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    20156 research outputs found

    Domestic and international performance of UK SMEs: resources and market learning effects

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    This thesis examines jointly the domestic and international market activities of United Kingdom (UK) small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The study seeks to extend the foundational arguments of international business and international entrepreneurship on differences between domestic and international market activities. It is shown that despite its foundational nature, this theme has received limited and fragmentary research attention. Moreover, none of the theme-related studies identified had applied the resource-based view (RBV) to explain performance, despite the fact that performance is a construct of fundamental research interest and the RBV largely guides management inquiry into the performance determinants. Drawing on the RBV, this research seeks to make a unique contribution towards the holistic understanding of firm performance by uncovering the effects of domestic and international firm resources and market learning on both domestic and international performance. This research pursues a positivist and mixed-method approach, combining qualitative case studies and a large-scale quantitative survey on UK SMEs. The qualitative research phase consists of six case studies, whereas the quantitative phase is based upon a sample of 307 SMEs. The statistical technique of linear multiple regression analysis is employed to analyse this sample and discover whether the hypotheses of this research are supported. The quantitative phase is central and the qualitative phase aims at pre-understanding and facilitating the research process. Hence, the case study research assists the hypothesis development and the interpretation of the survey findings in retrospect. The findings of this research have significant implications for theory and practice. Firstly, domestic and international resources and market learning are found to influence positively domestic and international performance, respectively. A valuable finding for future research on firm market learning processes is that these resources effects seem to be much stronger than the respective market learning ones. Secondly, international resources are found to have a lesser impact on domestic SME performance compared to the effects of domestic resources on domestic performance. Respectively, domestic resources are indicated to have a lesser impact on international performance. Conversely, the equivalent effects of market learning are not established. Lastly, it is intriguing that: a. a positive relationship between domestic resources and international performance is not supported; and b. a negative relationship between international resources and domestic performance is partially supported. These contributions provide a fuller understanding of the complex relationship between domestic and international market activities, and should stimulate further research on this important theme

    Stimulated Raman Scattering in Monomode Optical Fibres

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    A theoretical investigation of stimulated Raman scattering in step-index, monomode optical fibres is presented. The regime of validity of existing mathematical analyses has been extended to account in greater detail than previously reported for the spectral characteristics of optical fibres in which stimulated Raman scattering is occurring. The variation of fibre loss and transverse modal confinement over the range of frequencies, which are subject to Raman amplification, is considered. It is shown that the growth of total power generated by stimulated Raman scattering with the corresponding depletion of laser input power can be modelled by only two coupled differential equations. In order to do so it has been necessary to develop the concepts of an effective Stokes loss and a weighted Raman line-shape function. The coupled pair of equations has been solved analytically in the special cases where all losses are zero and where all losses are a wavelength independent constant. Numerical solutions and a quantitative discussion of the mechanism of power transfer from pump to Stokes wavelengths are offered for circumstances of inequality of pump and Stokes losses. As a result of this work is is possible to predict with greater accuracy the length of communications fibre which is free from crosstalk due to stimulated Raman scattering. A method of designing a source, fibre and detector system which is free of threshold stimulated Raman scattering has been developed. Finally, it has been shown that the mathematical model developed here agrees well with published experimental data

    Toll-like receptors and mechanism of human parturition

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    The process of parturition whether physiological at term or pathological in preterm labour is a complex one driven by fetal, placental and maternal signals. There is compelling evidence to suggest that inflammatory mediators, driven by endogenous factors or pathologically by infection, play a crucial role in stimulating the common parturition pathway leading into cervical ripening, uterine contractions and, finally, expulsion of the foetus and placenta. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are a relatively recently discovered family of pattern recognition molecules which have been shown to play a pivotal role in innate immune responses and inflammation. Products of micro-organisms, e.g. bacteria, viruses or fungi, can be considered to be primary ligands of Toll-like receptors. In addition, they are also activated by other endogenous ligands such as heat shock protein 60 and 70, extra domain A of fibronectin and surfactant protein A (SPA). Therefore, local activation of Toll-like receptors may be responsible for initiation of inflammatory cascade, in presence or absence of infection, leading to initiation of labouring mechanisms within the myometrium. In this study, we hypothesized that Toll-like receptors (TLR 2 & 4) are expressed in labouring myometrium, and are involved in physiologic and pathophysiologic mechanisms of parturition. In order to test this hypothesis, we compared the pattern of expression of Toll-like receptors in myometrial samples obtained from consenting women before and after onset of term and preterm labour. We also aimed to investigate the activation, regulation of and the functional significance of TLR expression with respect to cytokine production in human myometrium at term, and to determine if progestogens could antagonise the effect of TLR ligands such as Lipopolysaccharide (LPS). We identified the synthesis and presence of TLR2 & 4 in human myometrium as shown by expression of their mRNA and protein signals which appear to be increasing by gestation and 11 possibly by labour status. We also demonstrated a possible role for TLR2 as indicated by upregulation of its protein expression in labour compared with non-labouring myometrium. Although there was also a trend to an increase in TLR4 with labour, this did not reach statistical significance. In our short-term tissue culture model, we demonstrated that Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) significantly suppressed baseline and LPS induced production of IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8 in pregnant human myometrium. Although LPS stimulated IL-10 production, there was no significant inhibitory effect with MPA. In contrast, we failed to demonstrate significant upregulation of either TNF-α or IFN-γ in response to LPS, and there was no effect of MPA. We also showed that the specific inhibitor for double stranded-RNA dependent protein kinase (PKR) 2-Aminopurine significantly inhibited both baseline and LPS stimulated myometrial cytokine production. In conclusion, findings of this work have demonstrated a potential role for Toll-like receptors 2 & 4 in initiation of term and preterm labour and an anti-inflammatory role for the progestogen Medroxyprogestrone acetate in lipopolysaccahride stimulated myometrial tissue culture model in vitro. These findings highlight the need for further studies to examine the role of other progestogens / progesterone, benefits and risks to mothers and to their babies, in prevention of preterm labour

    The phenomenal unity of perceptual experience

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    Abstract: This thesis is concerned with phenomenal unity, a salient and important feature of our conscious lives, albeit one which has gone somewhat under-explained. My focus will on the phenomenal unity of perceptual experiences at a time, which is best illustrated by the following kind of example: whilst walking through the park, you notice a particular tree, whose foliage and bark have a particularly intense hue and strange texture. At the same time, there is a strong scent in the air, and you can feel the heat of the sun on your arms. Alongside this, birds are calling loudly… whilst undergoing all these different perceptual experiences, it strikes you that although these experiences correspond to different senses, they seem to be tied together in some important way: there is a unity to your overall perceptual experience at this time. Even in this mundane case, there are various ways in which my experiences are unified: the various properties of the objects that I represent via vision and touch are unified in the sense that they seem to inhere in the same object (and so are object unified), the various objects that I am seeing and touching all seem to me to be located in the same space (and so are spatially unified), and further, I can jointly attend to several of these experiences together at will (and so these experiences are introspectively unified). Over and above this however, we might think there is a distinct other kind of unity. This is a unity of phenomenology, the subjective character of perceptual experience. There is something it is like for me to hear the birds calling, and there is something it is like for me to see the leaves on the tree. But there is also currently something it is like for me to hear the birds and see the foliage, together. Further, this togetherness is such that it is an integral part of my current experience. This final kind of unity is phenomenal unity, and providing a full description and explanation of this phenomenon will be my task in this thesis. In doing this I will address the following two questions: ‘what is phenomenal unity?’ and ‘how should we explain phenomenal unity?’. I will show that phenomenal unity is best thought of as a relation that holds between token perceptual experiences, answering the first question, and in answering the second question, will consider various reductive and non-reductive explanations of phenomenal unity, before arguing that we should explain phenomenal unity in terms of the unified states being the potential parts of the same overall phenomenal state

    The taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography of the Marrolithinae (Trinucleidae, Trilobita)

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    An extensive and detailed overhaul of the present classification of the Marrolithinae is undertaken to produce a clear taxonomic framework from which to understand the phylogeny and biogeographical history of the subfamily. Historically, marrolithine species have been defined using a strongly typological approach which has increasingly proved unworkable as species show ranges of variation in morphology that have led to uncertainty in the identification of specimens and has therefore lowered their stratigraphical usefulness. The lack of appreciation of morphological variation has resulted in the naming of a great many more species than are probably actually present in the fossil record. Extensive museum collections have been analysed supplemented by field sampling within Wales and Shropshire and comparison of field locations and horizons. A large collection of over 2000 specimens of Llanvirn to Ashgill Moroccan Marrolithinae was studied for the first time. This material has been important in the reclassification of the Marrolithinae. These samples contain the earliest Onnia specimens and have therefore thrown light on the Deanaspis and Onnia specimens and have therefore thrown light on the Deanaspis and Onnia lineage as presently understood. The Moroccan samples also contain the earliest representatives of the new genus Hammannaspis. The Moroccan species played an important role in the distribution of the Marrolithinae around proto-Tethys. The re-evaluation of the classification of marrolithine genera and species has included the first cladistic analysis of a trinucleid subfamily, detailed analysis of variation in fringe pit development within samples and taxa and consideration of the palaeogeographical relationships between the marrolithine taxa in space and time. These differing approaches have led to the production of a more constrained and easier to use classification which will enhance the stratigraphical usefulness of the Marrolithinae

    Majority rule and minority shareholder protection in joint stock companies in England and Iran

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    Principally, joint stock companies are governed by the principle of majority rule, which means that while they are formed and continue to work through participation of every shareholder, only those who hold a majority of voting shares can make decisions in companies. The principle relies on contract and is often supported by company law. In the main, it is advantageous to companies, the Judiciary and the economy. It facilitates collective action, allows management to focus on the daily running of the company business and encourages corporate financing, which is decisively important for corporations. It also saves, by curbing minority actions, the courts’ time and the public budget. In one sense, however, it can also be dangerous to the rights and interests of minority shareholders. Using the majority rule, majority shareholders may fix for themselves private benefits or adopt policies which are poor and consequently harmful to companies. Such danger could discourage likely investors from investing their capital in companies and might undermine one of the main purposes of the corporation as an institution introduced by law and business practice to solve problems encountered in raising substantial amounts of capital. This research seeks to study in the light of English and Iranian company laws difficulties deriving from application of the majority rule for minority shareholders and possible ways and mechanisms which can be used to sensibly curb the occurrence of such difficulties. To this objective, it identifies four factors which can explain how and why the rule is liable to abuse by majority shareholders and examines the mechanisms provided by company laws of England and Iran which attempt to strike a balance between the rule of majority and interests of minority shareholders

    Spectral ambiguities : the tradition of psychosomatic supernaturalism in Scottish fiction

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    This thesis aims to prove that there exists in Scottish literature a previously undervalued, or indeed, overlooked tradition of ‘psychosomatic supernaturalism’, which like other literary traditions, refers to an evolving constellation of texts with similar themes, motifs and techniques. It is widely accepted that the continued presence of supernatural elements is a common feature in Scottish literature. However, the modifier ‘psychosomatic’, a term borrowed from the field of psychiatry, designates those specific supernatural events or beings around which accumulate sustained doubt as to whether their origins are in the actual or the psychological. This supernatural/psychological tension – discussed but rarely analysed closely by critics – occurs primarily in fiction throughout the national literary history from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present day. The evocation of this tension is a subversive strategy, challenging realism and its associated modes of representation. Perhaps the most renowned example of the tension occurs in James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824). However, Hogg wrote a number of equally significant psychosomatic supernatural tales, including the novel The Three Perils of Woman (1823), and the short story ‘The Brownie of the Black Haggs’ (1828). The start of the nineteenth century marks the establishment of psychiatry, and the underlining of the distinction between madness and supernatural forces, a demarcation that was previously hazy. This was something Hogg was fully aware of, and as a writer with a documented interest in the supernatural and folk tradition, and in evolving views on mental illness, his work forms the starting point for the thesis. The development of this tradition throughout the nineteenth century is subsequently traced. During this time ‘social realism’ is a prominent mode in fiction. There are, however, critical and subversive exceptions to this in the work of writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Margaret Oliphant and J.M. Barrie. The thesis considers their work, and then examines how this tradition is manifested during the period now referred to by critics as the Scottish Renaissance. Late twentieth-century manifestations of the tradition are then analysed, against a background of the increasing dominance of realism and its associated metanarratives in Scottish fiction, and mass media contexts such as film and television

    An investigation of the measurements of vitamin status and outcome in patients with critical illness

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    This thesis describes a prospective observational longitudinal study that examines the relationship between the systemic inflammatory response, vitamin concentrations and outcome in patients with critical illness. Venous blood samples were collected from patients admitted in the Intensive Care Unit of Glasgow Royal Infirmary on admission (n=126) and on follow-up (n=77). The concentrations of vitamins B2, B6, C, A, E, lutein, lycopene, α-carotene and β-carotene in plasma, red cells and white cells and plasma total and free malondialdehyde, that was used as a marker of lipid peroxidation, were assessed by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). In Chapter 3, vitamin B2 was examined. The results of this study showed that the ratio of plasma FAD to riboflavin in critically ill patients on admission and on follow-up was much lower than that of the plasma ratio in the controls. There were also similar findings with respect to the red cell FAD to riboflavin ratios in controls and critically ill patients. However, on admission the reduction of the FAD to riboflavin ratio was greater in the plasma (83%) compared with the red cells (49%). These results showed perturbation of the relationship between plasma FAD and riboflavin in patients with critical illness. Moreover, this appeared to be primarily due to a relative reduction in plasma and intracellular FAD concentrations although red cell FAD concentrations were all within the reference interval. In Chapter 4, vitamin B6 was examined. The results of this study showed that, in plasma, red cells and white cells, PLP is strongly and directly associated with the concentrations of PL in patients with critical illness. The ratio of plasma PLP to PL in critically ill patients on admission and on follow-up was much lower than that of the plasma controls. There were also similar findings with respect to the red cell PLP to PL ratios in controls and critically ill patients. However, on admission the reduction of the PLP to PL ratio was greater in the plasma (55%) compared with the red cells (18%). These results report that the relationship between plasma PLP and PL in controls is similar to that found in red and white cells, in patients with critical illness. Given that, compared to plasma PLP, concentrations of plasma PL were more strongly correlated with those in the red or white cells and that red cell and white cell PL concentrations were strongly and similarly correlated with their respective PLP concentrations, demonstrates the importance of PL in the intracellular metabolism of PLP in normal subjects and critically ill patients. One interpretation of these results could suggest that plasma PL may be a good surrogate measure of intracellular PLP concentrations. However, PL is not the physiologically active form of vitamin B6 and therefore, the clinical relevance of measuring plasma PL concentrations is not clear. Therefore, the present intracellular measurements of PLP, compared with plasma, may be a more accurate reflection of vitamin B6 status. In Chapter 5, vitamin C was examined. The results of this study showed that plasma ascorbic acid concentrations in critically ill patients were below reference intervals whereas white cell ascorbic acid concentrations were within the reference intervals. Moreover, plasma and intracellular concentrations of both vitamin C and α-tocopherol were poorly correlated and did not increase with supplementation in the ICU. Taken together these results would suggest that plasma ascorbic acid concentrations may poorly reflect intracellular concentrations in patients with critical illness. In Chapter 6, vitamin E was examined. The results of this study showed that, compared with control subjects, the critically-ill patient group had lower plasma α-tocopherol concentrations and also when expressed per mmol of triglycerides. In contrast, α-tocopherol concentrations were higher when expressed per mmol of cholesterol despite these patients receiving no vitamin E supplementation in ICU. Moreover, neither plasma α-tocopherol nor plasma α-tocopherol expressed per mmol of lipids was strongly correlated with red cell α-tocopherol concentrations in the critically-ill patients. Finally, median red cell α-tocopherol concentrations were the same in the healthy subjects and patients with critical illness and systemic inflammatory response syndrome. Taken together the results indicate that plasma α-tocopherol alone or expressed per mmol of lipids (using either cholesterol or triglycerides) may be a less reliable marker of vitamin E status than red cell α-tocopherol in patients with a systemic inflammatory response. In Chapter 7, lipid soluble antioxidants A, E and carotenoids and lipid peroxidation, as measured by malondialdehyde (MDA, total and free), were examined. The results of this study showed that, on admission to ICU, the free MDA fraction was increased and carotenoid concentrations were low in patients with critical illness. The majority of patients had plasma retinol concentrations below the reference interval on admission to ICU and these were directly and significantly related to α-tocopherol and the carotenoids. Moreover, this relationship was maintained on follow-up. Both albumin and C-reactive protein were consistently correlated with these lipid soluble antioxidant concentrations. Therefore, the reduction of lipid soluble antioxidant concentrations, in particular carotenoids, is likely to be multifactorial and not solely dependent on consumption during lipid peroxidation. In Chapter 8, the behaviour of plasma and intracellular B2, B6 and C vitamin concentrations during supplementation in patients with critical illness was studied. The results of the present study show a discrepancy in the behaviour of plasma and intracellular B2, B6 and C vitamin concentrations during supplementation in patients with critical illness. Indeed, on admission to ICU, almost 1/3 of the patients had plasma vitamin B2, B6 and C concentrations below the reference interval. In contrast, on admission to ICU, red cell FAD, red cell PLP and white cell ascorbic acid concentrations were significantly higher in the patients with records of prior supplementation compared with the patients without. The longitudinal findings were in agreement with this observation and taken together, this study may suggest that cellular concentrations of vitamins B2, B6 and C may be more accurate markers of their respective vitamin status and may be expected to be a more true reflection of the presence of supplementation than their respective plasma concentrations. In Chapter 9, the relationship between lipid peroxidation, water and lipid soluble vitamins and severity of illness or hospital outcome in critically ill patients was examined. The results of this study showed that lipid peroxidation, as evidenced by an elevated free MDA fraction, was most significantly associated with death in hospital. The concentrations of retinol and the carotenoids in the plasma were well below the reference intervals and although correlated with the free MDA fraction, had no independent prognostic value. Albumin was directly associated with the lipid soluble vitamins in the plasma, in particular retinol, α-tocopherol, lutein and lycopene. Albumin was shown to have prognostic value independent of APACHE II and when albumin was removed from the multivariate model, lycopene became an independent predictor of hospital death. None of the intracellular vitamin concentrations were related to severity of illness in critically ill patients. Taken together these results would suggest that low plasma levels of lipid soluble vitamins may be due to redistribution in the same way that albumin concentrations fall as part of the systemic inflammatory response syndrome. In summary, the current thesis showed that, during the systemic inflammatory response, intracellular vitamin concentrations may be more accurate than plasma concentrations as indicators of vitamin status in patients with critical illness

    Synthetic and Mechanistic Investigations of Organoplatinum Chemistry

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    The addition of PMe2Ph to [ Pt2Cl4(PMe2Ph)2] at low temperatures produces the ions [PtCl (PMe2Ph)3]+ and [PtCl3(PMe3Ph)]- as major products, as well as some of the expected [PtCl2(PMe2Ph)2]. Less ionic material is produced from the addition of PBu3 to [Pt2Cl4(PMe2Ph)2] and PMe2Ph to [Pt2Cl4(PBu3)3] , and none at all from the addition of PBu3 to [Pt2Cl4(PBu3)2] . Ionic materials are also produced in the reactions of PMePh2 and SPMePh2 with [Pt2Cl4(PBu3)2] , and of PBu3 and SPBu3 with [Pt2Cl4(PMePh2)2]. The nature of the neutral ligands involved has a profound effect on the course of the reactions

    Mass Spectroscopy of Organic Compounds

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    The mass spectra of twelve dihydro-1,3-benzothiazines and six dihydro-1,3-benzoxazines are recorded. A brief discussion of the particular fragmentations of a few of these is given. The majority of the compounds have a substituted phenyl group on the 2-position of the oxazine or thiazine ring. These compounds fragment in a characteristic fashion in the mass spectrometer which can be described as a retro-Diels-Alder reaction. The relative abundances of the ions produced by this are related to the electron donating power of the substituents on the 2-phenyl group and the conclusion is reached that the phenyl ring opens on electron impact - which is in contrast to the findings of previous workers who studied the effect of substituents on the electron-impact-induced dissociation of aromatic ketones. A study of the relative rates of formation of ions produced by the retro-Diels-Alder reaction reveals that this is a two-step process and that a different bond is initially broken in the two series of compounds


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