URIS 2011 Project – led by Professor Philip B. Whyman and Dr. Alina I. Petrescu
Project Title: The Impact of Workplace Flexibility Practices on Firm Performance in Lancashire-Based SMEs
Project Outline: Exposed to recessionary pressures, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have to be flexible in order to find ways to be competitive. Decisions made by SME managers concerning performance indicators such as labour turnover, absenteeism or financial turnover may relate to the availability and mixture of workplace flexibility practices.
The project involved the intern conducting a repeat survey of an estimated sample of 147 Lancashire-based SMEs as well as a primary field work on a larger sample of SMEs. The main objective was to assess the incidence, extent and impact of workplace flexibility practices and their role in decision-making related to performance indicators at the respective SME.
The results of the study have been collated and are pending publication.
Intern Student: David Jackson (third year undergraduate student in summer 2011 at Lancashire Business School.
URIS 2009 Project - led by Professor Philip B. Whyman and Dr. Alina I. Petrescu
Project Title: The Impact of Workplace Flexibility Practices on Labour Turnover in Lancashire-Based SMEs
Project Outline: In the current difficult economic climate, labour turnover is a significant cost issue for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) which sometimes have to enforce redundancies to survive. Decisions made by SME managers concerning labour turnover may relate to the availability and mixture of workplace flexibility practices. For instance, do SMEs reduce labour costs by laying off employees; by introducing and expanding their use of flexible practices such as part-time working, shift working and lowering the number of working days per week; or by a combination of both methods? Which method prevails and why?
The project aimed to increase the knowledge related to the use and incidence of flexible workplace practices and better inform SME decision makers, policy makers (e.g. the Regional Development Agency) and practitioners of methods to reduce labour turnover.
The results arising from the study have formed the basis for a report and a number of research seminars and open presentations. The findings, moreover, have been utilised by the Forum for Private Businesses (FPB) via member communication.
Intern Student: Michael Bowerman, a second year undergraduate student in summer 2009 at Lancashire Business School, commented:
"I found the internship to be a worthwhile exercise for me for three main reasons. Firstly, the research skills that I learnt are very valuable. As a student my research was limited to books in the library and Google searches. Dr. Alina Petrescu showed me how to search journals but more importantly she showed me how to record the data and reports that I found. Also, I was shown how to analyse the data that we collected in the questionnaire.
"Secondly, my performance during my final year improved considerably especially in assignments which required any kind of research. I was able to lead teams in group assignments and really produce some good, well researched and analysed reports and projects.
"Lastly, the internship looks great on my CV. It has already resulted in me securing another research job in which I took the lead role in the data collection and analysis. It also helped me get some work experience in a Marketing Department wanting some help researching competition and prices.
"So to conclude, for me the internship was a complete success. I developed new skills, learnt for some very experienced academics, improved my grades at university, added to my CV and landed other jobs in a few summer months. I also made a bit of money too which was great."