Business must embrace change to ‘build back better’

UK business and industry will need to embrace wholesale change if it is to succeed against the turbulent trading conditions wrought by a multitude of factors such as the pandemic, Brexit, climate change, and digitalisation.

From shipping to social media, and food management to flexible working, academics in the Plymouth Business School have identified and analysed some of the defining economic issues of our time as part of a new Knowledge Engagement series.

Published on the University of Plymouth’s website, the series features more than 20 thought-leadership articles by experts across trade, tourism, management, marketing, human resources, finance and accounting They outline some of the biggest challenges facing organisations and consumers in their specialist sectors, as well as some specific opportunities for Plymouth and the South West.

Among the experts featured:

  • Salima Paul, Professor of Credit Management, outlines the issues surrounding trade credit and business-to-business lending, and says that micro businesses in the South West will need to manage their trade credit arrangements more robustly in the uncertain times ahead.
  • Professor Sheela Agarwal, Co-Director of the Centre for Coastal Communities, says the importance of tourism as a solution to local economic challenges in coastal towns has been overstated. Instead, more work needs to be done to improve skills and employment opportunities, with creative and cultural industries playing an important role in the potential regeneration of seaside communities.
  • Dr Hanne Knight, Lecturer in Marketing, writes about how SMEs can better use social media – and how many are missing out on valuable customer loyalty by failing to communicate the positive strides they’ve made around sustainability.
  • Dr Wai Mun Lim, Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer) in Service Management, says businesses must adopt ‘a learner’s mindset’ in order to be successful – and not being afraid to ‘unlearn’ and let go of former successful practices.
  • Dr Jasmine Kelland, Lecturer in Human Resource Studies/Leadership, explains how, rather than reinforcing gender roles, the pandemic has caused parents to re-evaluate their work-life balance and embrace flexibility – and organisational cultures will need to reflect this or risk staff moving on.

“The Knowledge Engagement series is designed to prompt discussion and debate with the business community and the not-for-profit sector,” 

says Dr Steve Butts, Head of School. 

“Whether we are talking about the digital revolution or diversity on corporate boards, our role as an educator is to prepare students for life five, even ten years ahead. Allied to that, and in tune with our civic mission, it’s also vital for all business schools to engage with their community, exchanging knowledge and fostering collaborations for the future.”

Some of the pieces reflect upon situations affecting global markets, such as shipping and supply chains. For example, Dr Lijun Tang, Lecturer in International Shipping and Port Management, says that a ‘perfect storm’ of issues has left the maritime industry in a state of weariness, while Dr Saeyeon Roh, Lecturer in International Logistics, says ports must learn from the Suez Canal crisis in 2021 and invest to improve their resilience.

Others adopt a national perspective, such as Dr Alexander Haupt, Associate Professor of Economics, who says an urgent review of the UK taxation system is required, hastened by the pandemic. He adds that now is the time to push for a new international framework for corporate taxation, and to incentivise green practices.

The Knowledge Engagement series launches a year after the Plymouth Business School underwent a significant restructuring of its academic offering to ensure its degrees were simplified and more industry-led. These changes were in turn shaped by a 15-month consultation period involving business leaders, regional employers, acclaimed international business schools, and previous graduates.

In revising the degrees, the School also analysed the industrial strategies of a number of different governments, as well as the UN Sustainability Development Goals, and sought advice from international employers and consultants.

“Our degrees need to focus upon where the economy is going and where the jobs are going, so that students can make informed choices,”

Steve adds. 

“And there’s an opportunity here as well to share some of that insight with businesses and not-for-profit organisations.”

Creating business impact through knowledge engagement

Hear from expert commentators how business thinking and research can start to answer some of our toughest questions

Knowledge engagement drives our activities and is the means by which Plymouth Business School seeks to share ideas, information and research.

We collaborate with external organisations, businesses and charities across all sectors. If you want to tap into our expertise, we are happy to share our knowledge and ideas.

Discover more about Plymouth Business School's knowledge engagement