Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub RCT Feasibility Study

Is it possible to design and conduct a randomised control trial of one of the business support services delivered by the Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub?

NatCen and New Economy received a Design Grant from the Innovation Growth Lab in order to conduct a study to examine which Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub business support services are most likely to make a growing contribution to the city-region’s economic vitality as well as be amenable to a rigorous test of their impact through implementing a carefully designed randomised controlled trial.

In light of the practical challenges implementing an RCT to evaluate an existing Business Growth Hub service that we uncovered in the course of this feasibility study, the aims of the study shifted to focus more broadly on the challenges the Business Growth Hub face in incorporating an RCT evaluation into their current monitoring and evaluation practices, suggesting possible strategies for overcoming these challenges and providing an example trial protocol that could be adapted to suit an evaluation of a future Business Growth Hub service. As such this study is primarily designed to inform programme commissioners and service managers within the Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub. However it also contains valuable lessons learned applicable to programme originators more broadly, commissioners of research and researchers interested in evaluation in general.