What ‘works’ for improving small business productivity?

Ask anyone working with small business owners and they will tell you great stories of how mentoring and training can transform people and their businesses. Each of these stories is important in its own right. In terms of policy, however, this type of anecdotal evidence is of little value in terms of justifying public investments… Read more

Productivity in SMEs: A tale of the tortoise and the hare?

In recent years, we have heard much of the ‘frontier firms’ – those at the top end of the productivity scale, leaping further ahead of other firms – the hares and the tortoises, if you will. But our recent research, examining Companies House data for more than 17,000 firms across 12 sectors, suggests that small and… Read more

June 2020 Press Coverage

Business News Wales: Lack of support for workers’ mental health “cuts firm productivity by a quarter”  IPSE: IPSE sets out case for more support for self-employed in latest Treasury Committee evidence                      

London firms lead other European cities in crisis planning

Earlier this week a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies highlighted the vulnerability of different groups of the population to unemployment following the current crisis. Businesses also vary in terms of their crisis planning and resilience, and research has shown that SMEs are less likely to connect risk identification and business planning activities, which… Read more

European firms shun crisis planning ahead of Brexit, study shows

Major new study of 2,975 small businesses across five European cities, supported by J.P. Morgan, finds one-third have experienced a threat to their survival in the past five years. Despite this, crisis planning is not widely undertaken by small businesses, which struggle to identify the most potent sources of business disruption Firms run by women… Read more

Small firms and formal intellectual property protection: A paradox?

We know that firms use knowledge protection mechanisms to limit imitation and enhance their ability to appropriate the returns to their innovative investments. Recent research at the ERC suggests that both formal (e.g. patents) and informal (e.g. secrecy) knowledge protection mechanisms are important for the innovation returns of small firms (those with fewer than 50… Read more

Northern Ireland’s enterprise progress threatened by Brexit uncertainty

Proportion of early-stage entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland grows 75% in 15 years Meanwhile, established micro-businesses employ 20% of people, showing high rates of profitability and exporting Bad Brexit deal could “set the clock back” on enterprise, academics warn   Brexit’s risk to recent positive trends among Northern Ireland’s entrepreneurs and micro-firms has been spelt out… Read more

L&M capabilities – levering external assets for growth


Levering external assets for growth for small firms, particularly those with ambitions to grow, external finance, advisory resources and knowledge for innovation and market development are critical.

How do internal and boundary-spanning management practices enable firms to most effectively take advantage of such external resources

ThemeLeadership and management practices and SME performance