Applied Economics and Enterprise Evaluation

Sitting within the Building Better Business research pillar, this group provides practical solutions to businesses, using an interdisciplinary approach for applying knowledge.

Aims and focus

The aim of this group is to bring a broad range of applied knowledge from economics and other related disciplines to understand and address the myriad of problems businesses, and particularly smaller ones, face with a view to providing practical solutions that enhance their performance.

The group draws upon research from colleagues in the economics, finance, entrepreneurship, law and evaluation disciplines and our specialisms include microfinance, corruption, behavioural, international and development economics, as well as the evaluation of impact in public and private sector initiatives.

We collaborate with national and international organisations such as the NHS, World Bank, East Midlands Chamber, Chatsworth House, IMF, UN, Derby City Council, and the Central Bank of Nigeria. We also work with colleagues from other national and international institutions such as UCLA, Harvard, Hunan University, and the University of Texas.

Current projects and partnerships

Colleagues have conducted economic evaluation studies for a variety of organisations including the Buxton Festival, Let’s Do Business, Derby City, Derbyshire County and Warwickshire County Councils.

We are members of the D2N2 Covid-19 Economic Recovery Analytical Group and in June 2020, presented a research briefing on COVID-19’s impact on the D2N2 local labour market from an occupations perspective. The main findings have been included in the Group’s presentation to the D2N2 Economic Recovery Board.

In 2019, we successfully secured funding for a 2 year management Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Chatsworth to examine the economic impact of the Devonshire Group. 90% of this funding is supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

In 2020, we were commissioned to conduct the D2N2 local skills report for the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership's Skills Advisory Panel. This work evaluates the local labour market in terms of existing and future skills requirements and will feed into outputs produced by the Department for Education’s (DfE) Skills and Productivity Board.

We lead the European Structural and Investment Funds Productivity through Innovation programme in partnership with Nottingham and Nottingham Trent Universities. This scheme offers practical support to small firms to assist enterprise growth. This is aimed at enhancing and accelerating the innovative capacity of SMEs in the region through a structured programme of support. Alongside this support, a dedicated evaluation team are conducting a real-time evaluation of the firm-level impacts of assistance against a selected control group of firms who did not receive support.

We have been commissioned to work with Let’s Do Business, a provider of government-assisted funding programmes for local small businesses, to evaluate their interventions and provide recommendations to help support the sustainable growth of local small businesses. Through a formal evaluation and cost-benefit analysis with a sample of assisted small businesses, the report found that small-scale local interventions do make a measurable impact to business outcomes. The formal report was cited as an example of good practice evaluation in a 2020 report by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy.

Research by our group has led to the development of an e-transparency index which provides more accurate measures of corruption and evaluation of anti-corruption initiatives to minimize corruption, improve accountability and increase citizen inclusiveness has led to projects and high-profile collaborations with the World Bank and the UN.

In 2018/19, we secured a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowships in 2018-19 entitled ‘Stock Connect: A New Model of Financial Market Integration’.

Previous events

Staff are regularly asked to comment and discuss the economic impact of events (e.g. Brexit and Covid) at practitioner forums within the region, such as PKF Cooper Parry management consultants and Eversheds.

The group hold a seminar series open to all staff, students & external academics once a term. Speakers include researchers from the group and leading external speakers from, for example, Cardiff University, Aston University, Bournemouth University and the University of Lincoln.

In 2020 we presented an economic evaluation on reforming UK Social Care Funding at a national policy webinar organised by the UK think tank, Politeia: Funding the Future - Retirement and Social Care, Framing the Policy on Social Care - What Should the Questions/ The Aims Be?

Seminar series

Dr Ghulam Mustafa has led the seminar series for the Enterprise Evaluation and Applied Economics Cluster since 2019. Our research seminars showcase the research being undertaken by the cluster and attracts internationally renowned experts to present and discuss their latest research. Highlights from the series include Professor Michela Vecchi from Kingston University presenting “How much is a degree worth? Educational mismatch and wages in the UK”, Professor Ian Marsh from City University presenting his work on “Factor structure in cryptocurrency returns and volatility” and Professor Kunal Sen (Director, UNU-WIDER and Professor of Development Economics, University of Manchester) presenting a webinar on “Social Mobility in Developing Countries: Pathways for Research and Policy”.