University praised in new economic report

Ian Gordon
Ian Gordon

Hundreds of businesses have benefited from initiatives developed by Lancaster University’s management school, a new report has found.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) praised the ‘extensive links’ social science researchers had formed with the private sector.

In particular, the Leading Enterprise and Development (LEAD) programme was found to have increased productivity and sales at 250 companies in the Lancaster area.

It included workshops, masterclasses, lectures and networking events, which helped managers increase their profitability and grow their business. Out of 110 businesses surveyed, around half indicated an increase in sales turnover since signing up.

And the Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) programme, launched in 2008, hosts more than 20 entrepreneurs, who help the school better understand the world view of business owners, the report said.

Ian Gordon, the school’s senior teaching fellow and head of leadership and management programmes for small and medium enterprises, said: “For the last 10 years the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development at Lancaster University has been deeply involved with the production of research-informed programmes for businesses that joins them in their world.

“This recognition by the ESRC that our work is making a positive contribution to improving the economy is a welcome endorsement of our strategy to engage with business on a local, regional and national basis.”

Dr Eleanor Hamilton, associate dean for enterprise engagement and impact at the school, added: “This report recognises that the strategy of the school reflects its high level of commitment to business impact and that this plays a significant role in its mission, practice and reputation.”

Paul Boyle, chief executive of ESRC, said business engagement was a ‘key priority’ for the council, adding that she was pleased to see the ‘excellent work’ business schools were doing to support the economy.

The report was also welcomed by the Government, with Universities and Science Minister David Willetts saying it showed business schools played a ‘vital role in stimulating growth in their local economies’.

The authors of the ESRC report, entitled Evaluating the Business Impact of Social Science, looked at the business and management schools at Lancaster, Cardiff and Warwick universities.

Their aim was to understand how social science influences business.