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A diverse community of
leading experts, policymakers
and practitioners

The Institute’s key research themes
are led by ten academic partners
spread across the UK.

We’re a UK-wide research
organisation exploring what
productivity means for business

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.


Human capital, innovation and competitiveness in the UK’s leading firms

This project is designed to help understand the changing demand for human capital in the UK from an interdisciplinary perspective. The empirical focus on the combined strategies and structures of firms in sectors with the highest R&D investment – namely, pharmaceuticals, automotive / engineering and computer programming/software development – will fill a major knowledge gap in understanding how human capital shapes UK productivity.

There are three inter-related aspects to the project rationale. The first concerns how leading firms are responding to an environment of increasing technological complexity and disruption. The second aspect concerns firms’ ability to adapt their sourcing, assimilation and exploitation of human capital and other forms of knowledge by reconfiguring networks with other firms (competitors, suppliers, clients) and research/education institutions. The third concerns the firms’ strategic relationship with their international context (including other subsidiaries and international suppliers), since each firm’s distinctive skill and innovation strategies within the UK is likely to be deeply entwined around questions of international business structure.

The research design approaches the analysis inductively through a qualitative study. Phase one looks at background data from the top 25 R&D spenders in pharmaceuticals, automotive/engineering and computer programming/software development, while phase two consists of detailed case studies of a sub-sample of three companies (and their networks), with a wider range of interviews and data collection within the firms and across multiple actors.

Project leads Damian Grimshaw, Marcela Miozzo (King’s College London)

Kings College London