Leicester will experience significant knock-on effects from Leicester City's triumph

Posted by ap507 at May 05, 2016 04:15 PM |
Professor Stephen Wood discusses how the feel-good factor in Leicester will have some positive impact on the economy
Leicester will experience significant knock-on effects from Leicester City's triumph

Professor Stephen Wood

Think: Leicester does not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Leicester - it expresses the independent views and opinions of the academic who has authored the piece. If you do not agree with the opinions expressed, please feel free to write a counter opinion for Think: Leicester and send to ap507@le.ac.uk 

The rise of Leicester City Football Club from Championship winners to champions of the English Premier League is making people all over the world look at their atlases. Already benefiting from a major boost to its economy after King Richard III was buried in its cathedral in 2014, Leicester will experience significant knock-on effects from the triumph.

Leicester is already a growth story. The population of the city rose in the past 15 years by more than 100,000 to just around 350,000, making it the 11th largest urban area in England. The overall unemployment rate, at 5%, is slightly lower than the national jobless figure of 5.4%.

The feel-good factor in Leicester will have some positive impact on work performance. Even if this is short lived, what will hopefully endure is an optimism - and there is evidence that optimism improves well-being and performance. But the developing reputation of the city for positive thinking and attitudes to change may have a bigger effect through attracting investment.

Existing businesses may find being branded as a Leicester firm will attract, or at least help to retain, existing customers. Some will be directly affected by the football club's success – such as hotels, restaurants, gift and sports shops, bus companies and traders near the ground – as indeed will Leicester City as an employer. The traditional apparel manufacturing base is already enjoying something of a revival.

Both private and public organisations may find it easier to attract and retain staff, though some may be disappointed when they find they can't get a City season ticket.

The city has a large and growing international student population and Premier League success should spread the club's fan base throughout the world, especially the Far East. This will add to the attraction of studying at the city's two universities. One of my fellow supporters near me in the West Stand became a committed Leicester supporter when he studied geography between 1966 and 1969 at the University of Leicester. He now travels from London to watch the games.

Perhaps one effect of Leicester City's success is that it may awaken policy makers to what is really required to solve the so-called British productivity puzzle: good workplace relations and genuine opportunities for involvement.

British industry (including elite football) is overly concerned with finance and spotting and rewarding talent and putting systems over people. It is dominated by chief executives and senior managers who are distant from employees, customers and clients. The lessons we can take from the City “miracle” include the value of employee involvement which produces good work processes, team spirit and a sense of unity and purpose, the virtues of directors who consciously get close to their employees and customers, and the benefits on concentrating on the improvement of all and not singling out “stars”. Organisational traditions are also important: it is no coincidence that the four great post-war successful teams at Leicester were built by developing players from lower divisions or discarded by so-called bigger clubs.

This triumph is being talked about as unprecedented so there is no model from the past to gauge how likely all this is: but at the risk of upsetting our neighbours, Nottingham did seem lively and more on the map when Forest were doing so well in the 1970s and 1980s.

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