Carol Stanfield

Senior Research Fellow

Carol is an independent consultant with over 20 years’ experience in skills and labour market research. As a Senior Research Fellow at the ERC she is supporting the delivery of core and commissioned projects and is currently working on ‘Mental Health and Productivity in the Midlands Engine’ and ‘Learning from the Best’.

Contact Details

Email:[email protected]

Biography

Carol is an independent consultant with over 20 years’ experience in skills and labour market research. As a Senior Research Fellow at the ERC she is supporting the delivery of core and commissioned projects and is currently working on ‘Mental Health and Productivity in the Midlands Engine’ and ‘Learning from the Best’.

Research Paper

What drives productivity growth behind the frontier? A mixed-methods investigation into UK SMEs. Research Paper No 89

International evidence suggests productivity growth is most rapid among ‘frontier’ firms, i.e. those in the top decile of the productivity distribution. Other studies have identified the marked difference in sectoral productivity growth in the UK over the last decade. Here, we consider the drivers of productivity growth in SMEs which are ‘behind the frontier’.
Looking at quantitative data on value added and turnover per employee growth in twelve 4-digit sectors (six in manufacturing and six in services) we find no consistent relationship between firms’ position in deciles of the productivity distribution and subsequent productivity growth.
We also find few significant differences between the observable characteristics of firms behind the frontier which experience rapid and slower productivity growth.
Behind the frontier, firm age, size, number of subsidiaries and investment are only weakly related to productivity growth, at least in the short-term. The lack of influence of these observable influences on productivity growth suggests the potential importance of other externally unobservable factors in shaping productivity growth. We explore these unobservables in in-depth interviews, highlighting a number of factors which characterise high productivity growth SMEs. These include: inspirational leadership, people management practices, strategic investments, data oriented operational management and product, market and tactical innovation.
Few of the factors are sector specific, and none operates in isolation.

Associated Themes
  • Management and Leadership
  • Productivity and performance
Policy Briefing

What drives productivity growth behind the frontier? A mixed-methods investigation into UK SMEs.

International evidence suggests productivity growth is most rapid among ‘frontier’ firms, i.e. those in the top decile of the productivity distribution. Other studies have identified the marked difference in sectoral productivity growth in the UK over the last decade. Here, we consider the drivers of productivity growth in SMEs which are ‘behind the frontier’.

Associated Themes
  • Management and Leadership
  • Productivity and performance
Research Report

Employee well-being, mental health and productivity in Midlands firms: The employer perspective

This report focuses on the engagement, attitudes and behaviours of around 1,900 employers across the East and West Midlands to employee well-being and mental health. It also considers the effects of well-being and mental health on organisational performance and productivity. Data for the study was collected through telephone interviews and in-depth case studies in the three months immediately before the Covid-19 virus lockdown. The report therefore provides a pre-Covid-19 baseline which may be a useful comparator in months and years to come, when considering the impacts of the pandemic on employers and employees

Author

ERC,

Associated Themes
  • Management and Leadership
  • Productivity and performance