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Management School to assist in design of major new Pilot Plant

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

The UK Centre for Carbon Utilisation (CDUUK) at the University of Sheffield recently won a competitive tender to join a team to design a new carbon capture and utilisation plant for the Tees Valley. The contract pairs the University of Sheffield with the Teeside Collective a pioneering infrastructure project who are at the forefront of innovative carbon capture and usage technology. The collective are working together to establish Europe’s first clean industrial zone. Prof Lenny Koh, chair in operations management at the Management School, is a member of the CDUUK board.

CDUUK are academic specialists from across seven departments (Chemical and Biological Engineering, Materials Science Engineering, Mechanical Science, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, Management School and Psychology) who will bring a range of interdisciplinary expertise to the Collective. CDUUK will be designing the demonstration centre and commercial and operating models of this ground breaking project.

The move comes as the Government formulates its policy on decarbonisation in the light of the cancellation in November of funding for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in the power sector. A policy review is due to be published by Lord Oxburgh, who visited Teesside to hear about the Collective’s plans as part of his review.

Professor Peter Styring, Chair of CDUUK, commented: “The impact of the proposed carbon capture and utilisation demonstration centre cannot be underestimated, helping more heavy industrial companies decarbonise their facilities and explore innovative uses for carbon and income streams. Utilisation of CO2 is gaining momentum globally and this will put the UK at the forefront of that effort”

CDUUK provides a cohesive centre for interdisciplinary research into carbon dioxide utilization in Sheffield. Using a co-ordinated approach to research and a strategic approach to funding opportunities the Centre is at the forefront of CDU research in the UK.

Teesside Collective are a cluster of leading industries with a shared vision: to establish Teesside as the go-to location for future clean industrial development by creating Europe’s first Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) equipped industrial zone. Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership which includes the Teesside industrial cluster, has been awarded £1m funding by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change to develop a business case for deploying industrial CCS in the Teesside cluster and to make recommendations for a funding mechanism.

Comment: What Africa can learn from Sheffield’s investment deal with China, by Sharif Khalid

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

Originally posted on The Conversation.

The British press has been devoting acres of coverage to a £1bn foreign direct investment deal into Sheffield, an industrial city in northern England. Branded as an extension of the “golden era” of relations between Britain and China, the contract between Sheffield and Sichuan Guodong Construction Group has been heralded as a remarkable investment. It is easily the largest Chinese investment in Britain outside London. And it comes with a 60-year life span.

The deal elicits useful lessons for Chinese investments across the African continent.

The Sheffield deal came with clearly stipulated terms of engagement. These included the creation of employment opportunities, and an obligation to fill a clearly defined urban development gap. This includes a five star hotel, sport fields, new office and leisure properties and both high-end and affordable housing in the city centre.

Significantly, the developments are to be undertaken using local and not Chinese labour.

These conditions stand in contrast with what deals look like between many African countries and China. Despite a plethora of such deals, leaders on the continent have not shown enough commitment to ensuring equitable partnerships with China. The Sheffield case shows what’s possible if the negotiating partner is firm about insisting on certain conditions for any deal.

Chinese interest in Africa

Trade between China and Africa has risen significantly. It now stands at an estimated $198.5 billion. This has been shaped largely by Chinese hunger for raw materials.

By some estimates there are about 1,673 Chinese-backed projects dotted across 51 African countries. This is obviously significant and surpasses any other region of the globe. By and large the terms of these pacts have been dominated by China’s needs. This is inimical – but it needn’t be the case.

The Chinese probably possess the most malleable foreign and trade strategy on the international landscape. As such it responds to the strategic investment programmes of its partner states. Chinese investors respond to the robust policy of Europe and America just as easily as they meet Africa with what demands it brings to the table.

Current Sino-Africa relations are best understood against the backdrop of the strategic Beijing China-Africa Summit of 2006 and the recent Johannesburg Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. Since then numerous loans, grants and infrastructure contracts have been inked between African governments and Chinese entities.

In addition, Africa plays host to a flourishing “barter” enclave. Under these deals the continent feeds sprawling Chinese industries in exchange for development loans and infrastructure contracts.

This form of barter comes with significant implications for Sino-Africa relations. In most instances the barter promotes an indirect involvement of China’s corporations in the extraction of Africa’s mineral resources. A case in point is the £3 billion loan agreement between China Development Bank and the government of Ghana, as well as other deals with Exim Bank China. These formed part of a $13 billion concessionary agreement for the development of infrastructure in Ghana, including its oil sector.

About 60% of contracts emanating out of this relationship are in the hands of Chinese corporations. Vital ingredients are missing. Issues such as corporate governance, social responsibility, corporate reporting, stakeholder engagement and responsible investment are ignored. These governance factors come to be treated as nonessential.

Many Chinese investors are also not directly involved in the actual mineral extraction. They often work through third parties. This means that the investors themselves cannot be held directly accountable and often evade their responsibilities.

The social and environmental effects across Africa’s resource value chain are massive. And African governments are left to deal with the environmental damage.

Africa has a strong hand to play

Given China’s need for raw materials, there is undoubtedly an opportunity for Africa to redefine power relations in its dealings with the new global giant. The mineral rich continent can set on course a win-win situation within the rubric of this existing relationship. Failure to do so might perpetually limit the continent’s ability to maximise economic value from its mineral resources.

Key factors must include skill transfer initiatives, localisation and fit for purpose infrastructure development.

Since the first Beijing Ministerial Conference in 2000 Africa has made little progress in preparing itself to meet China as an equal partner in economic dealings. The conference set in motion the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and Programme for China-Africa Cooperation in Economic and Social Development. It could have spurred Africa to develop a more strategic response designed to accelerate development.

Africa needs to assemble the required mettle to change power relations in its dealings with China. The continent’s relations with China must be tailored to yield commensurate benefits.

Sheffield’s City Council seems to have been empowered enough to engage China on a mutual benefit bases. Given that Africa is the epicentre of most Chinese foreign direct investment it has a much stronger hand to play.

Even though the Sheffield case involved a private sector player, Africa must also turn agreements at government level into deals that deliver maximum economic value.

And African countries must use existing safety valves, like constitutional clauses and parliamentary agreements, to their advantage.

The Conversation

Sharif Mahmud Khalid, Lecturer in Accounting, University of Sheffield

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

CREED summer school explores migrant entrepreneurship

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

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Dr Chay Brooks from the Centre for Regional Economic and Enterprise Development (CREED) has been leading the European Entrepreneurship Summer School held at the University of Sheffield’s International Faculty in Greece. The summer school, now in its seventh year, is held in conjunction with our international partners from University of Groningen (Netherlands), High School of Economics (Russia), and the University of Twente (Netherlands).

Dr Brooks said: “It has been amazing week with the students learning about entrepreneurship in the sun! We have had a great range of international speakers sharing insights from their research.”

Across the week students were involved in a series of lectures, workshops and debates in different areas of entrepreneurship. This year the central theme of summer school was the socio-economic impacts of migrant entrepreneurship, which is an important issue in Europe. During the week students had sessions by academics on research including informal entrepreneurship, technology entrepreneurship, corporate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship and public policy.

Dr Robert Wapshott, who also taught at the summer school, explained: “The aim of the event is to bring together students from across Europe to learn about and debate cutting edge entrepreneurship research.”

During the week students worked in international teams to develop in-depth presentations on some of the big questions facing entrepreneurship research. As the teams explored their topic in depth they sought to unpack the complexities of creating more entrepreneurial individuals, organisations and societies. The team awarded the best presentation included Ann Lozovaia and Alexander Kalita from HSE, Tuong Nguyen from Leipzig and Zhuang Jing from Sheffield, who gave a critical account about the importance of informal entrepreneurship.

Reflecting on her participation in the summer school, Kelly Lawrence, a Sheffield student, said: “The summer school was a fantastic opportunity to meet other students interested in entrepreneurship research. The programme was excellent and we all had a brilliant week.”

The CREED team participating in the summer school this year led by Dr Chay Brooks. It also included Dr Robert Wapshott, Dr Peter Rodgers, Cristian Gherhes and Professor Tim Vorley. Next year the summer school will be held in Moscow and the topic will be on green and sustainable entrepreneurship. If you’re interested in applying to take part, watch this space.

 

 

 

SUMS hosts BAFA corporate governance conference

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Sharif Khalid and Jill Atkins at the Management School are welcoming paper submissions for the BAFA (British Accounting & Finance Association) Special Interest Group on Corporate Governance conference, to be held at Sheffield University Management School on 21 December 2016.

The theme is qualitative research in governance and accountability. The conference will bring together academic researchers from around the world where points of discussion will include: governance mechanisms (such as boards, committees and NEDs); accountability mechanisms (audits, stakeholder engagement, shareholder relations); governance and accountability issues in emerging and developing economies; social and environmental accounting, accountability, auditing and governance; and codes of practice (their effectiveness and development).

Sharif said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming guests to Sheffield, and to discussing such a fascinating, fast-moving subject. There’s a long standing tradition of quantitative research into corporate governance, but recently many researchers in the area have moved towards a qualitative manner of understanding. We want to focus on the rich results and understanding that good quantitative research can lead to.”

An invited guest speaker will be announced in due course; there will also be a research methods session for doctoral researchers, as well as a facilitated doctoral stream.

Sharif and Jill are calling for abstracts to be submitted to j.f.atkins@sheffield.ac.uk by 31 August 2016. Papers accepted for presentation at the conference will be considered for publication in a special issue of the journal Qualitative Research in Financial Markets. Click here to read more about the conference.

Businesses aim to balance people and profit with Management School toolkit

Friday, August 5th, 2016

SCA-empPR

A research project led by Prof Pauline Dibben from the Management School has led to the team developing a free online, diagnostic toolkit to help organisations achieve financially sustainable supply chains and excellent employment practices.

The ESRC-funded SCA-Emp (Supply Chain Accounting and Employment Practices) project undertook research with organisations in the automobile and textile sectors in the emerging markets of Brazil and South Africa to determine how they could intervene and make supply chains more ethical.

The toolkit, available at www.sca-emp.com, offers the ideal intervention. It is aimed at HR managers, accountants and supply chain managers in organisations all over the world, as well as in developing economies – users can easily progress through the toolkit and it will identify areas of possible improvement for the business, making recommendations for them to implement.

The toolkit will also assess users’ progress against a range of statements, make plans for improvements, and then print ‘dashboard’ style reports and action plans.

Benefits of using the toolkit include a potential impact on the bottom line; increased competitiveness; an increase in socially responsible, ethical business practices; and reputational benefits.

Pauline hopes that the toolkit will lead to broader societal changes: “The toolkit will enable businesses to apply more ethical approaches to their supply chains, which should lead to improvements in employment practices. I hope that this will meet the end goal of making a positive difference to vulnerable workers across the world.”

Members of the team are now actively promoting the toolkit in Brazil and through a series of events in the UK, utilising their network of professional bodies who have been involved in the research including CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) and CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development).

Anyone can access the toolkit, and it is also available in Portugese: www.sca-emp.com

Do you remember the drought of 1976? Memories of the historic dry summer could influence SUMS research

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Researchers want to know what you remember about the 1976 drought for an academic project.

On the 40th anniversary of the country’s most severe water storage in living memory, Dr Tina McGuinness from the Management School is part of a national team urging those who have memories to share their accounts.

How did you cope? Did it bring people together in communities? What sacrifices did you have to make? How did it affect your life in Sheffield? The anecdotes will contribute towards a £3.2million project named Drought Risk and You (DRY) which aims to provide new evidence for managing future droughts, drawing on science and experience.

Dr McGuinness said: “In June 1976, temperatures of 30 degrees-plus were recorded for as many as 16 consecutive days in the UK, and many reservoirs dried up as a result – it gripped the nation, and we want to capture some of the memories that endure 40 years on.

“The stories are a valuable component of our research, and they need to be considered when looking at solutions for future droughts. How did it affect you, your family or your work? We want to hear the positives and the negatives – from enjoying watching kids playing in the sunshine, to struggling to keep the family hydrated. Your account of that summer could have an impact on how we cope with future droughts.”

The four-year DRY project, which brings together researchers from eight universities and institutes, aims to ensure that the country is better prepared for another extreme water shortage.

Dr McGuinness continued: “Climate change, often leading to extreme weather, is a huge global challenge and we require action from everyone to cope with future crises. This is an opportunity for people to contribute with their narrative of June 1976.”

This study will focus on the impact of drought on seven river catchments, including the River Don which Dr McGuinness is leading on. These are the Cornwall River Fowey; River Frome (Bristol); River Pang (Wiltshire); Bevills Leam (Fenlands); Afon Ebbw (South Wales); and the River Eden (Fife).

The research team is led by UWE Bristol and also includes the University of Sheffield, Loughborough University, NERC’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Harper Adams University, University of Warwick, University of Exeter, University of Dundee and Climate Outreach.

Contribute memories via the following routes:

  • Add your story as a comment on this page: http://bit.ly/dry-1976
  • Tweet your images and memories of past and current droughts, and local water-use: @Project_DRY
  • Contact us if you would like to join our workshops: +44 (0)117 32 87024

 

Find out more about the project online at dryproject.co.uk and @Project_DRY on Twitter.

British Academy grant will strengthen links with Ukraine

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

PR-BAgrant

Dr Peter Rodgers, Lecturer in Strategy and International Business at the Management School (pictured), has been awarded a grant from the British Academy’s International Partnerships and Mobility Scheme which he will use to strengthen links with academic colleagues in Ukraine via a research project. Peter leading the grant will work with co-investigator Prof Tim Vorley and other members of the CREED research centre within the Management School. 

The project, which will explore the non-market strategies of export orientated Ukrainian firms, aims to explore this area from a research angle while also building dialogue with a variety of relevant stakeholders in Ukraine’s business and policy-making circles.

Peter said: “We’re delighted to receive this grant – it has fundamental benefits not only for the academics involved, but for CREED as a leading research centre examining the nature of economic transformations taking place across post-socialist spaces in Europe, the Management School and the partner institution Kyiv Molyla Business School too.

“The partners see this as an opportunity to build an extended collaboration, beyond this grant, which draws on capabilities at both institutions.”

Ukraine remains the second poorest country in Europe and its economic transformation has been stunted for a number of reasons, including ongoing conflict in the east of the country; ‘rent seeking’ activities and corrupt practices of economic and political elites and a burgeoning informal economy. Peter is an expert in business-state relations in emerging economies and has previously worked extensively in Ukraine and Russia. He has also provided policy advice to the British government on the business landscape in Ukraine, so is well positioned to work with Ukrainian colleagues on exploring the roles, restraints and current relations which hamper the country’s attempts to generate sustainable economic development.

Facilitated workshops and online webinars, as well as visits in person, will bring the research team from CREED and Kyiv together and enable them to build regional partnerships with organisations. This approach is unique in Ukraine – together we will be breaking new ground.

 

Comment: Lionel’s messy tax affairs are part of a bigger problem in football. By Dr Thomas Hastings

Monday, July 11th, 2016

One thing’s for sure, it has not been a good summer for Lionel Messi. Following a fourth international cup final defeat, the diminutive Argentine announced his retirement from international football on June 26, aged just 29. The “Don’t go, Leo” campaigns had barely subsided before he and his father were handed a 21-month jail sentence for tax fraud.

They were found guilty of not declaring £3.5 million of earnings between 2007-2009, linked to the use of tax havens in Belize and Uruguay. Football lovers fearful of the loss of (arguably) the world’s greatest player should be comforted by the fact that sentences under two years can be served outside of prison in Spain.

Messi maintains his innocence and will appeal the decision. But this and the fact that he can keep playing does little to address the serious issue of how some footballers manage their finances – something many in the industry struggle with.


In the dock. EPA/Alberto Estevez/Pool

Messi’s case is not unique in Spain or (for that matter) Barcelona. Earlier this year, Messi’s Brazilian team-mate Neymar was also reprimanded and fined €45.9 million for failure to disclose earnings from a range of sources. Neymar also maintains his innocence and is making an appeal.

Money, money, money

From one perspective, Messi’s tax dealings should not come as much of a surprise. The use of tax havens is seemingly the done thing for the super-wealthy, the world over. But there are aspects of the beautiful game which may lend themselves more generally to the aggressive pursuit of even greater earnings.

The game’s global union FIFPro has long urged an abolition of transfer fees so pivotal to the concept of player “ownership”, as well as caps on agent earnings. Outside of player registrations, the concept of economic rights for players has also proliferated in recent years, adding exposure and marketing revenue to the game’s more famous stars, the clubs they play for and the brands/products they advertise.


Happier times. EPA/Alberto Estevez

Messi earns a purported £256,000 per week after tax – so why would any player risk biting the hand that feeds them? One partial explanation may lie in recent adjustments to the Spanish tax system. Previous low rates of tax, linked to a source of competitive advantage for the top flight of Spanish football, La Liga, have since been hiked. The Spanish tax rate for top earners more than doubled in 2012 to 54%.

Regulating a global game

More generally, the problems emerging from the Messi case reflect the fact that, while the globalisation of football in economic and cultural terms is near-complete, the legal rights, regulations and procedures surrounding the sale of players remain highly varied across the globe. Footballers are recruited across a global labour market, though key regions (notably South America) operate with very different norms and regulations regarding ownership rights and recruitment procedures.

Third party ownership, for example, has become commonplace in certain regions of the world. This is where a third party individual or company will give a player or club money in return for owning a percentage of a player’s future transfer fee or “economic rights”. In the UK, the process has become synonymous with Carlos Tevez who arrived at West Ham against the rules of English football, under the ownership of businessman Kia Joorabchian.


Three’s a crowd. Sean Dempsey / PA Archive

But in South America third party ownership is common. It is also accompanied by a spate of high profile scandals involving tactics whereby players are temporarily registered and sold via low-tax jurisdictions (such as Uruguay) as a means of avoiding tax on transfer fees.

The point here is not to conflate issues of third party ownership with Messi’s own crime of tax avoidance, but to put the crime in context. Football is a global industry which operates differently in different parts of the globe. Added to this, many footballers emerge from humble backgrounds and difficult circumstances: combinations of ignorance, greed and acting on bad advice are likely to emerge.

Individual Responsibility

This is not to say that footballers, like workers in any other profession, are free from responsibility when it comes to paying tax or meeting their legal obligations. A major problem is that many people who stand to profit (which may include friends and family members) have an interest in taking risks on the player’s behalf.

Did Messi even know his actions were illegal? Barely a year goes by in football where a legal controversy of one form or another does not emerge, be it more serious cases of fraud or tax avoidance (as with Messi), illegal payments relating to transfer fees (see manager Harry Redknapp’s infamous case in 2012) or unlawful player gambling (including in games they are involved in).

Like Messi, Redknapp pleaded ignorance as well as innocence when it came to charges over his own illegal payments. As well as “knowing nothing” Redknapp went a stage further by citing an inability to text, write or type as part of his defence. He was cleared of tax evasion charges.

If ignorance is no defence, then football as an industry must ensure its players are educated on the legal rights and wrongs associated with the profession. This is particularly important for those elites at the forefront of the game and its marketing, not least because literally billions of viewers (including young, impressionable and avid fans) consume the global game.

 

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Making the sustainable choice – embedding Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) in the materials and manufacturing supply chain

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Tata-Brimacombe-SUMS

A fascinating partnership between researchers at the Management School and the Faculty of Engineering led to a recent sell-out event, with industry leaders at the heart of it.

A number of industry delegates from throughout Europe joined academics at the University of Sheffield on 22 April 2016 for the Materials Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) Workshop, a one-day event organised jointly between the Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre (AREC) and EPSRC funded projects ‘Designing Alloys for Resource Efficiency’ (DARE) and ‘Substitution and Sustainability in Functional Materials and Devices’ (SUbST).

The morning consisted of presentations on major materials innovation projects and real industry cases, given by leading academics and representatives from industry, focusing on the current and future trends of LCA and how this can aid decision-making to achieve resource efficiency and sustainability in an organisation.

The keynote presentation was given by Louis Brimacombe, head of environmental technology at Tata Steel, who explained how LCA has a role in understanding the benefits of a circular economy, where not only environmental considerations but also the social and economic performances of a material are crucial for making sustainable decisions.

Following his presentation, Louis Brimacombe (pictured above) said: “LCA is core in achieving sustainability across supply chains. It not only helps industry makes informed decisions, but identifies where we can improve resource efficiency, sustainability and circular economy.”

During the afternoon, delegates split into working groups to discuss current issues including: why current materials life cycle is not sustainable; how science and research can help to make it more sustainable in the future; the stakeholders who should be involved, and the support and resources required to achieve this. Feedback from this session introduced some exciting new ideas and concepts.

At the end of the workshop one of the main organisers of the event, Professor Lenny Koh from Sheffield University Management School, who is also the director of AREC, said: “This event, which delegates agree should become annual, has evidenced the important role and influence of supply chain LCA in resource efficiency and the sustainability of materials supply chains in flagship projects at the University of Sheffield, including DARE, SUbST and SIMULIFE. LCA must be designed into the development stages of any new materials or products/services to search for the most sustainable option before scale-up. For existing materials, products and services, their life cycle must be continuously assessed through LCA.”

Presentations and a summary of breakout discussions will be posted at www.darealloys.org/news in the next few days.

 

For information on the following, email:
AREC and LCA: Lenny Koh (s.c.l.koh@sheffield.ac.uk)
DARE: Mark Rainforth (m.rainforth@sheffield.ac.uk) or Jean Simpson (jean.simpson@sheffield.ac.uk)
SUbST: Ian Reaney (i.m.reaney@sheffield.ac.uk)

Intensive competition challenges our students in Canada

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016
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Gerardo, Lena, Cristian and Emad

For 48 hours, four of our postgraduate students are ‘cut off’ from the world – working on a business case in an international competition in Canada.

The fifth International Graduate Competition (IGC), held annually by HEC Montreal, has brought together a number of student teams from world-leading universities to collaborate and compete around a live business case on the themes of network economics, marketing, strategy and IT management.

As one of the first UK teams to attend the competition, the Sheffield group join attendees from Australia, America, Canada and all over Europe. The Management School-funded trip, run and also attended by members of the Centre for Regional Economy and Enterprise Development (CREED) provides a fantastic opportunity for the students who underwent a rigorous selection process.

The students in attendance are Lena Suess (MSc Creative and Cultural Industries Management), Cristian Gherhes (PhD student with CREED), Gerardo Taboada (MSc Logistics and Supply Chain Management) and Emad Ejielat (MSc Entrepreneurship and Management).

Prof Tim Vorley, who is attending the competition in Montreal as a mentor with Dr Robert Wapshott, said: “The six-day event has begun with a series of ice-breaking, team-building sessions, followed by lectures and workshops which are relevant to the themes. Following this, the students were given the brief and have been put into a period of 48 hours with no contact from the outside world, apart from the opportunity to interview experts from the company that has set the business case.

“On Wednesday, the students present their projects. They prepare a 60 page analysis and recommendations and pitch it to the organisation.

“It’s a great opportunity for the students and has given the Management School a presence on this international stage, where we can build links with similar, accredited schools.”