Harvard Professor headlines IMPERIAL Programme at GIBS
Conference to address global competitiveness
Companies and countries aiming for sustainable success in an increasingly global marketplace must rethink the way they do business. This is the assertion of Dr Christian Ketels of Harvard Business School in the USA, who will be sharing his insights - and the latest research findings - with South African audiences, at an upcoming conference on Company and Country Competitiveness and Economic Growth.
This event, which takes place at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) on 5 September, is part of the IMPERIAL Programme for Supply Chain and Logistics. It is part of a partnership formed by IMPERIAL Logistics and GIBS to provide advanced teaching and research in the fields of logistics, supply chain and transportation management.
Keynote speaker Ketels is a member of the Harvard Business School faculty at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, where he leads renowned Professor Michael E Porter’s research team. He will discuss competitiveness in a changing global economy, and the implications for locations and companies. Commenting on his presentation, he says: “Over the last decades, changes in the global economy and the way companies operate, including the emergence of global value chains, have raised the interest in understanding the foundations of global competitiveness. For countries, regions and cities, competition raised the stakes of understanding how to improve productivity and attract firms in specific fields, beyond providing low factor costs and subsidies. For companies, the need to choose the right location for specific activities moved from an operational to a strategic issue.”
New ways to interact
Ketels explains that the response from companies to the burgeoning global marketplace is that they are internationalising, outsourcing and focusing on finding new ways to interact with partners - from suppliers along global value chains to companies, universities, and government agencies in cluster initiatives. He adds that the reaction from many countries - from those rich in natural resources, to transition economies, as well as developed countries – has been to launch competitiveness policies and cluster initiatives involving various stakeholders.
Foundations for sustainable prosperity
“This session in South Africa will present the latest findings on the relationship between competitiveness, clusters and economic outcomes,” he continues. “It discusses how locations can leverage these new insights, and develop economic strategies that systematically enhance the foundations for sustainable prosperity. For firms, it addresses how the new learnings on competitiveness and clusters can be leveraged in strategy and operations, both at the level of the cluster and the location.”
The speaker line-up for this conference also includes Nadia Viljoen of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), UNESCO laureate Dr Adrian Saville and Dr Martyn Davies, CEO of Frontier Advisory, South Africa’s leading research and strategy-consulting firm.
Viljoen, who specialises in the development and use of quantitative tools to analyse and design logistics systems, will discuss the role of infrastructure and infrastructure development in company and country competitiveness. Saville, who founded and is currently CIO of Cannon Asset Managers, will put the spotlight on the issue of job creation in company and country competitiveness. “Only when a thriving workforce development system - connecting education and training institutions, employers, government policy makers, and workers - is in place can countries hope to maximise their competitiveness,” he stresses.
Improve the overall economic performance
Davies’s presentation will examine economic development and its links to company and country competitiveness. “In order to be competitive and improve the overall economic performance of the country, policymakers are recognising the need to combine traditional macroeconomic policy with a microeconomic approach,” he comments. “To achieve and sustain economic growth and prosperity calls for a coherent set of policies and actions. Along with these policies, governments that seek to be competitive must aim to develop the relevant enabling hard and soft infrastructure, including transportation and communications infrastructure, and health and education systems.”
The important and topical theme of value chains, and their role in company and country competitiveness, will be covered at the conference by Dr C John Langley, via video conference from Penn State University in the United States. Langley is clinical professor of Supply Chain and Information Systems and director of development at the University’s Centre for Supply Chain Research. “For businesses to understand how to strategise for global competitiveness they need an understanding of global value chains and how they are structured in their particular industries,” he states. “Knowing how global value chains are structured and operate gives enterprises insights into how the local or regional groups of companies can strategise to improve performance of these value chains.”
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