I normally stick to the world of procurement and programme management, but today I have decided to make some comments on John Cridland's (head of the CBI), recent comments, reported in today's Times. In summary the CBI are making suggestions for the next budget. They are worried about a potential cost to the UK of the backlash against bonuses and restricted immigration. Cridland argues that leading executives will find the UK unattractive and, in the same breath, overseas academics will not believe they are welcomed. To quote directly, "If you don't reward success, business can't walk the walk".
Yes, a strange brew of big bonuses and academic motivation!
It would have been interesting if Cridland had also read the Sunday Times feature on Elsevier - a remarkably high performing business baswed on academic publishing. Elsevier, sells expensive academic journals (including one of my favourites, the Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management) and makes significant profits. Elsevier's supply chain are the host of academics who write papers and peer review others' work. What most of my readers probably don't appreciate is that Elsevier do not make any payment to either authors or reviewers. There are parallels with the government's Work Programme - if you want to success, consider it an honour to be unpaid.
What I can't understand is Cridland's disconnect. The UK need high performing academics and business reaps the benefits from their labour. Even those gaining high-performance bonuses are more often than not
standing on a foundation of university education. Academics though appear to be paid a comparative pittance for their contribution to business and society in general. Many are also under threat as a result of 'the cuts'. They are a world away from big bonuses. Yet that does not stop them giving freely of their time to contribute to Elsevier's and other publishers success - the contribution to knowledge is not the same. Equally, it demonstrates that success doesn't need to be recognised or rewarded by disproportionate pay cheques, sometimes people do things just because they think they should.
Why on earth hasn't John Cridland not recognised the myopia of his argument? Why isn't he arguing for a balanced approach and that one of the real barriers to enticing and retaining high performing academics is not immigration but comparative pay disparities?
Going back to the basics of this blog, if the UK want to be really good at business, perhaps they need to reward and invest in the procurement academic world too. A recognition would help, but a rebalancing is required. At the very least, to avoid the constant procurement faux pas why isn't there a public procurement academic cohort feeding into government policy? Perhaps that would be more useful than yet another academy.
Duke, S. (2012) 'Universities revolt against publisher 'profiteering'', Sunday Times, Section 3 Business, 19 February, p.7.
Fleming, S. (2012) 'We can't afford tax cuts, says CBI', The Times 22 February, p.33.