Management research to boost UK competitiveness

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has put its weight behind
the push for UK competitiveness with the launch of a new management research
initiative.

Funded by £17m of taxpayers’ money over five years, the Advanced Institute
for Management (AIM) will bring together people from universities, industry and
government.

It follows the setting up of the Centre for Excellence in Management and
Leadership (CEML) by the DTI and the DfEE in 2000 and will take forward some of
CEML’s recommendations. AIM will also address ESRC’s long-standing concern
about the quality of management research in the UK, and concern from the
Government, CBI and other bodies about the apparent gap in productivity between
businesses based in the UK and those in other countries.

AIM is headed by Anne Sigismund Huff, who took up her appointment as
director in mid-January. Huff’s career includes professorships of strategic
management at UCLA, the University of Illinois, the University of Colorado and
Cranfield School of Management. Her research interests focus on strategic
change, and she is past-president of the Academy of Management, an
international research-oriented organisation.

"The main objective is to have an impact on national competitiveness,
but the immediate objective is to improve the nature of research on
management," said Huff. One of her first tasks is to draw up an advisory
board to help identify a programme of research and development relevant to
business needs. Huff’s initial dialogues will involve people from the research
community, business, and government.

"AIM will try to draw together activities now occurring in relative
isolation. I’m particularly interested in pulling together company concerns
with issues from research. We want to have a set of company partners involved
in specific research on issues they are concerned about."

AIM will have its own website and a series of public forums is planned,
drawing on AIM Fellows from the UK and overseas. The first such programme
should be under way in the next six or seven months. As work progresses, paper
publications will also be produced.

Deputy director of research at the ESRC, Adrian Alsop, said: "If the
initiative works well we shall have a more effective, sustainable partnership
between the best UK academic researchers on management issues and people in
business. There will also be research outcomes in their own right which we
would expect to shed light on issues which are relevant to the productivity
gap."

Huff added: "I anticipate that if it is successful, the project will
have a longer presence than its initial five-year horizon. That depends on the
results we can achieve."

By Elaine Essery

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