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

Tuesday, 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

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

Thursday, 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

Monday, 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.   

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

Monday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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.

Event: Towards achieving sustainability in urban traffic management with CILT

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

On 4 October, experts from the Management School welcome the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and a stellar speaker line-up to discuss a sustainable traffic management approach for UK cities.

Richard Bruce and Dr Erica Ballantyne are welcoming bookings for the event which will be held in Inox Dine (5th Floor, Sheffield University Students’ Union) from 10am-4pm. Guests include Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, and representatives from Siemens, Jaguar Land Rover, ITM Power, Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive.

Together, they will discuss the challenge of planning a forward-looking transport management approach, covering key difficulties such as social acceptability, government affordability and air quality improvement targets.

Through the involvement of key practitioners and researchers, the seminar and workshop will examine issues such as the rise of omni-channel business, private car usage, a reluctance to use public transport, the lack of ‘joined up thinking’ from transport providers, and the rise in vehicle-based crime. The day will consider the enablers and tools available to help participants navigate the minefield.

Coffee on arrival. Light lunch and tea/coffee included.

To book: Complete this form or contact CILT’s membership services (Tel: 01536 740104/membership@ciltuk.org.uk – quote event code NER0306).

Cost: Member – £32.50/Non-member – £50/Student – £15

Prof Lenny Koh welcomes local MEP to the University

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Koh-Procter Procter-Hyatt

Prof Lenny Koh, director of the Advanced Resource Efficiency Centre (AREC) welcomed John Procter, MEP for Yorkshire & the Humber, to the University on 22 September.

Mr Procter and his adviser to the Yorkshire & the Humber region, Martin Dales, met with different departments at the University including the Management School, the Department of Materials Science and the Faculty of Social Sciences’ Impact and Knowledge Exchange (SSPIKE) team.

As the spokesman for Education and Culture, Mr Procter (pictured above with Prof Koh, right, and Shirley Harrison from the AMRC) has a keen interest in research at the University and was keen to see its facilities and learn more about ongoing projects. Prof Koh showed the visitors the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and cutting-edge laboratory facilities in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, which form part of the Sir Henry Royce Institute.

This visit follows AREC’s impact presentation at the European Parliament in Brussels. Mr Procter hosted the event, ‘Pathway to Global Policy, Industry and Societal Impact’, which showcased Prof Koh’s role in working towards environmental sustainability. At the event, she presented the Supply Chain Environmental Analysis Tool – Intelligence (SCEnATi), a cloud-based software in partnership with Microsoft, which helps businesses become more competitive and resource efficient, whilst reducing negative impacts on the environment.

On his visit, Mr Procter said: “I was impressed by the University of Sheffield. It was great to see first-hand the world-leading work produced right here in Yorkshire. The research has great implications for the region, as well as globally. In a world where the global supply chain relies on resources interconnection, it’s inspiring to see research which champions an inclusive, integrated approach to resource sustainability and efficiency.”

Prof Koh continued: “It was my privilege to show Mr Procter leading examples of Sheffield’s research. Our cross disciplinary environment, combined with a global outlook, shape our contribution to the region and beyond.”

In support of decent work: Prof Colin Williams’ European Commission platform continues significant impact across EU

Monday, September 18th, 2017

Prof Colin Williams, Chair in Public Policy at the Management School, is engaged in an ongoing project with the European Commission addressing undeclared work.

Tackling the undeclared economy has become a critical issue on the policy agendas of supra-national agencies and governments in recent years, leading to action from Prof Williams and his team in the Cluster for Research on the Informal Sector and Policy (CRISP).

In early September, the International Training Centre of the ILO (International Labour Organisation) in Turin hosted a global knowledge sharing forum on making the transition from the informal to the formal economy. This was attended by Ministers and senior government officials from 17 countries including Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, India, Mexico, Russia, Senegal, South Africa and Vietnam.

Professor Williams opened the five-day forum and led a panel which presented his experiences on formalising the informal economy in Europe including policy approaches that work and those that don’t. He said: “The intention of this forum was to allow countries to engage in a process of mutual learning. This topic is important when we realise that 60 per cent of workers globally are employed in the informal economy where they are unregistered and have no labour rights or entitlements, such as to holidays, minimum wages, and health and safety standards. Across the world, the issue of achieving ‘decent work’ is seen as a key issue for all governments, and the aim of the ILO is to disseminate best practice on how this can be achieved.”

Prof Williams’ critical work continues this month (September 2017) as he takes the Mutual Assistance Project to Latvia with the aim of improving the performance of their State Labour Inspectorate in dealing effectively with undeclared work.

This platform was launched in 2016 and provides a forum at EU level where enforcement authorities and social partners can learn from each other. The work programmes include seminars, staff exchanges and training, as well as the development of toolkits, studies and mutual assistance projects. Prof Williams said: “Officials in Latvia have taken this opportunity to be counselled in an area where they would like to see improvement. Romania are reporting great progress after a similar visit in November 2016, so we will be mirroring that approach which led to policy recommendations about how they could improve as well as strategic and operational guidance.

“The expert team ​visiting Latvia will focus on discussing areas where the ​​State Labour Inspectorate can benefit from the mutual learning process​, including strategic management​ practices; operational processes; evidence-based design and implementation of initiatives​; management of partnerships; and allocation of resources.”

Prof Williams is conducting a follow-up visit to Romania at the end of this month and will visit Latvia to evaluate its success in late 2018.

Selling experiences – not rooms: Exploring the future of luxury travel through digital strategy

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Navdeep-WhitePaper-Luxury

Can a holiday make you a better parent, or more creative? Luxury hospitality consumers aren’t satisfied with a great view – they want a substantive change borne out of amazing experiences, suggests Dr Navdeep Athwal.

Luxury consumption has shifted away from goods and towards experiences, so how can the premium hospitality market capitalise on this? Navdeep’s white paper, co-authored with digital agency Verb Brands, argues that the key to growth is brands getting their digital and marketing strategies right.

Social media and luxury travel goes hand in hand – customers are generally tech-savvy and self-sufficient deeming the high street travel agent redundant. They favour mobile apps over web browsers so are likely to interact with a provider from a hand-held device at one point in the process, leading brands to address their digital and social media approaches in order to remain competitive.

A brand’s social media must showcase the aspirational experience while also demonstrating customer care and relationship management. User-generated, story-based content trumps traditional advertising so many brands employ online ‘influencers’ to contribute to visual platforms like Instagram. While they can be effective, Navdeep suggests brands introduce a comprehensive vetting process prior to appointment, as well as exploring people without an online presence who have “priceless Rolodexes” for accessing high-earning, hard-to-reach spenders.

An ‘Instagrammable’ destination has become a primary influencing factor for millennials choosing their holidays, and with 25-34 year olds spending much of their disposable income on travel, this paper highlights the importance of brands understanding how to deploy digital to best meet market requirements. Navdeep indicates that AI is the future of customer engagement – meanwhile Airbnb is adapting its sharing economy model to meet the expectations of luxury travellers. The landscape is changing, and quickly.

In this paper, Navdeep also identifies successful strategies for businesses based on offline consumer behaviour. Luxury consumers are pursuing experiences over possessions – “a better me” is the product and key themes are wellness, personalisation and dining.

One of the market’s primary challenges is building brand love and loyalty, though defining the latter is complex as it can be driven by behavioural (earning perks) or attitudinal (emotional) motivations. Navdeep suggests that arriving at a combination of both in a brand’s marketing strategy is ideal. She continues: “Globalisation necessitated a one-size-fits-all approach, but the changing luxury market demands a more personalised response. Brand authenticity is vital, as is a marketing and digital strategy shaped around accurately collected and analysed data.”

“Over the next ten years, growth in luxury travel is expected to exceed that of overall travel – brands must tap-in to consumers’ spiritual and emotional motives for spending their money on travel. Happily, we’re already starting to see premium brands such as major hotel chains react by refining their digital approach.”

Click here to read the full report (‘The Evolving Luxury Hospitality Market – what’s the key to its growth?’).