Category Archives: Advanced Management Program

Brexit: What have we done?

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Source: Wharton

Guest Blog by Phillip Warwick.philipwarwick

On 23rd June, 16 million UK citizens voted to stay in the European Union (EU). That’s equivalent to population of the Netherlands.  Unfortunately, 17 million other UK citizens voted to leave the EU.  The vote has sent shock waves through universities in the UK.  Will international students still want to come to the UK?  Will faculty from EU countries need a visa in future?  What will happen to the Erasmus scheme in the UK? What about EU funding for research?  Will we still be able to afford to go on holiday in France, Spain and Italy?  All these questions have been discussed in subdued corridor conversations over the last couple of weeks.

Sitting in a Business School in the north-east of England, I feel that my academic colleagues and I need to speak-up in the national debate about how we arrived at this sorry state of affairs. It would of course be easier to fall into line and accept the received wisdom in the serious newsmedia that it was the fault of the self-serving politicians and ill-informed voters in the English provinces. I have heard this line at several meetings and HE conferences I have attended in the last couple of weeks.  Clearly politics has had a lot to do with it.  But we need to explain more clearly why we think a region like ours, the north-east of England (a region that has apparently benefited from all the EU has to offer) should vote so heavily against the EU and for Brexit? At first glance it does seem crazy.

I moved to the North-East of England in 1990. For those of you who don’t know it, think of the bridges over the River Tyne; think of Newcastle United, Sunderland and Middlesbrough football teams; think of the setting for film Billy Elliot and think of Durham Cathedral. The North-East of England is the bit south of Scotland and north of Yorkshire.  By 1990, the north-east’s coal mines had all but disappeared, the massive Consett steel works had shut down in 1989 and the shipyards of Newcastle and Sunderland were in terminal decline.  The old heavy industries that had made the North East relatively rich and powerful at the start of the twentieth century were by the end of the century all but gone.

However, there were signs of regeneration. Thanks to the European Regional Development and European Social Funds, infrastructure investment meant that a very good road network had been created criss-crossing the region.  EU subsidies meant that Japanese and Korean multinationals like Nissan, Fujistsu, Komatsu and Samsung set-up factories employing thousands of workers.  EU funds enabled One North East, a highly successful regional development agency, to fund a significant number of projects around the North-East including the creation of the iconic developments on the Newcastle/Gateshead quayside (The Baltic and The Sage) and the Teesdale Business Park, home to Durham University’s Queen’s Campus, on Teesside.

Despite all this benefit, with the exception of the affluent Newcastle suburbs, the whole of the North-East of England voted around 60/40 to leave the EU on 23rd June.   Many of my neighbours, my wife’s work colleagues, some of my old school friends, the people I play golf and cycle with, the people at the gycameron3.jpgm, the customers at the paper shop, and hairdressers – all told me they were going to vote leave.  Vote leave supporters tended to be in their 40s or older, were less likely to have attended a higher education institution and were more likely to be from outside the main urban areas in England and Wales (they were also the most likely to make the effort to vote).  Remain supporters tended to be younger, better educated and were more likely to be from the main urban areas or they were from Scotland or Northern Ireland (and, especially the young, less likely to vote).

 

The Brexit vote was not just about the EU, it was arguably as much about an unfair distribution of wealth and power in the UK. It was a vote against the globalisation. A vote that hoped to turn the clock backwards. Those with degrees, good jobs, nice cars, nice houses and cultural capital voted to stay in the EU, to retain the 21st century status quo.  Those who voted against were often the have-nots, the angry and those frightened by the globalised world.  David Cameron’s stupid idea for a referendum gave the angry, the frightened and the have-nots a single cause around which to unite.  Worried by the impact of globalisation, with a suspicion of outsiders (typical of much of rural England) and fuelled by a pack of lies from self-serving politicians who promised an end to mass immigration and divert EU funding to the health service.

The have-nots voted against the haves. They voted against David Cameron and George Osborn and their Tory government; they voted against all the self-serving political classes; they voted against bankers who crashed the economy in 2008, against Goldman Sachs, the hedge fund managers and the bosses of big business; they voted against the London centric media; they voted against the experts in the universities and they voted against the bureaucrats at the E.U. They voted against those who pay themselves vast salaries and those who they perceive to waste British tax payers money. The irony is, of course, that they were told to vote against all these things by three very rich men. Eton and Oxford educated, Boris Johnson, a privately educated, former stockbroker turned MEP, Nigel Farage and a US based, Australian media mogul, Rupert Murdoch (none of these three villains have any role in sorting out the mess they helped to get the country into).

Source: The Gaurdian

Those who are frightened by change, by foreigners, by the modern world, those who want to put the clock back 100 years to an era where the UK had power and influence, also all voted against EU. Those angered by politicians and big business, all the xenophobic little Englanders, all the racists and the right and far left extremists also voted for Brexit.

The remain voters, who we can call the haves with social capital, working in well-paid jobs in London and the home counties, in Oxford and Cambridge or one of the big metropolitan cities, those of us working in higher education or in the media, did not see this vote coming. Perhaps because we don’t mingle so much with the have-nots; perhaps we thought that our better informed votes would somehow count for more. We didn’t understand that people vote irrationally with their heart rather than in a well-informed rational way, with their head.  We didn’t understand how others see the globalised world as threatening and frightened rather than full of opportunities.  We didn’t understand how many people perceive themselves to be on the outside, the have-nots. Only in Scotland and Northern Ireland were there politicians, who representing the haves as well as the have nots, were listened to and agreed with.

I think as academics we have a job to do, to explain what happened in the UK on 23rd June and why.  If the UK is going to come through the trauma of Brexit, we need to be telling the government and anyone who will listen that the UK needs to tackle the unfair distribution of power, wealth and influence.

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BOOK REVIEW: “Confidence : How winning streaks and losing streaks begin and end” by Rosabeth M. Kanter (2004)

Confidence How winning streaks and losing streaks begin and endRosebeth Kanter holds the Earnest Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School and specializes in strategy innovation and leadership for change. One of her areas of research is why organizations and people gain confidence and why they lose it. This book outlines some of the main reasons that she has discovered as the result of 300 interviews and two surveys with over 2700 responses.

Key words

Confidence, organization, people, sports teams, corporations, Gillette, Continental Airlines, BBC, Harvard Business School

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BOOK REVIEW : “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg

How Google WorksAny company that is so successful that its name has become a verb deserves to be studied. This excellent book gives some insights into the workings of one of today’s richest and most admired companies. I’m very grateful to my colleague, Gordon Ray, for having brought this to my attention.

Key words

Google, company culture, innovation, talent management, Jeff Bezos, network, search machine

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Business schools: the unloved child of prestigious universities?

Business schools: the illegitimate child of prestigious universities?

A good friend of mine who had set up a very lucrative business school in a traditional university once complained to me: “The university like what I do and they like the money I bring, but they don’t like me.“ Traditional, prestigious universities often have a very strange relationship with their business schools treating them like the illegitimate child who has had a very successful career. Continue reading

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“Big successes come from dealing with the little things.” claims Reuben Mark, former CEO of Colgate-Palmolive.

Reuben Mark

“If you have good numbers, show them up front!” begins Reuben Mark. The numbers for Colgate-Palmolive are indeed impressive. Speaking as a guest at the Harvard Business School, the former CEO of Colgate-Palmolive can show a total return of some 4200% during his 23-year tenure. This is more than 40% higher than peer companies. But Mr. Mark claims that this success is due to the company’s ability deal with the small, everyday issues. This may not make for dramatic headlines, but they are universal things that have kept the company in business since its creation in 1806.  Continue reading

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“Don’t get smart person’s disease.” says Anne Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox

Anne Mulcahy

“They called me ‘The Master of ‘I don’t know!’” confesses Anne Mulcahy with a warm smile. For someone who didn’t know much, she certainly knew how to save one of the world’s largest companies. Ms Mulcahy was appointed CEO of Xerox in August 2001 when the company was in dire straights. Xerox had so dominated the world of photocopying that its name had even become a verb. By the time Ms. Mulchay took over however, this corporate giant was two weeks from bankruptcy. Despite the weight of expectation on her shoulders from the various stakeholders, Ms. Mulcahy claims that leaders should not give the impression that they know all the answers.  Continue reading

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Do I really need a university degree? Gates, Jobs, and Zuckerberg didn’t finish university. Perhaps, but…

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg

Next week will be the final week before the end of term in a host of universities across the different parts of the world. For many students this brings the dreaded exam week and often a huge amount of self doubt with it. Many have thoughts of giving up the whole process at this time. After all, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are all college dropouts and they seem to have done alright for themselves. If they could succeed with a degree, is it really necessary to spend all that time and effort? It might seem like a nice idea but unfortunately, these few examples don’t tell the entire story.

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