Small Business Charter publish working group report: A guide to how business schools can develop academic staff to engage with SMEs

The Small Business Charter is proud to publish our working group report ‘A guide to how business schools can develop academic staff to engage with SMEs’. The working group, which was established to explore how business schools can increase engagement with SMEs, is comprised of academics from UK business schools.

The working group, which produced the report before and during the Covid-19 pandemic, focused on identifying interventions that would increase business school engagement with SMEs, whilst examining barriers schools face, and how these can be overcome.

The report found that while SMEs made up 98% of the UK business population, the take up of business school programmes by smaller firms was historically low compared to the attendance rates of larger companies and that leadership skills gaps continued to persist.

The working group lay out a number of challenges faced within the SME and higher education landscapes, and within universities themselves, before offering recommendations to overcome these challenges, such as lack of managerial experience, timetabling restrictions and perceptions of university collaborations.

Recommendations within the report include embedding SME engagement into the curriculum, bringing SMEs into the teaching environment, ensuring SMEs understand the value and impact of business school accreditations, and reviewing HR processes to include engagement with SMEs as a requirement of academic staff contracts.

The report is designed to be a practical guide to support decision making for business school leaders, and it will also be of interest to central university teams, such as business engagement leads.

The final report can be viewed here.


Working group members

The Small Business Charter would like to thank all of the working group members for committing their time and expertise to the report, especially during the challenging circumstances posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.


Siân Rees (Chair) - Cardiff School of Management

Dr Alexandra Anderson - Sheffield Business School

Professor Joan Lockyer - Coventry Business School

Dr Tzameret H. Rubin - Loughborough School of Business and Economics

Jennie Shorley - Manchester Metropolitan Business School

Dr Matthew Sutherland - Newcastle Business School

Paula Whitehouse - Aston Business School