We’ve all been there. A business project requires expert research-oriented knowledge or you are researching for your MBA in international business management. A Google search turns up some relevant academic research content.
But when you click to view you are suddenly confronted by a pay wall. What is even more frustrating is that often the research paper behind the pay wall is the output of publicly funded research.
1. Should publicly funded research be freely available?
This, of course, begs the question “Who owns the research?” Surely publicly funded research should be freely available. Where there is a charge should the income not go back into the research pot to fund further knowledge creation?
The business of research knowledge has become big business globally. We have a system whereby publicly funded research results and knowledge become the intellectual property of major publishing houses. These publishers then charge universities, businesses and individuals for access. It’s a nice business model – if you are a publisher. But not for anyone else.
2. Journals enjoy profit margins up to 70%
A recent study by a British university suggests journals enjoy profit margins of up to 70%. The British Government announced earlier this year that they will act on the recommendations in a commissioned report on open access for research publishing by Dame Janet Finch. However they have indicated an intention to pay the publishers for the content which would, in turn, be publicly available.
So the publishers will continue to be rewarded and paid for content that either results directly from publicly funded research – or that which is cross subsidised by universities from teaching budgets.
3. The government spends £5bn on research
In an article earlier this year in the Guardian newspaper, David Willetts the Universities and Science Minister indicated the UK spends £5bn per year on research.
He said: “We fund this research because it furthers human knowledge and drives intellectual, social and economic progress. In line with our commitment to open information, I will be announcing at the Publishers Association annual meeting that we will make publicly funded research accessible free of charge to readers. Giving people the right to roam freely over publicly funded research will usher in a new era of academic discovery and collaboration, and will put the UK at the forefront of open research.”
£5bn is a substantial sum of money by anyone’s standard. The value of knowledge and intellectual capital created by research must reasonably be assumed to represent a multiple value increase over research spend. The economic and business value of research, were it to be made freely available, is enormous.
4. Open access must become the norm
Open access to such knowledge should be a requisite of research funding and open access publishing should become the norm rather than the exception.
Over recent months we have seen major public campaigns around business taxation and including the tax affairs of Starbucks. Yet there is little public debate on the practices surrounding research knowledge nor on the tax affairs of some of the leading publishers.
Indeed, some of these publishers, including Informa, have moved their businesses offshore for the purpose of gaining tax efficiencies. Tax avoidance.
So the research knowledge becomes a double-edged farce where even the argument that the corporate tax paid by publishers effectively contributes to the public purse, which then funds the research, no longer exists.
The tax affairs of Starbucks and their offer of a £10m annual tax payment in the UK is paltry in comparison to the huge sums involved in academic publishing.
Is open access the answer to this issue?
Mother and daughter academic team – Beverly Alimo-Metcalfe, Professor of Leadership, Bradford University School of Management and Juliette Alban-Metcalfe, Managing Director, Real World Group – are the first winners of a new Chartered Management Institute (CMI) competition to find the most useful research to practising managers. This article achieved the highest average rating from CMI members.
Even before the effects of the current economic crisis, organisations were aware of the need to be more innovative, handling rapid and complex change competently, and to be more effective in utilising organisational resources, including, most importantly, their people resources.
It falls to leaders to get more from their staff, in ways that do not reduce morale, not only for ethical reasons, but because damaging either will ensure that any benefits will be short-lived, with the most talented probably taking their talents elsewhere.
This raises critical questions about the nature of leadership and the use of human capital – the knowledge, skills and personal attributes that when applied in people’s efforts create economic value; and the sharing of social capital – the connections between people and groups that increase innovation, learning, and productivity in organisations.
We identified a model that enables organisations to build leadership capacity, and embed cultures of innovation, proactivity, and high ‘readiness for change’, while at the same time creating an environment in which employees can be more productive and experience higher levels of motivation and well-being.
This was tested with thousands of managers, in a range of organisations internationally, from petrochemical and luxury goods to healthcare and local government, and found to significantly increase levels of employee engagement. A second three-year investigation showed that this approach to leadership, when embedded in the culture of teams, has a significant impact on productivity.
This paper briefly describes the research findings from these two studies and the implications for managers and organisations in creating cultures of engagement, innovation, high ‘readiness for change’, and high levels of productivity.
1. What form of leadership produces high levels of employee engagement?
Notions of leadership evolve over time, affected by changes in economic, political, social, technological, and ecological factors.
US ‘heroic’ models of leadership, dominated the 1980s and 90s, including ‘visionary’, ‘charismatic’ and ‘transformational’ leadership, based largely on studies (often self-reports) of CEOs of large US-based multi-national companies, most of whom were male. Criticism of an emphasis on the ‘inspirational-charismatic’ aspects of leadership grew in the 1990s alongside awareness of the ‘dark side of charisma’, which might include arrogance, narcissistic and manipulative behaviours, and be associated with an inability to build and support a team. The focus of researchers on ‘the leader’ failed to acknowledge the reciprocal influence of the follower-leader relationship, or the concept of ‘shared’ leadership, that is, that leadership is not the sole preserve of those occupying formal leadership roles, but also emerges when people work together effectively.
Challenges to the ‘heroic’ models of leadership grew in the wake of the series of corporate scandals, including those involving Enron and Lehman Brothers in the US, and the Royal Bank of Scotland in the UK, which were attributed largely to the failure of corporate governance and the hubris of those occupying the most senior leadership roles.
In the wake of growing dissatisfaction with ‘distant’, ‘heroic’ leadership, new notions of leadership evolved placing emphasis on leadership as a social process – ie emerging as the product of effective interaction – and emphasising the ethical behaviour of leaders. These included models of ‘ethical’ and ‘authentic’ leadership.
However, while providing valuable contributions to the notion of what characteristics make an effective ‘leader’, they do not directly address the question as to how to engage employees in the work of the organisation.
The nature of the relationship between staff and their line managers became the focus of our first major investigation into the characteristics of ‘nearby’ (day-to-day) leadership, which ultimately enabled us to create a model of ‘engaging transformational leadership’. Our interest was to identify the behaviours of line managers that had “a particularly powerful effect on the motivation, self-confidence, self-efficacy, or performance” of their staff.
We argued that ‘nearby’ leadership was best judged by leaders’ direct reports, rather than by asking leaders what made them effective. These are the 14 dimensions in their four clusters.
Engaging with Individuals
- Showing Genuine Concern
- Being Accessible
- Encouraging Questioning
Engaging the Organisation/Team
- Supporting a Developmental Culture
- Inspiring Others
- Focusing Team Effort
- Being Decisive
Engaging the Stakeholders – Moving Forward Together
- Building Shared Vision
- Resolving Complex Issues
- Facilitating Change Sensitively
Personal Qualities and Values
- Being Honest and Consistent
- Acting with Integrity
2. A Model of Engaging Transformational Leadership
This model emphases working in genuine partnership with a range of other internal and external stakeholders, being sensitive to their agenda and needs, and being decisive when required.
Strong themes emerged relating to building shared visions, and creating environments in which empowerment, appreciation, curiosity, experimentation, questioning the status quo, and learning are highly valued. Such leadership is not confined to those who occupy formal leadership roles; rather, it is a process distributed throughout an organisation.
The 360-feedback instrument developed to assess these behaviours, the Transformational Leadership Questionnaire™ (TLQ™), includes 10 measures of the impact of leadership on staff’s motivation, job satisfaction, commitment, and reduced work-related stress, etc., enabling us to analyse the effect of specific leadership behaviours on staff. The evidence, based on data gathered from the 360 ratings of several thousand private and public sector managers, is that, whatever the organisation, sector, or occupational group, an engaging style of leadership does have a significant positive effect on staff attitudes and well-being.
While these findings provide evidence that these behaviours of leadership affect levels of engagement of employees, the most important question is whether they ultimately affect the performance and productivity of an organisation.
3. Engaging Leadership and its Impact on Performance & Productivity
We undertook a three year longitudinal investigation of the impact of the leadership culture of teams, on their productivity, using our model of engaging transformational leadership. We also assessed team morale and wellbeing, since this potentially impacts on sustainability of performance.
We controlled for a range of important variables (eg range of expertise within the team, resources available) that could affect the teams’ performance. Leadership was assessed using the Leadership Culture & Change Inventory (LCCI), which is based on a combination of the engaging leadership dimensions in the TLQ, plus the 14 leadership competencies, identified by experts in the field.
Analysis of the anonymous ratings of a national sample of 731 team members led to the emergence of three dimensions of leadership culture: ‘Engaging with Others’, ‘Visionary Leadership’; and ‘Leadership Capabilities’.
These were assessed along with 12 aspects of staff attitudes and wellbeing. All three leadership dimensions were significant ‘predictors’ of different aspects of staff’s attitudes to work, and well-being at work.
by Andrew Isherwood, associate lecturer and runs a business and technology consultancy ai:consortia
Three reasons why industry should get involved with a university
I’ve recently been working with Bradford School of Management on developing and delivering a Technology and Innovation Management course for their MSc students. During this course I have encouraged external companies to get involved in both presenting to the students and evaluating them in ‘dragon’s den’ style business presentations. The top three reasons why I think this has been good for the companies involved are:
The primary motivation for a company to be involved with a university is to get some PR from it. This is probably a good idea, as being involved with a university helps to publicise your company with maybe a joint news release when you have done something worthwhile which you can share with potential customers. However, the publicity is more than just a PR event; the company involved becomes recognised by the students, maybe your next star employee finds you this way. These students do go on to do a variety of jobs and the connections made during joint endeavours may become important in future years. Therefore don’t just think of the immediate publicity or networking opportunities but think of the long term opportunities of spreading the word about your organisation by becoming known in academic circles as a ‘listening’ organisation.
2. Idea creation
Ideas are hard to come by, especially good ones, by working with a university companies can tap into these new ideas. The obvious case here is to directly benefit through joint venture or licencing technology however, this takes considerable resources and is usually a long term strategic decision. The other way of idea creation is by linking partial ideas together to make new ideas. Working alongside university students and staff, a company’s employees are relaxed and in a different environment to their usual busy work life. This enables them to think unconstrained, facilitating new idea generation and approaches, problems can be talked through, ideas shared or help asked for in a very organic way.
3. A fresh perspective
Life moves at an ever increasing pace and the young technology savvy student who has their finger on the pulse of trends and the latest happenings can be a useful resource, either to run ideas by or to check what they want from their technology in the future.
There are two other important points, which deserve a mention. Cost, this approach is particularly cost efficient – all a company needs is to contribute the time of its employees. Finally, it is about giving back. If people can benefit from your experience and knowledge and you can influence the potential work force of tomorrow, it’s got to be a good thing.
So get in contact and see how you can both benefit from and contribute to the next generation of leaders at the School of Management
I was born, raised and educated in Bradford and when I decided to set up my own recruitment business in 1997, I couldn’t think of a better place to do it. It’s a city full of talented, diverse and motivated people and businesses. A place where there is more entrepreneurialism than anywhere else in the UK.
Just over ten years later I sold the business and started another in the city – one that was as much about giving something back as it was about turning a profit. Despite (or maybe even because of) its reputational problems, there has always been a very social element to doing business in Bradford. We Bradfordians are a proud breed and want to see our local communities thrive.
In 2011, I was in the car on my way to give up a day of my time to take part in a Dragon’s Den style competition for school children at Bradford-based Seabrooks crisps. There was a story on the radio about some new research carried about by Travelodge which claimed that Bradford was the most unsafe city to visit in the UK. As a Bradfordian, I hear negative news stories about my home city on a weekly basis. However, I had rarely heard it called unsafe. In comparison to other major cities in the UK, it was known for being incredibly welcoming.
When I arrived at Seabrooks, I found that the other panel members were riled as well. The then CEO of Seabrooks was a Liverpudlian who remarked on the fact that there was nowhere in the city where he felt intimidated – unlike his beloved home town.
Somehow this story was the tipping point that made us want to take some serious action against all the negativity. It was having a major impact on the success and regeneration of the city and we weren’t going to sit back and take it any longer.
So Saleem Kader (the Managing Director of Bradford institution Bombay Stores) and I decided that we needed to do something that epitomised everything that Bradford was about. Something that was totally inclusive, not political and that tapped into the city’s entrepreneurial spirit. It also had to be something that didn’t look at the city through rose tinted glasses but that accepted and celebrated what made it different to other nearby cities like Leeds.
We came up with Positive Bradford Day and last September we got people to come together to speak up for the city we love and showcase everything that is great about it. It brought all the entrepreneurial and creative people and businesses out of the woodwork and into the spotlight.
Since then, we’ve launched the Positive Bradford 200 Club that pumps money into community groups, filled empty shops with art work, created retail space for creative businesses and started a campaign to train taxi drivers in how to ‘sell’ the city’s highlights. All of this is voluntary but it hasn’t been difficult to get Bradfordians on board to help – it is in our nature.
As we approach the second Positive Bradford Day, to be held on 22 June 2012, we’re looking at a city centre that is on its way to being transformed. The newly completed City Park has given us a focal point, which is already a hive of activity, the Westfield shopping centre has now been given the definite go ahead, and many of the empty shops and buildings are now being used and are drawing peoples’ eyes away from boarded up shop fronts up to breath-taking architecture.
These small changes have given the city a new lease of life and renewed ambition for the future. We are not a Leeds – and we don’t want to be – so we no longer need to play the part of its poor relation. Instead, we can focus on what is unique about Bradford. In the future, it will be a cultural and creative hub that people go out of their way to visit for its heritage and diversity – but we need people to believe it.
Behaviour breeds behaviour and as people see the creative business popping up in the city centre and people getting together to celebrate what we love about Bradford, attitudes will start to change. If everyone who moaned about or put down Bradford did something about it, it would happen much more quickly.
Positive Bradford Day is on 22 June 2012. Find out more at www.positivebradford.co.uk
Neil Gaydon, former ceo Pace, speaks at a free event organised by Bradford School of Management at the Leopold Hotel in Sheffield on Wednesday 13 June from 7pm – 9pm. He has written a blog on senior management skills for today which featured on the Huffington Post.
You can read more about it here.
Andrew Johnson is Operations Director, Worldwide IT at JWT in New York, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies. He graduated from Bradford University School of Management’s Distance Learning MBA in 2010.
I started out doing a Business Information Systems degree and went on to work as a software developer. After eight years, I was in a management role and felt the need for a more rounded understanding of business in order to take the next step in my career.
Not a typical IT professional
Despite my ‘tech’ background, I had always been interested in different aspects of business and found that I was more confident talking outside of technology than some of my IT colleagues. Many IT professionals want to stay behind closed doors, whereas I liked being client-facing and engaging with others from various different areas of the business.
I decided to embark on an MBA to keep my career options open and ensure that I didn’t get boxed into a specific role in a specific industry.
Virtual MBA study for international travellers
After relocating to the US with a small UK company I was doing a lot of international travel. I didn’t know where I was going to be based in the longer term and couldn’t commit to being in one place. I looked at a number of different options and came to the conclusion that distance learning was the best path for me, particularly because of its interface with technology. However, I still wanted the kudos of getting the qualification from a prestigious university – something that’s particularly important in the US market.
Working remotely with international MBA colleagues
I chose Bradford University School of Management because it offered incredibly good value for money for a globally recognised, highly rated programme. I was particularly attracted to the support system in place for distance learning students, which includes the opportunity to work remotely with people from around the world.
From IT specialist to international project manager
Half way through doing the MBA, I moved to a role at JWT in New York – one of the longest-running advertising agencies in the world – as Operations Director of Worldwide IT. I was attracted to the role because of the mix of technology, creative and business elements. Despite not having completed my MBA, I felt I was able to make this move because I’d been able to re-market myself as more of an all-rounder with a strategic overview, rather than an IT person. I had to demonstrate that I could fit my technical skills into the business context of a global company.
What the MBA has given me is the confidence to sit in a room with people from across the business and understand how everything fits together and translate business problems into effective IT solutions. Every business needs people who understand the capabilities of technology and how to apply them in order to achieve business goals. Without that, it is impossible to innovate.
I also benefited from the international perspective that Bradford’s MBA gave me. My current role is truly international and I work with people from around the world on a daily basis.
Choose your Distance Learning MBA Business School carefully
My advice to those thinking of embarking on a distance learning MBA is to get some experience and network before starting. It can be a lonely process and you need to know that you can be proactive and motivate yourself. Despite distance learning being a very independent study mode, your choice of business school and modules is really important. You need to ensure that the programme is designed for distance learning and it is not just an afterthought. The opportunity to listen to/watch lectures makes it much easier to engage with the subject matter. It is also really important that you keep up with modules so that you can take advantage of engaging in conversation with others about them.
Peter Popena is currently on Bradford University School of Management’s Accelerated MBA. He has come to the UK from Papua New Guinea on a scholarship programme and will return to his environment management role to undertake his MBA project in the summer, just eight months after starting the programme.
I am from Papua New Guinea, which is a developing country in the South Pacific with a population of 7.5m. My employer, Steamships Trading Company, is part of an international company called Swire and I was lucky enough to be selected for a scholarship to do an MBA in the UK, jointly funded by the company and the British Council.
I have got 19 years experience specialising in environmental management in the petroleum, palm oil, gold mining and other industries. I joined Steamships Trading Company as Group Health, Safety, Security and Environment Manager a year ago and am responsible for auditing, coordinating with and advising the various different divisions of the company. We work in the road transport, IT, shipping, food manufacturing, real estate and hotel industries and are a major player in Papua New Guinea’s economy.
An MBA for social good
I wanted to do an MBA to help me develop my overall understanding of business strategy with a view to moving into an executive management role. I also want to be able to contribute meaningfully to the development of Papua New Guinea and help formulate policy that will ensure that environmental protection is a priority.
An MBA that makes a difference quickly
When I researched MBA programmes in the UK, I was attracted to Bradford University School of Management for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was impressed by the School’s reputation and ranking in the UK and internationally. The facilities also looked fantastic. The Accelerated MBA was ideal for me because my employer had agreed to sponsor and pay me during my time studying in the UK and it meant I could get back to work in Papua New Guinea within 10 months.
An MBA with sustainability and sustainable development at its heart
However, my main reason for choosing the Bradford MBA over the others that I looked at in the UK was the School’s focus on sustainability in its research and teaching. Sustainability used to just be about environmental management – now it is relevant to every aspect of business and society – and I strongly believe that economic development and environmental protection should go hand in hand. Doing the Bradford MBA is a fantastic opportunity for both me and my home country to build stronger international links and gain greater understanding of sustainable development.
An MBA that gets you back into learning
After 19 years out of the classroom, the first few weeks of a full time MBA were tough, especially moving to a different country. However, the staff and my fellow classmates have been very welcoming and I have received a lot of support. As the weeks go by, I am becoming much more comfortable with learning again and am getting a lot out of the experience that I look forward to taking back to my home country.
Earlier this month I was invited to join a group of business leaders at Bradford University School of Management’s Innovation Club.
I co-authored a book, Innovation Management, with Prof Pervaiz Ahmed, and I was asked to talk about new approaches to product development that we have been involved in at NCR, Raytheon and other companies.
Here is a snapshot of some of the areas we covered
1. How do you drive more profit from the business?
Businesses need to find ways of deciding which, of many potential new products and services to invest in. The key to this is aligning the R&D interface with marketing. Marketing should understand the customer and their needs and market trends. They should be able to work in partnership with R&D development and challenge the relevance of new ideas and the value they will have for the customer.
The closer these two work together, the less wasted effort in the business, the more profit.
2. Customers don’t have a clue what they want
The caveat of what I said above is that if you give a customer what they said they wanted – there is a high chance they don’t sufficiently value what they said and more importantly, are not prepared to pay the cost of it.
Over the years I have seen customers delaying signing off projects because every time you start coming up with what they thought they wanted, the target has moved.
Market research can cost a fortune – and most of the time only tells you what you knew.
The way over all this is to build relationships in order to understand the customer better – to become trusted advisers to your customers. The closer you get to a customer, the more you can both understand what will really add value – and what is worth paying for.
We needed to develop our skills in understanding the exact customer need and how we could satisfy that. And the customer had to really understand what we were developing and put value on the cost.
Perhaps the most innovative part of our approach was that we shared the gains from a project – if we could deliver £20m more savings on a project, we would return 50% of that to the customer. That incentivised them to become involved and ‘own’ the project – and us to make sure we were listening and feeding back to the customer.
Below is the model we developed for aligning marketing with technology.
3. Partnering can speed up R&D – at a profit
One of the processes we have previously developed was to identify the competencies of all the various businesses we had acquired or units we had set up, such as knowledge labs.
Sometimes the competencies were not immediately obvious. I remember one where the skills were in managing services, as in an eBay-type approach.
I was interested in the School’s Innovation Club – and have made my own suggestion to them that we should put business problems on the table at future events and do peer problem solving.
What are the best things that you have done to speed up innovation?
Tim Yeardley graduated from Bradford University School of Management’s Part-time Executive MBA in 2008. He was sponsored by his employer at the time, HBOS, where he was Communications and Finance Manager. Since completing his MBA, Tim has published research into management training in the UK and set up his own company, Mnemoysne Training. He recently returned to the School of Management to give a guest lecture.
My interest in management training started when I realised the UK’s productivity figures were pretty poor compared to other countries. After years spent on a farm in Lincolnshire during my teens, I wasn’t really up for flogging myself for hours for little reward. Yet that’s what we basically do in the UK; work the longest hours, for the least reward, in Europe.
I always thought – why are managers making us work so long for so little? After all, they are in charge.
I wanted to get to the bottom of the problem. It took 25 years’ experience in UK, American and Australian management, but I realised that a key problem is that managers are poorly trained in the basic competencies (or soft skills) for management.
Learning to be a manager ‘on the job’
I didn’t get any management training before being a manager (like 80% of all managers). The training I did receive I couldn’t remember; it was pitched too high, with too many unrealistic models, was reactive in nature and more about problem colleagues, rather than problem managers. It was assumed that I knew the basic soft skills needed to manage people and could only really develop them through ‘on the job’ experience.
This ‘sink or swim’ attitude towards manager training means that courses on conflict management, assertiveness training and time management are usually only attended after issues are identified at work.
The link between poor management training and poor performance
In order to prove what was to me the obvious link between poor management training and poor performance, I did some research into what training (those lucky enough to get it!) is given to new managers.
The research paper I produced, which I received international recognition for alongside notable academics and best selling authors via an Emerald Literati Excellence Award, confirmed that managers are not taught basic managerial core competencies, even at entry level. I looked, for example, at the mention of the core management competency of ‘communication’ in new manager courses. A third made no mention of it! In tough economic times such as these with redundancies and restructures, communication ought to be a key skill for any new manager.
Leadership training only for leaders
The separation of management from leadership has been widely documented and argued in management literature for many years. The issue this has caused is that it is assumed that new managers do not need leadership training. I found that over half of new manager courses do not cover any leadership discussion at all. The new economy, though, demands all managers be leaders and vice versa. Why would businesses limit the capabilities of new managers by denying them access to leadership values? Research in the US found just 10% of new managers get leadership training as all the leadership training goes to… the leaders! In the UK the position is equally poor.
Management training for Generation ‘I’
What I found most astonishing about all my findings was that the new manager training courses I looked at didn’t take into account the new challenges and competencies needed by the next generation of managers. I use the term Generation ‘I’ rather than Generation ‘Y’ – meaning ‘internet’ and ‘I’ myself. Just 2% of courses actually considered the impact of today’s culture on the new managers of tomorrow.
This is relevant because the managers of tomorrow have grown up in a completely different world to their predecessors. How will those who do most of their interaction online cope in a managerial position? The management training available to them just assumes they will adapt.
And what about the perception of business young people are gaining through programmes such as Dragons Den and The Apprentice? Evidence suggests these programmes leave our younger audiences cold to the aggressiveness and harsh reality of being in business. We really are not doing ourselves any favours in encouraging aspiring youngsters into the world of work. It is easy to see why the UK only comes 18th out of 31 in the OECD league table of lower and intermediate management skills.
From my own experience and research, I believe manager training has not progressed for the past 20-25 years and needs to catch up with the core competencies needed by new managers of today. It is still a tick box exercise and not fit for purpose.
The next generation of management training
There clearly needs to be a rethink towards management training and the tools new managers need to get the job done. It must start with the basics – such as awareness and setting standards – and we must stop assuming that the excellent technocrat can move straight into a managerial position. Management training should be a pre-requisite of being a manager – and it should be integrated into the ‘day job’, not a one-off, reactive event.
I set up Mnemosyne Training to assist all managers with innovative and unique core competency learning – based on six ‘soft skills’ which are inter-linked to make them simple to understand and remember
- Structure (how you go about work)
- Results (achieving success)
Are you confident that your new managers have all these skills?