Commonwealth Research Network on International Business (CRN-IB)

Bringing together academia, businesses and policy making bodies

London skyline

CRN-IB was established at a special session during the Annual European International Business Conference in Brighton in 2012. It aims to bring together and strengthen relationships and dialogue between academic, businesses and policy making bodies working on and in Commonwealth countries.

CR-IB is hosted at the James E. Lynch India and South Asia Business Centre (ISABC) and the Centre for Research and Enterprise, London School of Business and Management, Bloomsbury.

About

Along with the general capacity-related challenges of many poor and small vulnerable economies, the CRN-IB initiative particularly acknowledges the ever-growing importance of South-South trade (which the UK can broker and tap more directly post-Brexit) and business and investment linkages with the Commonwealth network’s potential in supporting this trade and making it inclusive in nature (so that the poorest and vulnerable countries can benefit from it). The Commonwealth context is one that includes, though not mutually exclusively, 14 Least Developed countries (LDCs), 30 small states, 17 Sub-Saharan African (SSA), 4 South Asian regional members, 10 Caribbean and 11 Pacific island states and 2.4 billion people - with 60% under the age of 30 and 43% of the poorest women. This community accounts for 20%+ of world trade and many of the fastest growing economies in the world today, all within a common legal and linguistic infrastructure resulting in reduced trade costs of 19% between member states. Intra-Commonwealth trade is still estimated to increase from $600bn to $1.8tn by 2020.

Advisory board
  • Professor Peter Buckley, Founder Director of the Centre for International Business, University of Leeds
  • Dr Surender Munjal, University of Leeds
  • Dr Mohammad Razzaque, Adviser and Head, International Trade Policy Section, Trade Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
  • Arif Zaman, faculty, Henley Business School, University of Reading and then Adviser, Commonwealth Business Council

The Honorary President is Lord Howell, latterly Commonwealth Minister 2010-2012 and a former Secretary of State for Energy and Transport.

Activities and events

The Commonwealth Research Network on International Business (CRN-IB) works with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council. It has held several panel sessions at Academy of International Business (AIB) conferences, including the 43rd AIB-UKI Conference hosted by the Department of Management, Birkbeck, University of London in April 2016; and at the 44th AIB-UKI Conference organised with the 6th Reading Conference in April 2017 at the University of Reading.

A London and Leeds seminar series is planned leading up to the Commonwealth Summit in April 2018 and the UK assuming the role of Commonwealth Chair-in-Office 2018-2020 in consultation with local organisations in the Knowledge Quarter, the leading knowledge cluster around King’s Cross and Bloomsbury. These include the UCL Institute of the Americas, the Centre of African Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the SOAS South Asia Institute, the Ramphal Institute and the Global Economics and History Forum at King’s College and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in Senate House.

Impacts and outcomes

Identified impacts and outcomes of CRN-IB include promoting effective participation of the poorest and most vulnerable countries (e.g. LDCs, SSA, and small states) in global trade and business and investment flows through providing informed inputs, policy-relevant analyses  and recommendations and assessments of emerging developments; facilitating the exchange of ideas between researchers, the business community and policymakers including from the diaspora; and championing the interests of the LDCs, SSA and small states (especially members of the Commonwealth) in support of growth and economic development and a more inclusive agenda.

Areas for increased collaboration

Several areas have been identified for increased collaboration, which include Global Value Chains; IB in/from the emerging economies; Internationalisation of SMEs and international entrepreneurship including the diaspora and women; IB and cities; and IB history. In the wake of Brexit, the establishment of the Commonwealth Trade Ministerial Forum in which the private sector plays a key role and heightened change to the international business environment, CRN-IB will be increasing its activities from September 2017 to help shape a forward agenda. These will include promoting greater coordination and collaboration with AIB chapters in Commonwealth countries (including AIB SSA, MENA and India) including research students; the involvement of diaspora business and academic networks; and the participation of those on Commonwealth Scholarships and Chevening Scholars and with the Association of Commonwealth Universities.