Local business support and the role of business schools post-COVID-19

Hang Nguyen, John Lever

Research output: Contribution to conference typesAbstractpeer-review


The roles of business schools for driving the regional growth, developing business support structure, engaging small and medium-sized enterprises, promoting sustainability, health, social development and interdisciplinary work, nurturing talents, and leading skills development have been widely discussed in the business school and local business partnership literature (see more in Borges et al., 2017; Edwards & Muir, 2005; Jenkins, 2009; Laukkanen, 2000). However, as both local businesses and business schools are coping with paramount challenges on the path of the new ‘normality’ post COVID-19, there could be major strategic changes for business schools in creating brand new values to adapt to the latest circumstances that can help to build new relationships with, and support, business communities. This paper aims to investigate how business schools and local firms can partner to create more values for the post-COVID-19 period. The theoretical framework on which this paper bases is the Creating Shared Value (CSV) framework initiated by Kramer and Porter (2011) and Porter and Kramer (2019). CSV is the developed concept from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with three main distinguished differences in terms of the business motivation (competitiveness instead of reputation or external pressure as with CSR), relationship with the business (CSV activities will be more connected with the organisations’ objectives by reconceiving the intersection between society and organisation’s performance), and beneficiary (for both the society and organisation instead of the society only). In short, following a CSV approach will be in general a win-win game instead of a zero-sum game for organisations (Kramer and Porter, 2011; Menghwar & Daood, 2021; Moon and Parc, 2019; Porter and Kramer, 2019). For this study, we look at how the CSV approach helps to improve the core competitiveness of the business schools and at the same time contributes and advances the business communities by providing up-to-date management education to the business community, collaborating with business management professionals in delivering management education in new ways, and bridging the gap between academia and industry. Moreover, the research addresses and provides insights into the different resources that business communities can provide business schools with to enhance the relevance of management education, co-create values to the society, and jointly produce solutions to the arising problems post-COVID 19 for the local businesses. This qualitative study seeks to integrate the views of both local business leaders and business school leader regarding the impact of COVID-19 to explore how and in what ways business schools can adapt to better support the local businesses. Drawing from interviews with business leaders, successful entrepreneurs, business school leader, and small business owners in West Yorkshire in the North of England, this paper examines the relationships between industry and business schools and analyses how the relationships can be developed in new ways to support local businesses development and the engagement of business schools with the business community in the context of post-COVID-19 challenges. Following data collection, the interviews were transcribed and analysed thematically, following the six phases of analysis by Braun and Clarke (2006) to ensure a rigorous process, and identify the key themes that inform our analysis. Findings from this research provide interesting insights into the role of business schools in supporting local businesses from multiple perspectives, especially the post-COVID 19 period. Such roles are, for examples, leading business management education and training for the local businesses, providing and supporting local businesses with the latest business practice for sustainable development, engaging local business people and management professionals into the curriculum, developing responsive mechanisms for crises, fostering the application of digital technology for SMEs, etc. The findings also suggest a number of ways the local business community can jointly create shared values with the business schools by engaging and providing feedforward for the business school’s strategy. The study is important for several reasons. First, it provides a timely response to what challenges business schools face to create better values and contributions as mentioned above for the local business community after COVID-19. Second, the study has made contributions towards the CSV literature in providing an example of the university–business partnership and knowledge creation activities. Third, the study sheds light on several novel post-COVID19 issues that businesses are encountering, and the extent to which collaboration with business schools can be mutually beneficial. Such issues are the businesses’ adaptation to the new working hybrid-working mode, the massive application of digital technology, changes in service and product deliveries, changes in customers’ tastes and preferences, etc. One way that this might happen is for business communities and universities to work more closely on issues related to the digitalisation of services and on changes in working mode. Another might be on the issues of ethical and responsible leadership, training for a more resilient workforce. Conclusions from this study may have wider relevance to policy and strategic planning for policy-makers in a number of areas, notably about ways to enhance relationships between business schools and local business communities to encourage entrepreneurship and regional economic growth, sustainability. Practical implications drawn from this study are for business owners, business leaders and business schools in identifying the needs and wants of each party in terms of the training needs, of business demands for the new generation of workforce, and innovative approach to business management. Another practical implication is in identifying and evaluating the current resources (tangible and intangible resources) that business schools and firms can provide to each other to promote the enhanced partnership working once the pandemic is over.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2021
EventInstitute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference 2021: Bridging Enterprise, Policy and Practice: Creating Social and Public Value - Cardiff City Hall, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Duration: 28 Oct 202129 Oct 2021


ConferenceInstitute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleISBE 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Local business support and the role of business schools post-COVID-19'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this