Rob Law CEO Trunki: Unpacking leadership and innovation

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On Thursday 7th February, Rob Law CEO MBE Trunki gave an inspirational guest lecture at the Bristol Business School.

Rob spoke about his career challenges and how he has grown the Trunki brand on an international scale.

He also talked about his leadership style and how he keeps the Trunki team motivated.

Rob was talking as part of our free CPD programme for alumni, Trailblazers. The Trailblazer Programme blends face-to-face sessions with webinars and social events. Participants are motivated to maximise personal impact, boost effectiveness and develop leadership skills. The talk was also open to the public.

Facebook Usage and Mental Health

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Originally posted on the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre blog here.

Dr Guru Prabhakar’s co-authored paper has been published in the International Journal of Information Management (Impact Factor: 4.5).

Facebook Usage and Mental Health: An empirical study of role of non-directional social comparisons in the UK.

This paper explores the relationship between the nature of Facebook usage, non-directional comparisons and depressive syndromes. The extant research on linkage between social media usage and mental health is inconclusive. There is small but significant causal linkage between increased non-directional social comparisons and depressive symptoms among the users.

This study hypothesizes that one of the mediating factors could be the social comparisons that Facebook users conduct whilst on the site. Dr Prabhakar’s paper therefore explores the link between non-directional social comparisons on Facebook, with increased depressive symptoms in 20-29 year olds.  In brief, a positive correlation was found between passive Facebook use and non-directional social comparisons.

The findings of the research have implications at three levels: individuals, firms and medical practitioners. The individuals shall benefit from the finding that passive Facebook usage would lead to increase in social comparison which in turn results in depressive symptoms. The passive usage behaviour includes logging into the sites and monitoring others’ profiles without any interaction. Over a period of time, this might result in depression.

The issues surrounding social media usage and mental health in the UK have also been highlighted recently in the media. For example, only a few days ago the BBC published the following article:

Mental health: UK could ban social media over suicide images, minister warns

Follow this link to view the full paper:

Nisar, T. , Prabhakar, G. , Ilavarasan, P. and Baabdullah, A. (2019) Facebook usage and mental health: An empirical study of role of non-directional social comparisons in the UK. International Journal of Information Management, 48. pp. 53-62. ISSN 0268-4012

Functional Spaces for Team Working

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Bristol Business School academics Dr Harriet Shortt and Dr Selen Kars recently spoke to Moon Consulting as part of their series of articles with academic leaders.

Read the full article below which originally appeared here.

With an increased focus on flexible working practices, employers need to be conscious of creating an environment which enhances learning, creativity and knowledge transfer so when teams do come together, they are in the best environment to achieve maximum results. 

In the latest of our articles with academic leaders, we talk to Dr Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor and Dr Selen Kars, Senior Lecturer from Bristol Business School, at the University of the West of England, about how an organisation structures it’s work, breakout and functional spaces and how these can positively impact knowledge transfer and idea generation. 

by Dr Harriet Shortt and Dr Selen Kars

Everyday life at work includes solving problems together, acknowledging people have different skills, expertise, experiences and ideas, and learning how best to exploit these in order to advance organisational objectives. Indeed, it could be argued that knowledge is what makes organisations tick. But the problem is that knowledge often sits in the heads of individual employees, and if it stays there it’s worthless. So, what can organisations do to improve knowledge transfer? The answer could lie in the organisation of space.  

Most of our organisational interactions are routinised. The way work spaces are often organised means that employees typically relate and interact with a small circle of people. Despite open-plan office designs and spatial configurations that encourage people working in the same department or project team to be co-located, interaction patterns are often socially and spatially constrained. Daily interactions occur with colleagues who are sitting on average between only 18 and 25 metres away from us [1]. In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal article reports similarly; there is only 5-10% chance that we will interact with someone only two desk-rows away from where we sit! [2]

However, if you provide temporary, transitory spaces for conversations this provides opportunities for individuals to be exposed to new stimuli and new ideas. For example, international hearing aid producer Oticon replaced the elevators at their headquarters in Denmark with a central spiral staircase that was wide enough to permit chance encounters. Similarly, Pixar’s US headquarters are designed in a way that allows employees to have informal, chance meetings with colleagues all over the organisation, and having one cafeteria for over 1,200 employees was a deliberate choice. Steve Jobs is, infamously, said to suggest only one restroom for the whole company with the same idea in mind; although, luckily, he was later convinced to invest in one on each floor.  

Whether you encourage people meet for coffee on a staircase, at lunch, or in the restroom, the idea is that regular, informal, chance meetings are an effective way of instigating knowledge transfer between employees and create a breeding ground for new knowledge creation through collaboration.  

This is something that our research has revealed over the past decade – particularly with regards to ‘liminal’ spaces. Recent research by Iedema and colleagues[3] has shown, for example, how the corridors of hospitals have a learning function – this ‘ad hoc’ environment is where doctors, nurses and trainees engage in conversations, teach, learn and exchange knowledge. This is because corridors are ‘liminal’ spaces, meaning they are transitory, ‘in-between’ the formal spaces of an organisation, and lack the formality of defined spaces like ‘a meeting room’. Because of this people feel more comfortable asking questions or testing out ideas there, as there is a sense of freedom from organisational constraints and expectations. Harriet’s research exposes similar findings and suggests that it is the liminal spaces at work that provide vital sites for employees to seek and find inspiration and creativity – the toilets, corridors and stairwells are ‘transitory dwelling places’ that momentarily offer a ‘no man’s land’ where, for example, formal power dynamics appear to evaporate[4].   

But if you want to inject some ‘formality’ there are alternative options. Selen’s research with a medium-sized company, with a limited budget for employee training and development, saw the organisation introduce ‘lunch and learn’ sessions. These sessions were held in the busy cafeteria area, where interested employees gathered around a big table to learn about new products, a new process or practice they needed to follow. An open, transitory space like this may not be your first choice for a venue when you design a training event but think about the multiplier effect you could create – passers-by overhearing discussions, deciding to sit down or stand for a while, and taking new knowledge with them when they leave.  

Many have argued that physical proximity positively influences social relationships, friendships among colleagues and, in turn, job satisfaction[5]. Indeed, Harriet’s recent publication on eating cake in the office highlights some of these points[6]. In a study of spatial interactions in a large open-plan UK Government office, she found that – again, against organisational conventions – what really got people moving beyond the 18-25 metre mark, was the sharing and brandishing of cakes and biscuits at the end of long shared desks. The combination of cake and an open-plan office encouraged these temporary pockets of space to be socially created in the corridors and walkways between desks, and for social relationships and knowledge transfer to really flourish.

So, although we may find the familiarity of constrained social and spatial interactions at times rather comforting, if we don’t travel more than 20 metres on a typical work day to talk with our colleagues, we need to remember this severely limits the insights, ideas, and experiences we’re potentially subjected to. The liminal, in-between spaces not only allow for different relationships to be built across knowledge frontiers, but they can also facilitate shared learning processes where employees communicate knowledge, challenge practices and support knowledge creation, experimentation and innovation.

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Moon Consulting understand the challenges that employers face when recruiting for an evolving market. The brightest talent is high in demand, and often hard to find. Our comprehensive local and global knowledge coupled with our extensive industry awareness allows us to source those hard-to-find skillsets whilst providing unparalleled service.

We work closely with your business, taking the time to understand the impact of the latest trends and product innovations. In addition, our office deliberately open plan which allows our experienced team of search consultants to work collaboratively across assignments.  

If you would like to find out how we can help you, contact the team on 01275 371 200 or recruit@moonconsulting.co.uk.

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[1] Sailer, K. and Penn, A. (2009) Spatiality and transpatiality in workplace environments. In: Koch, D. and Marcus, L. and Steen, J., (eds.) Proceedings of the 7th International Space Syntax Symposium. Royal Institute of Technology (KTH): Stockholm, Sweden. Available from: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/15303/

[2] Feintzeig, R. (2013) The New Science of Who Sits Where at Work, Wall Street Journal, 8 October. Available from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/no-headline-available-1381261423

[3] Iedema R, Long D and Carroll K (2012) Corridor communication, spatial design and patient safety: Enacting and managing complexities. In: Van Marrewijk A and Yanow D (eds) Organizational Spaces: Rematerializing the Workaday World. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, pp. 41–57.

[4] Shortt, H. (2015) Liminality, space and the importance of ‘transitory dwelling places’ at work. Human Relations, 68 (4). pp. 633-658. Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/26742

[5] See Eric Sundstrom’s work for a more extensive discussion of this. Sundstrom, E. (1986) Work Places: The Psychology of the Physical Environment in Offices and Factories. New York: Cambridge University Press.  

[6] Shortt, H. (2017) Cake and the open plan office: A foodscape of work through a Lefebvrian lens. In: Kingma, S. , Dale, K. and Wasserman, V. (eds.) Organizational Space and Beyond: The significance of Henri Lefebvre for organizational studies. London: Routledge. [In Press] Available from: http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/31539 ‘

Kick start your 2019 with an Executive Education short course from UWE Bristol

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Looking for a new challenge in 2019? Or simply want to learn something new? As a new year’s treat, we have early bird discounts on several of our executive education short courses.

Below we’ve included some information on some of the courses but there are loads more on our website

Coaching and Mentoring (ILM Level 5 and 7) 

Aimed at anyone who undertakes coaching and/or mentoring in their workplace, this short course is ideal for managers with significant responsibility for coaching and mentoring as part of their day-to-day role working with employees and colleagues. It is also designed to develop learners planning to move into a development role or start a career as a freelance coach or mentor offering coaching and mentoring to people within work settings.

Next course date: February 2019. Early bird discount ends: 20 January. Find out more here.

Professional Certification in Digital Marketing

Whether you are a business owner who wants to improve online engagement, a professional marketer, or a complete beginner, this certification will provide you with an introduction to key digital specialisms, from mobile and social media marketing, to email, PPC and SEO.

Validated by the Digital Marketing Institute, the certification is delivered here in Bristol by experienced academics and consultants who apply our expertise and cutting-edge thinking with a practical focus

Next course date: February 2019. Early bird discount ends: 16 January. Find out more here

New Leaders Programme (ILM Level 3)

Our New Leaders Programme is an exciting interactive course blending theoretical knowledge with practical skills, designed to give those new to management or looking to obtain their first line management qualification the core skills needed to succeed in a role as an effective team manager. You will be given the space to work closely with your course peers and to explore real life examples of your management practice.

Structured over a four month period the programme offers you the opportunity to take away learning from the training sessions to apply in your workplace; in addition to the opportunity to reflect on and assess your impact as a manager.

Next course date: March 2019. Early bird discount ends: 22 January. Find out more here

Finance for Non-Financial Managers

 As a decision-maker in a small or medium sized business you can use financial information to resolve problems and improve performance. This programme will provide you with the basic skills and understanding of how to do this.

This programme is specifically designed for managers and supervisors who need a basic understanding of the principles of finance, those new to a role with responsibility for financial control, or anyone working with finance and accounting staff.   

Next course date: March 2019 Early bird discount ends: 28 January. Find out more here

Design Thinking for Managers

Design Thinking has emerged as a human-centred, creative and robust approach to solving problems and identifying opportunities in business and social contexts.

Rooted in the creative strategies that professional designers use in the process of designing products and/or services, Design Thinking is an approach without boundaries. Everybody is creative given the right process to ‘unlock’ their creativity and provide an alternative mindset in approaching a challenge.

This highly practical programme will introduce you to Design Thinking as a process for finding new, relevant and transformative solutions that create a positive impact

Next course date: April 2019. Early bird discount ends: 6 February. Find out more here

Successful Events Management

This highly practical course focuses on utilising the potential power of events to achieve personal, organisational and social outcomes for both the public and private sectors.  It explores the purpose of events and how event managers can develop appropriate experiences for their intended audiences and clients.

This course is purposely designed to immerse you in developing event ideas, pitching concepts and designing research to capture event outcomes.  The course will incorporate a site visit within Bristol as part of a fieldwork activity relating to event design.

Next course date: April 2019. Early bird discount ends: 6 February. Find out more here

Case Study: Empowering women through mentoring

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. This case study looks at Professor Sue Durbin and  Empowering women through mentoring.

Written by Jeremy Allen:

In the UK, there is a distinct lack of women in engineering roles and this is prevalent in the aerospace and aviation industries. A project led by UWE Bristol that is four years in the making is helping women to move up the career ladder and to seek support by receiving mentoring from other women in the industry. This work hopes to change the way females are perceived in male-dominated industries and aims to put an end to gender inequality in engineering.

“The UK is the country in Europe that has the least amount of women in engineering and this includes the aerospace industry, where there is a chronic shortage of females,” says project leader Professor Sue Durbin, whose research specialises in gender inequalities in employment in male dominated industries. “Through this project, we want to empower women to gain confidence by receiving non-judgemental female-to-female advice and support, thereby enabling their careers to take off.”

Called ‘alta’, the project enables professional women to access an online platform to help them link up with a suitable female mentor. Based on their answers to online questions, the website’s algorithm then matches up the mentee with the most compatible mentor.

Volunteering mentors are also required to answer questions on the platform to determine whether they have the right skills and personality to oversee someone else’s career development. As well as helping women receive career guidance, alta is beneficial for the mentors, as it helps raise their profile in the profession.

After initial contact, both parties are free to arrange when, where and how often they meet, although they are advised to meet for one to two hours every six weeks.

Under the aegis of the Royal Aeronautical Society, alta is working with Airbus, the Royal Air Force and other partners across the aerospace industry. By signing up to alta and paying a small joining fee, companies can help their female professionals receive mentoring from across the industry – not just from someone in their company.

Such assistance can help women feel valued, to assist them in getting into leadership positions, and increase female retention in the industry. It might also help them gain confidence, receive assistance when they are returning to work after a maternity break, or reduce their suffering from ‘impostor syndrome,’ whereby they feel they don’t deserve to thrive in a male-dominated workplace.

“If we take the Royal Aeronautical Society, it has 25,000 members but just 1700 are women, while in the UK only four percent of pilots are women,” says Professor Durbin. “This puts a lot of pressure on women working in the industry.”

The mentoring project comes at a time when many young women who take STEM subjects are failing to enter the engineering workforce, given the gender stereotyping that can exist in the sector. Professional women engineers also often drop out of the industry or fail to return after maternity leave. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as a “leaky pipeline,” a metaphor used to describe the continuous loss of women in STEM as they climb the career ladder.

Prior to alta’s launch in June 2018, the team organised focus groups, interviews and a survey to decide how the scheme could help professional women in the aerospace and aviation industry. After contacting 250 women, they discovered that existing mentoring was extremely limited in the industry and often did not include women as mentors. They also discovered that women were actively seeking female mentors in senior positions.

“You can’t be who you can’t see,” says Stella Warren, who is Research Associate in the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre and also works on the project. “If you don’t have a female mentor who is a leader in the industry, it is hard to aspire to reaching that same level.”

One mentee who has received mentoring through alta says it has really helped boost her self-belief.

Guest blog post: A student representatives’ perspective of the Times Higher Education awards ceremony

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Guest author: Mia Collins, 3rd Year Business and Management Student 

Currently in my final year of studying Business and Management, I have been fortunate enough to represent the department as its Lead Department Representative and the Finance, Business and Law faculty as its Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee member. These roles have demonstrated huge benefits to my educational and professional development, yet, the most monumental opportunity the positions have brought me is attending the Times Higher Education Awards in London. As a typical student does, I have had significant exposure to Bristol’s nightlife – but none of them compare to the night I had at the awards ceremony.

The night began on, rather, a stressful start; having only 1 hour to get to get ‘black tie’ ready, I was under significant pressure– for those who know me well enough, will understand exactly the level of stress I mean. Despite this, I was immensely excited. We ventured over to the JV Marriott Grovesnor House in London, where we were met with bubbly and snacks. Walking into the reception room, in itself, was an experience; everyone had gone above and beyond with their appearance and looked fantastic. Before the night had really began, this was a great opportunity for me to get to know the people who facilitate the day to day operations of UWE; as a team of 14 (2 being myself and Lily Liu, the only students in attendance), were able to get to know the likes of Steve West, Donna Whitehead and lot more. Before one too many glasses of prosecco, we got a #teamUWE picture:

(Don’t we scrub up well!)

After a chatter and a social, we were taken into the main awards hall. Merely walking towards the hall, you are greeted by the most amazing floor imaginable (see below). From the onset, everything about the night was glamourous. Once we (eventually) found our tables, we sat down to a starter of crispy salt cod fritter (essentially, the fanciest fish finger ever), followed by slow braised beef short rib with vegetables, finishing off with a Greek yoghurt tart and petits fours – yum.

As time went on, the more nervous we all became, and before we knew it, our category was up next. We had thankfully been shortlisted, for the second year in a row, Business School of the Year and were up against some intense competition. The category was announced… UWE’s participation was mentioned… a huge cheer from all of our 3 tables… on the very edge of our seats…the winner was announced… and THEN, ah. ESCP Europe Business School were awarded the winners of 2018. Despite not winning, this year(!), we didn’t lose spirit. We were up for Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration. Again, we didn’t quite get it this time; we did, however, receive a special commendation for our efforts. Not all bad, eh?

The night didn’t end there – a disco was to follow. Thankfully, we were sat the closest to the stairs, so UWE were the first to get to the dancefloor. I must add, we took over the ENTIRE dance floor, truly a UWE takeover. The night didn’t purely involve partying, it was a great opportunity for me to develop my networking skills and get to meet some senior figures from all across the country – one in particular, the Sponsorship Director of the Times Higher Education awards. After hours of singing our hearts – out at the very top of our lungs – lunging and squatting(?) to the beat and showing the other universities why UWE really are the best, the disco came to an end – it takes a lot of skill and endurance to be the FIRST and LAST ones on the dancefloor, but we executed it so well.

We got back to our hotel in the early hours of the morning and, with no voice left and feet in agony from high heels, we sat in the lobby, each with our takeaway laughing and chatting until it was time for bed.

The night as an entity was phenomenal, I am incredibly grateful to be 1 of the 2 students fortunate enough to attend. I’ve not only taken away great memories from it but have also made great relationships with senior staff whom I would never usually have the opportunity meet. A huge thank you to everyone who facilitated the evening and made it as incredible as it was. Every day I am more and more honoured to represent UWE and everything we achieve. Bring on Business School of the Year 2019!

Below are a few photos from the evening:

Case study: Eliminating Uncertainties and Improving Productivity in Mega Projects using Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. This case study looks at Professor Lukumon Oyedele and the power of big data in relation to Mega Projects. 

Written by Jeremy Allen:

A series of projects at the Bristol Business School combining cutting-edge digital technologies could potentially revolutionise the way industry tackles management of Mega Projects at the bidding stage. These innovative technologies include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Virtual Reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Professor Lukumon Oyedele and his team of developers have created software that harnesses the power of big data and artificial intelligence to help companies accurately plan and execute Mega Projects (large-scale, complex ventures that typically cost hundreds of millions of pounds).

The software uses advanced analytics to predict a whole range of complex project parameters such as three-points estimates, tender summaries, cash flow, project plans, risks, innovations, opportunities, as well as health and safety incidents.

The project, whose flagship simulation tool is called Big-Data-BIM, is part of a partnership with leading UK construction contractor Balfour Beatty, to help it plan better power infrastructure projects involving the construction of overhead lines, substations and underground cabling. By using the software, the company is able to improve productivity and maximise profit margins.

“When planning a tender for a project, companies often plan for a profit of 10 to 15 percent, but on finishing the project, many struggle to make two percent profit margin,” says Professor Oyedele, who is Assistant Vice-Chancellor and Chair Professor of Enterprise and Project Management.

“The reason is that there are many unseen activities, which are hard to capture during the early design stage. Besides, the design process itself is non-deterministic. This is why when you ask two quantity surveyors how much a project is likely to cost; they often produce different figures.

“With Big-Data-BIM, we are bringing in objectivity to plan the projects and taking care of uncertainties by engaging advanced digital technologies, so that a tender estimate remains accurate until project completion, with minimal deviation from what was planned at the beginning.”

The tool taps into 20 years of Balfour Beatty’s data on power infrastructure projects and learns predictive models that inform the most optimal decisions for executing the given work. The tool informs the business development team at the beginning of the project whether it is likely to succeed or fail.

One of the functions of the software is to create a 3D visual representation of project routes to understand complexity, associated risks (like road and river crossings) and opportunities (such as shared yards and local suppliers). For this purpose, the software taps into Google Maps data and integrates data from the British Geological Survey and Ordnance Survey to discover automatically the number of roads, rivers, and rail crossings.

The tool performs extensive geospatial analysis to find out the optimal construction route and measure distances between route elements with a high degree of accuracy. “This all happens within a twinkle of an eye. Without leaving your office, you can determine the obstacles on the planned route of the cables, or whether there is a river in the way,” says Professor Oyedele.

By mining the huge datasets of health and safety incidents, the software can also determine what kind of injuries might occur on a project, and even produce a detailed analysis of the most probable body parts that could be prone to injury. This can help prepare an accurate health and safety risk assessment before the work begins.

The software provides an intuitive dashboard called “Opportunity on a page” where all predictions are visualised to facilitate data-driven insights for designers to make critical planning decisions.

As a contractor, Balfour Beatty uses the tool to enable it to submit the best bids to clients so that it can have a high chance of winning them. The software is also set to be provided for other industries carrying out linear projects. These are to include water distribution networks, and the rail, roads, as well as oil and gas sectors.

 

Case study: Shaping minimum wage policy

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Featured Researcher: Professor Felix Ritchie

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. This case study looks at Professor Felix Ritchie’s research on the minimum wage.

Written by Jeremy Allen: 

Research conducted at Bristol Business School on the UK’s minimum wage has significantly influenced how the government sets its rates for entry-level pay. By helping shape policy decisions, and redesigning some national surveys about pay, the work has led to direct impact on the wider community.

“Wage levels are extremely important – the difference of a few pence on a wage may be negligible to an employer, but for someone on the breadline working 40 hours per week, this can make a big difference,” says Dr Felix Ritchie who leads the research.

Dr Ritchie is Director of the University’s Bristol Centre for Economics and Finance (BCEF) and is an authority on non-compliance with the minimum wage in the UK and on the quality and use of labour market data.

He and UWE Bristol colleagues Dr Hilary Drew and Dr Helen Mortimore (both Human Resource Management experts) have worked extensively with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Low Pay Commission (LPC). Their work has looked to establish whether results from national surveys on minimum wage paint a true picture of the minimum wage landscape. This in turn allows governments to monitor more accurately how the rate affects employment.

The team has discovered that survey results on minimum wage often do not tell the whole story. Based on statistical analysis and interviews, they have found that both employers and employees tend to round up or reduce rates to the nearest whole number when answering survey questions about pay.

This means that a wage set at, say, £7.05 can lead employees to report it as £7 on a survey, which inaccurately implies employer non-compliance. And if the wage level is below a whole number (e.g. £6.93), the employer tends to round up the figure, meaning statistics inaccurately show a higher number of employers paying over the minimum wage.

Based on these findings, Dr Ritchie and his colleagues have made a recommendation to set a rate that is easier to use in calculations. In 2014, this directly influenced the government’s decision to set the wage at £6.50, which subsequently had a direct impact on how employers reported their pay in surveys, and led to more accurate statistics.

The researchers have also found that employers who are non-compliant in paying the minimum wage – especially when remunerating apprentices – often do so unintentionally because of a lack of knowledge about wage structure. For instance, minimum wages are usually based on age, but employers are sometimes unaware that apprentices over 18 are eligible for a higher wage once they complete their first year of training.

“Apprentices trust Employers, who think they are doing the right thing but many don’t know or understand the rules. This means that if something goes wrong, there may be no mechanism for correcting errors,” explains Dr Ritchie.

The experts also found that while surveys indicated that up to 40% of apprentices appeared to be underpaid, the true figure was closer to 10-15%. Based on interviews with apprentices, the team attributed this inaccuracy to the poor survey wording. Dr Hilary Drew explains: “We found that the apprentices had problems filling information in, and we wouldn’t have known this just by looking at the statistics.”

The team therefore suggested ways to modify the questionnaire with more accessible questions so results would better represent apprentices’ knowledge of hours and pay. This was implemented in a brand new survey.

Overall, the team has developed an excellent reputation in the area of wage level statistical analysis. As a result, the LPC and other organisations often call on Dr Ritchie and colleagues as experts to comment on minimum wage policy.

Professor Felix Ritchie

Featured researcher: Professor Felix Ritchie

Felix is an applied economist with an interest in government data, labour economics, data management and security, statistical disclosure control, privacy and identification, decision-making policy in the public sector and alcohol and drugs policies.

Email: felix.ritchie@uwe.ac.uk Phone: +4411732 81319

Case study: Healthcare manufacture brought closer to home

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. The first case study looks at Professor Wendy Philips research on redistributed manufacturing. Written by Jeremy Allen: 

Health services around the world are under pressure to deliver affordable healthcare while addressing the needs of an aging population and deliver cost-effective, right-first-time treatments close to the point-of-need.

Fortunately, innovative manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing and advanced robotics mean that in the not-too-distant future, we may be able to make medical products in our home, or have print-on-demand personalised medicines made at the supermarket while we shop. Bespoke devices such as prosthetics and orthotics could even be ordered online and delivered to our door the next day.

Paving the way for such a future is a research network called ‘Redistributed Manufacturing in Healthcare Network’ (RiHN). Led by Professor Wendy Phillips at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), RiHN has been investigating the implications and challenges involved in the Redistributed Manufacturing (RDM) of customised healthcare.

RDM is defined as technology, systems and strategies that change the economics and organisation of manufacturing, particularly in relation to location and scale. It supports smaller-scale precision manufacturing, enabling more efficient use of resources, reduced environmental impact and more resilient supply chains that are less susceptible to global shocks.

“The RiHN aims to deliver a collective vision of the research needed to position the UK at the forefront of healthcare manufacturing,” says Professor Phillips.

RiHN is the first dedicated study of RDM in healthcare and the findings have been of particular value to policy-makers and funders seeking to specify action and to direct attention where it is needed.

The team includes researchers involved in manufacturing, healthcare technologies, management and human factors from the Universities of Loughborough, Cambridge, Cranfield, Nottingham, Newcastle and UWE Bristol.

Professor Phillips and her team have produced a White Paper that explores applications in promising areas of healthcare that could benefit from RDM. The UK has a strong network of pro-active research-orientated universities, especially in the fields of medical research and manufacturing engineering, and the UK is well-positioned to become a world leader in this type of manufacturing.

One practical application for this type of manufacturing is likely to be in locations where there is an acute and urgent need for medical supplies, for example during humanitarian crises, natural disasters or even in conflict zones. The first hours are critical for saving lives or reducing the chances of debilitating conditions; this new model of manufacturing could enable rapid diagnosis, production and testing in remote conditions.

As advocated by the 2017 Industrial Strategy Fund, RDM presents an opportunity to shape new industrial capabilities, attract international talent, and advance new science and manufacturing capability. It can also incentivise investments in infrastructure and exploit the potential of digital innovation. Future research and investment in RDM is likely to improve health outcomes for patients and ultimately benefit the UK economy.

 

Case study: Claiming back our data

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. The first case study looks at Professor Glenn Parry’s research on personal data. Written by Jeremy Allen: 

In a world where we are generating more and more data using online maps, on social media and soon in our homes through the Internet of Things (IoT), Professor Glenn Parry wants to help individuals take control of their personal data.

“Our goal is a lofty one: we are trying to revolutionise the world of personal data and change global data business models from company-controlled to personal controlled data,” he says.

The information we give out on a daily basis creates a stream of personal statistics that subsequently becomes an asset for big corporations like Apple or Facebook.

Professor Parry argues that we should at least be able to retain a copy of our data and be in a position to make it work for us. By collating all our data sets in one place, he and other partners have developed the Hub of All Things (HAT). The digital platform can capture a cross-section of all our activities in cyberspace pertaining to shopping habits, photographs, travel modes etc. that can be linked to specific points in time.

“The HAT helps you manage and organise your data, combine it how you want and decide how to share it with others,” says Parry. “HAT will give you back some control of your own data, letting you decide what to share, with whom and how much detail they receive.”

Increasingly, individuals will produce more data due to the IoT, whereby our household appliances are likely to be connected to the internet.

To determine some of the data that the IoT could generate and re-enforce why it is increasingly important for us to control our own information, Professor Parry and colleagues have conducted experiments in their homes, as part of their research.

Taking bathrooms as a place where there are lots of ‘things’ that can generate data, the researchers set up humidity sensors, movement sensors in towels, motion and light sensors, and scanned shampoo bottles regularly to determine how much of its contents had been consumed.

Experiments helped indicate when we shower, for how long, how much water we consume, how often we use towels and how external factors affect all this data.

One area of Professor Parry’s ongoing research with the HAT involves examining how individuals perceive their vulnerability in cyberspace. By analysing how people perceive risk, he has been able to create a measure of this perception. “People give away quite a lot: a large group tends to underestimate the risk, while many others are aware of the risk yet embrace it,” says the academic.

He advises that there are ways to stop giving away our data and that we can therefore turn off a lot of what is broadcast out. One option is to turn off the location setting on our smartphone. Another is to be vigilant when downloading free apps, as by agreeing to terms and conditions we often open up our contacts list or divulge our location to third parties.

“Following the Cambridge Analytica revelations, people are starting to understand how data can be misused but many are still unaware of the dangers. Our research highlights that our information should be in the hands of individuals, and by working together we can create better e-business models,” says Professor Parry.

He and his colleagues are also working on other business models that could bring good to society. For instance, they are looking at how the technology behind cryptocurrencies – the Block Chain – might be used to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

“The future doesn’t have to be like Blade Runner, it could be more of a utopian future where technology works with us and could perhaps even stop us polluting the seas and help us live a cleaner, healthier life,” says Professor Parry.