Manchester Metropolitan University

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Higher wellbeing drives business innovation

Cultural activities and sport can boost creativity

GOING for a swim, a gentle jog or taking a trip to the theatre could open the door to success for business owners.

According to new research, those with a higher level of personal wellbeing are more likely to innovate new products and services, subsequently driving growth in small and medium-sized firms.

Higher wellbeing reflects owner-managers participating in an arts or cultural activity, regularly exercising and being alert, attentive, determined and inspired in the workplace.

Now, the MMU team’s results could help boost ‘UK plc’ by underpinning a new approach for policy makers to help small business owners by developing wellbeing intervention schemes.


Lead researcher Dr Robert Lee, senior lecturer from The Research Institute for Business and Management, said: “Encouraging owner-managers to understand and monitor their own personal wellbeing could have important implications for creativity, the development of new products and services, and entering new markets.

“The new survey demonstrates a significant association between positive emotions, mood in the workplace and higher innovation.

“The data further shows a significant association between participation in an arts or cultural activity - such as museums, galleries, theatres, or concerts - and higher innovation. In addition, regular exercise is also associated with higher innovation.”

The British Academy-funded study was conducted by surveying 1,000 business owners across the north of England. They answered a series of questions on their exercise habits, cultural activities, health, wellbeing and mood.

'Major impact'

The study is one of the first of its kind to establish links between personal wellbeing and innovation, and has since caught the attention of the British Chambers of Commerce.

Dr Lee added: “Our research identifies that very little evidence exists regarding owner managers personal well-being indicators and links to innovation, and could have a major impact for the future.  

“Understanding how to help owner-managers to increase their wellbeing could be an invaluable tool for policy makers to boost the lifeblood of the economy.”

Dr Lee conducted the research with Professor Heinz Tuselmann, from MMU, and Prof Eleanor Shaw, from the University of Strathclyde.


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