SME trust-building research wins Outstanding Paper award

Alexandros' research will help SMEs rebuild trust with their stakeholders post-Covid and beyond.

New Birmingham City University research aimed at helping small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to rebuild trust during economic crisis has picked up a prestigious academic award.

Award-winning support for SMEs

Alexandros Psychogios, Professor of International Human Resource Management, and his international research team have been awarded the Benedictine University Award for Outstanding Paper on Ethical Issues in Consulting.

The accolade, issued by the Academy of Management, was received after the team’s paper beat hundreds of other competitors.

“The award demonstrates BCU’s ability to compete against the best universities across delivering pertinent and timely research,” says Alexandros.

How SMEs can repair trust, post-Covid and beyond

Alexandros and the team’s paper, Can We Trust Them Again? A Framework for Repairing Trust in SMEs in an Economic Crisis Context, discusses how SMEs can repair trust when it is damaged during difficult situations.

The paper focuses on three main groups of stakeholders: employees, suppliers and customers.

“A critical step towards repairing trust is to understand the perceptions and misperceptions of these different stakeholder groups,” Alexandros explains.

“They are important for identifying mutual problems, for addressing them, and establishing appropriate communication strategies for repairing relationships.

“Open, transparent and clear communication is a potentially powerful tool in redefining the relationship between organisational values and those of employees, suppliers and customers.”

A winning business framework

To help SMEs repair trust, Alexandros developed a framework after spending over eight months observing how small businesses deal with relevant stakeholders.

“This framework claims that organisational leaders – managers and business owners – need to familiarise with the negative impact of any given crisis. That’s the first step,” Alexandros explains.

“Once you’ve accepted and understood the damage caused, you can then understand what damage may have been inflicted on your business relationships – and how to rebuild them.

“Finally, a rebuilt relationship needs to be maintained in the long term. Once again, this needs to be supported by open and transparent communication with stakeholders.”

Helping SMEs thrive

Alexandros strongly believes that this new framework and subsequent research can help businesses during any crisis, not just Covid-19.

“Our research is an ongoing project that will collect and analyse data from various sectors, industries and countries,” he says.

It also helps that Alexandros’ research stems from a genuine passion for helping SMEs thrive.

“I know that most of the time they do not have the means, resources or knowhow to deal with certain situations as well as large corporations do,” he says. “We work closely with these organisations to help them as best as we can.”

“A huge, positive surprise”

Winning the Outstanding Paper award came as a welcome surprise to Alexandros.

“We trusted our work was good, but there are hundreds of other researchers that explore similar issues,” he explains.

“To win was a huge, positive surprise and it shows that BCU can provide reliable research that contributes to the wellbeing of businesses.”