The UK-EU ‘in-out’ referendum: Lessons from the Scottish vote on independence and a guide for what CEOs need to know about navigating political referendums

Owen Kelly, Robert MacKay

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

Following the May 7th, 2015 General Election,the UK Government is committed to holding a referendum on the UK’s continuing membership of the EUby the end of 2017. Such a referendum follows closely on the heels of the Scottish referendum on independence from the UK on September 18th
, 2014. A future referendum on Scottish independence cannot be ruled out. Such political events pose a challenge for business. They raise questions about what role they should play, if any, and what planning they should do.
Businesses are normally politically neutral, yet, changes brought about by ma
jor political events can have a profound impact on their strategies and operations.Moreover, referendums, by their nature, draw businesses into the debate as different sides use them to support competing visions of the future. Business, after all, is the primary driver of employment and economic wealth creation. This paper draws on research conducted in
2013 and 2014 into how businesses were planning for the referendum on Scottish independence. The research was part of a wider Economic and Social
Research Council (ESRC) programme into the Future of the UK and Scotland
. It teases out lessons from that research, including what the businesses that handled it well did, and it considers how such lessons can be applied
to future referendums in the UK. It develops a framework that
consists of the key factors that business leaders should think about and how they can address them,to help guide senior management teams as they navigate such highly politically-charged environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages1-20
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2015

Keywords

  • Brexit
  • referendum
  • Scottish Independence
  • strategy
  • political uncertainty

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