Economics, Finance and Entrepreneurship 

The Economics, Finance & Entrepreneurship Group carries out a wide range of research and teaching activities in the general fields of strategic management, economics, innovation and entrepreneurship and international business. 

Research within the Group is generally of an applied nature, often cutting across research areas, and is designed to be directly relevant to business. Group members have high visibility within the academic community, and  publish in leading academic journals.

Group members have also been successful in attracting nearly £2 million research funding over the past two years. This includes small and large research council grants, first grants for junior researchers, as well as placement fellowships and CASE studentships offered by ESRC. It co-hosts a ESRC-funded Enterprise Research Centre with the University of Warwick  .

The Economics Strategy Group is split into four Research Themes:


The State in Africa and the Obsolescing Bargain: the case of the aluminium industry in Ghana, 1959-2004

Dr Stephanie Decker 

Business in independent Africa has generally faced a higher level of political risk than in other regions, which has led to poor level of economic and social development on the continent. In International Business and International Political Economy, Africa’s problematic management of its economic capacity has been explained either as a result of an Obsolescing Bargain (OB) or as a resource curse. The OB model holds that bargaining power will shift from the investor to the host country once investment has been sunk, allowing poor countries to hold international investors ransom. In the 1990s, the OB model has fallen out of favour in business studies because it is generally perceived to explain investor-government relations until the 1980s, but then the dynamics are no longer as frequently observable. According to its critics, the OB model ceases to be relevant because developing country governments accepted a neo-liberal global investment environment. This research project focuses on the aluminium industry in Ghana as a longitudinal case study of negotiations between a powerful foreign investor with the unstable and changing government of an African state over a period of forty years. The shifts in bargaining power between investor and government over this time period allow a reassessment of the OB model and opens up alternative explanations of why the there are some recent cases of obsolescing bargain dynamics in Africa (for example in the building of the Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline.

Privatisation, foreign investment and firm performance in China

Dr Jun Du, 2008 / 2011

China's continuing economic growth in the last decade has been largely paralleled with its ownership reform and industrial restructuring. As one of the financing channels, FDI (Foreign direct investment) has played an increasingly important role in the very process. However, very little is known about the nature of these investments, the performance of the firms that are entering the Chinese economy in this way, or the costs and benefits to the home economy.

The project charts China's recent rapid progress in industrial restructuring in the last decade, examines the results of ownership changes on firm performance in the context of foreign investment, and evaluates the actual gains of inward investors who took part in this process. The aspects investigated in the study include multinationals’ productivity, profitability, export performance and survival opportunity. Drawing on a comprehensive firm-level dataset compiled by the National Statistics Bureau (NSB) of China for the period of 1998-2005, the project to be conducted takes into account political factors in the process of privatization, and adopts methodologies dealing with firm heterogeneity and potential reverse causality problem that is beset the analysis of privatization.


Evaluation of Regional and National Selective Assistance Schemes

Professor Mark Hart & Professor Nigel Driffield  

In a series of studies, Prof. Mark Hart, Prof Nigel Driffield from ABS (together with colleagues Stephen Roper and Kevin Mole from University of Warwick) have evaluated the Regional Selective Assistance (RSA) schemes and their replacement national assistance schemes (e.g. Selective Finance Assistance in England (SFiE)). 

The studies analysed the beneficiaries of these schemes, together with their impact e.g. on business behaviour, in terms of addionality, employment and operation.

The overall conclusion of these studies was that both the RSA and SFIE Schemes are delivering benefits to the UK economy through net additional employment, higher value added and a set of wider benefits that demonstrate linkage into other regional priorities such as regeneration, skill enhancement, supplier networks and broader environmental agenda. 2008-2009.

Ref: http://www.berr.gov.uk/files/file45548.pdf

Considering the benefits of Inwards Investment
1) Driffield, N. Love, JH and Taylor, K. (2009)Productivity and Labour Demand Effects of Inward and Outward FDI on UK Industry. Manchester School, forthcoming. (Nominated for best paper award, AIB 2008) 
2) Driffield, N. and Love, J. (2007) Linking FDI motivation and host economy productivity effects: conceptual and empirical analysis, Journal of International Business Studies, vol 38 (2) 460-473.

Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Phase 2

Professor Mark Hart

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is a not-for-profit academic research consortium that has as its goal making high quality international research data on entrepreneurial activity readily available to as wide an audience as possible. GEM is the largest single study of entrepreneurial activity in the world.

The United Kingdom was a founding GEM nation. The first GEM UK report was produced in 1999 with 10 countries. Additional GEM reports for Scotland and Wales began in 2000. In 2002, the year of the first study for Northern Ireland and for some of the English regions, we decided to merge our data and create an integrated GEM UK project that incorporated Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and some English regions. This immediately gave us a bigger study overall and our 2002 report was based on a survey of some 16,000 adults of working age across the UK. Since 2002 the project has grown in terms of size and scope. By 2006 it was based on a sample size of 43,000 adults and, in addition to the separate national and 7 regional reports, also produced special topic reports on women and social entrepreneurship. GEM 2009 conducted research in 54 countries.

High Growth Firms and the Skills Agenda: Linking NESS/SESS Surveys to the BSD in the ONS VML  

The overall aim of this project for UKCES is to link their skills data with firm-level data in order to examine the relationship between employment growth and: the recruitment of young people; skills gaps; and product market strategy. 


Professor Mark Hart, 2009 - Ongoing

The PRIME Initiative provides free information, events and training to help older people get back into work by starting their own business - also known as "becoming self-employed".

The charity’s activities are needed because the over-50s face huge problems of unemployment and age discrimination in the conventional job market. HRH The Prince of Wales recognised this huge labour-market failure - which is common to all developed countries, when he founded PRIME (the Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise). 

In the UK almost one person in three aged between 50 and state pension age is workless. Of these less than 10 per cent are retired on adequate incomes. The remaining 90 per cent are on incapacity benefit, registered unemployed, caring, made redundant or retired with an inadequate pension.

PRIME was set up to assist older entrepreneurs across the whole of the UK. It is currently active on the ground in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Wales it works through PRIME Cymru<http://www.prime-cymru.co.uk/>, PRIME’s sister organisation, with whom PRIME works closely under our joint President, Prince Charles.

PRIME seeks to help anyone aged over 50 in the UK who wants to start their own business or set up a social enterprise with other people. It can only provide the vital work of giving people back their financial independence, self-reliance and dignity with your support, help and donations.

The Impact of the Business Cycle on Productivity and its Drivers

Innovative Places: Best Practice in International Knowledge Sourcing  – National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA)

Dr Hiro Izushi

Drawing knowledge from external – especially international – sources has become increasingly important to small and medium-sized firms (SMEs). As these firms cannot generate all they need to know to develop new products and processes within their own companies, they need to look elsewhere for new ideas and expertise. Being able to effectively access knowledge from external sources is increasingly recognised as a key factor in a firm’s competitiveness. Analysing results from a survey of approximately 400 UK companies, the project provides a detailed review of patterns of knowledge sourcing, and the key factors influencing these patterns, particularly from a small business perspective. It also highlights case studies of UK SMEs that work closely with overseas partners and agents to widen their own knowledge. The project was undertaken in collaboration with a team led by Professor Robert Huggins at University of Wales Institute, Cardiff.

The Concentration of Innovation-Related Resources in Leading Regions – Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Dr Hiro Izushi

The uneven distribution of production resources across space has been a key issue concerning both academics and policy makers engaged in regional economic development. Although the literature concerning inter-regional convergence examines the trends of output indicators of wealth creation, there is a remaining gap about the convergence or divergence of resources related to innovation, the hallmark of the knowledge economy. This project aims to provide an understanding of the extent to which innovation-related resources are becoming more concentrated or diluted across the globe’s most productive regions, using datasets compiled by the Centre for International Competitiveness’ World Knowledge Competitiveness Indexinitiative, which covers 145 economically leading regions across the globe. The findings suggest that there has been a clear rebalancing of resources with a West-to-East shift.    

Taking Risks in the face of Uncertainty: The Impact of Perceived Uncertainty on Small and Medium-sized Firms’ (SMEs) Investments in ‘Green’ Innovation

Professor Roper (WBS) and Dr Efstathios Tapinos

The aim of this project is to examine the relationship between Perceived Uncertainty (PU) and the extent to which small firms’ are willing to invest in developing risky ‘green’ innovations, i.e. innovations in product or process which might have benefits in terms of sustainability. Small firms in two sectors with contrasting technological profiles will be considered in survey: food manufacturing and biotechnology. Funded by the British Academy. 2008-2009

Asymmetric Pricing and Concentration in European Fuel Retail Markets

Osama Al Sabbagh, PhD candidate

There has been rising concern among consumers in the recent years that pump prices go up faster than they come down. For the public, this is often associated with the higher concentration in the oil industry due to the wave of mergers of the late 90s. Indeed, the merged oil giants have been very profitable since 1999 and even after the economic slowdown which started in 2008. In fact the debate is also due to the long-term increase in oil price which is raising the prices of commodities as well the fuel budget of businesses and households. 

However market share data for France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK do not show any sign of dramatic increase in fuel retail market concentration. Only positions between big oil companies, independent dealers and supermarkets really change; we do not see a real domination of Big Oil companies anywhere and note a dramatic increase in supermarkets’ volume share in France and in the UK. Meanwhile the investigation on pump prices asymmetries confirms that fuel prices go up faster than they come down in all of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and in the Dutch diesel market. There is no evidence of asymmetric pricing in the UK fuel market as well as in the Dutch petrol market, with a full pass-through of prices in about two weeks. There seems to be a link between asymmetries and market concentration as the UK and the Netherlands present the lowest measures of concentration and of asymmetries. Finally, even in the markets with the highest level of asymmetries (French and German diesel markets), the cost of asymmetries for the typical household is quite marginal and becomes really significant only for high volumes of fuel. We conclude that fuel retail markets are quite competitive and that the oil companies’ huge profits mainly come from refining and other “upstream” activities.

Economics & Strategy Group members teach on a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.


Group members teach on all the major undergraduate programmes offered by Aston Business School as well as been course directors for the following:

Postgraduate MBA/MSc:

We teach on both the MBA and several MSc programmes and again are course directors for:

Research Degree/PhD:

All academic staff are actively engaged in research and their range of research interest spans over all areas of applied economics, innovation, entrepreneurship, international business and strategic management.

Browse the main research themes  for ESG, individual research profiles and PhD supervision interests.

Michael Anyadike-Danes

Statistical analysis of economic problems for policy-makers

Bettina Becker

Determinants and effects of R&D and innovation
Determinants and effects of FDI
SME growth
Firm and industry performance

Rakesh Bissoondeeal

Specification of money demand functions
Stock market & demand for money and the economy
FDI & macroeconomic variables
Modelling and forecasting of macroeconomic variables

Gary Burke

Organizational identities change
Coexistence of contradictory logics & managers performance
Space and embodied practices during high-stakes strategic episodes & managers

Stephanie Decker

MNCs in less developed countries
Historical, archival and documentary research methods in management studies
Chinese investment in sub-Saharan Africa
Qualitative longitudinal research in international business strategy

Agelos Delis

International Economics
International Trade
FDI & Firm Performance

Jun Du 

Quantitative/micro-econometric analysis on:
Productivity, resource allocation and inclusive growth
Ownership change and privatisation
Firm level industrial dynamics and growth
Topics related to the economics of business organisation

Yundan Gong

Innovation and economic growth
Multinational enterprises and exporting 
Profitability and productivity analysis 
Privatizations and acquisition 
Firm-level industrial dynamics 
Outward FDI and the emerging markets

Mark Hart

UK Business Demography & economic performance
Determinants of Entrepreneurial Activity
Effectiveness of public policy for SME development
Small firm growth and competitiveness

Hiro Izushi

Innovation, Business Network, Knowledge-Based Economic Development, Video Game Industry

Chris Jones

Economic Growth, Trade and FDI in developing countries (Africa)

Michail Karoglou

Time series econometrics, quantitative risk management

Josie Kelly

Corporate Social responsibility 
Business and Government Relations

Graham Leask

Competitive strategy in industry dynamics & pharmaceutical and healthcare industries 
Measuring the value of strategic actions 
Measurement & improvement of sales & marketing activitites & increased productivity 
Merger and acquisition in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries

Tomasz Mickiewicz 

Comparative entrepreneurship
Social entrepreneurship
High growth aspiration entrepreneurship
Informal economy, tax avoidance
Social capital in business

Matthew Olczak

Vertical restraints 
Recommended retail prices 
Merger policy 
Tacit and explicit collusion
Using technology to enhance learning and teaching

Ute Stephan 

Social entrepreneurship
Social innovation
Culture and entrepreneurship/innovation
Social capital and entrepreneurship/innovation
Strategic entrepreneurial leadership
Entrepreneurial motivation

Efstathios Tapinos 

Processes and practices within Strategy Development
Impact of Performance Measurement/Management systems (Balanced Scorecard) on strategy making
Strategic Foresight
Scenario Planning for dealing with uncertainty 
Application of management practises in SMEs

Yama Temouri

International economics and trade (economics of multinational enterprises & its impacts on host and home economies)
Productivity, outsourcing/offshoring activities & employment dynamics
Links between institutional quality, FDI and firm performance

Kirit Vaidya

Technology transfer, learning and industrial development in China and other emerging economies
Technology-based collaborations between Western and Chinese and other emerging economy firms
Learning and capability development of industrial enterprises as latecomers in China and other emerging economies 
Public works programmes in developing countries, wage rates, labour supply, asset creation and social protection
Competitive strategies of emerging economy companies

Carola Wolf

Strategy-as-practice, strategy processes, strategic planning, organizational routines, qualitative research methods, middle managers

Contact the Economics & Strategy Group:

Economics & Strategy Group
Aston Business School 
Aston University

Mrs Lynne Woolley (Group Administrator)

Tel. +44 (0) 121 204 3038

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