Evaluation of the Evolve Digital programme to promote digital adoption in family firms: A Randomised Control Trial

The ‘Evolve Digital’ trial was developed with the objective of boosting digital adoption in small family firms through identifying a cost-effective, yet productivity-enhancing programme of peer group learning for small family businesses, which can be replicated throughout the country.

Evolve Digital provided small, family-owned firms with an on-line, cohort-based, and facilitated opportunity for learning about digital technologies. Compared to a randomly selected control group, the programme had a significant and sizable positive impact on firms’ confidence in their ability to identify relevant digital technologies, and on firms’ attitudes towards using digital technologies.

The Evolve Digital trial aims to combine formal guidance on digital technologies and a strong element of peer learning to enhance firms’ confidence to adopt new digital technologies. The intervention was based on experience from previous schemes but was specifically designed to achieve the following: to be delivered over a much shorter period (4 months); to address the needs of small family businesses; and, to address the needs of all small family firms, not just manufacturing firms. Combined, these changes will enable a much more affordable trial and greater opportunities for replication if successful.