Latest news, views, comment, debate and useful links for students and alumni of The Open University Business School and business-related courses.
An Open University Business School PhD student who graduated in May found that voluntary organisations face considerable barriers in securing European funding.
“I found that there are certain voluntary organisations that will get funding due to how they have orientated themselves”, said Rebecca. “My call to Government as a result of my research is that they need to take into account that not all organisations are geared up in a way that will secure funding, but that doesn't mean that they can't deliver high quality outcomes. There is a huge pool of talent that Governments can use to reduce economic disadvantage, but right now the process is so complex that many organisations cannot benefit.”
When Rebecca started her research, she had been working in grant-making for the Big Lottery Fund, and previously the Arts Council of Wales. She now manages the Wales Governance Centre in Cardiff University; a job she got just before she finished her PhD which she believes was a direct result of her studies.
An Open University Business School PhD student who graduated in May found that voluntary organisations face considerable barriers in securing European funding. Rebecca Rumbul, who received her OU PhD in Business at the Cardiff graduation ceremony on 27 April, looked at how money filters down to grassroots voluntary organisations. She found that the way that government bodies ...
He talks about how humbling it felt to win an award from such a prestigious organisation and the impact his MBA, the OUBS and alumni have had on the business: “The OU Business School and its alumni have been a major influence on the turnaround of the business primarily through the application of principles learnt during my MBA.”
Leadership in Corporate Responsibility
The award recognises the efforts made by Simon Hegele Logistics to engage with its local community. All the employees are able to take an extra day holiday each year to work with a charity, school or community organisation of their choice. The company has engaged with local schools and colleges, supporting students with learning difficulties by running workshops and supporting A level students in applying theory into practice as well as organising events to raise funds for charities.
Chris said, “We are a small company with only 64 employees. So our ethos, in regards to engagement with social activities, is like dropping a pebble into water, we try and generate the maximum effect with the few resources we have. We recognise the need to balance financial profit with social profit and contribute to our local community where we can. Winning the award from such a prestige organisation was a very humbling experience for me, but great recognition and a proud moment for our HR manager and all the other staff that have contributed to the company’s CSR efforts.”
Applying MBA principles
Chris joined Simon Hegele Logistics in 2007 following the successful completion of his MBA. Chris recalls that when he arrived at Simon Helege he was greeted with an unhappy customer banging on the table, a failed quality audit, a high turnover of staff and a loss making business.
The business today looks very different and Chris attributes a lot of this to the OU Business School, as he explains, “The OU Business School and its alumni has been a major influence on the turnaround of the business primarily through the application of principles learnt during my MBA. But also through the development of skills learnt by attending regular alumni events, bringing my team along to OU workshops as part of their development and further developing my own education with an accounting for strategy course.”
Having left school at 16 with a few CSEs Chris decided to join the army. Twelve years later after serving in the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland, the first gulf war and Bosnia, he left the military but stayed in Germany and got a job with a German company.
“It was whilst I was working with this German company I recognised that my civilian career would benefit from some formal qualifications. After carrying out substantial research into different providers of management training, both German and English, I started studying with the OU in 2001. The OU was a clear choice both from the quality of their presentation, the materials and the accreditations and reputation that came with OU qualifications.”
As a regional winner Chris will go forward to represent London and South East in the UK Director of the Year Finals, taking place in October 2013.
(Chris Lima is pictured above with the awards' host Gyles Brandreth (left))
For more information:
Posted on 16 May 2013
Chris Lima, Managing Director of Simon Hegele Logistics, has won the Institute of Directors regional Chairman’s Award for Leadership in Corporate Responsibility. He talks about how humbling it felt to win an award from such a prestigious organisation and the impact his MBA, the OUBS and alumni have had on the business: “The OU Business School and its alumni ...
We look forward to seeing you there!
Posted on 2 May 2013
The OU Business School invite you to register for a Creativity Residential Workshop this 14-15 June, at Milton Hill House, Oxfordshire. Led by Elvin Box and John Evans and combining lecturer lead sessions with group workshop activities, the course provides participants with an understanding of the factors that help and hinder creativity and innovation and evaluate how they ...
Posted on 1 May 2013
Further to the recent successful Leadership Masterclass, the OUBS are hosting an online webinar as part of their Business Perspectives series. This webinar, on Tuesday 14 May 19.00 – 20.00, will include all the highlights from the recent event, drawing on the contributions of our excellent speakers and inviting contributions from our online panellists. The hour ...
The Impoverishment of the UK report paints a bleak picture of deteriorating living conditions and opportunities for a significant and growing proportion of the population.
It will be profiled in a special Tonight programme, Breadline Britain, broadcast on ITV tonight Thursday 28 March at 7.30 pm.
The report is part of the Economic and Social Research Council-funded Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) study, which uses a way of measuring poverty devised by Joanna Mack, Learning and Teaching producer at the OU, and Stewart Lansley, senior project officer at the OU.
This PSE approach – now adopted by the UK Government and by a growing number of rich and developing countries – identifies people falling below a publicly-determined minimum standard of living.
It was pioneered in 1983 and repeated in studies in 1990, 1999, 2002/03 and 2012. The PSE project thus provides detailed and robust information about trends over 30 years.
Joanna Mack was the principal investigator on the 1983 and 1990 research studies and she is one of the lead investigators for the current research.
The OU also developed The Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK website, which is an integral part of the overall project and which provides a major resource on poverty and social exclusion, used extensively.
Key findings of the PSE report include:
Joanna Mack said: “Levels of deprivation today are worse in a number of vital areas – from basic housing to key social activities – than at any point in the past thirty years.
"These trends are a deeply shocking indictment of 30 years of economic and social policy and reflect a rapid growth in inequality. This has meant that, though the economy has doubled in size during this period, those at the bottom have been increasingly left behind.”
Professor David Gordon of the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research in Bristol, who is head of the project, said: “The results present a remarkably bleak portrait of life in the UK today and the shrinking opportunities faced by the bottom third of UK society.
"About one third of people in the UK suffer significant difficulties and about a quarter have an unacceptably low standard of living’ said ‘ Moreover this bleak situation will get worse as benefit levels fall in real term, real wages continue to decline and living standards are further squeezed.”
You can download The Impoverishment of the UK report here.
Posted 28 March 2013
The OU is a partner in the UK's largest-ever study of poverty and social exclusion, which has just published its first report. The Impoverishment of the UK report paints a bleak picture of deteriorating living conditions and opportunities for a significant and growing proportion of the population. It will be profiled in a special Tonight programme, Breadline Britain, ...
Around the world there are a number of professions in high demand. The BBC Business website has compiled a list of the top 20 most wanted professions internationally, and the countries that want them.
The list includes psychologists, physiotherapists and chefs, and there are case studies.
Is your profession there? Check it out on Global migrants: Which is the most wanted profession?
Around the world there are a number of professions in high demand. The BBC Business website has compiled a list of the top 20 most wanted professions internationally, and the countries that want them. The list includes psychologists, physiotherapists and chefs, and there are case studies. Is your profession there? Check it out on Global migrants: Which is the most wanted profession? ...
The research is investigating whether the brains of people with OCD function differently to those without OCD.
Preliminary findings suggest some systematic and interesting differences between brain activity in people with OCD, and non-OCD controls, even in a relaxed state. However, to obtain a more detailed picture researchers need to find more participants with OCD.
They are looking for people between 18 and 60 years of age, who have been diagnosed with OCD and have no learning disabilities.
If you decide to participate, they will need four hours of your time. The timing of these sessions can be flexible and scheduled according to your convenience.
During this time, your brain activity will be recorded using a safe, non-invasive and painless technique known as Quantitative Electroencephalography, or QEEG. You will also be interviewed and asked to fill in a questionnaire.
The study generally takes place at the OU in Milton Keynes or in Camden in London. Travel costs will be reimbursed. In some cases researchers will be able to come to your town or a town near you to perform the scans and interviews.
By participating in this study, you will be contributing to scientific advancements in OCD research. Additionally, you will gain interesting insights about how your brain may have been affected by OCD.
You can get more information from the QEEG and Brain Research Lab project page. If you wish to take part, or have any enquiries, please contact Loes Koorenhof by calling 01908 659 472, or email email@example.com
The Open University is recruiting people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) to take part in an ongoing research project. The research is investigating whether the brains of people with OCD function differently to those without OCD. Preliminary findings suggest some systematic and interesting differences between brain activity in people with OCD, and ...
He calls for urgent changes to Britain's 'flawed' drinks advertising regulations in an editorial in the British Medical Journal, which is published to coincide with a major report calling for all alcohol advertising to be banned.
The editorial cites research by the Rand Corporation for the European Commission which shows that 10-15 year olds in the UK see 10% more alcohol advertising on TV than their parents do. When it comes to alcopops, they see 50% more.
And the situation is set to worsen as advertisers increasingly spread their messages via digital media, say Gerard Hastings and co-author Nich Sheron, clinical hepatologist at the University of Southampton.
Their comments coincide with the publication of Health First: an evidence-based alcohol strategy for the UK, a report which calls for a ban on all alcohol advertising, and minimum alcohol pricing. Gerard Hastings is a member of the strategy group which compiled the report.
To see Gerard Hastings discussing the proposed strategy with Professor Linda Bauld, University of Stirling, go to this link.
Professor Gerard Hastings is a member of The Open University's Centre for Strategy and Marketing. He is founder/director of the Institute for Social Marketing and Centre for Tobacco Control Research based at Stirling University and The Open University. He is currently leading APISE, a major study of the effectiveness of alcohol control policies.
The British Medical Journal editorial Alcohol Marketing: Grooming the Next Generation was published on 1 March. Current OU students can access it via the OU Library using their Open University Computer Username (OUCU) and password. Its reference is BMJ 2013;346:f1227. For help in accessing electronic journals through the OU Library database go to How can I get access to a particular journal on the Library website.
Posted 26 March 2013
Children in Britain are more exposed to alcohol marketing than adults are, according to the OU's Professor of Social Marketing Gerard Hastings. He calls for urgent changes to Britain's 'flawed' drinks advertising regulations in an editorial in the British Medical Journal, which is published to coincide with a major report calling for all alcohol advertising to be banned. The ...
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BBC's Mastermind is looking for contestants now.
For more information, or to book a place on one of the nationwide auditions, visit the Mastermind website and click on Audition Information; or call 0161 836 0315; or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted 25 March 2013
Do you fancy yourself as a bit of a quizzer? BBC's Mastermind is looking for contestants now. For more information, or to book a place on one of the nationwide auditions, visit the Mastermind website and click on Audition Information; or call 0161 836 0315; or email email@example.com Posted 25 March 2013 1.57143 Average: 1.6 (7 votes)
Following the success of the previous Innovation and Strategy events, The Open University Business School has now launched the third event in the Business Perspectives series, which focuses on Leadership.
The Leadership Masterclass will be held on 25 April 2013 at the Hotel Russell in London, and will be led by Jean Hartley, newly appointed Professor in Public Leadership at The Open University Business School. Alongside Jean and contributing to the event will be Caspar de Bono, Managing Director B2B at the Financial Times, Sue McAllister, Director General of the Prison Service, Northern Ireland, Lubna Haq, Director of Healthcare Consulting, Hay Group and Sir Steve Bullock, Mayor of the London Borough of Lewisham.
The event will explore leadership in the current climate, how best to lead for growth in challenging times and manage a team through cutbacks, loss and stress. We’ll discuss how leaders can inspire a sense of direction and moving forwards in difficult contexts, drawing on the insights and experience of our speakers and participants.
Posted 21 March 2013
Hear Caspar de Bono (FT) and Sue McAllister (Prison Service) discuss their approaches to leading complex teams at the latest Business Perspectives event. Following the success of the previous Innovation and Strategy events, The Open University Business School has now launched the third event in the Business Perspectives series, which focuses on Leadership. The ...
George Osborne is unusually reluctant to show how a smaller Budget is financing tax cuts, because new evidence suggests that won’t promote economic recovery, argues Alan Shipman.
George Osborne is unusually reluctant to show how a smaller Budget is financing tax cuts, because new evidence suggests that won’t promote economic recovery, argues Alan Shipman. When the economy was growing, Chancellors measured their success by how many hidden tax rises they could smuggle into a Budget, and how many days it took the personal-finance experts to unearth ...
Following the Francis Report on the crisis at Mid-Staffs Hospital, world experts in the cultures and processes of keeping people safe have been asked to advise the NHS in England on how to prevent patients being harmed while receiving healthcare.
National Advisory Group
The National Advisory Group on the Safety of Patients in England will be chaired by Professor Donald Berwick, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, an organisation that Professor Berwick co-founded and led as President and CEO for 18 years.
Members of the international group have been invited for their areas of expertise and interest covering all aspects of the culture and processes of minimising patient harm, healthcare management and nursing to sociology, psychology and the mobilisation of change.
Professor Hartley’s contribution will be on public leadership and on creating and learning from organizational change and innovation following her extensive research in these fields. She has also written six books including Leadership for Healthcare.
Speaking about her appointment to the Berwick Advisory Group Professor Hartley said: “I feel very privileged to be working with this panel of world-class experts in improvement of public services. This is a real opportunity to improve patient safety. We have seen several reports about what went wrong at Mid-Staffs NHS but the Berwick Advisory group goes well beyond this. Our collective aim is to advise on how problems can be prevented in the future, to enhance quality of care for patients and families, and to create a culture for staff that is focused on learning and continuous improvement.”
Professor Berwick, who will be leading the Group, was asked by the Prime Minster David Cameron to set up the advisory group following last month’s final report into the devastating breakdown of care at Mid-Staffordshire Hospitals. The team of 12 includes recognised experts from the US and the UK.
Prior to his service in 2010 and 2011 as President Obama’s appointee to head the US Medicare and Medicaid programs, Professor Berwick was a paediatric consultant, Professor of Health Care Policy and the Harvard Medical School, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is world-renowned for his expertise in patient safety, and advised NHS Scotland in the development of its first national patient safety approach.
Professor Berwick said: “Assuring patient safety and high quality care is never automatic. It requires the constant attention of leaders and continual support to the workforce. I have read, and been deeply affected by, the harrowing personal stories of individuals and families who were so badly injured when this commitment flagged at Mid-Staffordshire Hospitals.
“Our group will do whatever it can to recommend how the NHS in England take serious and profound action, learning from this tragedy to make patient care and treatment as safe as it can possibly be, and ever safer. Indeed, there is no reason why English health care cannot aspire to be and become the safest health care in the world.
“Making patient care as safe as it can possibly be, at all times, is a major challenge in any health care system. It involves leadership, training, staff culture, organisational structures, systems and processes, data capture and analysis, regulation, deep patient and family involvement, and much more.
“It is important to remember that England is in many ways an international exemplar in patient safety, but Mid-Staffordshire shows us that there is still a great deal of work to do. The national group includes English experts as well as some from the US, and with such formidable knowledge and talent on board, I am confident we will be able to set out clear, practical advice and leave a legacy of safer care in the NHS.”
The group will build on the work of Robert Francis QC, advising the NHS on how to deliver real change, based on the best available scientific evidence from across the NHS and from other industries and health services from around the world.
They will report their findings and advice to the NHS Commissioning Board and the Department of Health at the end of July.
Find out more
Professor Jean Hartley, Professor of Public Leadership at The Open University Business School is one of the world-class panel of experts invited to join the Berwick Advisory Group which will advise the Prime Minister and the NHS on how to keep patients safe from harm. Following the Francis Report on the crisis at Mid-Staffs Hospital, world experts in the cultures and processes ...
Location: Hotel Russell, London
Date: 25 April 2013
You can now book on our third event in the Business Perspectives series, which focuses on Leadership. The event will explore leadership in the current climate, how best to lead for growth in challenging times and manage a team through cutbacks, loss and stress. We’ll discuss how leaders can inspire a sense of direction and moving forwards in difficult contexts, drawing on the insights and experience of our speakers and participants.
The event will be led by Jean Hartley, newly appointed Professor in Public Leadership at The Open University Business School, who together with leading practising managers will explore leadership in both the public and private sector.
We’re delighted to announce that joining Professor Jean Hartley at this event will beCaspar de Bono, Managing Director B2B at the Financial Times, and Sue McAllister, Director General of the Prison Service, Northern Ireland. Both of whom are leading complex teams in challenging times and will share their contrasting experience and insights, alongside other leading field experts.
During the daytime masterclass, participants will be able to explore leadership best practice through action learning and workshops with peers. You will be able to take practical tools, techniques and ideas back to your organisation. The focus will be to explore the best and worst of leadership in the harsh current environment – is there a silver cloud amongst the gloom?
The stand-alone but complementary evening event will be hosted by the Dean of the Business School, Professor Rebecca Taylor and will include key notes from industry leaders.
Further details can be found on our website together with full details of costs and alumni Early Bird discounts. The full programme will be announced in the coming weeks, however, to register your interest or to book a place please contact Janet Barker.
We’re waiting to hear from you…
Visit our Business Perspectives blog for the latest insights and let us know your thoughts and comments on this topic. We look forward to hearing from you!
Location: Hotel Russell, London Date: 25 April 2013 You can now book on our third event in the Business Perspectives series, which focuses on Leadership. The event will explore leadership in the current climate, how best to lead for growth in challenging times and manage a team through cutbacks, loss and stress. We’ll discuss how leaders can inspire a sense of ...
A brief trawl of media comment on the banking industry over the last few years suggests that the industry is awash with criminals and fraudsters. The picture of traders, often presented in the press, is of amoral risk-takers with bosses who are always ready to turn a blind eye if profits are being made. There has been a public parade of rogue traders from Nick Leeson to Kweku Adoboli and the LIBOR and EURIBOR scandals are setting new records in terms of the number of people implicated. So, is this picture fair, or is something more complex going on?
Criminologists Peter Grabosky and Grace Duffield suggest that fraud is the product of three factors: a supply of motivated offenders; the availability of suitable targets; and, the absence of capable guardians.
The Wheatley review of LIBOR focuses in its prescriptions on the second and third factors. Recommendations concentrate on reducing the opportunities for fraudulent manipulation of LIBOR and on strengthening oversight both through external audit and internal improvements in governance. The first factor, the supply of motivated offenders, is not addressed by Wheatley. It is to this issue that I turn below.
Unpicking the myths
I have been researching and observing the work and behaviour of financial traders since the mid-nineties; interviewing and studying large numbers of traders and their managers, collecting data on their personalities, risk-taking behaviour, performance and more recently on their physiological and emotional reactions to stress and market volatility. The findings do not reflect the press stereotype. To unpick a few myths:
There is not a particular trader personality type. On average traders are slightly more conservative and introverted than the population average but among their ranks you can find the full range of personality types.
Traders are not especially risk-takers: on average traders actually seem more risk averse in their everyday lives than the population mean. Generally traders don’t seek risks for their own sake. They bear risks and learn to manage them in pursuit of other goals.
Traders are not especially dishonest. In many cases we were struck by the emphasis placed by traders on rigorous honesty, with themselves and others.
In truth traders are not extraordinary, they are ordinary human beings with ordinary human failings and problems; perhaps somewhat at the more intelligent end of the spectrum, but not universally so.
So what are the factors that may lead these ordinary people to lie, cheat, and commit fraud? What are the factors that ensure a supply of motivated offenders?
Skill and performance are loosely coupled
Trading is skilled work, but good traders often lose money and poor traders can get lucky. There is a lot of noise in the relationship between skill and performance. Trader managers often found it hard to articulate to us what makes a good trader; falling back on phrases like ‘a certain flair’ or ‘a nose for markets’. However, most agreed that it can take a couple of years to establish if someone is any good; that good managers play down early successes and understand that even top traders have periods when everything seems to go wrong.
This can be a source of enormous performance anxiety for traders. The trader who gets lucky early on and develops an undeserved reputation (and bonus) for good judgement will feel under great pressure to maintain a level of performance that is beyond them. The good trader who is having a period of bad luck and diminished confidence can see earnings and reputation suffer. But traders build up financial commitments that reflect their earnings and faced with an inability to sustain performance (and status) can feel under tremendous pressure to take unreasonable risks or bend the rules. For example, in one of our studies we wired traders up with sensors to measure stress and emotional reactions. Overall the results showed traders struggled to manage their emotions in volatile markets. But one very experienced trader exhibited high stress when markets were quietest. He told us that he was seriously below target and when markets were quiet he had little opportunity to make money; the stress was the “difficulty of resisting the temptation to do something stupid”.
Performance related pay motivates effort not thinking
Recent research suggests that one of the important limitations of performance related pay is that competitive incentives induce people to work harder but not smarter. Excessively high rewards can lead to a ‘choking under pressure’ effect, which can create inverse relationship between incentives and cognitive performance. Whilst some thrive on pressure, others react by increasing effort at the expense of performance. To shortcut the relationship between performance and reward, some may become increasingly willing to bypass controls or expose the organisation to unacceptable and hidden risks.
Fraud is easiest when the victims are faceless
Most of us find it hard to lie to someone’s face in a way that harms them. For this reason successful con artists are rare and often have a degree of sociopathy. However, the more the victim can be distanced, the easier it is to avoid feelings of guilt. That is one of the reasons why internet fraud has become so common. The move to abbreviated forms of electronic communication in the banking industry may also bring about this distancing effect. Further, a culture in some investment banks of seeing customers as ‘marks’ to be exploited and of ‘revenue at any cost’ may encourage what criminologists call ‘neutralisation strategies’ where potential victims are disparaged and described in terms that make them seem unimportant or unworthy of respect. In the case of LIBOR manipulation it may have been easy for traders to tell themselves that for every loser there was a winner, so their manipulation was morally neutral.
Given the right incentive we are very good at fooling ourselves
Any good con artist knows that they don’t need a watertight story; given the right motivation victims will fool themselves and clever people have the most brainpower to devote to their own self-deception. Similarly in banking, if you want to know why clever people sometimes seem blind, look to the incentives. In the recent financial crisis a lot of senior bankers had been noticing unusually high levels of profits in the sub-prime market, yet seemingly failed to ask,” if we are making unusual profits, what are the unusual risks that underpin those profits”. Humans are good at ignoring information that makes them feel bad and often privilege information that shows them in a good light. The same process probably underpins why some managers failed to notice the illegal activity under their noses. While the courts will judge who was complicit in the LIBOR deception, banks also need to ask themselves whether some managers may have been unconsciously complicit.
Rules and systems don’t preclude the need for effective line management
Reflecting on several years of research in investment banks we concluded that “in a combined 70 years of experience, the authors have never encountered so little management development in sophisticated organisations of vast resource” [2: 209]. Many of the issues I outline above are tractable to good line management. There are certainly some good line managers in investment banks but since the route to management is primarily through trading, management skills are variable and there is often insufficient attention paid to selecting for or training the skill-set that trader managers really need. As is common in large organisations the gap in management capability is often filled by complex rules and systems that are difficult to police; both of which may have unintended consequences.
The Wheatley review does perhaps present part of the answer, but without improvements in skilled line management and attention to the role of perverse incentives, the conditions which ensure a continuing supply of motivated offenders are likely to continue.
Find out more:
A version of this article was originally published by Thomson Reuters GRC. ©Thomson Reuters 2013
Posted: 14 March 2013
Mark Fenton-O'Creevy, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, has been researching and observing the work and behaviour of financial traders since the mid nineties. In his recent article for Thomson Reuters he questions the current perception of traders as simply amoral risk-takers and asks whether the reality is far more complex. A brief trawl of media comment on the ...
Have you got a brilliant business idea? It could be worth a share of £44,000!
Open to both students and alumni who graduated with the OU within the last two years, the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards offer a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the success of our student and graduate entrepreneurs. Not only could the awards potentially bring significant cash investment to aid your business idea, but the winners will also benefit from valuable press coverage from taking part in the nationally recognised awards.
What are the prizes?
As one of the 66 partner universities, the OU has been invited to submit two student or alumni business plans for the national competition – one each for the Undergraduate and Postgraduate categories.
• 1st prize: £5,000
• 2nd prize: £3,000
• 3rd prize: £1,000
• 1st prize: £20,000
• 2nd prize: £10,000
• 3rd prize: £5,000
How to apply?
If you would like to discuss the particulars of this competition, please contact Dr Malcolm J Stokes on 01908 652885 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details may be obtained from Wendy King on 01908 654898 or email email@example.com. All submissions need be made by Tuesday 26th March 2013.
All entries will be assessed by a panel at The Open University. The two shortlisted proposals will then go forward to the national competition.
Have you got a brilliant business idea? It could be worth a share of £44,000! Open to both students and alumni who graduated with the OU within the last two years, the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards offer a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the success of our student and graduate entrepreneurs. Not only could the awards potentially bring significant cash investment to ...
This is one of three programmes – foundation, mid-level and senior level leadership – being developed by the NHS Leadership Academy to help leaders in the NHS support their staff in delivering caring and compassionate services.
The three programmes will see thousands NHS staff each year – including doctors, nurses, Allied Health Professionals, healthcare scientists, human resources and finance staff– learn how to lead their teams and/or services to achieve better patient care.
The Open University will be working with global management consulting firm Hay Group on the foundation level programme, which is for all NHS staff aspiring to a role which involves leading others.
Karen Lynas, Deputy Managing Director of the NHS Leadership Academy, said: “Our goal is for patients, carers and families to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect, and this cannot be achieved if we don’t have appropriately-skilled leaders and decision makers at every level."
25 February 2013
The Open University has been chosen to design and deliver the new foundation level leadership programme for up to 25,000 NHS staff. This is one of three programmes – foundation, mid-level and senior level leadership – being developed by the NHS Leadership Academy to help leaders in the NHS support their staff in delivering caring and compassionate services. The ...
Santa Claus operated out of Frankfurt last year – and gave the Eurozone the fiscal equivalent of several billion stocking-fillers. But the European Central Bank’s largesse may not extend to those who don’t believe in it, writes Alan Shipman.
A single act of generosity by Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank (ECB) governor, has restored lasting calm to the previously turbulent Eurozone, neatly deflecting the winter blizzards across the Atlantic.
Draghi’s most dramatic achievement is to have radically reduced the cost of borrowing for Italy, Spain and other Eurozone countries that have large budget deficits to finance. This cost (the ‘bond yield’) fell to less than 5% in Spain’s early-January auction, from a crisis peak of more than 7.5%. It is a similar story in Draghi’s native Italy, where the public finances have been so effectively shored-up that voters can even contemplate a Silvio Berlusconi comeback. By promising ‘outright monetary transactions’ (OMT), the ECB has asserted the market-stabilising power long enjoyed by its American equivalent, the Federal Reserve. As a result, investors searching for higher yields have now moved back into corporate bonds and shares, lifting Eurozone stock markets to their highest level for two years.
From regarding the Euro area as a sinking ship that would either have to ditch its weakest members or be dragged underwater by them, some investors now view it as a better sovereign borrower than the previously mighty US. Both are currency zones with wide fiscal deficits. At present the US has a more impressive growth rate, while there is still a risk of weaker Eurozone members being cut adrift and forced into default. But in the longer term – if it can now hold together – the Eurozone has a better external balance (exporting more than it imports, thanks to Germany), greater power to impose fiscal discipline on its members, and stronger safeguards against unleashing inflation (sovereign borrowers’ traditional way of short-changing their creditors after securing the cash).
Perhaps most remarkably, Draghi has achieved this monetary escapology without having to part with a single euro of ECB funds. All he has done is announced that his bank will, in future, buy up the debt of any Eurozone country that is forced to default. This guarantees the debt of Italy, Spain and other struggling member-states, making it safe for ordinary investors (and investment funds) to buy. Their governments can now continue to finance the public investment needed to restore growth so that banks and households can bring down their own debt, and the costs of welfare support until new jobs emerge.
The announcement was well timed, coming at a moment when banks and bond-buyers are globally desperate for high-yielding issues, and prefer those which have a government behind them, regardless of quality. After all, Ukraine with an economy stalled by sliding steel sales and politics sliding back into industrial oligarchy and Latvia bailed-out by the IMF in 2008 and dragged through Europe’s deepest ever recession have recently made successful bond issues, despite having higher currency risks and lower credit ratings than any Eurozone member.
Neither Spain nor Italy, the most dangerous of the Eurozone’s weak links, has asked for a bailout so far. Both know that, if they do so, they will be subject to a German-driven, EU-administered ‘adjustment programme’ – worsening their already perilous economic and social situation, and probably discrediting whichever government has to enforce the emergency measures. Their additional borrowing is raising the scale of any future rescue effort. The ECB’s calculation is that, by making it clear that all Euro debt will be honoured in the event of a bailout, this becomes less likely to happen. That’s because member countries now have the fiscal strength required to drive a recovery, and because speculators will stop short-selling the debt in order to fulfil their own expectations of its collapse. The ECB’s promise buys time for governments to act so that the promise won’t need to be fulfilled.
If this gamble works, it should be good for other European governments – notably the UK, which will blame its imminent return to recession on the weakness of demand and investor confidence in the single currency area. But in one important respect, the Eurozone’s improbable gain is its non-members’ loss. The UK had retained its top AAA credit rating, allowing it to finance its overrunning budget deficit at negligible cost, partly because it was regarded as a ‘safe haven’ for investment funds that felt at risk from Eurozone exposure. Now that Euro debt has been turned into a positive one-way bet, that of the UK doesn't look so enticing.
A credit-rating downgrade need not (as the US has demonstrated) cause any rise in UK interest rates, or loss of confidence in its turnaround strategy. But it makes it harder to maintain the present low rates long enough to complete the banks’ recapitalisation and float Britain’s mortgage borrowers off the rocks.
Mario Draghi is unlikely to be on George Osborne’s Christmas Card list at the end of 2013. But if his gamble succeeds, it’s a small price to pay.
Alan Shipman 24 February 2012
Alan Shipman is a lecturer in Economics at the Open University. He is responsible for the modules You and your money:personal finance in context and Personal investment in an uncertain world, part of the foundation degree in Financial Services.
The views expressed in this post, as in all posts on Society Matters, are the views of the author, not The Open University.
Cartoon by Catherine Pain
Santa Claus operated out of Frankfurt last year – and gave the Eurozone the fiscal equivalent of several billion stocking-fillers. But the European Central Bank’s largesse may not extend to those who don’t believe in it, writes Alan Shipman. The season of miraculous gift-giving is over, but Europeans are still playing happily with their earliest and ...
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Have you missed the Business Perspectives Strategy Masterclass held in Manchester on 7 February? Don't worry, you can still catch up on all the highlights by joining our free virtual event on 26 February, regardless of your location. This hour long webcast will introduce video highlights from the event and invite delegates to participate in Q & A and interactive discussion to develop ...
In a recession, where should your organisation spend its training and development budget?
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