Tag Archives: Economics and Informatics

Bridging the Gap: Reporting from ICORIA 2015

This post was contributed Laurence Borel, PhD Candidate at Birkbeck’s School of Business, Economics and Informatics

ICORIA 1On 2-4 July 2015, over 150 researchers from around the world, gathered to attend the 14th International Conference on Research in Advertising (ICORIA), held at Birkbeck, University of London, chaired by Professor George Christodoulides.

The conference theme ‘Bridging the Gap’ aimed to embody the closer need for collaboration between advertising academia and practice. Over 130 papers were presented over the course of two days on the topics of advertising, branding, social media, online marketing, and new technologies.

ICORIA 2The conference proceedings kicked off on 2nd July with the Doctoral Colloquium, which offered students the opportunity to attend contemporary issues in advertising, research methodology seminars led by leading academics, alongside networking opportunities with journal editors and fellow doctoral researchers.

Day Two saw Rory Sutherland, vice chairman of Ogilvy Group UK and former President of IPA take the stage to deliver a thought-provoking keynote address, on the theme of ‘Where advertising needs to push back’. Following a day of presentations, dinner was held in the iconic Hotel Russell, where the awards ceremony for best research papers also took place (congratulations to the authors of best paper award, Morris Kalliny, Salma Ghanem, Brett Boyle, Matthew Shaner and Barbara Mueller; and the authors of best student paper, Verena Wottrich, Peeter Verlegh and Edith Smit).

ICORIA-3-and-4-webDay Three offered further opportunities to attend intellectually stimulating presentations, and concluded with a bus tour discovering the wonders of London.


The conference certainly achieved its goal of ‘Bridging the gap’; with over 240 #icoria2015 Tweets created by delegates, and 1,000 ‘Likes’ on the ICORIA 2015 Facebook page over three days.


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Cooperation key to tech cluster growth

This post was contributed by Nick Eisen, School of Business, Economics and Informatics engagement correspondent.

CooperationLondon-based institutions such as Birkbeck could play a part in the development of tech start-ups and clusters outside London, even if that role is not the first thing that comes to mind when considering such development.

Addressing this possibility, ‪Emma Swift, Entrepreneur Relations Manager at digital business promoter Tech City UK, ‬ focused on one word: partnership.

Swift was one of a four-member panel at an event entitled “What must tech clusters outside London do to thrive?”.

Part of London Technology Week, the event on 15 June was organised by CE of Birkbeck Enterprise Hub, Ibrahim Maiga, chaired by Sureyya Cansoy, Director of Tech for Business and Consumer at techUK, and hosted by law firm Goodman Derrick at its offices in St Bride Street, five minutes’ walk from the London Stock Exchange.

What form any inside-outside London partnerships might take remained open, though Swift did refer to SETsquared, an enterprise collaboration between Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey universities that, according to its website “is a focus for enterprise activity and new business creation”.

In addition, what emerged from the afternoon implied possible outlines for such partnerships while not necessarily explicitly stating them.

Panel members noted that tech clusters outside London should avoid trying to copy it, and should instead continue to recognise and focus on developing what they are already doing well; and many of these clusters are indeed taking this approach.

Paul Smith, Managing Director of Newcastle-based accelerator Ignite100 noted the lower costs, good quality of life, coaching and building professional relationships that Newcastle could offer budding entrepreneurs compared with London. He also drew attention to Newcastle-based anchor firms such as business software solutions company Sage, the founders of which have gone on to support other start-ups: Sage itself having begun as a start-up in 1981.

Smith added that access to London is still useful for non-London businesses, for example, for being seen by potential investors and customers. However, as firms in Newcastle and other clusters show, that need not mean being based in London.

Richard Young, Director of the British Venture Capital Association in Manchester, remarked on the ability of his city’s entrepreneurs to take what they wanted from London back to their home base.

And Julian Blake, 
Editor of TechCityInsider.net, emphasised that universities are essential to the development of tech business.

From the audience, Helen Lawton Smith, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Director of the Centre for Innovation Management Research at Birkbeck’s Department of Management, emphasised that there are many very successful clusters outside London – such as Oxford and Cambridge – which have established large firms that recruit and supply labour and knowledge within their own localities.

Professor Lawton Smith added that, although there are many claims about the rapid increase in the number of tech firms in London, more evidence is needed on that number of firms and their performance, which will also inform policymakers about the demand for infrastructure, services and other requirements.

Perhaps then a wider focus is required. Could London universities offer platforms where non-London start-ups and clusters could showcase their activities, not in order to migrate to London or adopt a London way but to gain recognition and support for their own non-London ways in locations beyond London?

In turn, could such collaborations be another route for London institutions, among those in other parts of the UK, to help broaden perspectives, with knowledge transferring all ways – from and to different parts of the UK, including London?

For those who want to explore such topics further, on Wednesday 24 June, Birkbeck Clore Management Centre will host an event addressing the question: What is the role of universities in creating skills for the digital economy?

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Photo credit: NASA under CC from Flickr


Boom, Bust, Boom!

This post was contributed by Rose Devaney, Business Engagement and Impact Manager at Birkbeck’s School of Business, Economics and Informatics

Boom-Bust-Boom-webThe Birkbeck Cinema recently screened Boom, Bust, Boom, the latest documentary on the 2008 financial crisis. The film focuses on the behavioural elements of consumers in creating a “bubble” which ultimately bursts, and uses a historical canter through various financial meltdowns to demonstrate that we seem hard-wired to make the same mistakes over and over again.

Bubbles burst

Our ability to suspend rationality and believe that investments will keep increasing in value can be traced back as far as the Tulip Mania of 1637, followed by the South Sea Bubble of 1720, the British Railway Mania of the 1940s and the Wall Street Stock Market Crash of 1929. Even intellectual royalty including Isaac Newton was caught out when the South Sea Bubble burst, losing over two million pounds by today’s standards.

What’s interesting is that crises tend to occur with enough distance between them to be managed by an entirely new generation. They have heard the stories about the previous “bust” – but haven’t lived it – and arrogantly think they know better.

The post-film audience debate raised questions about the film’s omission of consideration of such things as the role of the banks, de-regulation, traders and globalisation – which all contributed to the crisis. But response to the film was overwhelmingly positive and it was agreed that the “euphoria” that a boom creates is a potent ingredient that was illustrated brilliantly throughout the documentary.

Jones and Minsky

My two heroes from the afternoon were Terry Jones and Hyman Minsky. Jones, a founding member of the Monty Python team, was the film’s co-writer and co-director and morphed into a clear and credible narrator. No doubt, he was largely responsible for the puppetry and visuals which provided light relief from the interviews with various economists and illustrated complicated concepts and power imbalances.

Minsky, an American economist, who was at the height of his career during America’s most stable and prosperous times during the 1950s and 1960s, predicted the slow movement of financial systems from stability to fragility when nobody wanted to listen. The irony of his book becoming somewhat of a best-seller during the recent recession was not lost on his son, one of the film’s contributors.

Even monkeys prefer something for nothing

The political soundbites were fairly minimal but used to good effect. Bill Clinton creating the National Home Ownership strategy that was a contributing factor in the American Sub-prime crisis; Gordon Brown declaring no return to “boom and bust” and George Bush describing the US economy as “healthy and vigorous, the envy of the world” – just before the arrival of the 2008 global financial crisis.

And what about those monkeys? Residents of Monkey Island and subjects of experiments demonstrate that, even when the outcomes of two situations are identical, even monkeys choose the route where it appears they are getting something for nothing, as opposed to the one where they perceive something is being taken away. It’s suggested that somehow our psychology distorts our rational judgement and decision-making and we naturally gravitate towards gain and away from the extra emotional energy which loss creates.

A pertinent question from the audience was about whether lessons have been learned and it was suggested that unless you personally experience the pain of the situation, you bounce back quickly and put it all down to experience.

This week, I read about Clinton commanding £330,000 for a 30 minute talk on world hunger and Dick Fuld now running a small New York hedge fund and presenting about life at Lehman Brothers. I doubt the real victims of the American sub-prime crisis, many now unemployed, with a poor credit rating and without the safety net of welfare and health benefits have found it as easy to re-invent themselves.

With special thanks to Sue Konzelmann, Reader at Birkbeck and Director of the London Centre for Corporate Governance and Ethics, who organised the screening and gave an introductory address.

Dr Konzelmann has authored two books (titles below) and will write ‘Labour, Finance and Inequality: The Changing Nature of Economic Policy in Britain’. (with S. Deakin, M. Fovargue-Davies and F. Wilkinson) Oxford: Routledge (forthcoming).

‘The Economics of Austerity’. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2014.

‘Banking Systems in the Crisis: The Faces of Liberal Capitalism’. (with Marc Fovargue-Davies) Oxford: Routledge, 2013. 

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