Centre for Rural Economy

Staff Profile

Dr Sara Maioli

Senior Lecturer in Economics



I am an applied economist with expertise in firm-level data. My research interests relate to international economics, trade, labour, international business, SMEs, innovation, rural and regional development, and the creative economy.

I am a co-investigator at the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) funded by Research England (2020-24). I am also a co-investigator and member of the Extended Senior Management Team at the Centre of Excellence for Policy and Evidence in the Creative Industries funded by AHRC (2023-28) and led by Newcastle University with the Royal Society of Arts, working on the internationalisation of UK creative industries.


I joined Newcastle University Business School in October 2006 as a lecturer in Economics, where I am now Senior Lecturer.

After gaining a Laurea in Economia e Commercio (Economics with Business, Accounting and Law) with summa cum laude at the University of Brescia (Italy) I spent one year in industry working for two small and medium Italian enterprises before deciding to continue my education in the UK. I gained an MSc in Economics at the University of Glasgow under the Scottish Doctoral Programme and a PhD in Economics (passed with no corrections) at the University of Strathclyde. My studies were funded by the University of Brescia (master) and the University of Strathclyde (PhD).

I also held the following research positions: Research fellow at Leverhulme Centre for Globalisation and Economic Policy (GEP), University of Nottingham (2003-2006); Research Fellow at the Ente Einaudi, Rome (Sept. 2002-Dec. 2002).

I acted as a consultant for the OECD in 2021-22, and in 2023.

Roles and Responsibilities at Newcastle University

I am a member of the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) Advisory Group at Newcastle University (appointed in 2023).

I am a member of the task & finish group overseeing the introduction of compulsory training for PGR supervisors at Newcastle University (2022-present).

I previously held the following positions at NUBS: Director of Post-Graduate Research (2020-23); Newcastle University Pathway Lead for Economics, Business and Management Studies for the NINE Doctoral Training Program (2020-23); PhD students selector and convenor for Economics (2019-20); Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes for NUBS (2016-19), Deputy Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes (2015-16), Degree Programme Director for the MSc in International Economics and Finance (2012-15).

I held these positions at University level: member of Newcastle University Post-Graduate Research Regulations Working Group (2022-23); Senate-elected member of Newcastle University Council (2017-20), Member of Newcastle University Senate (2014-17), Senate representative on the NU Rankings and Reputation Special Interest Group (Jan-Jul 2017).

Other Positions and Roles Held Elsewhere

Associate editor for Foreign Trade Review published by SAGE in association with the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (2020-present).

Member of the Advisory Board for the Revista de Economia, the second oldest economics journal in Brazil (2020-present).

Postgraduate dissertation supervisor at the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School (2017-present).

Board member of the Northern Advanced Research Training Initiative (NARTI) (2020-23).

External assessor at Edinburgh University Business School for the review all PGT and PGR programmes (2023).

External Assessor at the University of Surrey for the validation of the Surrey Business School 24-month programmes with placement (2020).

External Assessor for UG and PGT programmes at Surrey Business School (2019).

Invited visiting professor at Yildirim Beyazit University, Ankara (2015).

I taught courses at Universitate de Vest Timişoara (2009 and 2010), at Grenoble School of Management (2008-09), at Toulouse Business School (2002-07), and for the personnel of the Financial and Accounting Directorate of the Romanian Parliament as part of a EU project (2006).

In the Media

I was interviewed by the BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester (6th May 2021), by BBC Radio 5 (7th July 2020; 3rd February 2020; 9th August 2019), by BBC Radio Newcastle (9th August 2019), by Radio 4, Today programme (1st March 2019), the Italian TV channel Retequattro for the documentary "Arrivederci Londra", programme Terra! (24th October 2016).

I was mentioned in this article by the Chronicle, on the Bank of England Agency for the North East event that took place at Newcastle University Business School on 17th September 2018, in which I gave a talk on why UK wage growth was weak despite unemployment being at a historical low level.

I wrote the following commentaries regarding the US election of Trump:



 I am NOT a member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Business and Social Sciences or the International Journal of Business, Humanities and Technology. These 'Journals' are not authorised to use my name and refused to remove it from their website. The story has been covered in the media by the Times Higher Education here.


Google Scholar Profile here                                 Research Gate Profile here

Research Interests

I am an applied economist with expertise in firm-level data. My research interests relate to applying micro-econometrics techniques to issues in international economics, trade, international business, SMEs, innovation, labour, spatial inequalities, and the creative industries.

Examples of topics I have investigated include rural vs urban businesses' performance, regional innovation, investment under uncertainty and irreversibility; exporting and FDI; firms' inventories; spatial differences in firm productivity; international trade via air cargo; markups estimation under different market structure assumptions.

Recent research Grants

2024: Principal Investigator for “Flexible work and firm productivity/performance: An analysis of working hour arrangements and SME productivity in Scotland”, Department of Business and Trade, £5,000 (my share 57%).

2023-2028: Co-investigator at the Centre of Excellence for Policy and Evidence in the Creative Industries led by Newcastle University with the Royal Society of Arts and funded by AHRC for £11 million (my share £474,246.56).

2020-2024: Co-investigator for the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) funded by Research England with £3.7 million (my share £178,000). NICRE is led by Newcastle University with contributions by Warwick (ERC), Gloucestershire (CCRI) and Royal Agricultural Universities.

2019:     Awarded a Researcher Mobility Fund from Fundação Araucária through the Conselho Nacional das Fundações Estaduais de Amparo à Pesquisa / CONFAP-UK Academies scheme to spend 2 months visiting the Federal University of Paranà in Brazil (March-May 2020). Title of the project: "Non-Tariff Barriers and the Performance of Brazilian Agribusinesses" (with Prof. Mauricio Vaz Lobo Bittencourt). [CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19]

2019: Principal Investigator for "Spatial disparities for SMEs productivity in England" funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). £5,000.

2018-2023: Co-investigator at the Centre of Excellence for Policy and Evidence in the Creative Industries led by NESTA and funded by AHRC. With the Workstrand 5 based at Newcastle University we worked on the internationalisation of the UK Creative Industries with an awarded amount £370,619.99 (my share 20%).

2018: Co-investigator for an ESRC Productivity Insights Network Small Project, £9,999.76

2016: Co-investigator for “Start-up Phase of Rural Enterprise UK”, £43,250 from SAgE HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Fund), Newcastle University;

2016: Co-investigator for “Secondary Analysis of the Longitudinal Small Business Survey”, £6987 from UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).


Research Impact

Our article Phillipson et al. (2018) is cited by the House of Lords Rural Economy Committee Report: Time for a Strategy for the Rural EconomyHouse of Lords Library Briefings, 30th August 2019.

My work done with the Rural Enterprise UK (REUK) team rural-proofed the Industrial Strategy and underpinned the following HM Government’s Industrial Strategy blog entry: https://industrialstrategy.blog.gov.uk/2019/06/21/how-should-delivery-of-the-uk-industrial-strategy-embrace-rural-economies/

My work done with the REUK team was mentioned by the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) at page 95 in the Statistical Digest for Rural England, August 2017 Edition, becoming therefore official statistics.


PhD student supervision

I welcome proposals from prospective PhD students in the following broad areas: international economics (i.e. both international trade and international finance), trade agreements, foreign direct investment, firms’ performance (in particular productivity, innovation, exporting, transition to net zero), internationalisation of creative firms, Chinese firms, rural firms. Get in touch if you want more specific ideas to develop a proposal under my supervision. You need to have advanced econometrics skills at postgraduate level.


· Nichola Williams (ESRC funded; "Three Essays on Health and Education in Guyana", co-supervised with Dr Smriti Sharma).

· Bo Gao (ESRC funded; "Firms Exporting Behaviour and Trade Policy in China", co-supervised with Dr Nils Braakmann and Prof Mich Tvede).

· Muhammad Siddique, "Exploring the Linkages between High Performance Work Systems and Organizational Performance: The Role of Relational Coordination in the Banking Sector in Pakistan", co-supervised with Prof Stephen Procter.

·Hany Eldemerdash, "The Effects of Fiscal Policy on the Current Account: Econometric Analysis of Developing Countries", co-supervised with Dr Hugh Metcalf.


·    Muharrem Cevik (co-supervised with Prof Giorgio Fazio)

·    Nirat Rujimora (co-supervised with Prof Giorgio Fazio and Dr Saumik Paul)

·    Yexiang Wang (co-supervised with Prof Giorgio Fazio)

 ·    Ameer Khaleel (co-supervised with Prof Nils Braakmann)


Awards and Fellowships

2024-present: Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), a global community that shares an ambition to solve the challenges of our time through collective action and is committed to social change. Joined upon invitation.

2023: Winner of the Best Research and Knowledge Exchange Paper at the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) 45th annual conference, Birmingham.

2023: Nominated for the Outstanding Researcher - Research Citizenship prize, Newcastle University Business School.

2020: Awarded the Outstanding Interdisciplinary Research prize by Newcastle University Business School.



During 2023/24 I am on sabbatical in semester one, and on teaching buy-out in semester two due to externally-funded research.

Office Hours

I don't hold fixed office hours (based on many years' experience they can't accommodate different timetables across several programmes) but I am happy to see students around their timetable. Please however drop me an email in advance to arrange a mutually suitable appointment.


Past teaching

International Economics; International Trade; International Finance; Advanced Topics in International Trade; Economics of Development; British Economy; Fair Trade; European Economy plus a variety of seminar teaching (maths, globalisation, introductory micro and macro).