Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) make up over 99% of all businesses and employ around 60% of the workforce in the UK. However, many of these firms struggle with low productivity, hindering their growth and competitiveness. British SMEs, in particular, are often poorly managed and lack understanding of innovation and how it can improve productivity (Roland, 2020). While addressing this issue requires a multifaceted approach, our research project aims to increase the understanding and competencies of SME leaders in the innovation process to boost aggregate productivity.
Using an action research approach, we will use workshops to explore the perceived and real barriers that SME leaders face in innovating for increased productivity. We will also use this opportunity to clarify misconceptions around innovation and enhance their knowledge of what productivity is and how it can be improved through innovation.
Working alongside a small group of SME leaders, we will co-create a local package of leadership and management tools to improve innovation practices and innovativeness within their organisations. This package will be designed to be easily adopted in a usable and relevant format, as we recognise that time is a scarce resource for many SME business owners.
Lead researcher Dr Kate Broadhurst, Loughborough Business School, Loughborough University