Supporting the Business Response to COVID-19: Survey on Technology Adoption

Lead Research Organisation: London School of Economics & Pol Sci
Department Name: Centre for Economic Performance

Abstract

This research project builds the evidence base on technology adoption, and examines how government can best support businesses, in particular small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), in the UK at a time of crisis. Working in collaboration with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), this project will design and undertake a new survey of businesses across the UK to shed light on the extent to which, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, businesses have introduced new technologies or organisational practices that are considered "productivity enhancing" in normal times. It will seek to understand the drivers and impacts of such innovation, business perceptions on these, and the relative effectiveness of different business support policies from the perspectives of businesses themselves.

Via a follow-up survey one year on (and linking to secondary data sources), we will examine whether such innovation persists into the longer run, its impact on firm survival, performance, employment and worker productivity; and how government policy might promote the persistence of productivity enhancing changes into the recovery phase.

The first deliverable will be a report summarising the data, including analysis of heterogeneity by sector, region and firm type. The second deliverable will be a report summarising the findings of the combined initial and follow on surveys. Collaborating with the CBI in these bespoke business surveys will help to create relevant and informative questions on product and process innovation, enablers and barriers to innovation, and business views on potential policy levers for the recovery. The project will seek to inform business support policies to enable firms to survive, adapt and grow out of the current crisis.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description In the initial survey, we found that the Covid-19 crisis has induced a technological response in firms that appears to be greater than what we would have expected in "normal times". In our report, we document a number of interesting findings regarding business expectations regarding the impacts of such activities on performance and workers, the drivers and barriers to adoption, and the types of policy that are valued. Such findings will be built upon in the second survey to be conducted in July 2021.
Exploitation Route Findings have been discussed with a number of stakeholders in the academic and policy community working on topics related to technology adoption, and the potential for new surveys / questions has been discussed with the CBI and the Institute for the Future of Work
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL https://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/events/event.asp?index=7686
 
Description We were approached by a number of stakeholders to discuss the findings of our work, including HMT and BEIS. We hosted a workshop bringing together key stakeholders from business, policy and academia where we discussed what we know from the broader evidence base, and key questions to explore in future work. Valero and Van Reenen then wrote up related issues in a piece for the Economics Observatory. The Government referenced our paper on the initial survey in the "Plan for Growth" which accompanied Budget 2021, and our work has been written up in the media, including by The Times. Valero was invited to discuss findings in a conference organised by the Private Sector Development Research Network (International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group).
First Year Of Impact 2020
 
Description BEIS Select Committee inquiry on Post Pandemic Economic Growth: Industrial Strategy
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/80626a38-0ec3-42a1-b6e0-b8c5f4c7138d
 
Description Member of the BEIS R&D Place Advisory Group
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/rd-place-advisory-group
 
Description Reference to our work and ideas in UK Government "Build Back Better: Our Plan for Growth" which accompanied Budget 2021
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact The government' plan for growth explicitly references Riom and Valero (2020) in Footnote 1 and also is structured very much in line with a lot of CEP/GRI thinking set out in the LSE Growth Commission 2013, and since.
URL https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9668...
 
Description Treasury Select Committee inquiry on the Economic Impacts of Coronavirus
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL https://parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/1553ddbf-9b39-4866-80ea-44fd6a505153
 
Description Collaboration with Confederation of British Industry on Business Surveys 
Organisation Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
Department Confederation of British Industries
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I initiated this project idea and approached CBI to collaborate on business surveys exploring the technological response to the pandemic.
Collaborator Contribution CBI worked with us to develop the survey, and conducted the outreach, hosted the survey on their platform.
Impact The Riom and Valero (2020) paper on business technology adoption, the CEP-POID event on the same topic, and the Economics Observatory Piece written with John Van Reenen. Also, numerous interactions with policymakers and invitations to present at roundtables and events.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Invited to speak on business technology response to Covid at Private Sector Development Research Network, International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Pre-recorded discussion session which was part of the conference programme, in discussion with Chiara Criscuolo and Alexandros Roussos on technology adoption in light of Covid-19
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.psdresearchnetwork.com/aw-event/firms-resilience-firms-resilience-innovation-and-technol...
 
Description LSE Business Review blog, COVID has forced many firms to innovate, with possible lasting impacts 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Blog summarising the findings from our report
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/businessreview/2020/10/07/covid-has-forced-many-firms-to-innovate-with-possi...
 
Description Organised and hosted a workshop on Covid-19 and business technology adoption with key stakeholders from policy, academia and industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This was an invitation-only event bringing together stakeholders from policy, industry and academia with shared interests in these topics.
John Van Reenen set out the importance of the adoption of new technology and management practices for improving the productivity and resilience of UK firms; Anna Valero presented key findings from the new CEP-CBI survey on business technology adoption in response to Covid-19; and Tera Allas presented the results from the recent Be the Business & McKinsey report: The UK's Technology Moment.

These short presentations were followed by a roundtable discussion chaired by Rain Newton-Smith which will be focused on what we know about the barriers to technology adoption, and how policy can address these - noting also the impact on workers - and the extent to which Covid-19 has changed things. Henry Overman provided some closing remarks.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/events/event.asp?index=7686
 
Description Presentation and discussion with Toby Perkins MP 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Meeting with Shadow Front Bench Minister Toby Perkins, organised by LSE Public Affairs, at which Sandra McNally and I presented our relevant work on education and skills and discussed implications for policy. Ended with request for further information and keeping in touch. Discussed findings from a series of papers including the CVERDP033 on trends in on the job training, the Covid business technology adoption survey, Clean growth/recovery projects, and skills and management practices work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Press release accompanied our CEP Covid-19 analysis paper 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A press release was sent out before our paper was published. A number of journalists covered out paper including The Times
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pandemic-turns-up-pace-of-workplace-innovation-cfnrz6bpx
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pandemic-turns-up-pace-of-workplace-innovation-cfnrz6bpx
 
Description The Impact of COVID-19 on Technology Adoption, Institute for the Future of Work blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact blog drawing on the Economics Observatory piece
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.ifow.org/news-articles/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-technology-adoption
 
Description What Works to support business innovation in the COVID-19 recovery? What Works Centre for Local economic growth blog, Written by Capucine Riom 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Blog discussing findings from our report, in light of the wider evidence base on business support policies
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://whatworksgrowth.org/blog/what-works-to-support-business-innovation-in-the-covid-19-recovery/