Productivity from Below: Addressing the Productivity Challenges of Microbusinesses

Lead Research Organisation: Aston University
Department Name: College of Business and Social Sciences

Abstract

Academic and policy interest in productivity rarely captures the experiences of an important segment of the small firm population: micro-businesses (1-9 employees). The informal and opaque management processes in such firms pose challenges for the assessment of productivity and development of practical interventions. This project uses rigorous academic research co-produced with non-academic stakeholders to design and implement policies that support management to boost productivity in such firms. Our context - disadvantaged communities managing and working in the catering, retail and creative sectors in the West Midlands - serve as a critical case to improve knowledge and practice on the relationship between management and engagement practices and performance in micro-businesses.

The research is collaborative and comprises three leading applied centres with researchers from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds: the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME), the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) and City-REDI (Regional Economic Development Institute). They work alongside non-academic stakeholders that rarely feature in 'mainstream' business support ecosystems (despite their reach in myriad micro-enterprise networks): Ashley Integrates (an award-winning social enterprise with a keen interest in promoting employability of migrants), the Bangladeshi Network (comprising four groups with local and national reach into the sector), Citizens UK (a national civil society alliance) and Punch Records (a business with a strong social mission to promote artists from deprived background).

A multi-method is adopted comprising five WPs that aim to develop insights into micro-businesses that can be used to develop interventions to promote productivity. WP 1 locates the project in the context of a recent national study on the characteristics of microbusinesses. Further analysis will highlight challenges facing those micro-businesses that have a desire to improve performance and grow. A granular understanding of management and engagement practices in micro-businesses will be generated in WP2 by in-depth qualitative investigation of 24 case studies of firms over an extended period of time. Manager and worker perspectives on the organization of work are evaluated. This knowledge is shared and utilized in WP 3 with a range of non-academic stakeholders, with the aim of mapping and mobilizing the business support ecosystem. Policy options will be identified, which will then - in WP4 - be tested and evaluated with micro-business owners who have the ambition to participate in bespoke change programmes to boost productivity. An active programme of knowledge exchange and dissemination (WP5) will cross-cut the project and will comprise a series of journey mapping knowledge exchange co-produced workshops, involving micro-business owner/managers and their employees, and external support agencies. These are designed to understand how involvement in the study has influenced any change to initial management style towards introducing new management and engagement practices, and how these have improved productivity. WP5 will also inform dissemination, and the qualitative component of the formative and summative evaluation.

The project will produce important practical outcomes for businesses my providing support for evidence-based interventions that will benefit around 30 micro-businesses that participate in customised programmes designed to upgrade leadership and management skills leading to a boost in productivity. Insights from their experiences and will promote greater understanding of 'what works' that can guide practitioners in other contexts.

The project will also actively support the development of a more responsive and inclusive business support ecosystem in the West Midlands by mobilising 'mainstream' and non-traditional intermediaries (for example, our non-academic partners) and via multiple pathways of engagement.

Planned Impact

The potential impact of the proposed research is far reaching. The insights generated will directly benefit strategic and operational policy making and business support delivery. It will help stakeholders to devise and refine policy approaches targeted at enhancing managerial capability and employee engagement to increase productivity. The list below indicates who benefits and how they benefit:

Micro-business owners from marginalised communities: approximately 30 owners will benefit directly by participating in the bespoke support provided in WP4. Benefits will accrue from the provision of tailored business support to improve productivity which will sit alongside the main Aston Programme for Small Business Growth. Similar independently evaluated programmes involving the Aston Centre for Growth in Aston Business School have resulted in performance improvements of an additional 22% three years after participation in an intensive leadership and management education programme. These micro-business owners will benefit by being signposted to appropriate sources of business advice by representatives of business support providers. Learning accrued from the initiative with community-based networks will be disseminated through blogs, policy briefings, and workshop participation (including via the CREME Annual Ethnic Minority Business Conference). This engagement will provide a platform for expanding the capacity-building potential of this initiative beyond partners in the project.

Non-academic partners will benefit from acquisition of new detailed information on micro-businesses, which can be used to improve their service offer to such businesses. This will be achieved by researchers, partners and 'mainstream' business support stakeholders working closely together and sharing knowledge and expertise on enterprise support.

Local and national policy makers will gain intelligence on policy options from marshalling evidence on what works - and how - in business support from co-produced working papers. The research team brings together experienced applied researchers with experience of working together and separately on projects for sponsors with interests in enterprise, management, employee engagement, business support and local economic development - including BEIS, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, LEPs and Growth Hubs, local government and third sector organisations. As such the research team is experienced in preparing and disseminating research findings to a range of audiences.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Black New Street Documentary 
Description CREME and Punch Records co-commissioned a documentary, BLACK NEW STREET that casts a reflective eye on the legacy of Birmingham's black businesses and customs. The documentary, which premiered on 22nd October 2020, featured interviews with THE P WORD cohort and stalwart figures in Birmingham's black business community, the documentary also explored what the future does and could look like for the city's black entrepreneurs, with a sharp focus on the creative sector. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact The video has been promoted on social media and so far had nearly 2000 views. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsYukuICGNA
 
Title Creative Sector WhatsApp group aimed to establish collective conversations between Creatives 
Description One immediate impact from the research was the establishment of a WhatsApp group comprising participants from the creative sector (and a member of the research team) who took part in the pilot study focus group. 
Type Of Art Artefact (including digital) 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact The WhatsApp group is a highly engaged platform with regular communication on business development opportunities, peer support and key events in the creative sector. 
 
Title Productivity in the Creative Sector Video. 
Description A pilot study took place in collaboration with the project practitioner partners [see Collaborations & Partnerships section] and included participants from the catering, retail and creative sector. The focus groups sought to better understand productivity in light of the competitive context; methods of work organisation; and skills and tools available to firms operating in these sectors. An outcome of this activity included: Punch Records (our Creative Sector practitioner partner) producing a video of highlights from the creative sector focus group. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact The video, which has been posted via social media, helped raise the profile of the research both in the academic community and in the microbusiness sector. 
URL https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HJ8cj6NmyInbDvmDJuQBJRuruhfw51Sw/view?ts=5d0cf92c
 
Description Our focus group with PUNCH Records led directly to the creation of a WhatsApp comprising the 15 business owner participants. This WhatsApp group is very active and regularly exchanges information on business and personal development Creative Sector A nine-month programme of leadership development for creative entrepreneurs was developed. The programme was co-designed by Punch Records, CREME and creatives as an outcome of a consultation exercise in response to the economic shock of the Covid-19 pandemic. It targets professional and practical barriers to commerciality by focusing on leadership and influence, the law, finances, business planning and digital marketing. This programme is a precursor to a bespoke HR intervention on productivity planned for the final phase of the Productivity from Below project. https://www.wearepunch.co.uk/the-p-word Catering Sector Part way through data collection for the Productivity from Below project, Government Covid-19 restrictions meant many catering venues had to close or move to takeaway-only, which prompted a move in favour of digitalisation that would allow at least some businesses to keep trading. Our practitioner partner representing the Bangladeshi catering sector observed that the restaurants who were doing well were those using social media to promote the takeaway arm of their business. This prompted a request from the practitioner partner on behalf of the project participants as to whether CREME could assist in addressing this development need. Accessing support through public programmes proved difficult, so CREME drew upon its in-house expertise and assembled a team of business and marketing graduates to develop a solution. Utilising findings from the focus group and interviews, an online intervention was designed. The course included three components: theory, application, and evaluation. Theory offered an overview of social media platforms and their relevance to the catering sector. This preparatory element sought to explain the value of using social media as an effective marketing tool. Application focused on providing participants with skills to set up and populate their own social media platforms. Equipped with the knowledge to implement their learning in the real world, participants were then given time to set up their own social media platforms before attending the evaluation session which focused on showcasing and troubleshooting. The intervention was the restaurateurs' first experience of working with the University sector. Participants have expressed interest in further engagement, including a more focused intervention on HR and productivity for their sector. Retail sector In response to the pandemic, Citizens UK and CREME facilitated a meeting of local retailers to share experiences on the challenges of running a business in the locality, identify gaps in business support, and explore how business owners might represent themselves during the crisis. A key outcome of the workshop was the decision to establish the Business Leadership Group (BLG), a peer support group to represent local businesses and communities. The patient nurturing of community-based relationships was instrumental to the development of the group and differentiates it from other - often detached - representative bodies like Traders' Associations and lobby groups. The BLG has become the forum for conversations on HR-related matters The ability of the BLG to respond in an agile manner during the Covid-19 crisis was crucial to establishing trust with local entrepreneurs and bodes well for the longer-term initiatives on HR change. For the purpose of illustration, one meeting of the group focused on the Covid-19 pandemic, during which participants expressed concern about the lack of information on business support. Many feared closure, whilst others experienced difficulty, due to a lack of clarity and/or uncertainty, when applying for grants. The BLG's response was to convene an online round-table with a senior officer from the local City Council, who was overseeing the business grants from Government, which resulted in the business owners better understanding the eligibility criteria and securing help.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Creative Economy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description Collaboration with microbusiness entrepreneurs. Practitioner partner Ashley Community Housing an award-winning social enterprise with a keen interest in promoting employability of migrants. ACH is a co-investigator on the project. Key contacts: Fuad Mahamed and Richard Thickpenny. 
Organisation Ashley Community Housing
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Ashley Community Housing will benefit from acquisition of new detailed information on microbusinesses, which can be used to improve their service offer to such businesses. This is achieved by researchers and practitioner partners working closely together and sharing knowledge and expertise on enterprise support.
Collaborator Contribution Ashley Community Housing has a record of collaboration with Monder Ram and CREME. Second, they have agreed to be actively engaged in all stages of the project. Third, they are committed to using the national networks to scale-up the project to other areas of the UK. The role of Ashley Community Housing is important in securing diversity in the sample of firms and overcoming the challenges of gaining access.
Impact This collaboration will create a business development intervention that is rooted in the concerns of (neglected) microbusinesses as well as scientific principles. To date, academic and practitioner partners have presented together at conferences/events (see Engagement Activities section) to share findings and insights from the project. Going forward the partnership will continue to: share findings from the research; (2) discuss potential responses to findings and options to upgrade productivity in the selected sectors; (3) secure potential participants for the research. Update March 2021. (1) Issues raised through listening exercises, convened by CREME with microbusiness owners in responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, have prompted Ashley Community Housing to set up online training and advice on matters relating to financial support and access to grants. (2) Ashley Community Housing have won a large contract to deliver business support in Bristol and the West Midlands. The project is a direct outcome of Ashley Community Housing's collaboration with CREME. CREME will be an advisor on the project. (3) A PhD student has joined the CREME team to work with Ashley Community Housing on a project entitled: Facilitating refugee entrepreneurship: an action research intervention.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with the Creative Sector. Practitioner partner Punch Records (a business with a strong social mission to promote artists from deprived backgrounds) is a co-investigator on the Productivity from Below: Addressing the Productivity Challenges of Microbusinesses project. Key contacts: Ammo Talwar and Simon Redgrave 
Organisation Punch Records
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Punch Records will benefit from acquisition of new detailed information on microbusinesses, which can be used to improve their service offer to such businesses. This is achieved by researchers and practitioner partners working closely together and sharing knowledge and expertise on enterprise support.
Collaborator Contribution Punch Records has a record of collaboration with Monder Ram and CREME. Second, they have agreed to be actively engaged in all stages of the project. Third, they are committed to using the national networks to scale-up the project to other areas of the UK. The role of Punch Records is important in securing diversity in the sample of firms and overcoming the challenges of gaining access.
Impact This collaboration will create a business development intervention that is rooted in the concerns of (neglected) microbusinesses as well as scientific principles. To date, academic and practitioner partners have presented together at conferences/events (see Engagement Activities section) to share findings and insights from the project. Going forward the partnership will continue to: share findings from the research; (2) discuss potential responses to findings and options to upgrade productivity in the selected sectors; (3) secure potential participants for the research. Update March 2021. (1) In partnership with Punch Records, we have assisted in the co-design of THE "P" WORD, a nine-month intensive programme of transformational business support for the creative sector. (2) CREME's in-house business advisor, Paul Basil, has provided business support to firms linked to Punch Records, including diagnostic business planning/appraisal and financial advice/referral. (3) A PhD student has joined the CREME team to work with Punch Records on a project entitled: Organising for Positive Social Change.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Collaboration with the Retail Sector. Practitioner partner Citizens UK (a national civil society alliance) is a co-investigator on the project. Key contact: Saidul Haque Saeed. 
Organisation Citizens UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Citizens UK will benefit from acquisition of new detailed information on microbusinesses, which can be used to improve their service offer to such businesses. This is achieved by researchers and practitioner partners working closely together and sharing knowledge and expertise on enterprise support.
Collaborator Contribution Citizens UK has a record of collaboration with Monder Ram and CREME. Second, they have agreed to be actively engaged in all stages of the project. Third, they are committed to using the national networks to scale-up the project to other areas of the UK. The role of Citizens UK is important in securing diversity in the sample of firms and overcoming the challenges of gaining access.
Impact This collaboration will create a business development intervention that is rooted in the concerns of (neglected) microbusinesses as well as scientific principles. To date, academic and practitioner partners have presented together at conferences/events (see Engagement Activities section) to share findings and insights from the project. Going forward the partnership will continue to: share findings from the research; (2) discuss potential responses to findings and options to upgrade productivity in the selected sectors; (3) secure potential participants for the research. Update Match 2021. (1) We have been working with Citizens UK on a consultation exercise with local retailers and community groups. An outcome of this activity has been the formation of the business leaders' project group. One meeting of the group convened to discuss the challenges facing microbusinesses due to the Covid-19 pandemic was attended by Mohammed Zahir from Birmingham City Council (BCC). Mohammed outlined the current business and financial support provision available to microbusinesses, whilst also attending to individual queries. As an outcome, seven of the business leaders in attendance received Covid-19 pandemic grant support provided by BCC. (2) CREME's in-house business advisor, Paul Basil, has provided business support to firms linked to Citizens UK, including diagnostic business planning/appraisal and financial advice/referral. (3) A PhD student has joined the CREME team to work with Citizens UK on a project entitled: Civil society and the development of inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems: the case of Citizens UK and Birmingham's migrant businesses.
Start Year 2019
 
Description Basil P, Ram M, Saeed SH (2021) Are you missing out? CREME, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Growth Hub and Citizens UK Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact On Wednesday 10th February 2021. CREME, Greater Birmingham and Solihull Growth Hub and Citizens UK hosted 'Are you missing out?' This special briefing provided an opportunity for small business owners (including retailers) to find out what's available in terms of Covid business grants and how to access such support.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Fletcher L, Ram M, McCarthy I, Scully J. (2020). Employee Engagement in Micro-Businesses: A Forgotten Piece in the Productivity Puzzle? Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Applied Research Conference. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Monder Ram, Imelda McCarthy, Judy Scully and Luke Fletcher had a paper accepted for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Applied Research Conference. The conference took place 22-23 January 2020, Dublin City University Business School, Ireland. The paper was entitled: "Employee Engagement in Micro-Businesses: A Forgotten Piece in the Productivity Puzzle?"

The conference was a meeting place for academic researchers and practitioners working in people management, employment policy and related fields. It holds a unique place in bringing together these two communities to hear about cutting edge research in Human Resources and discuss how it can be applied in practice. The conference was interdisciplinary and covered a wide range of aspects of people management, employment, learning and development and organisational development.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Green A, McCarthy I, Ram M. (2019). Microbusinesses and inclusive growth. Inclusive Growth in Cities: Global Lessons for Local Action Conference. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Anne Green presented: "Microbusinesses and inclusive growth" at the Inclusive Growth in Cities: Global Lessons for Local Action Conference, on the 19-20 November 2019, University of Manchester.

The conference brought together scholars both domestic and international from disciplines as diverse as economics, geography, social policy, politics, sociology and urban planning, with policy-makers, practitioners and thought leaders. The key objective was understanding what can be learned for action at the city region scale, and to find new solutions to social and spatial inequalities in the face of increasing social divisions, rising populism and the growing welfare costs of unequal societies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Jones K (2020) Black New Street. Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Katherine Jones has a blog entitled Black New Street that casts a reflective eye on the legacy of Birmingham's black businesses and customs. The documentary, which premiered on 22nd October 2020, featured interviews with THE P WORD cohort and stalwart figures in Birmingham's black business community, the documentary also explored what the future does and could look like for the city's black entrepreneurs, with a sharp focus on the creative sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://sway.office.com/o4QLkStfn1SQ6mez?ref=Link
 
Description Jones K (2020) The P Word. Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Katherine Jones has produced a blog entitled 'The P Word'' focused on why 12 Midlands-based creatives are going to change their industry in 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.linkedin.com/posts/katherine-jones-ab533b1_12-midlands-based-creatives-are-changing-acti...
 
Description Jones K (2020) Thriving in uncertainty - the power of entrepreneurial leadership and the need for community. Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Katherine Jones has produced a blog entitled 'Thriving in uncertainty - the power of entrepreneurial leadership and the need for community' which sets out five key messages for leaders and entrepreneurs and reflects on the role of universities in supporting businesses through uncertainty.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.linkedin.com/posts/katherine-jones-ab533b1_the-power-of-entrepreneurial-leadership-and-a...
 
Description Jones K (2021) Thriving in Uncertainty - The Impact of COVID-19 on entrepreneurs and their businesses. Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Katherine Jones has written a blog entitled Thriving in Uncertainty - The Impact of COVID-19 on entrepreneurs and their businesses. The blog explored the impact of the pandemic in a variety of sectors as well as some interesting ideas that are coming to the fore during this time including: pivoting, ambidextrous leadership, Innovation and creativity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://sway.office.com/CMnPyTAD8fehwTN2?ref=Link
 
Description Ram M (2021) CREME Student Engagement Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact On 11th February 2021 CREME launched a new initiative engaging with Aston University students to facilitate placement opportunities through the centre's practitioner partners and network of ethnic minority businesses (including microbusinesses). The launch event provided an opportunity for employers and students to find out how they could get involved in this initiative.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Ram M, Hart M, McCarthy I, Parekh S, Holness J, Uddin J. (2019). Productivity challenge in microbusinesses. 23rd Annual Ethnic Minority Business Conference. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Monder Ram, Mark Hart, Imelda McCarthy, Sonali Parekh (Federation of Small Businesses), Joshua 'Rtkal' Holness (MBC - Music, Birmingham, Culture) and Johur Uddin (Community Connect Foundation) presented on the productivity challenge in microbusinesses, at the 23rd Annual Ethnic Minority Business Conference, on the 5th November 2019, Nishkam Centre, Birmingham.

The event showcased new developments in research and practice in the fields of diversity and enterprise. With many entrepreneurs and business owners attending the conference - together with policy makers, academics and key local and national figures - this was an opportunity to hear about how the research makes a real difference to practitioners and entrepreneurs from all communities.

Inline with our commitment to engaged scholarship the presentation was delivered by academic and practitioner partners together.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Ram M, Karim A (2020) Karim Supermarkets. Podcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Monder Ram has participated in a podcast with a microbusiness owners from the retail sector as part of the Aston Means Business Podcast series. The podcast explored the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on microbusinesses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www2.aston.ac.uk/aston-business-school/podcast
 
Description Ram M, McCarthy I (2020) The Impact of Covid-19 on Microbusinesses. Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Imelda McCarthy and Monder Ram produced a blog that explored the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on microbusinesses gathered through consultation with business owners, business support intermediaries and case study interviews.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.propelhub.org/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-microbusinesses/
 
Description Ram M, McCarthy I, Levington M (2021). Getting to Grips with Productivity in Ethnic Minority Businesses: An Action Research Study. CIPD Applied Research Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The project was showcased at the virtual CIPD Applied Research Conference on 21st January 2021. Monder Ram and Imelda McCarthy took part in a panel discussion with Meryl Levington (CIPD). The session was named: Getting to Grips with Productivity in Ethnic Minority Businesses: An Action Research Study.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rachFVkHTA&list=PLrDYB78Tc-z-JTiUa7RX2roOn4AzxKAIT&index=3
 
Description Ram M, McCarthy I, Scully J, Saeed SH. (2019). Collaborative to its Core. Centre for Learning Innovation & Professional Practice (CLIPP) Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Monder Ram, Imelda McCarthy, Judy Scully and Saidul Haque Saeed (Citizens UK) presented "Collaborative to its Core" at the Centre for Learning Innovation & Professional Practice (CLIPP) Conference on the 25th October 2019, at Aston University, Birmingham. The presentation focused on how the principles of Critical Engaged Scholarship, which underpin the project, can help Aston University meet the needs of its beneficiary groups (businesses, the region and students) in a changing world.

Inline with our commitment to engaged scholarship the presentation was delivered by academic and practitioner partners together.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Ram M, McCarthy I, Scully J. (2020). Getting to Grips with Productivity in Microbusinesses: A Collaborative Approach. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Applied Research Conference. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Monder Ram, Imelda McCarthy and Judy Scully had a paper accepted for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Applied Research Conference. The conference took place 22-23 January 2020, Dublin City University Business School, Ireland. The papers was entitled: "Getting to Grips with Productivity in Microbusinesses: A Collaborative Approach".

The conference was a meeting place for academic researchers and practitioners working in people management, employment policy and related fields. It holds a unique place in bringing together these two communities to hear about cutting edge research in Human Resources and discuss how it can be applied in practice. The conference was interdisciplinary and covered a wide range of aspects of people management, employment, learning and development and organisational development.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Ram M, McCarthy, McLaughlan I, Redgrave S, Ross-Cameron T, Jazz N, Uddin J, Uddin S, Saeed SH (2020) Productivity from Below 0 Practitioner Partners Showcase. 24th Annual Ethnic Minority Business Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The project was showcased at CREME's 24th Annual Ethnic Minority Business Conference on 3rd December 2020. Imelda McCarthy chaired a session which showcased the practitioner partners and included presentations from:
- Ian McLaughlan (project advisory group) The Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub.
- Simon Redgrave, Tarik Ross-Cameron and Namywa Jazz (creative sector representatives), Punch Records.
- Johur Uddin and Shahab Uddin (catering sector representatives), Bangladeshi Catering Network.
- Saidul Haque Saeed (retail sector representative), Citizens UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Ram M, Redgrave S, Jazz, N, Uddin S, Ahmed B, Mudokwani T, Saeed, SH (2020) Activism in the Academy - How the CREME is responding to Covid-19. Birmingham Commonwealth Association (BCA) Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact On 31st August 2020, the BCA hosted the This Is My City festival, which included a session, entitled: Activism in the Academy - How the CREME is responding to Covid-19. The session outlined how CREME is working with practitioners to support businesses in the midst of the pandemic.
Practitioner partners and microbusiness representatives shared their experiences. The session was hosted by Monder Ram, and consisted of three parts:
- Part One - Covid-19 and Birmingham's creative sector: Simon Redgrave (Punch Records) and Namywa Jazz (CEO and Founder of Girl Grind UK)
- Part Two - Covid-19 and Bangladeshi caterers: Shahab Uddin (Streetly Balti) and Bashir Ahmed (Bangladeshi Network)
- Part Three - Covid-19 and the service sector: Tsitsi Mudokwani (Sisters Care Services) and Saidul Haque Saeed (Citizens UK Birmingham).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Ram M, Ross-Cameron T, Uddin J, Thickpenny R, Saeed SH (2021) Coping with the pandemic: voices from business owners and communities. Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact As an outcome of a practitioner partners meeting it was agreed that a blog series, co-created between academics and practitioners, would be produced detailing first-hand experiences and knowledge of those associated with the Productivity from Below project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://sway.office.com/sakECnPog1epPMvF?ref=Link
 
Description Ram M, Saeed SH (2020) Agitations in April: Community Organising and Business Support in the Pandemic. Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Saidul Haque Saeed (Practitioner Partner) in collaboration with Monder Ram, has produced a blog entitled: 'Agitations in April: Community Organising and Business Support in the Pandemic'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.propelhub.org/agitations-in-april-community-organising-and-business-support-in-the-pande...
 
Description Ram M, Saeed SH (2020) Migrant community businesses organise. Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Practitioner Partner, Saidul Haque Saeed in collaboration with Monder Ram, has produced a blog entitled: 'Migrant community businesses organise'. The blog describes a community organising approach to improving public engagement in 'Inclusive Growth' and focusses on those entrepreneurs least likely to be at the table. The findings are based on interactions with members of the Citizens UK's business leaders' project group which includes representatives from the retail sector.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.citizensuk.org/migrant_biz_organise
 
Description Ram M, Shaw E (2020) Thriving in uncertainty the power of entrepreneurial leadership and the need for community. Podcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Monder Ram has taken part in a podcast with Eleanor Shaw (University of Strathclyde) on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses in the UK. The podcast explored the impact of the pandemic in a variety of sectors as well as some interesting ideas that are coming to the fore during this time including: pivoting, ambidextrous leadership, Innovation and creativity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.propelhub.org/tag/podcasts/
 
Description Ram M, Shaw E, Talwar (2020) Thriving in Uncertainty - Part 2. Podcast. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact As large parts of the UK entered into a second lockdown, Professor Eleanor Shaw and Professor Monder Ram in conversation with Ammo Talwar (CEO of Punch Records) and Susan Aktemel (Executive Director of Homes for Good) hosted a podcast 'Thriving in uncertainty' that explored the impact of the pandemic on entrepreneurs and their enterprises
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.propelhub.org/tag/podcasts/
 
Description Ram M, Uddin J (2021) We can't afford to open, we can't afford to close'. Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact As an outcome of a practitioner partners meeting it was agreed that a blog series, co-created between academics and practitioners, would be produced detailing first-hand experiences and knowledge of those associated with the Productivity from Below project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://sway.office.com/bhttps://sway.office.com/bFyjYHotxHiMxr0P?ref=Link
 
Description Ram M, Uddin S (2020) Streetly Balti. Podcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Monder Ram participated in a podcast with a microbusiness owner from the catering sector as part of the Aston Means Business Podcast series. The podcast explored the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on microbusinesses.The podcast has generated some excellent media coverage both nationally and internationally, including: A follow up interview on BBC Radio 4's, You and Yours programme and an article for the Eastern Eye newspaper: https://www.easterneye.biz/exclusive-asians-completely-forgotten-by-government-during-covid/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www2.aston.ac.uk/aston-business-school/podcast
 
Description Smith M, Rozbicka P, Talwar A, Babalola L, Ram M (2021) Culture exchange: Diversity, culture and enterprise. Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Greater Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and CREME hosted an event on 23rd February 2021, showcasing the experiences of businesses from the creative sector. Insights were shared by guest speaker, Grammy Award winner, Lekan Babalola.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Talwar A, Quist E, Mahamed F, Ram M, Whitehouse P, Cartwright R, Saeed SH, Redgrave S (2021) Strengthening connections between business schools and ethnic minority businesses. Small Business Charter Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact In collaboration with the Small Business Charter and project partners, on 23rd February 2021, CREME delivered a workshop on Strengthening Connections between Business Schools and Ethnic Minority Businesses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021