Is our obsession with fast growth and job creation stifling productivity?

As he stood at the Dispatch Box on November 23rd, Chancellor Philip Hammond laid bare to Parliament a problem that has been vexing economists since the 2008 crash. The UK, he intoned, has a truly dreadful productivity rate. To illustrate the point, he told MPs gathered for the Autumn Statement that the average UK worker… Read more

From Trump Towers to the White House

Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election could have consequences for the thousands of UK small and medium-sized businesses, especially as the US is the UK’s biggest export destination. During the campaign Trump made some remarks he may regret come January, but the general policy stance in terms of trade and industry is relatively clear:… Read more

Knowledge diffusion, innovation and productivity – changing the game in Wales

The current Brexit debate is important and the structure of the UK’s trading and migration arrangements with our international neighbours will influence our future prosperity. However, other more fundamental long term issues remain important for the UK around productivity. UK productivity lags significantly behind that of our main international competitors and Wales is at the… Read more

Brexit – the innovation bonus

Innovation is always risky. New technologies may not perform, or may take longer to develop than first anticipated. Customers may react negatively to new products or services and innovation may provoke a strong competitive response from competitors. Will uncertainty linked to the post-Brexit settlement increase or depress firms’ appetite for taking these innovation risks? It… Read more

Migrants start more businesses and are more ambitious to grow

The impact of migration on the UK jobs market was a major theme of the Brexit debate. The effects of migration, despite their oversimplification in that debate, are, complex. Migrants may have taken jobs that would otherwise have gone to long-term UK residents and as a consequence helped create a climate of distrust in many… Read more

Re-writing the innovation rulebook

Re-writing the innovation rulebook Have you ever heard of the Oslo Manual? Sadly it’s not a type of Nordic Kama Sutra but instead the official – OECD backed – rulebook for thinking about and measuring innovation. Over the last 25 years successive editions of the Oslo Manual have provided the definitive guide to what gets… Read more

Brexit for business?

Whether you regard today as a ‘new dawn’ or a ‘national tragedy’ short-term economic uncertainty is on the cards for us all. This is perhaps today’s only certainty. How effectively the UK can manage this uncertainty and then capitalise on the opportunities of life outside the EU will be crucial for future growth. In the… Read more

Innovation by design.

Good design is a delight. But the potential role of designers goes well beyond improving the functional or aesthetic aspects of a product. Research on design thinking has suggested there should be a design leadership effect when designers lead rather than contributing to firms’ innovation processes. But how big is this effect? Until now we… Read more

The future of productivity: Is innovation diffusion the answer?

Recent research by economists at the OECD presents a new perspective on what drives national productivity growth. This presents a challenge to the emphasis of current UK policy on world-leading innovation. The OECD start by recognising that in every world economy there are some ‘frontier firms’ which are internationally competitive and match global high standards… Read more

Growing productivity: a Scottish recipe – Director’s Blog- May 2016

Growing productivity: a Scottish recipe We have heard a lot recently – at least before Brexit became flavour of the news – about the need to boost productivity. And, in particular how the government can help firms to grow productivity. It turns out that the answer, or at least part of the answer, may have… Read more