Bradford ‘Management Thinking’ Digest – the latest on business strategy, leadership, finance, innovation and sustainability

By | March 28, 2011


This edition of Bradford University School of Management’s digest of the latest business thinking features

  • Corporate legacies
  • What are the key factors for an innovative business?
  • The Budget 2011
  • Opportunities for sustainable innovation

Please share your views here and on Twitter @BradManagement


FT Column: Corporate legacies can harm your future

FT business blogger Andrew Hill wrote a column earlier this month demonstrating how focusing on a company’s successful history can distort strategy and make employees complacent.

He said: “Business leaders need to shape strategy to the demands of the present and future, not put it in the dead hand of the past. But while it is counter-productive to cling unquestioningly to a company’s history, so it can be highly damaging to throw it all out.”

The piece refers to examples of how this has been easier said than done for big corporates like IBM, Hyundai, Shell, Unilever, Philips and HP. Hill concludes that: “The key is to mine from the past values that appeal to the present.”


Blog: What are the key factors for an innovative business?

Our new Professor Christos Kalantaridis is developing an Enterprise and Innovation Lab at the School that he hopes will become a resources for businesses.

In his latest blog, he shares his insights on what businesses need to be innovative from what he has learnt so far in his new role as Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

He has heard from business and public sector members of the School’s Innovation Club that:

  • you can put customers off by innovating too quickly
  • it is important for innovation to stimulate open and transparent communication and provide an environment that supports people to think creatively and innovate
  • you need to be very close to customers, anticipating their needs and being able to respond to enquiries faster than competitors
  • you must make sure you are solving the right problem and not what the customer thinks is the problem
  • recruiting the right people – those who are open and motivated – is key


Comment: The Budget 2011 – initiatives won’t help businesses in tough times

Wednesday’s Budget didn’t bring any ‘feel good’ announcements as to be expected in such difficult economic times. Enterprise Zones and apprenticeships have been introduced to promote growth – but will they actually help struggling businesses to take on new staff?

Our Director of Executive Education, Julian Rawel, took part in a panel discussion alongside Ed Balls and regional business leaders on BBC Radio Leeds. Julian said: “Enterprise Zones are great when we are in very buoyant times and businesses want to build, grow and relocate. But if you go and talk to businesses now they say ‘we’re not interested in building, we’re interested in maximising our assets to do as well as we can in these challenging times. Enterprise Zones sound great but they are more for great times and I don’t think they are the times we are in at the moment.”

In response to announcements about generating more apprenticeships and an increase to national insurance, he said: “Here in Yorkshire we’ve got one in three people working in the public sector. If we are going to see large job losses in that sector then private businesses need an incentive to take people on – apprenticeships won’t necessarily do that but a slight decrease in national insurance would have.”

Click here to hear the full feature – Julian appears from 2hr37m into the show onwards.


Blog: Opportunities for sustainable innovation

Alex Hook of NESTA – the independent experts on how innovation can solve major economic and social challenges – believes that lack of leadership on driving towards more sustainable production and consumption patterns in the UK, could mean we miss the opportunity to benefit from growth.

He wrote a blog on the back of a panel debate on the role of innovation in creating a sustainable way of life that NESTA held as part of Climate Week last week. The debate brought together speakers from backgrounds large corporations, government, start-ups and social entrepreneurship and it emerged that it was unclear who should bear their cost of prioritising and resourcing the changes required.

Hook said: “In my opinion, there is a clear and unique opportunity for the UK to build (or even evolve) new technologies and businesses that help enable the transition to more sustainable production and consumption. The threat is that we do not move quickly enough or in sufficient scale to address climate change in the UK and beyond, and that we miss the opportunity to benefit from the growth potential of this shift.”

This is of great interest to my own research – see my blog on Transformation leadership – why your organisation can’t grow without it.

About Dr Sarah Dixon

Dr Sarah Dixon, Dean of Bradford University School of Management, completed her MBA at Kingston University, subsequently joining them where she held a variety of roles, culminating in director of postgraduate programmes for the Faculty of Business and Law. Gaining a DBA from Henley Business School in the interim, she went on to research activity at the University of Bath taking on the role of head of MSc programmes.

Her business career at Royal Dutch Shell Group included petrochemicals business management in Vienna and Moscow and later positions in strategic planning and mergers and acquisitions in London. She moved into business consulting as director of the strategy consultancy, Albany Dixon Ltd before joining the School in September 2010.

Specialties: Strategy, Organizational change, Dynamic capabilities, Organisational learning

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