Dr Karen Bonner

Senior Research Fellow

Karen is a Senior Research Fellow at Aston Business School and also works with the ERC part time to provide support to the Demography and Innovation research themes. She is involved primarily in firm-level research utilising data to examine aspects of firm performance in both Northern Ireland and the UK. Recent projects include those for Invest NI, Forfás, BIS, DETI, Scottish Enterprise and UKTI. Previously she worked as a Senior Research Economist at the Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland (formerly the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre).

Biography

Karen Bonner is a Senior Research Fellow at Aston Business School and also works with the ERC part time to provide support to the Demography and Innovation research themes. joining in July 2011. She is involved primarily in firm-level research utilising data to examine aspects of firm performance in both Northern Ireland and the UK. Recent projects include those for Invest NI, Forfás, BIS, DETI, Scottish Enterprise and UKTI. Previously she worked as a Senior Research Economist at the Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland (formerly the Northern Ireland Economic Research Centre). There she gained experience in the implementation and analysis of surveys; the creation and maintenance of databases and econometric modelling techniques. Karen is currently undertaking a PhD at Aston University, examining the effects of exporting, innovation and financial support on the productivity growth of firms. Karen is an approved ONS researcher with permitted access to the ONS Virtual Micro-Laboratory (VML) and has extensive experience in data-linking and in the use of business-level datasets. Karen was also previously a regular contributor to the First Trust Economic Outlook and Business Review covering various aspects of economic activity in Northern Ireland.

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 Demography Research Theme
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 and Exporting
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 and Exporting
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 and Exporting
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 and Exporting
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 Demography Research Theme