Search our site
Search our site

SBRC completed projects

Recently completed research projects

Dates refer to the year when the project was completed. All of these projects have associated publications.


Exploring the UK Freelance Workforce in 2015

This research project used official UK government sources (Labour Force Survey, Business Population Estimates) to build a contemporary picture of the UK freelance workforce in quarter 2 of 2015. It provides quantitative data on the UK freelance workforce - including personal characteristics (gender, age, education and training) and work characteristics (occupation, industry, place of work, self-employment duration). The project, led by Professor John Kitching, was commissioned by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE).

Read the report.


Job creation in born global enterprises

This project, undertaken by Hang Do and Robert Blackburn, investigated the motivations for, processes applied in and external support needs related to job creation in the UK by born global enterprises. The study also focused on analysing the characteristics of the created jobs and the effects of job creation on firm performance. The project, commissioned by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (EUROFOUND), involved partners from five EU countries led by IKEI in Spain.

The legal needs of small businesses: an analysis of small businesses' experience of legal problems, capacity and attitudes
This research presented new empirical evidence on small businesses' experiences of legal problems and their strategies and actions in dealing with these problems. It drew upon a sample of over 10,000 small business respondents and included a longitudinal panel of over 1000. The analysis first examined the use of legal services by small firms and how this has changed; and second, modelled small firms' use of legal services to help identify the particular characteristics of firms in relation to the legal problems they face and how these are addressed. The research was commissioned by the Legal Services Board.

Tracking UK freelancer trends 1992-2014

Using secondary data from the Labour Force Survey, this project identified trends in UK freelance workforce numbers and in self-employment during the past 20 years. The data distinguished between those working freelance in main jobs and those working freelance in second jobs, with some other status in their main job.

Estimating the value of the UK contingent workforce, 2013

Using secondary data from the Labour Force Survey, this project estimated the value of the contingent workforce in the UK. Gross weekly earnings data were used to estimate the economic contribution of a diverse range of labour market groups, including those employees working on a temporary basis, employees working on zero hours contracts and the self-employed.

Study on the compliance by member States on the time needed to get licences and permits to take up and perform the specific activity of an enterprise as from beginning of 2014: UK National Fiche
This project formed part of a 37-country study covering EU and non-EU nations. The study investigated licensing and permit requirements for small firms in five sectors (hotel with a restaurant, plumber, wholesale & retail distribution, manufacturer of steel products, IT device manufacturer) and small firm experiences of the licensing regime. The fiche detailed policy objectives and action taken to meet commitments under the EU Services Directive, as well as small firms' experiences of seeking licenses in terms of time taken and fees incurred.

Global university entrepreneurial spirit students' survey (GUESSS)

GUESSS is an international research project using a geographical and temporal comparison to investigate the entrepreneurial intention and activity of students. Thirty four countries participated in the sixth edition of GUESSS in 2013/2014. As an entrepreneurship research platform, GUESSS helps to identify antecedents and boundary conditions in the context of new venture creation and entrepreneurial careers in general and helps the participating countries to reflect on their entrepreneurial spirit with regard to specific basic founding conditions that drive students to become entrepreneurs.

The structure and development of the role of independent editors

There has been a rise in the number of independent editors in the economy. This project led by Dr Alison Baverstock (with Professor Robert Blackburn and Dr Marfuga Iskandarova), sought to explore the motivations, working patterns and experiences of independent editors. The study involved a survey of editors and interviews with those in the publishing industry. The research is of interest to analysts of micro enterprises and of use to those in the editorial and publishing industry.

Cost of the cumulative effects of compliance with EU Law for SMEs

We worked with the Centre for Strategy and Evaluation Services on this European Commission-funded study. Our role in the study was to provide a review of the research literature and methodological approaches prior to the rollout of the fieldwork stage. The study investigated the cumulative effects generated by compliance with EU legislation and its national implementation on SMEs in 5 sectors in 9 countries.


Business and network of enterprising women

This study looked at the impact of women entrepreneurship on the economic, social and cultural local development. It was part of the European project 'Business and network of enterprising women' (B.NEW) which aims to promote women entrepreneurship in French and English areas around the English Channel. The purpose of the study was to define an indicator to determine the impact of women entrepreneurship on the development and activity of French and English territories and to analyse support policies for women entrepreneurship.

The Russian Federation: A country review

This project involved Professor David Smallbone working as part of a team of four undertaking an OECD review of entrepreneurship and SME development in the Russian Federation . Although the aims and methodology were similar to the study of Mexico, the nature of the Russian context presented particular challenges for the researchers . Once again David's responsibility was for SME trends and performance and an assessment of where Russia has reached with respect to the framework conditions for entrepreneurship and SME development. OECD plan to publish the report in late 2014.

Entrepreneurship and Disability

This background paper undertook a review of the academic literature to examine whether entrepreneurship, defined as self-employment or business ownership, might offer a solution to disabled people's labour market disadvantage and social exclusion. Specifically, the paper asks: can entrepreneurship be used to move people with disabilities into employment? How often do people with disabilities start businesses and what types of businesses do they start? What barriers do people with disabilities face when starting a business? Are these barriers different than those faced by other entrepreneurs? Do different disabilities present different barriers to self-employment or business start-up (e.g., do people with physical disabilities face different barriers than those with mental disabilities)? What are the main policy tools available to help those with disabilities become more entrepreneurial? How can current policies be improved? The paper formed an important part of research background for the OECD policy brief, Entrepreneurship for People with Disabilities, published as part of the 'inclusive entrepreneurship' programme.

Sustaining self-employment for disadvantaged entrepreneurs

This project is a part of the Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Programme of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. This background study focuses on examining how national and regional governments in EU member states can improve the sustainability of disadvantaged entrepreneurs (e.g. women, youth, seniors, ethnic minorities, migrants). This research seeks to explain the concerns regarding the initiatives designed for the under-represented groups within the EU, and proposes solutions to enhance the sustainable environment for business creation and self-employment.

Kingston University Professor Robert Blackburn explains the work done to build entrepreneurship skills for youth entrepreneurship in this short youtube video.

Evaluating the social value of regulatory reform

This report conducted a critical review of World Bank Group methods used to evaluate the social value (or benefits) of the regulatory reforms it supports in countries around the world and proposed changes in evaluation practice that might provide a better understanding of the range of impacts of reform. The report is an internal, unpublished report for the Bank.

Employment regulation, business behaviour and perceptions

Funded by BIS, this project has been undertaken in collaboration with TNS-BMBR, to combine two distinct qualitative studies. One investigates employer perceptions of the impact of employment regulation on employment practices, including the recruitment, management and removal of employees. The second examines employer experiences of managing maternity and paternity rights, and employee rights to request flexible working, and considers their likely responses to the proposed introduction of Flexible Parental Leave and the proposed changes to the Right to Request Flexible Working.


UK Freelancer Data 2013

This study with Professional Contractors Group (PCG) study updated figures for UK freelancer numbers and selected sub-groups for 2013 using UK government data sources. This project was led by Dr John Kitching.

An Entrepreneurial Profile of Young Enterprise Participants for Young Enterprise UK

To supplement the Impact Report marking the 50th anniversary of Young Enterprise (YE) UK (2012), YE commissioned the SBRC to carry out a wider study of participation in YE programmes in the UK population. In 2012 the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor included two questions about participation in Young Enterprise, via telephone interviews with a representative sample of over 8,000 adults in the UK aged 18-64. The findings of the study were presented at the House of Commons Terrace on 24th October 2013 at an event hosted by Adam Afriyie, MP for Windsor and a YE alumnus. The project was led by Rosemary Athayde with assistance from Mohammed Shamsul Karim at the Economics and Strategy Group, Aston University.

Creation and development of jobs in care and support services

Employment in the health and social services sector in the EU had a 4.2 million net increase between 2000 and 2009, which accounts for more than a quarter of the total net employment growth. This study examined job creation, recruitment and retention of workers delivering community care services for adults with disabilities and/or chronic health problems, describing the situation in the sector and highlighting which measures have proven successful in developing both the numbers and quality of the care workforce. The study, commissioned by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (EUROFOUND), involved 10 EU Member States including the UK.

The development of a measure of the innovative characteristics of young people

In 2007, NESTA commissioned Professor Chell and her team (Rosemary Athayde and Andrew Greenman) to carry out work to identify the innovative characteristics of young people and develop a measure of these characteristics. The conceptual basis of this work drew from the research for her book - Elizabeth Chell (2008) 'The Entrepreneurial Personality - a social construction', Routledge/The Psychology Press. The method has in part drawn on Rosemary's doctoral work.

Restructuring in SMEs

This project has been commissioned by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (EUROFOUND). The aim of the study is to develop our understanding of the drivers, methods and consequences of restructuring in SMEs. The study will involve partners from 23 states across Europe. The project is led by Professor David Smallbone with Dr John Kitching and Eva Kasperova


Exploring the Freelance Workforce, 2011

Building on and developing work with the Professional Contractors Group undertaken in 2008, this report presents data drawn from official UK government sources to develop a picture of the UK freelance workforce in 2011. Concluded in 2012, the report provides quantitative data on the UK freelance workforce and constituent sub-groups, their numbers, and a range of personal and work characteristics. This project was led by Dr John Kitching.

Mexico: A Country Review

This project involved Professor David Smallbone working as part of a team of four undertaking an OECD review of entrepreneurship and SME development in Mexico. Focusing particularly on the policy aspects, the study drew on a combination of secondary sources and primary data gathered during a study visit to Mexico. David's responsibility was for SME trends and performance and an assessment of where Mexico has reached with respect to the framework conditions for entrepreneurship and SME development. OECD expect to publish the report in 2013.

Young Enterprise: Impact 50 years of Young Enterprise

The most recent research into the impact of enterprise education on young people in the UK was carried out in 2012 by Rosemary Athayde and comprises a study of 50 years of the activities of the charity Young Enterprise UK. Using three on-line surveys, focus groups, face-to-face and telephone interviews the study demonstrates that participation in enterprise activities at secondary school or university has a positive impact on the likelihood of participants to start their own business.

Exporting to expand: the impact of exporting on British SMEs

As part of our on-going work with Barclays Bank and Fishburn-Hedges on exporting, this research focused on the experiences of SME exporters. Based on a survey of 1,500 enterprises, backed by examples, the research reported on the effects of exporting on the 'bottom line' as well as the challenges to further exporting. This research was led by Professor Robert Blackburn.


The Value of Small Company Abbreviated Accounts

The study, supported by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, investigated the value of small company abbreviated accounts to preparers and users. Using interview and survey data from small company preparers and from a wide variety of account users, the study explored directors' motivations for filing abbreviated accounts and user motivations in the context of other sources of information they could use instead. The study also examined the role played by accountants in the preparation and use of small company accounts.

The year ahead: a view from Britain's small businesses 2011

This repeat project, funded by Barclays Bank and undertaken by Robert Blackburn and Thomas Wainwright, examined how SMEs sector are performing during the recovery and the challenges they are experiencing. The study utilised a large scale survey across Britain (n=1000) and analysed the results by business size, region and sector. The research suggested that business confidence is decreasing within SMEs as a result of the slow economic recovery, but overall business confidence and growth expectations remain relatively high as firms continue to identify new opportunities.

Community-based participatory research: ethics and outcomes

Colleagues at Newcastle and Durham universities and a number of non-university participants investigated community perspectives and approaches to engaging communities in and with research on a project funded by the AHRC.

Newcastle Low Carbon Neighbourhoods

This project received external funding and other support rom New Deal for Communities (NDC), Beacon North East, Your Homes Newcastle and Newcastle City Council to investigate energy demand reduction and the potential for community energy-related innovation and enterprise in Newcastle upon Tyne, and to deepen our understanding of effective engagement between universities, residents, firms, voluntary organisations and local government relevant to energy and environment issues.

On the Road to Recovery: A Longitudinal Analysis of Small Firm Survival and Growth Strategies in Post Recessionary Conditions

This study, co-funded by the ISBE's Research and Knowledge Exchange Fund and Workspace Ltd, is concerned with the challenges and opportunities facing small firms as the economy moves out of recession, and the strategies used by owners and managers in response. The study builds on results of previous research undertaken by the SBRC focusing on the responses of small firms to economic downturn. This previous research was reported in a prize-winning paper by John Kitching, David Smallbone and Mirela Xheneti, at the ISBE Conference in 2009.

The 2009 study emphasised the variety of responses of small firms to recession but also their underlying resilience, which is associated with a high level of flexibility. One of the key unanswered questions emerging from the previous study concerns the implications of the different forms of adaptation undertaken by firms in 2008-9 for their medium- and longer-term performance prospects and the extent to which the strategies previously adopted to survive the recession affect the scope for management action once the economy begins to pick up.

Contact us

Prof Robert Blackburn
Associate Dean for Research
Kingston Business School

Faculty of Business and Social Sciences
Site menu