Building interconnected worlds with network architecture

Today’s internet users – from global businesses to individuals with network devices – have come to rely on instant, seamless, reliable and flexible methods of connecting. As such, our digital age is founded on the design and maintenance of network operating systems that enable us to live, work and communicate with ease – wherever we happen to be in the world.

Organisations who rely on technological advancements – for example, telecommunication, shared networks, algorithms, and software that enables application programming interface (API) – rely on individuals with specialist computer science skills such as network design and network functions. An ever-growing sector, computing expertise – and the ability to apply it to achieve business goals – is in increasing demand.

What is network architecture?

Computer networks are built and designed to serve the needs of clients and users. Network architecture, therefore, is the way in which these computer networks are structured to meet device connectivity requirements. In this context, devices refers to servers, end-user devices and smart technologies.

There are different types of network architecture that are used for various purposes and applications. Some common examples of networks include:

  • access networks and local-area networks (LANs) – used to support, connect and on-board users and share systems within a distinct geographical area via a central server, such as a workforce within an office building
  • wide-area networks (WANs) – used to connect users, often over long distances, such as healthcare professionals to health systems and applications
  • data centres – used to connect servers where data and applications are hosted and make them accessible to users
  • intranets – used to connect computers for a certain group of users across a network
  • cloud computing – used to meet the on-demand delivery of resources over the Internet, including private clouds, public clouds, multi-clouds and hybrid clouds.

Systems are set up in a variety of ways, depending on need. For example, businesses can choose between options such as peer-to-peer architecture (P2P) – where all devices on the system have the same capabilities, used by platforms such as Bitcoin and BitTorrent – or more traditional client/server networks where some devices are set up to ‘serve’ others, used by Amazon and for devices such as the Apple watch.

Computer science specialists working to design and arrange intricate systems will also need to consider network topology: how various connections and nodes are arranged, both logically and physically, in a network. Examples of network topologies include bus, star, ring, mesh, tree and hybrid.

What are the components of network architectures?

Building and maintaining networks can be complex and challenging – especially in a world where expectations are ever-higher, and needs and requirements change over time. To offer solutions that help to manage modern network architectures, network architects have a variety of components at their disposal.

Controller-led set-ups are critical to scaling and securing networks. Controllers respond to evolving business needs and aim to drastically simplify operations; business intent is translated into device configurations and network functions are automated. Controller-led systems continuously monitor devices connected to the network to ensure that performance and security standards are met and maintained.

Multi-domain (or cross-network) integrations are designed to share and exchange relevant operating parameters, with multiple networks communicating via controllers. This helps to ensure that organisational outcomes which span networking domains are delivered.

Intent-based working (IBN) focuses on setting up networks in order to achieve an organisation’s desired outcomes. It relies heavily on automation to integrate business processes, review network performance, identify issues and enable security measures.

What is the open systems interconnection (OSI) model?

The OSI model enables disparate and diverse systems to communicate using standard protocols. A conceptual model developed by the International Organization for Standardization, it’s best thought of as a single, universal language required for computer networking. It helps to identify and troubleshoot issues with networks.

There are seven layers to the OSI model, each responsible for a specific task and required to communicate with the layers both above and below itself:

  1.       Physical layer
  2.       Data link layer
  3.       Network layer
  4.       Transport layer
  5.       Session layer
  6.       Presentation layer
  7.       Application layer.

What is the role of a network architect?

With the expansion of wireless and mobile networks – alongside more traditional versions – network architects are in increasing demand.

A network architect’s job is to create and implement layouts and plans for data communication networks. Their responsibilities are likely to include advising organisations on where they might need networks, how these will work in practice, and any benefits or drawbacks to using particular types of network – so having a keen understanding of organisational goals and wider plans is key. Essentially, they help businesses to create a cohesive framework with which their employees can communicate and share information, access systems and servers, and do their jobs. As a result, most network architects work closely with chief information officers to predict and plan for where new or different networks will be required. They often work within a wider team comprising computer systems engineers and other computer science-related roles.

As well as planning data communication networks and their logistics, further responsibilities of network architects can include:

  • researching new network technologies
  • analysing current data and network traffic to forecast future growth and its implications for networks and bandwidth requirements
  • planning network security measures, such as patches, authentication, back-ups and firewalls, and testing vulnerabilities
  • assessing what additional hardware is required, such as network drivers, cables, wifi capabilities, routers and adaptors, and how this will be implemented.

It can be a lucrative career: job and career specialists, Reed, state that the average salary for a network architect in the UK is £94,842 – a figure that can be far exceeded depending on factors such as individual experience, seniority of role, location and sector type.

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What are the most important skills in software development?

Software development is the area of computer science focused on designing, building, implementing, and supporting computer software. Software is what enables systems and applications to operate and perform tasks, which means that software development is an essential role in the technology sector and other digital industries.

According to IBM, software development is typically done by programmers, software engineers, and software developers, with plenty of interaction and overlap between these roles.

Programmers, often referred to as coders, write code and typically receive instructions from software developers and engineers.

Software developers are more actively involved than programmers in steering software development. While they may assist in writing code, they can also assist in turning requirements into features, managing development processes, and testing and maintaining developed software.

Software engineers are solutions-focused and apply scientific engineering principles to build software and systems that solve problems. 

It’s worth noting, however, that the essential skills needed for successful software development remain constant regardless of who is doing the development work. So whether a person is a programmer, software developer, or software engineer, they will still need to develop a number of important technical and interpersonal abilities.

Technical knowledge needed for software development

Software development links to several important areas of computer science, so it’s important that software developers have technical skills or knowledge in these core areas.


Computer programming skills and coding are among the most vital for software development, because they are what allow developers to write the source code for software. Software development typically requires knowledge in programming languages or coding languages such as:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • C#
  • C++
  • Python
  • Ruby

Programmers aren’t expected to know all programming languages, but should definitely specialise in a few of them.

Operating systems

Operating system software controls computer hardware, and enables things such as applications and programmes to run. The most commonly used operating systems include:

Operating systems on mobile devices, meanwhile, are typically either iOS or Android.

Version control

Also known as source control or source control management (SCM), version control ensures that code revisions during software development – both front-end and back-end development, as well as other types of development work, such as web development – are tracked. This means that multiple developers can work on a project simultaneously, and that changes can be shared, merged, or rolled back as needed.

The most commonly used version control system is Git, a free and open-source tool used to manage and track source code history. Git repositories can be managed through cloud-based hosting services such as GitHub, GitLab, and Apache Subversion (SVN).

Algorithms and data structures

Software is often optimised through algorithms and data structures. Data structures provide organisational frameworks for storing information, and algorithms are commonly used to sort data. Together, they can ensure software performs efficiently and effectively.

Database management

Software development will inevitably require interaction with an organisation’s database, which means software developers must be able to insert, alter, update, delete, secure, and retrieve data from within a database. This typically requires familiarity with structured query language (SQL) databases, such as MySQL or Oracle.

Integrated development environments (IDEs)

An integrated development environment, or IDE, is a user-friendly environment for software development. An IDE typically includes a source code editor, debug tool, and compiler, among other useful tools. Popular examples include Eclipse and Visual Studio.


Knowing how to use development containers, such as Docker, is becoming one of the fundamentals among software engineer skills. Containers package up software code and all dependencies so that the application can be deployed efficiently and reliably.

Current and emerging tech trends

As technology continues to rapidly evolve, so too must software engineers and developers. There are a number of growing areas within software development, such as the following.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning: AI and machine learning have grown significantly in the past decade, and this trend is expected to continue as organisations and businesses continue to expand their use in areas such as automation and personalisation. 
  • Cloud computing: Cloud-based platforms offer computer resources – particularly data storage – remotely. Commonly used cloud platforms include Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
  • Blockchain: Blockchain is the technology that supports cryptocurrencies, but its applications across all sectors and industries are virtually limitless.

Interpersonal skills needed for software development

There are several non-technical but still essential software developer skills. These interpersonal skills can help ensure that business requirements are clearly understood and met, that project management runs smoothly and seamlessly, and that issues are quickly identified and resolved.


Professional software development is rarely, if ever, done in true isolation. The development process usually requires a development team to support everything from initial design ideas to testing and maintaining the software. Team members may be called upon to collaborate together, so it’s important that developers understand how to interact respectfully and productively with one another, with a focus on cooperation and problem-solving.


Communication skills are among the most important interpersonal abilities or soft skills a software developer needs. Good communication ensures that requirements are fully understood, and that challenges can be clearly articulated and addressed. This is particularly important in fields such as software development, where ideas and information are often complex, and clear feedback is required at most stages of the process.

Attention to detail

A software development project typically has several moving pieces, so it’s important that software engineers and developers can keep a close eye on small details that could create large issues if not addressed early on.

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You will also study other key areas required for software development, such as advanced programming, computer architecture and operating systems, algorithms and data structures, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.

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Public administration: serving the needs of the people

While public services and public administration is largely the purview of government, the real-world application of its planning, orchestration and development and performance can be a far larger, and more-complex, affair. Prospects, a specialist in graduate careers, estimates that there are 5.6 million individuals working in the public sector in the United Kingdom. Add this to the number of people working in public administration-adjacent capacities outside the public sector, and the number is far higher still.

In our daily lives, we may be unaware of the sheer scale of service provision, but those working both at the frontline and in behind-the-scenes capacities perform critical roles that have an effect on our individual livelihoods and that of wider society. But what does public administration involve – and what careers are available to those interested in working in public affairs and public management?

What is public administration?

Public administration refers to the sector – which, depending on the country, may be governmental, public sector, private sector, non-profit organisations and local agencies – that works to meet the needs of the public, and maintain a civil society through public policy and programme coordination. A wide-ranging field, it encompasses the planning, organising, directing, coordination and control of national and local government operations.

In the UK, the term civil servants refers to those who are employed by ‘His Majesty’s Civil Service’.and, collectively, the Civil Service “helps the government of the day develop and implement its policies as effectively as possible.” An independent body – but one that is overseen and managed by the prime minister – its work spans various agencies, central government departments and non-departmental government bodies (NDPBs). The Civil Service does not include: individuals working for the National Health Service (NHS); the police; the British Armed Forces; government ministers or officers of local government or NPDBs; or those working for the Royal Household.

The Civil Service adheres to four overarching standards.

  • Integrity: the obligations of public service must come before personal interests.
  • Honesty: the Civil Service must be truthful and open.
  • Objectivity: advice and decisions must be rigorous and evidence-based.
  • Impartiality: the Civil Service must act according to the merits of the case, and equally serve governments of all political parties.

What does public administration involve?

Public service is a complex, fast-paced and changeable environment, characterised by the pressure to deliver in critical areas of need but often with limited resources. It requires individuals with the ability to navigate complicated policy issues – grounded in multiple, competing contexts – and improve service performance.

It has a broad remit, generally encompassing law enforcement, education, health and social care, all levels of government, business administration, and more. As such, its responsibilities are equally broad, although the specifics of public administration vary from country to country. Responsibilities are likely to include, for example:

  • public safety
  • social policy
  • community development
  • crisis management
  • sustainability
  • environmental management

The individual roles of public servants vary considerably. While policy making and policy analysis dictates much of the overall work, examples of wider roles may include:

  • political risk analyst
  • company secretary
  • education administrator
  • equality, diversity and inclusion manager
  • government social research officer
  • intelligence analyst
  • statistician
  • health service manager
  • environmental health practitioner
  • corporate treasurer
  • diplomatic service officer

Public administration in a business context

Management practice in public service and governmental environments continues to be shaped by concepts regarding government – from its leadership, performance and efficacy to its efficiency, organisation and drivers.

There is much to learn from public administration trends and activities.

  • How is performance measured and improved?
  • What accountability mechanisms are built into the process?
  • What is the nature of leadership and how can it impact societal and cultural change – both within, and external to, a services context?
  • How is evidence gathered and used as a basis for effecting change, influencing policy, making decisions and developing solutions?
  • What can it teach us about fiscal management, wider reforms, working within tight constraints and enhancing performance?
  • How do government policies impact the way business is conducted?

Pursuing a career within public administration

While there is no specific path to a career in the public administration field, the vast majority of positions require a university degree and, often, skills across business and management.

Depending on the career ambition – and which level, or either seniority or experience a role requires – it may be useful to undertake specific undergraduate or postgraduate study for that area. There are plenty of higher education institutions to choose from, and course focus is wide-ranging. You can choose courses tailored to your professional development needs, for example across fields such as public policy, labour relations, programme development or public finance. Master’s degrees are generally required for management-level positions and roles that directly develop and implement public programmes.

Work experience and other professional experience can help to set you apart from other graduates, as well as giving you valuable insight into the workings of the sector. It may be helpful to have an academic background in social science or political science, but it is not essential. Entry requirements, part-time and full-time study options, tuition fees and other details vary by provider – for further information, ordering prospectuses or attending open days can help you to make an informed choice.

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What is the voluntary sector?

The voluntary sector, often referred to as the third sector, sits outside of the public and private sectors to focus exclusively on creating social impact and community change.

Other names for the voluntary sector include:

  • the not-for-profit sector.
  • the non-profit sector.
  • the community sector.
  • civil society.

As its name implies, the voluntary sector is largely fueled by the efforts of volunteers who work together to achieve common goals, as well as donations and other forms of monetary contributions, such as grants and fundraising.

Voluntary sector organisations are typically run by independent boards that set strategic priorities and objectives that are based on values, rather than profits. Voluntary organisations operate without influence from private shareholders or governmental mandates.

Why is the voluntary sector important?

The voluntary sector often acts as a safety net to catch people who fall outside of government or other public sector support. For example, vulnerable people without access to safe housing may find affordable accommodation through certain voluntary sector organisations, while people struggling to make ends meet can access food banks or other forms of support or advice.

In addition to offering services directly to people in need, the voluntary sector also promotes and advocates for wider, long-term social or systemic change on behalf of marginalised communities. 

Issues tackled by organisations within the voluntary sector often include:

  • discrimination or inequalities on the basis of characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, age, mental health, physical abilities, and so on
  • inaffordable housing
  • food insecurity
  • domestic violence
  • climate change

The work of the voluntary sector is particularly important as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the cost-of-living and inflation crises.

According to the UK’s National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), use of voluntary sector services rose during the pandemic, and demand for charity support continues to increase, while resources are becoming increasingly limited. In fact, the NCVO says that the new cost-of-living crisis “will affect every charity – whatever their size or cost.”

The NCVO also reports that the voluntary sector contributes about £20bn to the UK’s GDP, spending £56.9bn in 2019/20.

Examples of voluntary sector organisations

There are several different types of voluntary sector organisations.


Charitable organisations make up the bulk of the voluntary sector, and frequently provide a number of invaluable social services, support services, and care services.

Community groups 

Community groups are voluntary organisations that work to provide a public or local community benefit. For example, groups may organise social events for seniors or young people, or focus on community development.

Social co-operatives (co-ops)

Co-ops are organisations that are owned and controlled by their individual members in order to meet their collective needs.

Community interest companies (CICs)

A community interest company, or CIC, is part of the social enterprise sector. It is a limited company that’s set up to achieve social objectives and benefit a particular community, rather than private shareholders. 

Credit unions

A credit union is a financial institution – like a bank. Much like a co-operative, credit union are  owned and controlled by its members.


Foundations are organisations set up for the purpose of providing grants to charitable or philanthropic projects and similar social change endeavours. 

Religious and faith-based organisations

Churches, temples, and mosques all fall under the voluntary sector umbrella, working on behalf of their communities.

Culture and recreation groups

Youth, arts, and sporting groups are not-for-profit organisations that are typically run by volunteers.

Parent teacher associations

Parent teacher associations, or PTAs, are volunteer organisations that aim to enrich schools for children.

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

NGOs can operate locally or globally, and typically focus on large-scale issues such as environmental or social care advocacy, or human rights work.

Who funds the voluntary sector?

While the voluntary sector focuses on its social objectives rather than turning a profit, its organisations still usually need funds to operate. In the United Kingdom, this funding usually comes in from a few different sources, such as:

  • charitable donations from the public
  • grants from foundations and trusts, as well as local and national governments; this also includes the National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes more than £600m a year to community organisations
  • government contracts that award funds to organisations that deliver public services
  • investments and other assets, such as property
  • charity shops

What is the difference between the public sector and the voluntary sector?

There is some overlap between the public sector and the voluntary sector – for example, both aim to serve the public or their communities – however, the voluntary sector falls outside of government jurisdiction and control, and its organisations are focused entirely on their social purpose. 

For example, the NHS is a public sector organisation offering statutory services, while The Health Foundation is a voluntary sector organisation: an independent charity that offers grants to frontline healthcare providers, services, and carers, and carries out research and policy analysis to help improve healthcare within the NHS.

What do voluntary sector workers do?

The voluntary sector relies heavily on its volunteers, but larger organisations often need to hire paid staff to cover specific roles. Voluntary sector organisations, particularly larger or growing ones, are usually structured to include a board of trustees, paid staff to manage operations, as well as volunteer workers.


Trustees are volunteers who help guide the direction of a charitable organisation to ensure all actions align with its vision, purpose, and goals. Trustees are also responsible for safeguarding the organisation’s assets and overseeing strategic decision-making.

Paid staff

Voluntary sector employees are responsible for the day-to-day operations of their organisations. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations recently reported that almost 1 million people worked in the voluntary sector last year, with the sector’s workforce growing by 3% in 2022 – the fastest growth of any sector over the past decade.


Volunteers are the heart of the voluntary sector. According to the UK’s National Council for Voluntary Organisations, 16.3 million people volunteered with a group, club, or organisation in 2020/21. Additionally, more than half of the population volunteered their time informally at least once during the pandemic.

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One of the core modules on this flexible master’s degree explores the partnerships that help deliver public services. You will examine the opportunities and challenges created by the partnerships between the public and the private or voluntary sectors, and gain the knowledge and skills to critically evaluate public-private partnerships in their many guises.

How to use social media for global marketing

Social media connects people around the planet in powerful and unprecedented ways. As the world becomes increasingly globalised, social media plays an important role in fostering real-time communication and understanding between different peoples, cultures, and countries. 

Social media is also credited with connecting organisations and individuals in similarly new ways, eroding the barriers that used to exist between brands and consumers, and opening the door to direct communication and engagement. According to Statista, increased exposure “is the most commonly cited advantage of using social media for marketing purposes among global industry professionals,” with billions of active social media users as a potential advertising audience. Improved web traffic, lead generation, and increased loyalty are listed as further reasons why marketers use social networks in their campaigns. 

All of this means that social media is a persuasive force in global marketing – and vice versa. It informs and influences preferred marketing channels and tactics, and helps marketers tailor their messages and strategies to the specific needs of international consumers in the worldwide market.

Marketing professionals who want to use social media for effective global marketing need to first consider a few key questions.

  • What is the organisation’s aim for being on social media?
  • Who is the organisation’s target audience?
  • What are the right social media platforms for the organisation’s brand, aims, and audience?

Creating purpose

Many organisations create a Facebook or Twitter account without really understanding why they’re doing so, or stopping to consider their aim on any of the social media platforms that they join. 

Before creating logins for all the latest platforms, or joining TikTok just because that’s where Gen Z is, marketers need to first consider their purpose for joining any social media platform. Is it to build brand awareness and reputation? Is it to create a loyal customer base through social media-based customer service? Is it monetisation, or to drive e-commerce sales, a tactic known as social commerce? Any and all of these aims are valid ones, but knowing them before embarking on a social media campaign can help ensure the campaign’s success.

Engaging a target audience

Social media algorithms mean that marketers can target specific audiences, but in order to maximise on these sophisticated tools, marketers need to first understand precisely who they’re trying to communicate with. 

For example, an organisation might prefer to directly target potential customers within a particular demographic or geographic region, or it might choose to instead direct its messaging towards media professionals or social media influencers who could assist in raising brand awareness. 

Understanding the target audience also helps ensure that marketers can tailor their messages accordingly, whether it’s for specific time zones, languages, or cultural sensitives. 

Social media platforms

The sheer number of potential social media apps on Apple iOS and Android can be intimidating for some marketers, especially when new social media platforms seem to crop up regularly and others appear to fall unexpectedly out of fashion. However, few businesses will appear on all platforms, and the staples for global marketers remain Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Ultimately, though, the platforms an organisation uses should be directly linked to its social media marketing purpose and audience. For example, if the organisation’s target market is in China, it makes more sense to be on Weibo than on Facebook.


Facebook is the most well-known of all social networking sites, and boasts more than two billion monthly active users. Facebook’s user base is encouraged to post updates to their connections – typically friends and family members. Other integrations within the platform include games, an online marketplace, and online event functionality such as live video streaming as well as live audio, such as podcasts.  

Facebook also includes a popular instant messaging app, Facebook Messenger, which enables texting as well as audio and video calls.


Instagram is a photo-sharing social media platform known for its influencer marketing. It also supports video content formats, and is a popular tool for marketing products available on e-commerce sites.


LinkedIn is the go-to social media network for working professionals, and is frequently utilised for digital marketing strategies’ brand-building and reputation-building activities.


TikTok is a short-form video social media platform and is particularly popular with younger generations. In fact, many young people now prefer to use TikTok, rather than Google, to search for information.


Twitter is the microblogging platform that popularised hashtags and includes new features such as Twitter Spaces for live audio conversations.


Snapchat allows users to share messages and images for a brief window of time before the content is no longer accessible.


YouTube is the world’s largest video-sharing platform, and sits among Google’s homepage and Facebook in terms of visits.


Twitch is a live-streaming platform popular with gamers, and is often used for esports competition streaming as well as music broadcasts.


Discord is a decentralised social platform that allows users to join communities – called servers – that suit their interests. The platform supports real-time text, voice, and video chats, as well as file and media sharing, and servers can be private or public spaces. 


WhatsApp is a global instant messaging platform that supports text messages as well as voice and video calls, file and location sharing, and end-to-end encryption.


Clubhouse is a relatively new social network, launching towards the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. It’s described as a social audio app that supports audio chat rooms, and was initially invite-only.

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This programme is studied part-time and 100% online, so you can continue to work full-time as you focus on your professional development. Through research and taught modules, you’ll learn about management strategy, contemporary topics in global business, leading and managing organisational change, and how to manage across cultures, among other important areas of business.

Public finance: an explainer

Public finance is the term used to discuss income, spending, and debt within the public sector. 

In the United Kingdom, the public sector is formed of governments at all levels – including national and local governments – as well as their publicly funded institutions and services, such as the National Health Service (NHS), the police and armed forces, and welfare benefits such as state pensions. This means that the economic resources that the public sector generates, allocates, and manages are public money and assets. 

It is one of the key functions of government to appropriately manage its public finances and effectively allocate its resources. Governments and other public institutions are accountable to the people they represent and serve for the decisions they make, whether it’s how they generate revenue, how they determine their public expenditures, or how they manage public debt.

The scope of public finance

Setting taxes 

In the United Kingdom, only the government can propose legislation to raise public revenue through taxation, or to use public funds to pursue policy objectives. These proposals are made to Parliament, which then needs to approve the legislation. Once approved, government ministers can carry out their policies within their relevant departments. HM Treasury, meanwhile, is responsible for overseeing the individual department budgets that are allocated from the central budgets it administers. 

What is the difference between public finance and taxation?

Public finance is often conflated with taxation, but while they’re indelibly linked, the two are not the same. Taxation is a method of generating public finance funding. For example, in the UK, taxation can include levies such as personal income tax, national insurance contributions, corporation tax, and the value added tax (VAT) on goods and services.

Public finance, on the other hand, considers how best to use and invest the funds raised through tax revenue – as well as through other government revenues, such as investments, borrowings, commercial enterprises, and partnerships – in the interest of individuals, businesses, and wider, macroeconomic stability.

Choosing what to spend public money on

Decisions on how public money is spent are made by ministers appointed by the Prime Minister. Ministers – each have a direct responsibility for a governmental department andare responsible for the public policy direction and business within their departments. They are, effectively, the most influential policymakers in government, but are also required to heed the advice of their accounting officers with regards to conducting public business, and must gain parliamentary approval for government spending.

It’s worth noting that ministers’ policies are typically aligned with the direction, priorities, and – more generally – their party’s policy platform or manifesto. Crucially, the party that forms the government is democratically elected by citizen voters on the basis of its manifesto.

Other potential influencers of policies and public spending include:

  • think-tanks
  • unions
  • the media
  • special interest groups
  • wider public opinion

Determining how best to fund and deliver public services

Ministerial departments have considerable control over how they distribute and allocate their budgets. However, while they are largely free to organise, manage, and spend their resources, they are also subject to:

  • parliamentary standards
  • the direction of their ministers
  • adequate controls and reporting arrangements

Within each ministerial department is a departmental board, chaired by the senior minister, that leads on how to fund and deliver public services. These plans are then put into motion by departmental staff and civil servants. 

Additionally, HM Treasury is tasked with ensuring that departments raise revenue and spend resources only within agreed limits, and for setting the ground rules for the administration of public money.

Distributing income

Income distribution occurs when public funds are transferred from one group or area to another. For example, money raised through taxation can used to fund:

  • state pensions
  • public education
  • infrastructure projects
  • healthcare
  • initiatives for tackling climate change
  • benefits programmes such as Universal Credit

Distributing income in this manner works to alleviate income inequality and ensure a good quality of life for all people. Economists typically explore income distribution through the lens of a country’s total gross domestic product (GDP), and how this is distributed among its people.

Stabilising the economy

Well-managed public sector finance is credited with helping to ensure economic stability and even economic growth.

For example, it can contribute to:

  • stable prices – rather than inflation – in key markets
  • lower interest rates
  • increased private investment and savings
  • reduced public debt, budget deficits, and associated interest
  • robust social programmes and social services that enhance health and well-being, and in turn allow for spending reductions in areas such as social care and healthcare in the long term

What are the principles of public finance?

The UK government’s HM Treasury outlines its principles for managing public resources in its Managing Public Money publication. These principles are:

  • honesty
  • impartiality
  • openness
  • accountability
  • accuracy
  • fairness
  • integrity
  • transparency
  • objectivity
  • reliability

The document goes on to say that these principles are carried out in the spirit of – and to the letter of – the law, as well as in the public interest, to high ethical standards, and achieving value for money. It also notes complementary guidance in the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) UK Corporate Governance Code, which applies to central government departments. Among others, the code’s principles include:

  • promoting long-term, sustainable success that contributes to wider society
  • ensuring that necessary resources are in place to meet objectives, and measuring performance against them
  • establishing frameworks for prudent and effective controls so that risk can be assessed and managed
  • effective engagement with, and encouraged participation from, stakeholders
  • workforce policies and practices that are consistent with agreed values

Finally, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) represents 14,000 members who work in public finance. CIPFA’s Standard of Professional Practice on Ethics is based on five principles:

  1. integrity
  2. objectivity
  3. professional competence and due care
  4. confidentiality
  5. professional behaviours

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What is global marketing and why is it important?

Global marketing is the focus on marketing an organisation’s products or services in the international marketplace – and in an increasingly global society, with people more connected than ever before, it’s an increasingly important area of marketing management.

Global marketing sees the world as one unique, individual market. This means that a global business’s marketing messages and approach will be largely the same no matter where in the world they’re seen or heard.

This uniform approach also means that:

  • marketing efforts are typically developed and coordinated from one central location, such as an organisation’s headquarters, rather than within individual markets
  • products and services are largely the same regardless of location – for example, the ingredients and process used to make a can of Coca-Cola are the same in all countries
  • marketing campaigns and brand imagery are typically the same in all countries.

Global marketing is particularly suited to products and services that have universal appeal, and where market research has indicated the products or services are likely to be well-received.

What is the difference between global marketing and international marketing?

Global marketing and international marketing are similar in that they are both focused on the development of marketing strategies that reach people around the world.

There is a key difference, though: while global marketing focuses on a single marketing strategy for a worldwide market – effectively treating the world as a single market – international marketing adapts its marketing strategy and tactics for different countries, typically with marketers knowledgeable in specific regions tailoring marketing activities to suit different markets, different languages, and different cultures. 

It’s worth noting, though, that marketing in a global society doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition, with global marketing on one side, international marketing on the other, and no common ground between. For example, in an article in the Harvard Business Review, John Quelch and Edward J. Hoff at Harvard Business School argued that a global approach can fall anywhere on a spectrum:

“In applying the global marketing concept and making it work, flexibility is essential,” they wrote. “Managers need to tailor the approach they use to each element of the business system and marketing program. For example, a manufacturer might market the same product under different brand names in different countries or market the same brands using different product formulas.”

What are the benefits of global marketing?

Global marketing offers a number of advantages. For example, running a single marketing campaign that aims to appeal to all consumers, rather than several campaigns that are adapted to different target markets, means that businesses can achieve huge cost savings and reduce spend on marketing. They can also benefit from the economies of scale that come with increased production to meet global market demands.

Other benefits can include the following.

Wider audience and expanded customer base

Appealing to the international marketplace means that international brands and even small businesses can grow beyond the limits of their domestic market borders. This diversification also means that organisations are less reliant on single markets – particularly uncertain or volatile ones.

Enhanced brand awareness and reputation

World-wide brands and global companies often have a competitive advantage simply due to familiarity, name recognition, and ease of access.

Additional insight

With a larger target audience and customer base comes more opportunities to gather insight and feedback – especially in online spaces such as social media, where people are more likely to engage with globally recognised brands.

Global marketing strategies

In many ways, a global marketing strategy is like any other marketing strategy. It should outline the four Ps of any marketing mix – product, price, place, and promotion – and take an evidenced-based approach to decision making.

A strong global marketing strategy should also:

  • be underpinned by a strong, consistent global brand that will resonate with audiences around the world
  • include a strong digital component to strengthen the organisation’s reach to people in any country
  • be flexible enough to adjust where required, particularly where cultural differences and sensitivities might arise

Real-world examples of global marketing 

Here are a couple of commonly cited examples of global marketing.


Nike has grown to become one of the most recognised brands on the planet through a combination of global marketing tactics, and strategic international sponsorships and partnerships that appeal to audiences around the world. Nike was one of the earliest adopters of digital marketing such as email marketing and social media marketing.


Coca-Cola is ubiquitous in dozens of countries thanks to its global marketing practices. Its brand, taste, and marketing are more or less identical whether you buy a bottle in New York or Hong Kong.

What does the term “glocal” mean and how is it used in global marketing?

Glocal is a combination of global and local. It’s a concept used in more flexible global marketing strategies where there’s a mix of standardised product offerings and marketing as well as local market or local culture components.

For example, a McDonald’s Big Mac sandwich is the same whether someone is in the United Kingdom or any other country – except in India, where the beef is replaced with a vegetarian alternative – but McDonald’s also has glocal, or region-specific menu items. These have included:

  • the McArabia, a pita bread sandwich specific to McDonald’s restaurants in the Middle East
  • McSpaghetti, a pasta menu item specific to McDonald’s restaurants in the Philippines
  • the Teritama burger, a spring menu item at McDonald’s restaurants in Japan; Japanese customers also have an autumn option – the Tsukimi burger
  • the Cheddar McMelt – a burger with extra cheese, onions, and soy sauce – specific to McDonald’s restaurants in Brazil

Challenges in global marketing

Cultural barriers are one of the biggest challenges in global marketing. For example, marketing messages that are appropriate in Sweden might not translate in South Korea and vice versa. So, even the most standardised global marketing strategies need a degree of flexibility. A multinational or international business should also be aware of important cultural and religious events, such as Christmas, Ramadan, and so on.

Businesses should also be mindful of different laws and legislation in different countries and foreign markets. Regulations can differ in everything from advertising standards to ingredients – not to mention taxes – so being aware of these differences before launching into new markets is crucial.

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What are mobile networks?

What are mobile networks?

A mobile network, also known as a cellular network, enables wireless communication between many end users, and across vast distances, by transmitting signals using radio waves. 

Most portable communication devices – including mobile phone handsets, laptops, tablets, and so on – are equipped to connect to a mobile network and enable wireless communication through phone calls, electronic messages and mail, and data. 

How do mobile networks work?

Mobile networks are effectively a web of what’s known as base stations. These base stations each cover a specific geographical land area – called a cell – and are equipped with at least one fixed-location transceiver antenna that enables the cell to send and receive transmissions between devices using radio waves. 

When people experience poor reception or connection using their mobile devices, this is usually because they aren’t in close enough range to a base station. This is also why, in order to provide the best possible network coverage, many network providers and operators will employ as many base station transceivers as they can, and overlap their cell areas. 

How mobile devices connect to mobile networks

In the past, mobile phones – or portable transceivers – used an analog technology called AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) to connect to cellular networks. Today, however, portable communication devices such as the Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy Android phone use digital cellular technologies to send and receive transmissions.

These technologies can include:

  • global system for mobile communications (GSM)
  • code division multiple access (CDMA).
  • time division multiple access (TDMA).

What is the difference between GSM and CDMA?

Devices that use the global system for mobile communications (GSM):

  • can transmit data and voice at the same time
  • do not have built-in encryption, and are typically less secure
  • store data on a subscriber identity module (SIM) card that can be transferred between devices

Devices that use code division multiple access (CDMA), on the other hand:

  • cannot send both data types at the same time
  • have built-in encryption and more security
  • store data on the mobile device itself, rather than a SIM

Another key difference is in terms of usage: GSM is the predominant technology used in Europe and other parts of the world, while CDMA is used in fewer countries.

What are the different types of mobile networks?

Mobile networks have become progressively faster and more advanced over the past few decades.


2G dates back to the early 1990s and eventually enabled early SMS and MMS messaging on mobile phones. It is also noteworthy because it marked the move from the analog 1G to digital radio signals. Its use has been phased out in some areas of the world, such as Europe and North America, but 2G is still available in many developing regions.


3G was introduced in the early 2000s, and is based on universal mobile telecommunication service (UMTS) standards. For the first time, mobile devices could use web browsers and stream music and videos. 3G is still widely in use around the world today. 


4G was first introduced around 2010 and offered a significant step forward for mobile networks. Speed increases significantly with 4G, enabling advanced streaming capabilities and better connectivity and performance for mobile games and other smartphone apps even when not connected to WiFi.


5G is the newest addition to the family of mobile networks, rolling out at the end of the 2010s and still being introduced in major centres around the world today. Through high-frequency radio waves, the 5G network offers significantly increased bandwidth and is approximately 100 times faster than the upper limit of 4G.

Different mobile networks providers in the UK

UK networks vary in the United Kingdom, but all are regulated by Ofcom, the regulators and competition authority for UK communication industries such as fixed-line telecoms, mobiles, and wireless device airwaves. It’s worth noting that mobile networks can also fall under the jurisdiction of the Financial Conduct Authority when offering services such as phone insurance.

What are the UK’s main mobile networks?

The UK has four main mobile network providers:

  1. Vodafone
  2. EE
  3. O2
  4. Three

Between them, these four mobile operators – known as the big four – own and manage the UKs mobile network infrastructure. They’re also known as host mobile phone networks, supporting all other mobile service providers – called mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) – in the UK.

Examples of mobile virtual network operators in the UK

  • ID Mobile, which uses the Three network
  • GiffGaff, which uses the O2 network
  • Tesco Mobile, which uses the O2 network
  • Virgin Mobile from Virgin Media, which uses the Vodafone and O2 networks
  • Sky Mobile, which uses the O2 network
  • BT Mobile, which uses the EE network
  • Plusnet Mobile, which uses the EE network
  • Asda Mobile, which uses the Vodafone network
  • VOXI, which uses the Vodafone network
  • SMARTY, which uses the Three network
  • Talkmobile, which uses the Vodafone network
  • Lebara, which uses the Vodafone network

Other mobile phone businesses, such as Carphone Warehouse, work with multiple providers to offer consumers several options in one place when looking for a new phone provider.

Competition between mobile providers

Regardless of which mobile provider that UK mobile customers choose, there are just four networks supporting the provider’s service. This means that having the UK’s fastest or most reliable network is a huge selling point, and many customers use a dedicated coverage checker to investigate their preferred option. It also means that providers offer a number of additional perks and mobile phone deals to help secure mobile phone contracts.

These benefits might include:

  • reduced tariffs for customers who sign up for a rolling monthly contract
  • data plans such as an unlimited data allowance or data rollover, which allows customers to rollover any unused data at the end of the month into the next month
  • deals and discounts for other services offered by the providers, such as household broadband deals or mobile broadband services
  • access to affiliated entertainment services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, or BT Sport
  • discounted SIM-only deals and plans such as a reduced one-month rolling SIM or a 12-month SIM

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One of the key modules on this programme covers computer and mobile networks, so you will examine internet architecture, protocols, and technologies – as well as their real-world applications. You will also discuss networks and the internet, network architecture, communication protocols and their design principles, wireless and mobile networks, network security issues, and networking standards, as well as related social, privacy, and copyright issues.

Management strategy: a roadmap for business growth and success

Whether formalised or not, most businesses have a mission statement that captures their passions, plans, objectives and unique selling points. What businesses may not have, however, is an appropriate, considered and strategic approach in order to achieve these high-level visions.

Management strategy refers to the planned handling of a company’s resources in order to meet its set objectives and goals. It encompasses strategising, monitoring, analysis and assessment on a continuous basis, taking into account shifts in business environments, marketplaces and a variety of other internal and external factors. Business strategy of this type is universal – it can be adopted by businesses of all sizes and types who need to take stock of their progress and performance and develop strategies to increase these.

The benefits of a strategic management plan

The key to strategic planning of this nature is that it is never finished. It isn’t an exercise that chief executives and top and mid-level managers complete once before producing a roadmap that will take a business from strength to strength.

Formalising the direction for an organisation’s short-term and long-term future can bring with it a number of key benefits, both financial and non-financial. These include the following.

Attainment of goals and targets 

Organisations need to establish, implement, monitor and adapt a roadmap in order to achieve growth and performance objectives. Management strategies align realistic, measurable goals with agreed visions and overall ambitions, providing a course of action for an organisation to follow to achieve their end goals. Strategy formulation allows organisations to thrive in specific areas of interest.

Cohesive corporate culture and drive

Strategic management calls for organisation-wide commitment from team members to senior management to other stakeholders. When the whole business is united under a shared aim and shared action plan, team members can then understand their common goals and are better placed to communicate and collaborate. It also serves to increase the engagement and awareness of team leads and managers; they must consistently re-evaluate their position and performance in line with the objectives.

Structured and sustainable growth

Strategic management serves to streamline performance – and, in turn, increases efficiency. This efficiency is the driver for sustainable, long-term growth, enabling organisations to cement their position in the industry marketplace and build upon its success.

Increased competitive advantage

Organisations focused on their goals and management strategies are, by necessity, forward-thinking. This involves possessing an outlook on the market, including changing customer demands, constraints and unpredictable or unfavourable scenarios that may occur. This perspective is not only critical in strategy, but helps organisations to remain ahead of competitors through limiting damage and seizing opportunities. Additionally, competitive businesses – who move through iterations to be better and perform better  – may be more likely to observe other benefits, such as increased staff retention and recruitment of the best talent.

As the business world changes, strategies must adapt – making this planning process an integral part of running a business effectively.

The stages of strategic management

A useful framework for the strategic management process includes the following four steps:

  • assessment and analysis of the organisation’s current strategic goals and direction
  • identification and analysis of organisational strengths and weaknesses, both internal and external
  • formation of action plans
  • implementation and execution of action plans
  • evaluation and control of action plans, including how successful they have been and whether further adjustments are required

In the analysis stage, leaders must clarify business intentions. Using the mission statement as a starting point, evaluate the overall objectives and assess whether progress and performance is in alignment. Stakeholders are a useful source of information during this initial stage, along with risk management and SWOT analyses (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Once primary focuses have been identified, the business has a basis to build on and aims to work towards.

The formation stage is where leaders establish an action plan in order to meet its primary objectives. Ensure each point of the action plan is aligned with SMART guidelines (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) to build a solid framework into the process. It may be prudent to formulate a ‘Plan B’ for some of the strategic steps as this will encourage flexibility and resilience in unpredictable periods.

When an action plan is in motion, businesses have entered the execution stage. At this point, any elements necessary for smooth implementation – for example, establishment of new operational initiatives in certain business units, allocation of human resource or acquisition of funding – should be in place. To maximise efficiency, all stakeholders should be briefed on the action plan and confident of their role and responsibilities in relation to it.

The final stage is evaluation and control. Refer back to the goals set during the analysis stage and assess the process and its results against these measures for benchmarking purposes. Corrective actions and further adaptations may be required and are both part of the overall strategic management process. This knowledge management exercise enables leaders to use the insights to develop and hone operations, plans and processes, ensuring that with each correction the business moves closer to its core objectives. Internal and external issues must be evaluated, together with data and other useful observations.

The balanced scorecard

Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton state that traditional, financial-based performance measures do not provide a detailed-enough indication of how well modern organisations are faring. In today’s competitive business environment, metrics such as return-on-investment can be misleading grounds on which to develop innovative, continuous improvement-based activities.

Enter the balanced scorecard: a set of measures that offer business leaders a quick, comprehensive view of organisational performance. Alongside financial measures, the scorecard provides insights into customer perspective and satisfaction, innovation and improvement activities, and internal processes and perspectives. In doing so, it asks: how do we perform in the eyes of shareholders, customers and ourselves? The scorecard aims to provide a valuable, holistic look at organisational health, reducing information overload to allow leaders to speedily assess the most-critical areas for development and improvement. Strategy and vision, rather than control, become the focus.

Scorecard findings can then be used in decision-making, problem-solving and forecasting efforts, translating overarching strategy into specific and measurable steps. It’s important that managers ensure the goals are Kaplan and Norton advise that the scorecard “keeps companies looking – and moving – forward instead of backward.”

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Internet protocols: making the world wide web possible

E-commerce, streaming platforms, work, social media, communication – whatever we’re using the internet for, we’re using it on a widespread, wide-ranging and constant basis.

DataReportal states that most of the connected post-pandemic world continues to grow faster than it did previously. Their Digital 2022 Global Overview Report, published in partnership with Hootsuite and We Are Social, states:

  • There are 4.95 billion internet users, accounting for 62.5 per cent of the global population.
  • Internet users grew by 192 million over the past 12 months.
  • The typical global internet user spends almost seven hours per day using the internet across all devices, with 35 per cent of that total focused on social media.
  • The number of people who remain “unconnected” to the internet has dropped below 3 billion for the first time.

With faster mobile connections, more powerful devices set to become even more accessible and more of our lives playing out digitally than ever before, greater convergence across digital activities is likely. Our reliance on it? Greater still.

But what of the structures and processes behind these billions of daily interactions? And just how many of us actually know how the internet works? Individuals with the skills and specialist expertise in the computer science space are in high demand across a huge range of industries – and there’s never been a better time to get involved.

What is internet protocol?

Cloudflare defines internet protocol (IP) as a set of rules for routing and addressing packets of data so that they can travel across networks and arrive at the correct destination. Essentially, it’s a communications protocol. Data packets – smaller pieces of data that traverse the internet that have been divided from greater quantities – each have IP information attached to them. It’s this IP information that routers use to ensure IP packets are data transferred to the right places.

Each device and each domain that has the ability to access the internet has a designated IP address in order for internet communication to work. As packets are sent to IP addresses, the information and data, therefore, arrives at its intended destination. IP is a host-to-host protocol, used to deliver a packet from a source host to a destination host.

There are two different versions of IP, providing unique IP identifiers to cover all devices: IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4 – a 32-bit addressing scheme to support 4.3 billion devices – was originally thought to be sufficient to meet users’ needs, however the explosion in both number of devices and internet usage has meant it’s no longer enough. Enter IPv6 in 1998, a 128-bit addressing scheme to support 340 trillion trillion devices.

The OSI model

The Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) network model is a conceptual framework that divides telecommunications and networking into seven layers.

 Each of the seven layers is tasked with its own function:

  • Physical – represents the electrical and physical system representation.
  • Data link – provides node-to-node data transfer and handles error correction from the physical layer.
  • Network – responsible for data packet forwarding and routing through different routers.
  • Transport – coordinates data transfer between end systems and hosts.
  • Session – a session allows two devices to communicate with each other, and involves set-up, coordination and termination.
  • Presentation – designated with the preparation, or translation, of application format into network format, or vice versa. For example, data encryption and decryption.
  • Application – closest to the end-user, application involves receiving information from users and displaying incoming data to users. For example, web browsers are communications that rely on layer seven.

The OSI model is valuable in understanding technical and security risks and vulnerabilities as it identifies where data resides, offers an inventory of applications, and facilitates understanding of cloud infrastructure migrations.

Transport protocols and other types of protocol

After a packet arrives at its destination, it’s handled accordingly by the transport layer – the fourth later in the OSI model – and the corresponding transport protocol, being used in relation to the IP. Transport layer protocols are port-to-port protocols working on top of internet protocols to deliver the data packet from the origin port to the IP services, before delivering it from the IP services to the destination port.

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) represent the transport layer. TCP is a connection-oriented protocol that provides complete transport layer services to applications – often referred to as Transmissions Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, TCP/ICP or the internet protocol suite. It features stream data transfer, reliability, flow control, multiplexing, logical connections, and full duplex. UDP provides non-sequenced transport functionality and is a connectionless protocol. It’s valuable when speed and size can be prioritised over security and reliability. The packet it produces is an IP datagram containing source port address, destination port address, total length and checksum information.

Other common types of protocol include:

  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP), where users transfer multimedia, text, programme and document files to each other.
  • Post Office Protocol (POP), for receiving incoming email communications.
  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), which transfers hypertext, the latter of which is encrypted.
  • Telnet, which provides remote login to connect one system with another.
  • Gopher, used for searching, retrieving and displaying documents from isolated web pages and sites.

There is also Ethernet protocol. Ethernet is a method of connecting computers and other devices in a physical space – via packet-based communication – and is often referred to as a Local Area Network (LAN). The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) maintains IEEE 802.3, a working group of standard specifications for Ethernet.

There exist a variety of other protocols that co-function alongside other primary protocols. These include, for example: ARP; DHCP; IMAP4; SIP; SMTP; RLP; RAP; L2TP; and TFTP.

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What is the best way to manage across cultures?

Living and working in our interconnected, global age – where, for many businesses, employees may be spread across the world – requires leaders to be highly aware of, and skilled at, cross-cultural management. For those organisations without global teams, there is still the requirement to manage effectively across multicultural teams, where backgrounds, experiences, cultural values and communication styles may be richly diverse.

With multicultural and global teams increasingly the norm, employers are seeking business leaders with the tools and understanding to embrace cultural differences and develop high-performing teams.

What is managing across cultures?

Multicultural and cross-cultural teams are those where team members have diverse backgrounds. This diversity may include ethnicity, nationality, age, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or other identifiable characteristic. As well as varied lived experiences, it also includes employees working in different countries, continents and time zones.

Leaders and managers must recognise, acknowledge and support these various differences and similarities to lead teams effectively and with minimal conflict.

Benefits and challenges of managing across cultures

There are numerous benefits that arise from having teams based in different countries and teams with unique cultural contexts. Multicultural teams bring a wider variety of talents, skills, perspectives, knowledge and experiences – which can be combined and drawn upon to work towards common goals. These elements can also bring about boosts in creativity – as fresh ideas and different ways of thinking are added to the team mix – leading to innovation, improved ways of working and potential business opportunities. Crucially, it also serves human resource management; a larger talent pool, made possible through global working, allows businesses to hire the most-skilled and capable candidates. This, in turn, can boost brand image, reputation, competitive advantage and profits.

Research statistics collated by InStride further demonstrate the tangible benefits to cross-cultural working:

  • more diverse – and inclusive – teams are 35% more likely to outperform competitors
  • diverse companies are 80% more likely to capture new markets
  • diverse teams are 87% better at making decisions
  • diversity within management leads to 19% higher revenue

However, while diversity is both vital and beneficial in the work environment, it has the potential to cause challenges for leaders who don’t possess the skills to support their teams.


Communication is one of the most-common barriers that leaders are likely to encounter. As well as language barriers – where some team members may find it harder to engage with day-to-day processes due to communication breakdown – this can also span different communication styles, phrases, colloquialisms, slang, dialect and non-verbal communication. The example given by global human resource organisation, Oyster, is communication differences between Eastern and Western cultures; the former tend to be indirect in communication, while the latter generally favour a more-direct, to-the-point style. Not addressing communication issues can mean employees face difficulties in conveying ideas and engaging with colleagues and, in the worst cases, are considered less-competent due to language barriers.

Work styles

Work styles can differ significantly in cross-cultural teams. Are some team members used to hierarchical structures, or more-collective decision-making? How is authority perceived? Or employee autonomy and independence? Each of these factors, together with numerous others, can present challenges for how teams work together and how individuals expect to be treated in the workplace.


Engagement and motivation can often fail to take into account cultural differences within teams. Do team members want promotions, pay rises, more autonomy, different benefits or praise? A one-size-fits-all approach may not be suitable for recognition and reward initiatives and may lead to dissatisfied staff, increased attrition rates and decreased productivity.

Information sharing

Sharing and disclosing information, and business interactions relating to this, may vary between employees. Factors such as personal information, discussing emotions, examining conflicts and misunderstanding can have a significant impact on team dynamics.

Nevertheless, there are tools and approaches that leaders can take to overcome these cross-cultural challenges and reap the rewards of the benefits.

The best ways to manage across cultures

Which management practices should be examined and embedded in teams which contain different cultures?

Prioritise open communication

Company cultures that instil the value of honest, respectful two-way communication – between managers and employees, and amongst employees themselves – make room for all individuals to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions. Communicate messages clearly and transparently so that they are understood regardless of culture.

Get to know team members and listen to them

Getting to know the individuals within teams helps to build personal bonds, facilitates working relationships and demonstrates that team members are seen and appreciated on an individual level – regardless of background. Additionally, encourage team members to get to know one another better through social events and collaborative work activities. Leaders should also practise active listening, aiming to remove assumptions and biases and encourage trust and collaboration in their place.

Develop cross-cultural intelligence – and be flexible

Cultural intelligence and awareness is vital in our modern workplaces. Policies that apply to all employees, regardless of position or background, reinforces equitable treatment and helps to avoid conflict. Cultural learning programmes can help to embrace and celebrate differences, and could be made mandatory for all employees. If training cannot be offered in-house, there are plenty of providers who can address this requirement; LinkedIn Learning, for example, offers a whole suite of online programmes to support cross-cultural management. Leaders who understand specific cultural differences should also be flexible, where reasonable and possible, regarding diverse needs and requirements.

Address conflict

Work conflicts will arise – and, when they do, they should be dealt with promptly and effectively. Seek to bridge the gap between conflicting parties, and pursue resolutions that respect and benefit all individuals involved, as well as the wider team.

It’s worth stating that all of the business practices and considerations related to global leadership and managing across cultures are, as a general rule, useful business practices and considerations full stop. They have the potential to positively impact organisational behaviour and ethos for everyone.

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The democratisation of public services: an explainer

The democratisation (or, ‘co-production’) of public services is the process of developing and delivering public services and policies in partnership with citizens.

It is, effectively, a more democratic way of designing services within the public sector and civil service. Through co-production and participatory policy-making, citizens can help shape the services they use and that affect their lives, rather than simply being passive beneficiaries of schemes and programmes. Citizens work with public sector professionals, often from a variety of civil services and policy areas, to help create these enhanced services.

Public involvement can occur, partially or completely, in virtually all stages of the collaborative, democratic public service process, including during:

  • commissioning
  • design
  • delivery
  • service implementation, including governance and public management
  • assessment and improvement

What are the benefits of democratisation of public services?

There are a number of positive potential outcomes when democratising public services and service delivery. For example, it can:

  • reinforce the idea that every individual can have an impact within a civil society, and can help reduce citizen apathy
  • shine a brighter light on large-scale issues such as inequalities, human rights, sustainability, and other topics that are better understood through the lived experience of individuals
  • reduce corruption in public services, according to the World Bank.

Other benefits can include the following.

Better relationships

Co-production can strengthen the relationships between frontline public service providers, such as the police, educators, and healthcare professionals, with the public and local communities that they serve. This can help reignite public servants’ passion for their jobs, and can also help humanise them for the everyday people who might otherwise see civil servants as simply their impersonal job descriptions or yet another cog in the machine of central government. 

Better programmes

The democratisation of public services can help iron out any potential wrinkles in public policies and services before they’re implemented. This is because public servants who aren’t on the receiving end of the services they provide can, at times, have trouble spotting issues that might be quickly apparent to service users with an experienced point-of-view. 

Better processes

Breathing new life into existing services through the input, experiences, and ideas of new voices is a huge benefit to the process of developing new public services and policies. The National Organisation for Local Economics (CLES), for example, argues that organisations, individuals, trade unions, and so on, don’t have to be part of the government to be passionate about public services – and they can offer new and different methods for realising social, economic and environmental value within new programmes and policies.

Better value

According to the Civil Service College, co-production can be more cost-effective than conventional methods of service design and delivery. This is because money is less likely to be wasted on ineffective services that fail to meet people’s needs. The college  also argues that by ensuring all services offered are effective and genuinely helpful, this has a knock-on, preventative benefit that further reduces costs. This is particularly noticeable in the health sector. As an example, it points to effective addiction services. If these services are readily available and effective, over time this will decrease the demand – and cost – for overdose treatments.

What role does the government play in the democratisation of public services?

Governments at all levels – from local government to the national level – can harness the power of citizen participation in their service provision.

The New Economics Foundation (NEF), for instance, worked with local authorities to develop a model for co-production, with the aim of supporting the design and delivery of social services that:

  • focus on commissioning for long-term outcomes that make a real, positive impact on people’s lives
  • promote co-production by working in partnership with service users to bring in new resources and create more effective services
  • promote social value, with the triple bottom line – social, environmental, and economic outcomes – placed at the heart of service commissioning.

NEF also provides detailed guidance to governments on its approach to co-production. This includes support with:

    1. Insight. Developing outcomes that are important and helpful to people can be supported by identifying people’s needs and aspirations, as well as the assets and resources that are required.  
    2. Planning. Creating support and activities that meet people’s needs requires an appropriate framework and process. 
    3. Delivery. This includes monitoring and evaluating the value of public services, creating service assessments with the people who use services, and gathering insight and data to improve – and adapt – public services. This can happen through coaching, peer assessment, mystery shopping, customised self-reflection tools, and so on.

What is the difference between democratisation and privatisation?

Democratisation is an increasingly attractive option for governments in recent years. It safeguards the public interest and offers a more democratic alternative to the privatisation of public services.

When privatising public services or other assets of public ownership, governments have a number of options. For example, they might sell public assets to private owners outright, or decide that outsourcing the development and management of public services to a contracted, private third party – rather than managing the service publicly in-house – is preferable.

Privatisation is often the option of choice for governments looking to save – or make – money, but it also creates a gap between the democratic government, the public service, and the service users. 

Democratisation, on the other hand, puts people at the heart of the public service process. While privatised public services might be required to consult the public on new or amended services through forums, social media, or other methods of generating respondents, democratised public services understand their public value, and have the public embedded within the process every step of the way.

What is the difference between the public and private sector?

The public sector consists of all of the organisations that are managed by the government. In the UK, this includes institutions such as the NHS, the police and armed forces.

The private sector consists of organisations that are owned and managed by businesses or individuals. Everything from Amazon to local pubs are private sector organisations.

While co-production is more relevant to the public sector, it’s worth noting that third sector organisations – such as charities and community associations – can also democratise their services, and even private sector organisations can apply the principles and interventions of co-production within their processes and practices.

Help democratise public services

Explore the different facets of public service democratisation, including its benefits, obstacles, and problems, with the 100% online Master of Public Administration (MPA) at the University of York.

One of the core modules on this flexible master’s degree is about the co-production and democratisation of public services, so you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about how citizens can be enabled to influence public policy decision-making around public services, and how to ensure that the delivery of services meets the demands of users – both critical objectives in a democratic society.

You’ll also learn about public-private partnerships in public services, and how the delivery of public services involves a partnership between the public and the private sector, which creates both opportunities and challenges.