% 5.0% 10.0% 15.0% 20.0% Others Anxiety disorders Depressive disorders Bipolar disorders and… Mental disorders All EU United Kingdom Sweden Ireland
  • 66. Estimated direct and indirect costs related to mental health problems across EU countries, % of GDP OECD/European Union (2018)
  • 67. Estimated direct and indirect costs related to mental health problems % of GDP Total costs Direct costs Indirect costs On health systems On social benefits On the labour market in million EUR % of GDP in million EUR % of GDP in million EUR % of GDP in million EUR % of GDP EU28 607 074 4.10% 194 139 1.31% 169 939 1.15% 242 995 1.64% Ireland 8 299 3.17% 2 232 0.85% 1 891 0.72% 4 176 1.59% Sweden 21 677 4.83% 5 696 1.27% 7 558 1.68% 8 423 1.88% UK 106 024 4.07% 36 353 1.40% 22 704 0.87% 46 967 1.80%
  • 68. Data set • Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) survey, for-profit and voluntary sector firms operating for at least 3 years, with minimum 10 employees ▪ Ireland: Sep-Dec 2022: 1,501 firms ▪ England: Jan-May 2023: 1,902 firms ▪ Sweden: Sep-Dec 2023: 1,000 firms • Business and employee characteristics • General sickness and Mental health sickness absence measurement & practices • Mental health initiatives and outcomes • Presenteeism • Technology and high-tech working practices
  • 69. Headlines • Significant country-level differences in: • Patterns of mental health related sickness absence • Patterns and types of presenteeism • Engagement in mental health & wellbeing initiatives • Adoption of hybrid working • Reported impact of mental health on business operations
  • 70. Mental health related sickness absence 41% 36% 17% 11% 17% 47% 46% 29% 17% 27% 69% 50% 31% 18% 32% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 250 plus 50-249 20-49 10-19 All firms Sweden England Ireland Proportion of firms reporting MH sickness absence in the preceding 12 months Sweden 1,000 firms, England 1,878 firms, Ireland 1,484 firms
  • 71. Mental health related sickness absence 32% 47% 40% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Ireland England Sweden Proportion of firms with long-term MH absence Proportion of firms with repeated MH absence 44% 38% 88% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Ireland England Sweden Sweden 400 firms, England 471 firms, Ireland 291 firms
  • 72. Mental health related sickness absence Proportion of firms reporting that MH sickness absence impacted operations 46% 58% 43% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Ireland England Sweden Sweden 400 firms, England 471 firms, Ireland 291 firms
  • 73. Presenteeism 34% 32% 30% 22% 27% 43% 46% 39% 32% 37% 58% 65% 46% 44% 50% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 250 plus 50-249 20-49 10-19 All firms Sweden England Ireland Proportion of firms reporting presenteeism in the preceding 12 months Sweden 1,000 firms, England 1,902 firms, Ireland 1,501 firms
  • 74. Presenteeism Type of presenteeism reported, by country 41% 78% 60% 79% 61% 32% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Working when unwell Working beyond contract Sweden England Ireland 3% 2% 10% 9% 19% 5% 4% 13% 9% 27% 4% 6% 9% 15% 37% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% Training for line managers Leaders role modelling Investigating causes Reinforcing messages about life work balance Sending home people who are ill Sweden England Ireland Addressing presenteeism, by country Sweden 543 firms, England 692 firms, Ireland 417 firms
  • 75. Engagement in Mental Health & Wellbeing initiatives 85% 70% 46% 36% 46% 86% 64% 58% 42% 52% 90% 82% 77% 74% 78% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 250 plus 50-249 20-49 10-19 All firms Sweden England Ireland Proportion of firms disagreeing that MH is a personal issue that should not be addressed at work, by country 73% 79% 67% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Ireland England Sweden Proportion of firms offering MH initiatives, by country & size Sweden 1,000 firms, England 1,902 firms, Ireland 1,501 firms
  • 76. Engagement in Mental Health & Wellbeing initiatives Adoption of strategic/policy initiatives, by country Adoption of skills training & monitoring initiatives, by country 23% 32% 20% 21% 22% 32% 45% 18% 44% 42% 39% 40% 46% 51% 63% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Mental health plan MH lead at board level MH budget Have employee mental health champions Use data to monitor MH&W Sweden England Ireland 68% 40% 53% 69% 74% 62% 66% 76% 49% 30% 57% 52% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Awareness raising for staff on mental health issues Training for line managers in managing mental health Risk assessment/stress audits Training and support for those returning to work Sweden England Ireland Sweden 784 firms, England 970 firms, Ireland 722 firms
  • 77. Engagement in Mental Health & Wellbeing initiatives Investments in employee wellbeing, by country Adoption of workplace practices to reduce risk factors, by country 42% 38% 30% 41% 50% 46% 40% 31% 53% 30% 40% 22% 67% 72% 95% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Supplying healthy food and drinks Financial wellbeing advice Training aimed at building personal resilience Access to counselling support Support with physical activity such as gym memberships,… Sweden England Ireland 90% 89% 68% 95% 95% 85% 81% 84% 90% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%120% Encourage open conversations about mental health in the workplace Make appropriate workplace adjustments to those who need them to support their mental… Ensure all staff have a regular conversation about their health and wellbeing with their manager Sweden England Ireland Sweden 784 firms, England 970 firms, Ireland 722 firms
  • 78. Hybrid working 7% 11% 16% 25% 16% 21% 68% 72% 63% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Ireland England Sweden Yes, have always Yes, since COVID No Hybrid working, by country Sweden 1,000 firms, England 1,894 firms, Ireland 1,499 firms
  • 79. Hybrid working Encouraging a good work life balance for remote workers, by country 54% 74% 67% 64% 86% 63% 44% 76% 67% 70% 88% 72% 63% 66% 67% 72% 83% 86% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Time sheets or other tracking method Encouraging employees not to answer email outside working hours Company-wide communications, e.g., from HR department Regular formal conversations/reminders from line… Regular informal conversations/reminders from line… Role modelling behaviour from managers Sweden England Ireland Sweden 295 firms, England 438 firms, Ireland 404 firms
  • 80. Conclusions • Significant differences in MH absence, presenteeism and hybrid working - role of culture and socio-political context • Despite reporting higher levels of MH absence, Swedish firms significantly less likely to report impacts of MH in the workplace • Swedish firm interventions more likely to be focused on strategic initiatives and investment in employees than on training and reducing risk factors
  • 81. Implications? • Mental health-related absence: should we be minimising or managing it? • Encouraging work life balance with more embedded remote working: how should employers manage psychological detachment issues? • Presenteeism: is more presenteeism an inevitable consequence of remote working, and if so, what should we do to address it? • Mental health initiatives in the workplace: what should policymakers do to encourage the adoption of mental health initiatives in the workplace? Which kinds of initiatives should they encourage?
  • 82. Link to the manifesto for small business growth and productivity Transform understanding about the connection between mental health and productivity …through improving access to information, training and support “We need to transform understanding amongst small business leaders of the importance of good mental health and wellbeing for productivity and improve management behaviour in this area. The pandemic and subsequent cost of living crisis has had major implications for the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce and for business leaders, with serious implications for business performance. ERC research has shown that presenteeism has increased and has now surpassed pre-pandemic levels, and that new working practices have brought new challenges. Although awareness of mental health issues amongst employers has increased and more initiatives to improve support for employees have been introduced, there is still considerable room for improvement, particularly amongst the smallest firms. Looking ahead, firms will need to be more engaged with the range of initiatives, advice and support available and more carefully consider the wellbeing impacts of their management practices. More attention needs to be paid specifically to the training and support of line managers, who are often in the front-line in dealing with the mental health issues experienced by employees. Small business leaders and entrepreneurs themselves also need access to support in dealing with the mental health challenges associated with running a business in times of financial uncertainty and insecurity.”
  • 83. ERC manifesto for small business growth and productivity ❖ Vicki Belt ❖ Stephen Roper WiFi for JCH guests Citadel Community Wi-Fi Password: all4birmingham1892
  • 84.
  • 85. The State of Small Business Britain: A manifesto for small business growth and productivity • The ERC’s annual review of trends and issues affecting small businesses • This time bringing together an entire decade of research insights! • 110 research papers • 61 research reports • 60 SOTA Reviews • 49 Insight papers • Plus, numerous academic papers • …and thousands of conversations with stakeholders and businesses • A range of themes… from a focus on what prompts business growth to broader concerns with productivity and sustainability
  • 86. A decade of change • A growing small business population in the UK • 5.5 million small businesses in 2023 – growth driven disproportionately by the smallest, non- employing businesses • A nation of entrepreneurs - around one in three adults in the UK now either running a business or looking at starting one • But small businesses have faced some extreme pressures… • Resilience has become a crucial trait
  • 87. What promotes growth and productivity in small businesses? • ERC research has shown that small business growth is multi-faceted and complex • The volume of start-ups is not the problem - survival, scaling up and productivity is • ERC research has provided evidence that a range of factors are important: • But… the proportion of businesses undertaking some of these key growth-related behaviours (e.g. innovation, accessing finance, exporting) has lowered in the past few years
  • 88. Access to finance • Seeking external finance is positively associated with faster growth and productivity • But most UK small firms are permanent ‘non-borrowers’ • Shift in the willingness of small firms to seek finance since the GFC • Reasons include inadequate information, fear of rejection, lack of focus on growth • Evidence of the positive impact of Covid-19 financial support initiatives • Inequalities exist by gender and ethnicity, also spatially • As well as access to finance, late payment is also a major (under-appreciated?) issue
  • 89. Business support • Plays a role in business survival and growth, way of diffusing best practice to small businesses • But the UK business support system is fragmented and unstable • Uptake varies by range of factors, e.g. firm size and educational level of leaders • Lack of tailored support for disadvantaged groups • Quality of advice and personal relationships and expertise are important • Firms also need to be ‘ready, willing and able’ to take on board advice • Many firms first seek advice when they are already at the point of crisis - too late?
  • 90. Innovation • Strong link to survival, growth and productivity - new market opportunities, new ways of working • Proportion of innovation-active firms in the UK has fallen sharply in recent years • Impacts of economic shocks on innovation behaviour • Spatial patterns of innovation - the ‘arc of innovation’, local strengths and weaknesses • Range of factors influence innovation - openness and collaboration, absorptive capacity, diversity, exporting • Benefits of publicly-funded support for innovation - R&D grants, R&D tax credits, and academic- industry collaborations, importance of ‘policy mix’
  • 91. Management and leadership • Positive associations between M&L and growth and productivity • Importance of ‘growth-oriented’ actions - knowledge flows, risk-taking and innovation • Link between use of key HRM practices and innovation • HPW practices important in high growth firms, bundles of practices effective • Positive work cultures and informal HR practices are associated with sustained growth • Links between workplace mental health and wellbeing and productivity • Pandemic challenges - new ways of working and rise in mental health issues • Room for improvement in adoption of HPW and strategic approaches to mental health
  • 92.
  • 93.
  • 94.
  • 95. Looking ahead – ERC plans for 2024 ❖ Stephen Roper
  • 96. What’s coming up? ERC through 2024
  • 97.
  • 98. Projects and partnerships • Export decisions and mindsets – reporting due February 2024 (DBT and ESRC) • Investment mindsets – what shapes investment decisions in the UK? (Productivity Institute) • Mental health, wellbeing and productivity in the workplace – new survey data for 2024q1 and more on the benchmark comparisons (ESRC, Nottingham, Lancaster, Queens) • Panel study of entrepreneurship – with a focus on ethnic minority entrepreneurs (Mastercard, Be-the-Business)
  • 99. Projects and partnerships • Twin transitions study continues (Productivity Institute, EIB) • Innovation with new survey data for 2024Q2 and related work on inclusive innovation) (IUK, UCC) • Infrastructure for commercialization in agri- tech (and other aspects of the effectiveness of the R&I system) (IRC, Oxford Brookes, Manchester, Birkbeck) • Supporting rural enterprise (NICRE, Newcastle, Gloucester and RAU, Stratford Council)
  • 100. How can ERC help you? Rapid or systematic literature reviews Collaborative primary research Survey conduct and/or data matching Supporting policy development and design Building internal capacity (teach- ins) Convene round- tables or expert groups
  • 101. Thank you For further details please visit : www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk @ERC_UK