Aston Business School

Aston, United Kingdom

Aston Business School

Aston, United Kingdom
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Mole K.F.,University of Warwick | Hart M.,Aston Business School | Roper S.,University of Warwick | Saal D.S.,Aston Business School
Environment and Planning A | Year: 2011

Most advanced economies offer publicly financed advice services to start-up firms and SMEs. In England, local or regional Business Links organisations have provided these services, and divided their support into nonintensive one-off contacts providing information or advice and more intensive support involving a diagnostic process and repeated interaction with firms. A key choice for Business Link managers is how to shape their intervention strategies, balancing resources between intensive and nonintensive support. Drawing on resource dependency theory, we develop a typology of intervention strategies for Business Links in England which reflects differences in the breadth and depth of the support provided. We then test the impacts of these alternative intervention models on client companies using both subjective assessments by firms and econometric treatment models that allow for selection bias. Our key empirical result is that Business Links' choice of intervention strategy has a significant effect both on actual and on perceived business outcomes, with our results emphasising the value of depth over breadth. The implication is that where additional resources are available for business support these should be used to deepen the assistance provided rather than extend assistance to a wider group of firms. © 2011 Pion Ltd and its Licensors.


Ganotakis P.,University of Birmingham | Hsieh W.-L.,Aston Business School | Love J.H.,Aston Business School
Production Planning and Control | Year: 2013

This article investigates whether (1) cross-functional integration within a firm and the use of information systems (IS) that support information sharing with external parties can enhance integration across the supply chain and wider networks and (2) whether collaboration with customers, suppliers and other external parties leads to increased supply chain performance in terms of new product development and introduction of new processes. Data from a high-quality survey carried out in Taiwan in 2009 were used, and appropriate econometric models were applied. Results show that the adoption of IS that enhance information sharing is vital not only for the effective communication with suppliers and with wider network members, but their adoption also has a direct effect across a firm's innovative effort. Cross-functional integration appears to matter only for the introduction of an innovative process. Collaboration with customers and suppliers affected a product's design and its overall features and functionality, respectively. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.


News Article | December 22, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

Drive and determination are vital for an entrepreneur to succeed. Serial entrepreneurs, those that launch more than one business, often have to sustain this drive across international borders and multiple industries. Could it be that traits common among serial entrepreneurs better prepare them for global success? According to a report by the Centre for Entrepreneurs and Coutts these include an ability to spot new opportunities, a willingness to delegate, an aptitude for building and exploiting a wide-ranging professional network. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), which runs an annual UK survey, habitual entrepreneurs (those who have started more than one business) are more likely than one-time founders to be making over 25% of their turnover outside the UK (39% of serial entrepreneurs were making this proportion of their sales overseas, compared to 16% of one-time founders). Ewen Gaffney, managing director of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, says while international expansion has always been a big win for entrepreneurs, its challenges, including red tape and bureaucracy, are off-putting. So how do serial entrepreneurs tackle these barriers to international expansion, and are they better at it than one-time founders? Dimo Dimov, a professor in innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Bath, says serial entrepreneurs benefit from the extra experience. “They develop knowledge, they learn how to deal with situations. That helps them with their exporting and international [success].” With 20 years experience, Richard Upshall is a serial entrepreneur whose businesses operate in the UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United States and Singapore. He is executive chair of OES Oilfield Services Group, which launched in 1996 and provides oilfield inspection, rig and drilling equipment through its offices all over the world. He also heads up the international RU group of businesses, which includes a sports management company, a professional services practice, an offshore skills and competency business, a record label and artist representation company. Upshall’s varied portfolio supports another point in the GEM survey; it found that serial entrepreneurs are more likely to be involved in new product markets – products or services that don’t yet have a fully established customer base (53% compared to 36% for first-time entrepreneurs). As Mark Hart, professor in entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, puts it, serial entrepreneurs’ networks help them to sustain businesses across countries and sectors. “They would have taken their network from each venture into the next one. They’ve got a great black book, they don’t have to rely on [knowing the] culture or language or using embassies [to take their enterprise across borders]. They exploit their contacts.” A one-time founder may seek to grow their business by replicating it in a new territory. Upshall, however, has learned it’s preferable to avoid a full set up in each country. In some, he has found, customer support can be provided from one regional office, making expansion cheaper and quicker. Upshall takes his learnings from one business and applies them to others. This is common among serial entrepreneurs that take their businesses global, says Dimov. “After you’ve got through [the journey of] starting up a business a few times you get a sense of the unexpected, of what you need to prepare for and how to respond.” Indeed, not all of Upshall’s overseas enterprises have turned out as he expected. In the early 90s he bought three sheep farms in Australia – an opportunity he spotted while backpacking. While selling the meat and wool produced at these farms wasn’t hugely profitable, buying and looking after them paid off. He sold the farmland at a profit. This taught him to spot opportunities in a business’s adversity. “Your original business plan might have to adapt [...] That has rung true through all the businesses I’ve had.” Indeed, 91% of entrepreneurs with six or more businesses told the Centre for Entrepreneurs that they see opportunities where others see risk. But, of course, serial entrepreneurs must still consider business risks. And they know the success of a business depends on what it produces or provides. According to Jack Hubbard, founder and CEO of marketing services agency Propellernet and founder of Dream Valley Projects, which runs adventurous events, products are easier than services to expand internationally. He says: “Scaling services means hiring more people, which can be expensive, unreliable and hard to manage. Results can be inconsistent and frustrating.” As such, Propellernet decided against international expansion. Instead Hubbard took his business overseas by creating a product called CoverageBook, an online reporting tool for PR professionals. It now has customers in more than 20 countries. But one of the biggest risks of overseas expansion is losing focus on the core business. “It is crucial that you delegate the running of your core business [in Hubbard’s case, Propellernet] to someone capable,” Hubbard says. He knew he needed to delegate and find a strong operations manager when Propellernet hit a plateau after two years. Serial entrepreneurs stand out from one-time founders in this ability to delegate, says Hart. “They have good teams of people around them, people who share their entrepreneurial skills.” Like Upshall, Hubbard flags the cost of premises, salaries and administration when expanding overseas. He says: “If it isn’t necessary to set up physical operations, don’t do it. Many of our software customers are based in New York, which happened to be on our marketing director’s Stella Bayles [travel] bucket list.” To grow CoverageBook in the US, the company booked Bayles a flight to New York and paid for her accommodation for three months. She worked from cafes so that she didn’t incur any overheads, although the company covered her expenses. She initially took a three-month tourist visa to assess the opportunity and then returned to the UK with a plan to go back to the US for another year. Since most of CoverageBook’s customers are in the US, Bayles has applied for a working visa. As the GEM research shows, serial entrepreneurs buck the trend for poor exporting take up among the UK’s small businesses. In the UK, just one in five small businesses export. Hart says: “This is very low by global standards.” He adds: “Serial entrepreneurs are much more likely to have come up against the challenges involved with exporting before.” For one-time business owners who want to take their venture overseas, there’s much to learn from serial entrepreneurs’ adaptability in their international ventures. Hart says. “The key to fast business growth is innovation, which comes with exposing yourself to the international marketplace.” Sign up to become a member of the Guardian Small Business Network here for more advice, insight and best practice direct to your inbox.


Corradini C.,Aston Business School | De Propris L.,Birmingham Business School
Environment and Planning A | Year: 2015

This paper assesses the impact of regional technological diversification on the emergence of new innovators across EU regions. Integrating analyses from regional economics, economic geography and technological change literatures, we explore the role that the regional embeddedness of actors characterised by diverse technological competencies may have in fostering novel and sustained interactions leading to new technological combinations. In particular, we test whether greater technological diversification improve regional ‘combinatorial’ opportunities leading to the emergence of new innovators. The analysis is based on panel data obtained merging regional economic data from Eurostat and patent data from the CRIOS-PATSTAT database over the period 1997–2006, covering 178 regions across 10 EU Countries. Accounting for different measures of economic and innovative activity at the NUTS2 level, our findings suggest that the regional co-location of diverse technological competencies contributes to the entry of new innovators, thereby shaping technological change and industry dynamics. Thus, this paper brings to the fore a better understanding of the relationship between regional diversity and technological change. © 2015, The Author(s) 2015.


Baines T.S.,Aston Business School | Lightfoot H.W.,Cranfield University | Smart P.,Cranfield University
Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture | Year: 2012

Servitization is a growing area of interest amongst practitioners, policymakers, and academics, and much is still to be learnt about its adoption in practice. This paper makes a contribution to this debate by identifying the key facilities practices that successful servitizing manufacturers appear to be deploying, and the underlying rationale behind their configuration. Although these are preliminary findings from a longer-term research programme, this short communication seeks to highlight the implications for manufacturing professionals and organizations who are considering the servitization of their operations. © IMechE 2012.


Lightfoot H.W.,Cranfield University | Baines T.,Aston Business School | Smart P.,Cranfield University
Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture | Year: 2011

Services-led competitive strategies are critically important to Western manufacturers. This paper contributes to our basic knowledge of such strategies by examining the enabling information and communication technologies that successfully servitized manufacturers appear to be adopting. Although these are preliminary findings from a longer-term research programme, through this paper we seek to offer immediate assistance to manufacturers who wish to understand how they might exploit the servitization movement. © 2011 Authors.


Hatami-Marbini A.,Catholic University of Louvain | Tavana M.,University of la Salle of Colombia | Emrouznejad A.,Aston Business School
International Journal of Fuzzy System Applications | Year: 2012

Health care organizations must continuously improve their productivity to sustain long-term growth and profitability. Sustainable productivity performance is mostly assumed to be a natural outcome of successful health care management. Data envelopment analysis (DEA) is a popular mathematical programming method for comparing the inputs and outputs of a set of homogenous decision making units (DMUs) by evaluating their relative efficiency. The Malmquist productivity index (MPI) is widely used for productivity analysis by relying on constructing a best practice frontier and calculating the relative performance of a DMU for different time periods. The conventional DEA requires accurate and crisp data to calculate the MPI. However, the real-world data are often imprecise and vague. In this study, the authors propose a novel productivity measurement approach in fuzzy environments with MPI. An application of the proposed approach in health care is presented to demonstrate the simplicity and efficacy of the procedures and algorithms in a hospital efficiency study conducted for a State Office of Inspector General in the United States. © 2012, IGI Global.


News Article | November 25, 2016
Site: www.theguardian.com

The technology predated the internal combustion engine, but has never really been in the running since the birth of the Model T. It might not, then, be immediately reassuring that the government has pinned its industrial strategy for a post-Brexit Britain on electric cars. But Jaguar Land Rover’s announcement that it plans to build electric vehicles (EVs) here – subject to government subsidising investment in new infrastructure – underlines the change in fortunes for the technology that, until the Nissan Leaf came to Britain in 2013, largely made people think of milk floats. JLR, which launched its first electric model, the IPace, under its Jaguar brand a fortnight ago, is now seen as a relatively late entrant to a market re-awakened by Tesla and Nissan and nurtured by a global desire to cut emissions and limit pollution. Legislation is forcing manufacturers to lower their fleets’ average tailpipe emissions, making EVs imperative for Jaguar – a specialist in gas-guzzlers. And the cost of a new Tesla means they are competing in same premium market where JLR fishes for customers. Meanwhile, rapid improvements in batteries and charging infrastructure are tackling drivers’ anxieties about vehicle range. And low running costs, allied with tax incentives, have offset the high price of cars for early adopters. David Bailey, professor of industrial strategy at Aston Business School, said: “Electric cars so far haven’t taken off in a big way partly because of the upfront costs and relatively poor consumer perception but I’m confident that will change. We’ll see a lot of new cars in 2017 with significantly greater range, like the Tesla Model 3, the Chevrolet Bolt, as well as models from Renault and Nissan. They will be game-changers. “We’re about to see the first wave of viable electric cars that can compete in the mass market – and when battery prices come down in the mid-2020s there will be a tipping point when EVs can outcompete the internal combustion engine.” Electric vehicles currently represent less than 1% of the European market. A serious commitment from a big hitter like JLR will help change that.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.bbc.co.uk

Insurance cover for self-driving cars must offer protection for both times when the driver is in control and when the vehicle is in charge, according to new proposals from the UK government. The measures are outlined in the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill. Ministers says they want to ensure it is easy for accident victims to claim compensation if a collision occurs when the cars are in automatic mode. Insurers could still try to recover their costs from the vehicles' makers. However, the bill - which applies to England, Scotland and Wales but not Northern Ireland - makes two exemptions. If a vehicle's owner has made unauthorised changes to the car's software or fails to install an update that their policy requires them to, then they become liable. It is proposed the Department of Transport will determine which cars will be classed as self-driving and become subject to the requirements. The suggestions have been welcomed by the insurance industry. "It demonstrates the government's clear commitment to moving forward when it comes to automated vehicles," said Ben Howarth, senior policy adviser at the Association of British Insurers. "As an industry, we want to keep insurance as straightforward as possible, which is why insurers proposed the simple approach which the government is now taking forward." Self-driving cars are already being tested on UK roads. But many car companies predict it will be a decade or more before they begin to sell or rent fully autonomous cars to the general public. Even so, the government believes the country will benefit from having related laws put in place in advance. "It will... enable consumers in the United Kingdom to be amongst the first in the world to reap the rewards that improved transport technology will bring," the bill states. "Putting the United Kingdom at the forefront of the most modern transport revolution will create new jobs and fuel economic growth around the country." Other measures outlined by the bill include powers to: Some businesses may resist being made to invest in the technology at an early stage, but one expert welcomed the fact the government might require them to do so. "When you've got a big transition to a new technology, the market can take a long time to do what's required," said Prof David Bailey, from Aston Business School. "So, I think this is about trying to stimulate things more quickly than would happen otherwise."


News Article | November 8, 2016
Site: www.bbc.co.uk

Hyperloop One, the firm that wants to build a futuristic super-fast transport system, has announced that the first version may connect Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In a video, it promised journey times of 12 minutes between the two cities. The technology is still in testing phase so details of the deal were sketchy. Initially, it will explore the feasibility of building a line linking the two cities. Hyperloop was originally an idea from Tesla's boss and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, who conceived the technical details of the transport system but left it to commercial firms to make the vision a reality. The high-speed transportation system would use electric propulsion to accelerate a passenger or cargo pod through a low-pressure tube at speeds of up to 700mph. The vehicle would levitate above the track, which is likely to be built on stilts above the ground. There are currently two main firms attempting to make it a reality - Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) and Hyperloop One. Hyperloop One, which hosted its Dubai announcement at the top of the world's tallest building - the Burj Khalifa - has signed a feasibility deal with the emirate's roads and transportation agency. It will explore the possibility of using the technology at Dubai's Jebel Ali port. Journey times between Dubai and Abu Dhabi are currently an hour or more. It suggested that the system could also be used to cut journey times from Dubai to Riyadh to 48 minutes and from Dubai to Doha to 23 minutes. Rival Hyperloop firm HTT signed a deal in March to bring its technology to Slovakia, aiming to link Bratislava with Vienna and Budapest. The team at Hyperloop One is expected to unveil the first glimpse of what the transportation pods will look like soon. Prof David Bailey, from the Aston Business School, said the plan in the United Arab Emirates was "more feasible" than previous announcements to use Hyperloop to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco. "Building it through the desert means you can plan a route that is straight - it doesn't do curves very well - and the government there will see it as a way to be at the forefront of a new technology," he told the BBC. But he added there remained a lot of "technical and other hurdles" to overcome, not least whether people would want to travel at such high speeds and in such a manner.

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