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Porter backs UK bosses to improve productivity

first_imgUK management was given a strong mandate this week to take over the drivingseat from the Government on improving productivity. Michael Porter, the Harvard professor brought in by the DTI and the Economicand Social Research Council (ESRC) to do a study on competitiveness, urgedmanagers and directors to be the crucial link both inside and outside business.Porter called for the development of ‘clusters’ of companies and researchinstitutions working in related industries to lift local economies in poorerregions. His comments suggest that Sector Skills Councils and Regional DevelopmentAgencies could play a central part in driving productivity within industrysectors and regions. Porter’s message reinforces much of the work undertaken by HR professionalsacross the country in trying to convince industry chiefs that investment indeveloping workforce skills and creating an environment for innovation toflourish are essential for growth. Porter set out three core areas, which need attention in the UK – management,public policy and structure and institutions. Managers, he said, should be less inward looking and focus more oncollaborations with suppliers, with academic bodies and related organisations,to spread knowledge and organise collective action between companies and thepublic sector. Porter is concerned about the take up of modern management techniques,particularly among UK manufacturing firms and calls for more data on managerialskills at different levels within firms. Low and middle level managers may needtheir managerial skills upgrading, he said. However, Porter does not put all the blame for poor productivity on to theshoulders of management. Government under- investment has been key. “There is a crying need for greater levels of public investment inskills and scientific capability. Public funding on R&D has actuallydeclined, which is stunning in an era of knowledge-based competition,” hesaid. DTI secretary Patricia Hewitt will examine these findings and furtherresearch by the ESRC is expected. Full findings from Porter’s study will bepublished in a report in a few weeks time. By Jane KingPorter’s pearls of wisdom–  “I thought I wasdoing an innocent little review of the literature (on productivity)and then all the press coverage started. It sparked a nerve and tells us aboutthe transition the country is in”–  “The UK has alow bar for calling people managers”–  “Economicdevelopment is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes decades and goes beyond thecapacity of [the] Government”–  “The definitionof management is changing”–  “France andGermany have got a big legacy of skills in the heartland of their workforces”–  “You should notbe depressed, but excited. The UK is a great economic success story not a sickchild like Germany”–  “The UK isnumber three after US and Japan in being home to the top 100 trans-nationalcompanies”Need to knowProfessor Porter’s assessment of UK companies:Strengths         – Marketing and branding– Supply chain management, distribution and retailing– Professional management and the use of incentive compensation– High level of internationalisationWeaknesses– Lack of focus on providing unique value– Low investment in innovation– Some indication of low uptake of modern management– Manufacturing lagging overall economy Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos. Porter backs UK bosses to improve productivityOn 28 Jan 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more