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Professor Colin Williams invited to discuss proposed European Labour Authority in the European Parliament

June 12th, 2018

Dr Colin Williams European Parliament

Brexit negotiations may be the only news for the UK in relation to the European Union, but it is very much business as usual in the European Parliament. Colin Williams, Professor of Public Policy in Sheffield University Management School (SUMS), was invited on 6th June to discuss the proposal for a European Labour Authority in the European Parliament.

The European Labour Authority aims to ensure that EU rules on labour mobility are enforced in fair, simple and effective way. It was announced in September 2017 by the president of the European Commission and on 13 March, the legislative proposal was presented as part of the roll-out of the European Pillar of Social Rights. It is proposed that the Authority will be up and running in 2019 and is expected to reach its full operational capacity by 2023.

Invited by the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D Group), the second largest grouping of MEPs in the Parliament, Professor Williams made the case for a real and effective European Labour Authority able to enforce labour and social rights and ensure rules on labour mobility fairly. Drawing upon his experiences as lead expert to the European Commission’s European Platform Tackling Undeclared Work, he called for a greater focus in the legislative proposal upon developing the capabilities and capacities of Member States to tackle labour abuse and enforce workers’ rights. He also called for a shift away from solely dealing with labour abuses after they occurred and towards preventing them from happening in the first place.

Professor Williams shared the platform with the Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Unions Confederation (representing 45 million members), and the European Commission official responsible for the legislative proposal. The debate was live-streamed and interpreted in five languages.

For further information: http://www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu/newsroom/sds-we-need-effective-european-labour-authority-protects-workers-rights-and-ensures-fair

Language and translation in international management research

June 11th, 2018

 

  • Symposium announcement:
    Dr Huiping Xian, Lecturer in Human Resources Management and Organisational Behaviour at Sheffield University Management, is organising a symposium on language and translation at the European Academy of Management Conference 2018


Increasingly, research projects are located across the globe and therefore situated in countries, regions and institutions which are culturally, socially, politically and linguistically diverse.  Researchers collect empirical data that is frequently expressed in local languages. Yet at the crucial moment of dissemination of knowledge and in particular at the publication stage, English is often recognised as the only legitimate language, as if it captures the experience of all ‘others’.

The symposium is located in a field of inquiry, which concerns itself with the role of languages and translation in international business/management research. Currently, this research stream focuses on the existence of language diversity at international workplaces. The symposium takes the ideas emanating from this body of work forward by asking more specific questions about the role of translation as a concomitant aspect of language diversity. Questions which will be addressed pertain to designing, conducting, reporting and disseminating international research. These include aspects relating to philosophical-ontological questions, the empirical research process, and the role of English in the publication world.

Panelists with expertise in international research will share their experience and explore theoretical, methodological and practical issues in both quantitative and qualitative research. Three broad themes will be explored:

  • Publish or perish – in English: This contribution explores implicit, unacknowledged assumptions about the publication of research accounts written in English in order to achieve the status of legitimate, recognisable and valid knowledge. This assumption is supported by references to journal ranking lists, which provide an institutionally sanctioned tool to categorise the value of published knowledge. This theme focuses on the ‘consequences of knowledge’ and provides practical ideas about how to challenge this English language dominance without endangering its power as a bridging language to capture empirical and conceptual diversity through translation.
  • Translation in empirical projects: This theme explores crucial issues in the translation process, such as who translates, what and how, how to report this into written research accounts, what gets left out, or added on in the translation process, what gets created? In the symposium, we will discuss protocols how to report such data in written research account.
  • Translation of bodies of knowledge: This theme focuses on the dissemination of knowledge to a multilingual audience. Western bodies of knowledge serving as a guiding conceptual framework in ‘other’ contexts have been considered as standard practice in international research. We will explore different ways of developing indigenous research/knowledge. Issues of training next generation of international researchers will also be discussed.

This workshop will be of interest to researchers and doctoral candidates undertaking research in a language other than English, and to academics, who are native English speakers but working in multi-cultural and multi-lingual projects.

 

Symposium Title: Multilingual research, monolingual publication: Language & translation in international management research

Organiser: Dr Huiping Xian, University of Sheffield

Time: 21st June, 14:00-15:30

Venue: Arnagardar Building A201, University of Iceland

Chair: Professor Susanne Tietze, Sheffield Hallam University

Discussants:

  • Professor Bill Lee, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Huiping Xian, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Philippe Lecomte, Toulouse Business Schoool
  • Dr Nan Jiang, University of Westminster
  • Dr Outila Virpi, Aalto University
  • Dr Natalie Wilmot, Sheffield Hallam University

Blockchain could bridge the gap to integrated transport, according to new report

June 7th, 2018
  • Sheffield University Management School and Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) report studies the disruptive potential of Blockchain in the transport industry
  • Professor Lenny Koh, Director of the Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre (AREC) at Sheffield University Management School, co-authored the report with Charles Carter, TSC.
  • TSC is calling for government and industry to explore the technology’s potential uses in transport to ensure the UK stays ahead of latest developments

Blockchain

Blockchain could provide the underpinnings for a future integrated transport system, without the need for large and costly centralised control mechanisms, according to a new paper from Sheffield University Management School and the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC).

The TSC is calling for government and industry to explore the technology’s potential uses in transport to ensure the UK stays ahead of latest developments.

Blockchain is a Distributed Ledger Technology, which is a special type of distributed database. Each computer ‘node’ or member in a network  stores an identical ‘ledger’ or database. This database takes the form of a chronological chain of unique groups  of information called ‘blocks’ which are securely linked together using cryptography.

The University of Sheffield and TSC report found that, whilst currently the technology is still some years from full maturity, synergies exist in areas like freight and logistics, autonomous vehicles and mobility as a service, where the technology could be applied in the future.

This is because these areas will involve multiple businesses with potentially competing interests, who require trust and transparency to share data and work together seamlessly – which plays to the strengths of Blockchain.

In one example, the report highlights that the decentralised nature of Blockchain could provide an alternative future for mobility as a service business model, where transport is supplied on demand to subscription customers.

Blockchain could help avoid the situation where centralised platforms come to control service provision and data leading to minimal competition. Instead it could facilitate a decentralised network of transport operators by providing built-in trust, consensus and immutability in data and information sharing. Passengers could also have greater control over their personal data.

The report also suggests that Blockchain could also help integrate autonomous drone fleets into the existing transport network, without the need to establish large regulatory organisations to track and monitor use and licensing.

Professor Lenny Koh, Director of Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre (AREC), at Sheffield University Management School, added: “Our transport systems and their wider networks and supply chains are increasingly digitalised. The traditional ways of managing transactions and resources in order to provide frictionless processes, mobility, products and services to users are no longer efficient. In this partnership between the Transport Systems Catapult and the University of Sheffield, we have explored the potential of Blockchain to address these challenges.

“Blockchain as a disruptive technology, to be used in conjunction with Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence in the Cloud, can add further value and have a transformational impact on transport including the acceleration of the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) economy.”

Discussing the report, TSC Chief Technology Officer Mark Westwood added: “The TSC’s unique neutral and trusted position allows us to provide a balanced voice against the positive and negative messages around Blockchain through this report. We need to help decision makers understand the potential benefits and limitations of Blockchain technology. It is also important to analyse potential use cases to find out if Blockchain is a good fit, or if other technologies could provide a better solution.

“Blockchain is still a new technology, but it has the potential to disrupt parts of the transport industry in a similar way as it has in finance. Other countries and businesses are exploring its potential right now. The technology’s disruptive potential is such that the UK transport industry needs to start paying attention, so we are not caught out later.”

The TSC is calling for the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund to support future mobility through the launch of a dedicated R&D programme, collaborating with the transport services industry to build demonstrators of new mobility services. This will enable new service models and technologies such as Blockchain to be tested in-market, creating economic growth for UK based companies through reducing time to market.

Download the full report ‘Blockchain Disruption in Transport: Are you decentralised yet?’

Providing advice to the West Balkans 6 on EU accession

June 4th, 2018
  • Professor Colin Williams of Sheffield University Management School has been appointed to advise six countries in the West Balkans on their accession to the European Union from 2025. 
  • Prof Williams will provide advice on the development of strategies for tackling undeclared work in six countries; Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.  

Brexit may be the hot news in the UK but other countries in Europe recognise the advantages of EU membership and are actively seeking to join the EU family. Colin Williams, Professor of Public Policy at Sheffield University Management School, has been appointed to advise six countries in the West Balkans on their accession to the European Union from 2025.

The appointment of Prof Williams follows a keynote speech he delivered at the first European Commission conference in the West Balkans region in January 2018, on the subject of boosting the social dimension.  

Working with the Regional Cooperation Council, the objective of Professor Williams is to align the strategies towards tackling informal employment in these six countries with the approaches being adopted in the European Union. If achieved this will facilitate their smooth accession, by demonstrating how they are already adopting the good practices being pursued in the EU member states.

Professor Williams will provide advice on the development of strategies for tackling undeclared work in the six countries. As Professor Williams comments, “cash-in-hand or undeclared work is the equivalent of some 25-35% of GDP in these countries, and effective strategies need to be put in place to smooth the accession process into the EU”.

Following an initial diagnostic report and the production of a roadmap for each country, the second and much more arduous stage will entail seeking ‘buy-in’ from the governments and social partners in each country.

This project follows a raft of previous work in the region:

  • In 2010, Prof Williams undertook a similar exercise prior to the entrance of Croatia into the EU.
  • In 2016, Prof Williams successfully negotiated one of the four ‘bailout conditions’ with Greece, helping them develop a strategy to tackle their large undeclared economy.
  • From 2013-2017 Prof Williams was Principal Investigator on a £1.2 million Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships Programme grant to develop the capacity and capability for tackling undeclared work in the region.   

Innovation in the professional services sector

May 22nd, 2018
  • A new report from Sheffield University Management School explores innovation and technological change in the professional services sector.
  • The report finds that data and external factors are key drivers for innovation, whilst organisational cultures, cost, capacity and risk are common barriers.
  • Firms must become more open and receptive to innovation to sustain the UK’s position as a global leader in the professional services sector.

 

A report on innovation in business and professional services firms has been published today, led by colleagues at Sheffield University Management School in conjunction with BPS Birmingham. The research, funded by the National Productivity Investment Fund through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), explores opportunities for technological change, including AI and Machine Learning, as well as the challenges they present.

The legal and accountancy sector have historically both under-invested and under-utilised technology, and so there is considerable scope for transformational change. The scoping study highlights a series of organisational and cultural barriers to the adoption and diffusion of innovation.

 

The findings from 34 in-depth semi-structured interviews with senior partners and/or innovation officers in mid-tier and large legal and accountancy firms highlight 5 key issues:

  1. That external factors were found to have a significant influence on the attitudes of firms towards innovation, and in many instances the incentives to innovate were client-led or to ensure regulatory compliance.
  2. The power of data should not be overlooked. Data is likely to become a more significant source of future competitive advantage, as well as a driver for innovation.
  3. The dominant firm structures and organisational cultures of accountancy and legal firms were found to present barriers to the adoption and diffusion of innovation.
  4. The nature of innovation will have different impacts on the sector. Some innovations will enhance the business offer, while other innovations threaten to cannibalise the core business.
  5. Cost, capacity and risk were consistently identified as barriers to the adoption and diffusion of technological and organisational innovation.

The prominence of ‘Next Generation Service’ as the focus of one of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) is testament to the importance with which the Government views the business and professional services sector. The aim of the ISCF is to enable researchers and businesses to work together to identify and develop new ways to create value as well as stimulate productivity and growth.

The report concludes that if UK is to sustain its position as a global leader in the professional services sector, firms need to become more open and receptive to the adoption and diffusion of innovation. Many legal and accounting firms have established business models, with innovations typically incremental and slow to be adopted. Whilst artificial intelligence and machine learning are only in their infancy, their potentially transformative power can be seen already and are firmly on the horizon.

The lead author of the research, Dr Chay Brooks, commented that “The findings highlight the need to challenge established norms in many legal and accounting firms which are slow to innovate and change. These established norms pose a threat to future competitiveness and growth.”

Executive Director of BPS Birmingham, Hilary Allen, explained “Given that services account for 80% of the economy, it is right that they increasingly form the focus of research and policy”. She also highlighted that “More than ever, the sector needs to think beyond business as usual and challenge the status quo if its leading position is to be maintained.”

Associate Dean for Engagement, Impact and Innovation at Sheffield University Management School and co-author of the report, Professor Tim Vorley commented “This scoping study highlights the importance of working with the sector to understand the issue faced, and is the first step in addressing them. Through our work with BPS Birmingham we are laying the foundations for a UK-wide study that aims to identify overcome the barriers identified in this study”.

For more information on this scoping study or to get involved with future research associate with innovation in the professional services sector please contact Dr Chay Brooks (c.brooks@sheffield.ac.uk) or Prof Tim Vorley (tim.vorley@sheffield.ac.uk)

 

Read the full report here.

Implementing Sustainable Development Goal #8 in the Republic of Azerbaijan

May 21st, 2018

 

  • Professor Colin Williams has been appointed as Advisor to the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan to implement Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG8)
  • On 21 May, Williams presented his preliminary findings to a conference in Azerbaijan hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister
  • SDG8 promotes sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, productive employment, and decent work for all

 

Colin Williams, Professor of Public Policy at Sheffield University Management School, has been appointed as Advisor to the government of the Republic of Azerbaijan. He will be overseeing the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 8 (SDG8).

The United Nations organisation responsible for SDG8 – the International Labour Organisation (ILO), has appointed Williams to oversee its successful implementation in the Republic of Azerbaijan. SDG8 seeks to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, productive employment, and decent work for all.

Drawing upon his expertise in supporting the transition from the informal to the formal economy, Williams is working closely with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection as well as the Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Taxes.

Professor Williams states “I am keen to implement a holistic approach towards creating decent work, by formalising the informal economy. I developed this strategy in the context of the European Union. This pursues a strategic, integrated and coordinated approach based on the full range of measures available”.

Suggested initiatives include:

  • designing and implementing deterrents to working in the informal economy
  • introducing incentives to make work in the formal economy easier and more beneficial (e.g. modernising access to social insurance and medical insurance, introducing unemployment benefits, mortgages, etc.)
  • building the social contract between citizens and the government using education and awareness raising initiatives

 

On 21 May, Williams presented his preliminary findings to a conference in Azerbaijan hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister. The conference marked the first visit by a Director General of the ILO to Azerbaijan. The event was also attended by government Ministers from Russia, Belarus, Afghanistan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Lithuania and Uzbekistan, also interested to discuss how to implement both SDG8 and to formalise their informal economies.

Management School students shortlisted for CIM national marketing award

March 16th, 2018
  • The Chartered Institute of Marketing’s The Pitch competition shortlists top 12 teams
  • £2,500 cash prize available for winners of the competition supported by leading brands, Mintel and Wilkinson Sword

A team of students from the University of Sheffield has been shortlisted for a national marketing award. ‘The Market Ears’ is one of the top twelve teams from across the UK going through to the final round of The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)’s The Pitch competition.

Now in its seventh year, The Pitch sees students from leading universities compete to respond to a live client brief in a bid to win the title of ‘Marketer of the future’. This year, teams were asked to come up with ideas for how Wilkinson Sword’s shaving range can appeal to a younger audience.

Dr Julie Alevizou, Programme Director for International Business Management at the University of Sheffield said: “It is a fantastic achievement for the students to have reached the final shortlist for this national competition. The students have gained valuable experience by responding to a live client brief, and the quality of their work has been recognised by experts in the field.”

International Business Management students, Timothy Vine, Sophie Elton and Charlie Nock, impressed the judges with their response to their brief. The judging panel this year includes marketing experts from Wilkinson Sword, UNILAD, Mintel and CIM.

Gemma Butler, Associate Marketing Director at CIM said: “We’ve been inundated with high-calibre applications this year. It’s been fantastic to get a glimpse of the student talent across
the UK and we’re very much looking forward to seeing the finalists bring their ideas to life in the live final.”

Sarah Wood, Marketing Director at Wilkinson Sword said: “It’s brilliant to receive entries from across UK. The ideas are of such a high calibre and it’s clear a lot of time, effort and creative thinking has gone into responding to our brief. Originality is shining through in each one! We’re grateful to everyone who submitted and wish those shortlisted the best of luck in the final.”

 

Media contact: Mary Hickey, Media and Communications Officer, on 0114 2221034 or email m.o.hickey@sheffield.ac.uk

Comment: Context and theory on SMEs going international – where now for internationalisation research?

March 5th, 2018

In January researchers from the University of Sheffield; Melanie Hassett, Marian Jones and Tina McGuinness, hosted a sandpit event on the internationalisation of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). During the event we engaged in conversations with academic guests from the Universities of Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh Napier, Sheffield and SOAS University of London.

Our open forum focussed our minds on what internationalisation is in the 21st century. Our aim for the sandpit was to build and consolidate a network of scholars with interests in SME participation in international business. Starting with a video featuring almost 100 photographs of the current world; of climate change, artificial intelligence, pollution, sustainable energy and human crises (natural disasters, wars and economic and social migration). We turned our discussion to how the changing contexts of international business should influence our research questions. A recurring theme from our tables was the extent to which the voice and experience of entrepreneurs and managers involved in internationalisation are not reflected in our research, and how findings on the lived experience of internationalisation are conveyed towards policy.

Over the course of the afternoon we explored the relevance of extant theories of international business. We questioned whether the dynamic context of the business world post-globalisation calls for new theories, novel research, and qualitative, holistic and interdisciplinary approaches to tackle questions about the societal impact of IB.  

We would like to thank everyone who participated. We aim to continue the conversation through a series of sandpits with academic and practitioner participation to better understand how confidence, capabilities and connections contribute to successful SME internationalisation.

Please send any comments to m.v.jones@sheffield.ac.uk or melanie.hassett@sheffield.ac.uk

Thank you to the SAMS (Society for the Advancement of Management Studies) for the research grant enabling this sandpit to take place.

Sheffield University Management School SMEs internationalisation sandpit event

Lively roundtable discussions at the SME Going Global sandpit

Sharing experiences improves mental health of NHS staff, research shows

October 31st, 2017

Healthcare staff who regularly share the emotional, social or ethical challenges they face in the workplace experience less psychological distress, improved teamwork and increased empathy and compassion for patients and colleagues, a new study commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research reports.

In the first in-depth study in the UK, researchers from the University Sheffield, the University of Surrey, Kings College London, and The King’s Fund examined the impact of Schwartz Center Rounds® (Rounds), on both clinical and non-clinical staff. Rounds are monthly forums that offer a space for staff to share experiences with colleagues and to discuss the challenges they face in their work and its impact on them.

The psychological wellbeing of 500 staff members who attended Rounds regularly, irregularly or not all, was measured over an eight-month period, using the clinically validated GHQ-12 questionnaire.

Researchers found that the wellbeing of staff who attended Rounds regularly significantly improved, with the proportion of those with psychological distress halving – down from 25 per cent to 12 per cent. There was little change in the psychological wellbeing of staff that did not attend Rounds over this period.

When asked of the benefits of Rounds, participants noted that attending led to greater understanding, empathy and tolerance towards colleagues and patients and positive changes in practice.

Following the publication of the Francis report which highlighted Schwartz Rounds as being a way of fostering good teamwork and improving morale amongst staff, the implementation of Rounds in the UK rapidly increased. The research found that Rounds were implemented variably and challenges to implementation and sustainability included ward staff attendance, and the workload and resources required for planning and running Rounds.

Professor Jeremy Dawson, Professor of Health Management from the Institute of Work Psychology at the Management School, said: “Schwartz Center Rounds provide an innovative forum for healthcare staff to discuss the difficult emotional, social and ethical challenges they face at work.

“Now used in over 160 healthcare organisations in the UK, they allow a safe setting to explore issues relating to compassion, empathy and strain, which can be difficult to talk about otherwise. However, in the 14 organisations we examined in this study, we saw that they need to be carefully planned and facilitated for them to be the most effective.”

He added: “The results can be very powerful, though. Our research team at Sheffield University Management School conducted a longitudinal survey in ten organisations, comparing staff who started attending Rounds with those who did not attend. We found that the proportion of staff with high levels of stress more than halved over an eight-month period for those who attended Rounds, compared with almost no change for those not attending Rounds.”

Jill Maben, Professor of Nursing at the University of Surrey and formerly of Kings College London, said: “Delivering care to patients at some of the most challenging times in their lives has an emotional impact on staff, which undoubtedly impacts on their own wellbeing and on their work.

“Our study is the first in the UK to demonstrate that those who regularly attend Rounds see significant benefits; their symptoms of anxiety and depression are reduced, they are better able to cope with the issues they face and have more empathy towards patients and colleagues, which undeniably has a positive impact on those in their care.

“Given these impacts it is good to see Rounds running in over 160 organisations in the UK, particularly in light of the Francis report, which called for more compassionate patient care. The challenge is for organisations to continue to invest in Rounds in resource-constrained environments.”

Dr Cath Taylor, Reader at the University of Surrey and formerly of King College London, said: “NHS and hospice staff are the unsung heroes of our society, but the physical and emotional demands placed on them often go unnoticed, leading to high rates of burn out and people often leaving the profession. Rounds are a unique organisational wide intervention that we found benefitted many attendees”.

Jocelyn Cornwell, Chief Executive of The Point of Care Foundation (which holds the licence to promote and support Schwartz Rounds in the UK and Ireland) said: “We are delighted that this research shows that Schwartz Rounds have significant positive impacts on the well-being and experience of the staff who take part in them. The Rounds offer a unique space for all staff in organisations to come together as equals, to share experience and listen to one another.

“In environments in which staff are under tremendous pressure, the Rounds offer a much–needed space for reflection and renewal. We hope that organisations that are not doing Rounds will pay attention to the research findings, and organisations that are doing them, will re-double their efforts to sustain them.”

The message from Japan – joint conference investigates science/technology innovation and entrepreneurship

October 31st, 2017

Group-Conference IMG_0014

A recent conference held jointly between the Management School and Kobe University, held at Osaka Innovation Hub, investigated science and technology innovation and entrepreneurship.

Alongside Kobe’s Vice Dean for the Graduate School of Science, Technology and Innovation Prof Kenji Kutsuna, Dr Naoko Komori, lecturer in accounting at Sheffield, organised and delivered the successful event which was funded by the Compass to Healthy Life Research Complex Programme.

Dr Komori invited a number of renowned scholars and practitioners to speak at the conference which considered ‘the message from Japan’ in the context of science/technology corporations seeking to improve their competitiveness by fostering entrepreneurship.

About 100 attendees, including academics and business representatives, enjoyed the lively programme which welcomed three keynote speakers. Prof Kentaro Nobeoka, Dean of the Institute of Innovation Research (Hitotsubashi Uni) and author of ‘Thinking Beyond Lean’ led the programme, followed by Prof Dimo Dimov (University of Bath) and AJ Van Bochoven (Head of Strategic Innovation, ‎Cambridge Consultants). They discussed innovation strategies between Japanese and European/UK corporations.

Following the formal programme, a popular networking event was held at the World Beer Museum.

Dr Komori said: “This is a landmark conference that introduces studies on Japan that are largely missing in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship. The kick-off event, held on 21 October, has enabled us to develop a strong research team in the UK that will start to develop research on translating cultural knowledge on Japan in an international arena”.

“This was the third event held by Kobe’s Graduate School of Science, Technology and Innovation. I’m delighted with the feedback we received from attendees and look forward to starting work on the event for 2018.”

This is the Management School’s second collaborative event with Kobe. Click here to read about prior activities.

Click here to see the conference website.