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February 2014 Update: Marketing, Finance & Accounting and Public Relations

On January 20, at the University of Leicester, I attended the first in a six part ESRC funded series on marketplace exclusion. The series brings together marketing, organisation studies, social policy and consumer research scholars, among others, to look at ways in which marketplace mechanisms can act to create barriers –economic, structural and cultural – to fair and full participation by all. Four speakers contributed to this event. Yiannis Gabriel (Bath University) and Lizzie Nixon (University of Nottingham) considered those who self-exclude from market interactions – not because they are unable to engage, but because they are deeply unwilling to - and who view such interactions through metaphors of illness and threat – nauseating, toxic, disgusting, to name a few.

Amanda Earley (University of Leicester) considered two very different media that have represented and responded to aspects of what the Americans call the ‘Great Recession’. She used narrative to describe how three recession-themed television series (Breaking-Bad, 2 Broke Girls and Hung)represent perhaps tarnished, but ever present American cultural ideals such as the role of the husband and father as successful breadwinner, the ‘just-around-the-corner’ American dream that can be reclaimed through entrepreneurialism, and objects (cars, shoes) as representatives of success. Amanda compared and contrasted these visions of America with those presented by the Occupy Wall Street movement to show alternative proposals for the amelioration of the increasingly excluded middle class.

The final speaker, James Peatte, Director of Planning and Insight at McCann Erickson Manchester, considered ways in which exclusion or excluding of certain groups within society may come from the narrow field of experience and vision of those who manage and run advertising campaigns. He was frank in noting that most large top level ad agency posts are held by a particular ‘tribe’ of people – male, white, middle class –who often have limited exposure to or understanding of the target audiences that brands appeal to and that gaining access to this understanding can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Hence, he argued, exclusion may often occur by want of effort and investment on the part of brand owners and media agencies.

One of the hosts, James Fitchett drew the threads of these presentations together. Using an example from one of the delegates of how excluded she felt while travelling in the over-crowded ‘economy’ section of a UK train with her two young daughters while the first class carriages remained empty, he explored the role of marketing in creating exclusion and exclusivity through hyper-differentiation and segmentation.

I am looking forward to attending the whole series of these seminars and if you are interested in learning more, please contact Professor Elizabeth Parsons at the University of Liverpool.

Dr Nick Williams, University of Sheffield

Lecturer in Entrepreneurship

In late December I attended an HEA sponsored workshop on entrepreneurship education at the University of Sheffield. Nick Williams, Tim Vorley, Natalie Norton (University of Winchester) and others looked at an alternate way to develop entrepreneurial skills – effectuation (Sarasvathy, 2001) – and demonstrated an app (The Effectuator smartphone application) they have created to support students development of entrepreneurial ideas.

You can read more about the workshop and effectuation at the blog post for this event (URL), but just to say, I found the approach very refreshing. We often teach entrepreneurship from the perspective of following a set of steps that culminate in a business plan. The Effectuation approach begins more within the head and heart of the entrepreneur who asks him or herself…what means do I have to make this idea work?…who do I know?…what do I know?…and then using this ‘evoked set’ of means to assess what is possible, to build relationships of relevant stakeholders, and to get the venture underway.

Why did I find this so refreshing? I have often wondered how entrepreneurs filter so much possible information and data in order to come up with business ideas that they have confidence in. According to the effectuation approach, most do not go out and find all the possible positive and negative information that could impact the venture…a process that is just as likely to kill an idea as to allow it to develop….but self-select only that information related to what is deemed possible for them and is within their sphere of influence. I also had the pleasure to meet colleagues who teach entrepreneurship at UK universities, including Dr Dale Heywood from University of Liverpool who has run at least 7 successful businesses prior to entering higher education and calls herself an ‘ex seriel and portfolio entrepreneur’.

Dr Dale Heywood

Director of Studies MSc Entrepreneurship at University of Liverpool Management School

Following my blog post in December about whether we are teaching students the right skills for marketing in a digital economy, I heard from a number of colleagues across the UK who are teaching on or running programmes in Digital Marketing or are proposing to set them up. Some programmes include lab training on various software applications including those from the Adobe Creative suite, Google analytics or other analytics programmes. In many cases, students create web sites for existing or fictional businesses and also learn analytics, search engine optimization principles, social media principles and practices and online market research methods.

In terms of Finance and Accounting graduates being prepared for the world of work, Trevor Hassall and John Joyce have written a blog post for us from their work on the gap in F&A students’ communication skills and employer expectations, plus ways in which we might help to ameliorate this gap.

The way that accountants work today requires that they have increasingly higher levels of competence in communication as their role changes from that of ‘transaction managers’ to that of communicators and strategists involved with top management, governance, and guiding the growth of the firm. Given the already crowded F&A curriculum, how can academics build in more skill development in communication? Hassall and Joyce provide a number of ideas and approaches in their blog and within the next few months you will be able to read the full report on the HEA website.

Please note that the deadline for submission of papers for the BAFA SIG in Accounting Education Conference is 28th February, 2014. This Conference is always a highlight in the academic year so I highly recommend that you consider attending if you have not done so in the past. This year the conference will be held in the Bristol docks area on 14-16th May 2014. All topics related to accounting education, including forensic accounting, integrated reporting, relationships with the profession, employability, teaching and learning, group work, assessment and feedback, ethics and academic dishonesty, national student survey are considered as well as many others. For more information, please contact Nadine Fry, this year’s conference organizer, at the University of the West of England.

The regular meeting of BAFA CDAF (Committee for Departments of Accounting and Finance) will take place at the CIPFA offices in Central London on February 7 and I am looking forward to the presentation that Rona O’Brien --Head of the Finance, Accounting and Business Systems Department at Sheffield Hallam University—will give on how they have been working towards reducing administrative demands on academic staff. I will certainly report back on this in next month’s blog as it is a theme important to everyone working in higher education today.

Head of Department Rona O’Brien

Department of Finance, Accounting and Business Systems

Carolina Valiente, London South Bank University has organised two events on Banking – one that just took place on January 28th at the IFS campus in London on how banks can better meet their customer’s needs and expectations (I will report more on this next month) and one coming up on March 13 on Making Corporate Governance effective in banking. The latter is Jointly organized by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries (ICSA), IFS University College and London South Bank University and will symposium will take place between 6:00 and 8:00 pm, at London South Bank University. The Keynote speaker for this event is Peter Swabey, Policy and Research Director at ICSA. Please contact Carolina for further information.

Sarah Roberts-Bowen and Simon…. launched the Network for Society and Public Relations with an event at the London College of Communications campus on January 28

You are warmly invited to find out more about London College of Communication's newest research hub, the Network for Public Relations and Society. - our vision and how you can get involved to shape its direction. The Network builds on LCC's heritage in shaping contemporary communications practice from the early days of posters to the contemporary issues of today's socially mediated landscape.It focuses its attention on the recent 'social turn' of PR scholarship and will explore ways of bridging the chasm between industry and practice.And in our globalised age, it goes without saying that the Network approaches these challenges from an international and conceptually pluralist position.

For more informaiton, contact Sarah at:

In the next few months we are sponsoring twenty workshops across the UK of interest to those teaching Business education subjects. These include a range of 'New To' workshops such as 'New to using social networking in teaching and learning' (March and July) and our ever popular 'New to teaching in business education’ (March and June). In addition are a range of workshops on active and experiential learning, employability, and teaching research methods, our three main themes for 2013-2014. Please check the events pages on the website for details of these and other HEA workshops.

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