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first_imgThe Advanced Institute for Management represents a fresh attempt to tietogether the loose ends surrounding management actions and the productivitygap.So, we have another initiative to boost UK competitiveness. Haven’t we heardit all before and isn’t that the job of the DTI anyway? It’s easy to besceptical, having experienced what seems to be a scatter-gun approach tonational competitiveness that has spawned a plethora of well-meaning – butperhaps not well-targeted – schemes and projects. What difference will anothermake? AIM – the Advanced Institute for Management – (February, news p4) promisesto lend some coherence to the subject. It has been set up under the auspices ofthe Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of the Office of Scienceand Technology within the DTI. There have been many different pressures for such a group. For example, itwill complement the work of the DTI/DfEE-established Centre for Excellence inManagement and Leadership (CEML), which aims to establish a forum with businessto help tackle the productivity gap. ESRC deputy director of research Adrian Alsop, explains: “We’ve beenwatching what CEML has been doing in relation to management and leadership, andhave been working along parallel lines. Our concern as a research council isthe quality of research, but there’s a tie-up. We’re aiming for the developmentnot just of research on management in general but of research on managementthat will contribute to understanding the reasons for and policy options toovercome the productivity gap, and address other key issues affecting nationalcompetitiveness.” AIM director Anne Sigismund Huff sees the institute as a vehicle fornetworking and bringing together people from the Government, business andresearch to pool experiences. It will be a place where people from those threecommunities develop new ideas about what should happen next. “Everyone tends to stay close to what they’re doing. AIM will hopefullybe a place where people can stand back from that, see it in the context ofother efforts and go back to their work with a broader sense of what’shappening and what the cumulative evidence is in the areathey’re working on –both in the UK and around the world,” says Huff. “My sense is thatthere’s a variety of research that is relevant to companies and a variety ofexperience in companies and other organisations that is relevant to research,but too often there is a gap between them.” Research analogy Huff is seeking inputs on the three or four areas that will be strategicpoles for AIM’s efforts in research and development, although she emphasisesthat a portion of the funds will go to promising proposals outside of theseareas. This, she believes, will give the right balance, since, in a field asbroad as management, it is not easy to identify the areas that will have thegreatest impact. She uses the pharmaceutical industry as an analogy. “I recently heard apresentation about Merck Pharmaceuticals,” she says. “Those whodetermine investments in research find they cannot easily predict the specificprojects that will yield the most results. But, they can identify a few areas,like cardiovascular, for which a strong need is clear. The company tries tobuild capacity in those areas. I am convening a series of conversations to findequivalent topics of importance to national competitiveness.” One such topic is likely to be creativity and innovation which isincreasingly important in the national competitiveness debate. The proof ofresearch investments will be that they affect subsequent work beyond fundedprojects, says Huff. “We will focus on the development of new researchers,but also report to the broader community in a way that should generate newideas for training and development in company and university courses.” The forward-thinking agenda of the project attracted Huff to become its director.She is particularly interested in what happens when knowledge – once anacademic preserve – is produced more broadly across society. In the past,universities were seen as the centres of knowledge production. Now, partlybecause universities have trained so many good people, knowledge is beingproduced in many other places. “AIM responds to a widely perceived needfor arenas that facilitate the transfer of information as it’s being generated.We also need new ways to create knowledge on top of what’s being done so far.The initiative will increase the academic research being done, but it has to berelevant to and more informed by what’s happening elsewhere.” For Alsop, sustainability is key and he is keen for AIM to attract peoplefrom research and business at all levels. “We’ll have not just the currenttop people engaged in dialogue and process but also the next generationdeveloping and coming through who take interaction as a natural way ofworking.” Alsop acknowledges that there are many possible explanations forthe productivity gap. The quality of managers is one of them. “Thisinitiative is not going to be the answer – the issue is much more complicatedand multi-dimensional than that,” he says. “But what we hope to getout of it is a sustainable partnership and motivation towards ongoingdialogue.” Huff stresses the sense of urgency to succeed in a globalising world wherenew players are becoming more powerful and have advantages over more establishedplayers in the UK, the US and elsewhere. “It’s important not to becomplacent and get left behind. We have to invent new ways to contribute inthis globalising world. This is not an academic exercise, it’s important to ourfutures,” she says. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Right on targetOn 1 Mar 2002 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. last_img read more