Karen Bonner

Senior Economist, Ulster University Economic Policy Centre

Karen is a senior economist at Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre and also works with the ERC on projects relating to entrepreneurship, business demography and innovation. She is involved primarily in firm-level economic research utilising micro-data to examine aspects of firm performance in both Northern Ireland and the UK. Karen works with ERC members to produce the UK Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Other recent projects include those for BEIS, DfE, and Scottish Enterprise. Previously she worked as a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Contact Details

Email:[email protected]

Research Themes

  • Business Growth

Biography

Karen is a senior economist at Ulster University’s Economic Policy Centre and also works with the ERC on projects relating to entrepreneurship, business demography and innovation. She is involved primarily in firm-level economic research utilising micro-data to examine aspects of firm performance in both Northern Ireland and the UK. Karen works with ERC members to produce the UK Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Other recent projects include those for BEIS, DfE, and Scottish Enterprise. Previously she worked as a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Research Report

Productivity in the ICT sector in Northern Ireland: A Pilot Study

The Department for the Economy (DfE) commissioned Queen’s Management School (QMS) to undertake a pilot research project to measure productivity levels in the Northern Ireland Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. The aim of the project was to assess the viability of utilising micro-business data to measure and track productivity in priority sectors. As a priority sector for the Department for the Economy, this pilot study seeks to use the Northern Ireland Annual Business Inquiry (ABI) to investigate productivity in the ICT sector, analysing levels by type and size of firm. The aim is to delve beneath the aggregate level to understand the distribution of productivity across the sector and identify whether productivity levels are correlated with other business activities. The research will help to provide a deeper understanding of productivity drivers in this specific sector and identify areas for potential intervention.

Author

ERC,, Bonner, Karen, Hewitt-Dundas, Nola

Associated Themes
  • Productivity and performance
Research Report

Northern Powerhouse Local Growth Dashboard

The UK Local Growth Dashboard has been developed by the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) and builds on the LEP Growth Dashboard first launched in June 2014. Its purpose is to present a set of growth metrics for start-ups and existing firms across a range of sub-national geographies in the UK with a specific focus on each of the 38 English Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas. Alongside these metrics it provides some other contextual data for each LEP including the changing sectoral composition of local economies over time.
This version of the Local Growth Dashboard was requested by the Greater Manchester Growth Company for the 11 Northern Powerhouse LEPs: Cheshire and Warrington, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Humber, Lancashire, Leeds City Region, Liverpool City Region, North East, Sheffield City Region, Tees Valley and York, North Yorkshire and East Riding.
The Local Growth Dashboard can be used as a source of evidence to inform discussions on priorities in business support concerning small business growth and includes easily understood metrics which can be readily updated on an annual basis.
This report is designed to simply present the data for others to use and it is not the intention here to investigate the reasons for these variations as that can be found elsewhere in the research outputs of the ERC and the wider research and policy literature.

Author

ERC,

Associated Themes
  • Business Growth
  • Productivity and performance
Research Report

UK Local Growth Dashboard 2019

The UK Local Growth Dashboard has been developed by the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) and builds on the LEP Growth Dashboard first launched in June 2014. Its purpose is to present a set of growth metrics for start-ups and existing firms across a range of sub-national geographies in the UK with a specific focus on each of the 38 English Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas. Alongside these metrics it provides some other contextual data for each LEP including the changing sectoral composition of local economies over time.

The Local Growth Dashboard can be used as a source of evidence to inform discussions on priorities in business support concerning small business growth and includes easily understood metrics which can be readily updated on an annual basis. This report is designed to simply present the data for others to use and it is not the intention here to investigate the reasons for these variations as that can be found elsewhere in the research outputs of the ERC and the wider research and policy literature.

Download the Data file at : http://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Local-Growth-Dashboard-2019-Master-Datafile-September-4.xlsx





Author

ERC,

Associated Themes
  • Business Growth
Research Report

State of Small Business Britain 2019

The State of Small Business Britain report 2019.
The increasing levels of political uncertainty in the UK sets the context for this review of trends in the small business community in mid-2019.
We seek to provide an overview of business confidence and the extent to which that is reflected in the key datasets we have been monitoring for many years. We focus on the following:
• Business Confidence
• Job Creation and Destruction
• Entrepreneurship
• Firm Growth
Alongside this we will highlight some of the key messages coming out of our core research programme, which provide insights into current debates on high-growth, productivity and management practices.

Author

ERC,

Associated Themes
  • Business Growth
  • Productivity and performance
Research Report

Benchmarking local innovation – the innovation geography of England: 2019

Firms’ ability to innovate successfully plays an important role in their ability to sustain growth and competitiveness. This report provides innovation benchmarks for local areas in England, updating our previous analysis published in 2017.
The benchmarks are based on a new analysis of data from the 14,000 firms which responded to the UK Innovation Survey 2017. The analysis is designed to provide representative results for each local economic area. Information is provided on ten benchmarks including new indicators for organisational innovation.
Three benchmarks focus on forms of organisational and marketing innovation. Three further metrics relate to the inputs and structure of firms’ innovation activity with a focus on R&D, design investment and collaboration. Arguably the most important, the remaining four metrics relate to the outcomes from firms’ innovation reflecting both the extent of innovation across the population of firms as well as the success of innovation.

LEP Radar charts 2019 available at:
http://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/LEP-radar-charts-2019.xlsx


Author

Roper, Stephen, Bonner, Karen

Associated Themes
  • Innovation
Research Report

NI Local Growth Dashboard

The Northern Ireland Local Growth Dashboard has been developed by Queen's University and the Enterprise Research Centro ( ERC ) and provides comparative statistics to the Local Enterprise Partnership ( LEP). Growth Dashboard first launched in June 2014 and Its purpose is to present a set of growth metrics for start-ups and existing Local firms across a range of sub-national geographies in NI with a specific focus on each of the 11 Local Government District ( District Council) areas. Alongside these metrics it includes contextual data for each, including comparisons to the wider UK geographies.

Data Sheet available at : http://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/NI-Dashboard-Statistics_final-for-upload.xlsx

Author

University, Queen's, ERC,

Associated Themes
  • Business Growth
Research Report

UK Local Growth Dashboard 2018

The UK Local Growth Dashboard has been developed by the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) and builds on the LEP Growth Dashboard first launched in June 2014. Its purpose is to present a set of growth metrics for start-ups and existing firms across a range of sub-national geographies in the UK with a specific focus on each of the 38 English Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas. Alongside these metrics it provides some other contextual data for each LEP including the changing sectoral composition of local economies over time.
2018 Data: http://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2018-dashboard-master.xlsx



Author

ERC,

Associated Themes
  • Business Growth
Research Report

State of Small Business Britain Report 2018

The report brings together a range of the latest data and insights on the growth and performance of UK SMEs. It sets out key SME trends based on a round-up of the latest research evidence including analysis of the Business Structures Database and the Longitudinal Small Business Survey. It also reports on the key findings from the ERC’s first Micro-business Britain survey, and from the 2018 UK Local Growth Dashboard – an annual publication which presents growth metrics for start-ups and existing firms across a range of sub-national geographies, including LEP areas.
Launched at the ERC’s Annual State of Small Business Britain Conference 2018.

Author

ERC,

Associated Themes
  • Business Growth
  • Management and Leadership
  • Productivity and performance
Research Paper

Fast-growth firms in the UK: definition and policy implications. Research Paper No 63

This research note aims to establish an evidence-based understanding about how fast-growth firm definitions differ and what they mean to policy. Employing the UK business population data over 1998-2013, we compare and contrast several popular fast-growth firm definitions based on their coverage in the business population, the contribution to the aggregate economy and their key characteristics, all discussed in context of the conceptual grounds of these definitions. The key message from our finding is that definition matters. Fast-growth definitions in terms of employment and productivity capture rather different sets of firms, indicating potential conflict in goals. It is possible that polices supporting fast-growth of employment may impair productivity growth, and likewise productivity-driving measures may lead to dwindling employment growth. On the whole, employment-based fast-growth firms generate lots of jobs but have mixed productivity records, while productivity-based fast-growth firms have lower job creation records but show productivity superiority.

Associated Themes
  • Business Growth
Policy Briefing

Fast-growth firms in the UK: definition and policy implications.

This research note aims to establish an evidence-based understanding about how fast-growth firm definitions differ and what they mean to policy. Employing the UK business population data over 1998-2013, we compare and contrast several popular fast-growth firm definitions based on their coverage in the business population, the contribution to the aggregate economy and their key characteristics, all discussed in context of the conceptual grounds of these definitions. The key message from our finding is that definition matters. Fast-growth definitions in terms of employment and productivity capture rather different sets of firms, indicating potential conflict in goals. It is possible that polices supporting fast-growth of employment may impair productivity growth, and likewise productivity-driving measures may lead to dwindling employment growth. On the whole, employment-based fast-growth firms generate lots of jobs but have mixed productivity records, while productivity-based fast-growth firms have lower job creation records but show productivity superiority.

Associated Themes
Research Report

Benchmarking Local Innovation

Firms’ ability to innovate successfully plays an important role in their ability to sustain growth and competitiveness. This report provides innovation benchmarks for local areas in England, updating our previous analysis published in 2015.
The benchmarks are based on a new analysis of data from the 14,000 firms which responded to the UK Innovation Survey 2015. The analysis is designed to provide representative results for each local economic area. Information is provided on ten benchmarks including new indicators for organisational innovation.
Three benchmarks focus on forms of organisational and marketing innovation. Three further metrics relate to the inputs and structure of firms’ innovation activity with a focus on R&D, design investment and collaboration. Arguably the most important, the remaining four metrics relate to the outcomes from firms’ innovation reflecting both the extent of innovation across the population of firms as well as the success of innovation.
Our analysis highlights the diversity of innovation activity across the UK. Some local areas are marked by strengths in organisational innovation but weaker elsewhere; others exhibit higher levels of collaborative behaviour and R&D. Both suggests the value of differentiated local innovation strategies which can build on existing strengths and remedy weaknesses.

Download the LEP Radar Chart 2017 data here : https://www.enterpriseresearch.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/LEP-radar-charts.xlsx

Author

ERC,

Associated Themes
  • Innovation
Research Paper

Decomposing UK aggregate labour productivity and growth: 1998-2013 using the ONS business structure database data. Research Paper No. 48

This study provides a comprehensive analysis of UK labour productivity patterns and contributing factors over the 1997-2013 period. Based on the ONS Business Structure Database (BSD), we present a full picture of the UK firms’ productivity patterns in the whole economy over the examined period and in particular during the “Great Recession”, at aggregate level, sector level, and among heterogeneous groups. We observe significant business demographic changes underlying UK aggregate productivity change, featuring an increasing number of small businesses especially single-employee firms, less entrants and more exits and discuss the implications of these changes in explaining the productivity decline. When differentiating firm growth types, we find “Growth heroes” and “Decline by efficiency loss” firms over-contribute to aggregate labour productivity compared to their weight in the business population. In contrast, an already large group of ‘Decline by contraction’ firms surged over the recent recession and under-contribute to aggregate labour productivity. We highlight that within firm productivity improvement has been mainly responsible for aggregate productivity changes in the UK while resource allocation on average played a limited role in driving the aggregate productivity change.

Associated Themes
  • Business Growth
Research Report

Human resource practices and firm growth: an exploratory analysis from the matched employer skills survey and the ONS business structure database A statistical report produced by the Enterprise Research Centre for UKCES

This project aimed to explore the role of Human Resource (HR) practices in driving firm growth. Central to the project is the use of the 2011 Employer Skills Survey (ESS) which provides detailed information on the HR practices adopted in individual workplaces. These observations were matched to establishment data derived from the longitudinal Business Structure Database (BSD) which provides time-series information on employment and turnover for all UK firms and establishments registered for VAT and/or PAYE.

Author

Bonner, Karen, Roper, Stephen, Hart, Mark

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

Local and firm-level influences on innovation performance: linkages, climate and externalities. Research Paper No. 40

Interest in the local dimension of economic development has intensified in recent years with changes in the English policy landscape emphasising local policy action. In this paper we use an augmented version of the UK Innovation Surveys 4-7 to explore firm-level and local area influences on firms’ innovation performance.

Associated Themes
  • Innovation
Research Paper

Firms’ innovation objectives and knowledge acquisition strategies: a comparative analysis . Research paper No 38

External partnerships play an important role in firms’ acquisition of the knowledge inputs to innovation. Such partnerships may be interactive – involving exploration and mutual learning by both parties – or non-interactive – involving exploitative activity and learning by only one party. Examples of non-interactive partnerships are copying or imitation. Here, we consider how firms’ innovation objectives influence their choice of interactive and/or non-interactive connections. We conduct a comparative analysis for the economies of Spain and the UK, which have contrasting innovation eco-systems and regulation burdens

Associated Themes
  • Innovation
Research Paper

Firms’ innovation objectives and knowledge acquisition strategies. Research Paper No 27

External partnerships play an important role in firms’ acquisition of the knowledge inputs to innovation. Such partnerships may be interactive – involving exploration and mutual learning by both parties – or non-interactive – involving exploitative activity and learning by only one party. Examples of non-interactive partnerships are copying or imitation. Here, we consider how firms’ innovation objectives influence their choice of interactive and/or non-interactive connections. Four empirical results emerge. First, we find strong and consistent support for complementarity between non-interactive and interactive connections across firms in all sectors and sizebands. Second, we find that innovation objectives related to new products and services are linked only to non-interactive connections. Third, we find tentative evidence that where firms have innovation objectives which relate to product or service improvement they are more likely to establish non-interactive rather than interactive connections. Fourth, the extent of firms’ interactive and non-interactive connections are strongly related firms’ human capital endowments. These latter results suggest interesting second-order innovation effects from human capital improvements.

Associated Themes
  • Innovation
Insight

LEP Innovation Benchmarks 2002. 2010

The UK Innovation Survey provides information on product/service and process innovation as well as the barriers to innovation activity for a relatively large number of UK firms.
In this paper we present the first local economic area analysis of this data derived from four surveys covering the 2002-04, 2004-06, 2006-08 and 2008-10 periods.

Associated Themes
  • Innovation
Research Paper

Localisation of Industrial Activity across England’s LEPs: 2008 & 2012 .Research Paper No 15.

The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills commissioned the ERC to undertake an analysis of industrial clusters in the UK and to use the new Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) as the sub-national spatial frame in England. The analysis is designed as an information source for the LEPs as they prepare their new strategic economic plans.

Associated Themes
  • Business Growth