Money for nothing? The pros and cons of a ‘basic income’ 2

The recent news that the Finnish Government will not be expanding its trial which provided 2,000 unemployed people with a state-supplied basic income has sparked fresh debate on the topic.

A basic income is defined as ‘a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement’. It is supplementary to any other support someone might receive such as unemployment, child or housing benefit.

Dr Charles Barthold, Lecturer in People Management at OUBS, discussed the potential advantages and drawbacks in ‘Modern Empowerment Today: The Possibilities of a Citizen’s Basic Income’, one of three presentations at a masterclass organised by OUBS at the Crowne Plaza in The City on Wednesday 2 May 2018.

Charles discusses the issue:

“The important criteria of a basic income are that it is an ‘unconditional’ income to every individual in a particular country via a repetitive cash payment and is universal (so not means tested). The idea is to democratise society with an intention to be inclusive as everyone becomes ‘part of society’ regardless of gender, class or poverty. It could empower us all and provide more choices for people such as offering the opportunity for couples to both work part-time, for example. It would be simple to administer and much easier than the complex current means tested system which is subject to both fraud and errors, although some people would still be receiving other benefits on top of this basic income.

“There is an expectation that innovation will destroy and create jobs and that the current level of employment will continue to increase. Basic income is an instrument to smooth the transition from one job to another but with individual responsibility to look for the next job and to be employable. It’s meant to provide a minimum income as you transition to another job – perhaps by learning new skills through going back to education – as a response to automation which will see some repetitive, low-skilled jobs replaced and a move towards other low-skilled jobs that are not repeatable such as cleaners and care workers.

“Usually these experiments are very limited in both the amount of people involved and the time it happens for. Despite the Finnish experiment not being continued beyond the end of the year, people have continued to work and stress levels decreased during these trials. I don’t see the basic income as a silver bullet as it’s difficult to provide money to people without any responsibility – according to the current world view – but it could offer more freedom and choice through education and entrepreneurship.”

‘The future of work 4.0: Disruptive technologies, opportunity or threat?’ Business Perspectives masterclass also featured presentations on the fourth industrial revolution and regulating blockchain led by Lecturer in Law Robert Herian from The Open University Law School, as well as a discussion on some of the opportunities and challenges posed by potential economic ‘disruptions’.

Do we need to regulate blockchain technology? 2

By Robert Herian, Lecturer in Law, The Open University Law School

Blockchain technologies first emerged as the architecture making Bitcoin work after the 2008 financial crisis, and arguably as a direct response to it. Since then, blockchains have been promoted as a means of conducting peer-to-peer, decentralised networking in a variety of sectors in order to do away with the problem of the ‘middleman’, and help build the economic layer the World Wide Web never truly had.

From supply chain management to land registries, provenance to artist income, electoral monitoring to health records, blockchain appears to its stakeholders as a clear answer to the question of how online activity between individuals and businesses can be made more secure, trustworthy and transparent. Centralised global financial institutions and services that blockchain was designed to circumvent are, however, now in control of much of the research and development around the technology. So, what is the future for blockchain?

Robert Herian from the OU Law School sits on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on blockchain, examining policy development and regulation of distributed ledger technologies. With the debate raging about how to regulate – or indeed even ban – cryptocurrency and the role blockchain can play in the world economy, his new book ‘Regulating blockchain’ is due out later in the year. The Lecturer in Law also gave one of three presentations at a masterclass organised by the OU Business School at the Crowne Plaza in The City last Wednesday (2 May) to discuss his ideas.

“There’s so much excitement and positivity about blockchain at the moment, while radical blockchains undoubtedly scare governments and big business. It’s still really unclear what role blockchain will play in the fourth industrial revolution but one thing is for certain, this technology can’t be ignored.

“Businesses have been put on notice but in reality, it’s really hard to tell when it will arrive on a wider scale. There is a marked contrast between blockchain evangelists who claim that the technology can solve all the world’s problems, versus a far more mundane reality that blockchain is little more than a means of accounting. Our underlying problems in society will still exist even though we’re using a new technology.”

‘The future of work 4.0: Disruptive technologies, opportunity or threat?’ Business Perspectives masterclass also featured presentations from Dr Charles Barthold, Lecturer in People Management, on the fourth industrial revolution and the possibility of a universal basic income, as well as a discussion on some of the opportunities and challenges posed by potential economic ‘disruptions’.

Have we anything to fear from the ‘fourth industrial revolution’? 2

By Dr Charles Barthold, Lecturer in People Management, The Open University Business School

A life full of copious amounts of leisure time with mundane tasks a thing of the past, or a world with mass unemployment which is ruled by machines?

Nobody is quite sure what the period we are entering, often referred to as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, will mean for mankind but there will be significant changes to the lives of many as we progress through the 21st century.

Is it a positive, utopian prospect as we become a technology-driven ‘leisure society’? Or is there a far more troubling dystopian view that robots and corporations will dominate in a world of large-scale unemployment as both blue and some white collar jobs disappear?

Dr Charles Barthold, Lecturer in People Management, discussed both theories in ‘Preparing for Industry 4.0’, one of three presentations at a masterclass organised by the OU Business School at the Crowne Plaza in The City last Wednesday (2 May).

“The future is not inevitable and it’s something humans will create. It’s only the beginning and there’s lots of scope to shape what will happen. The future will be what we make it to be and it will be shaped by debate and will require global buy-in through investment decisions and political support.

“With artificial intelligence (AI) able to make strategic decisions, it could operate interconnected factories, rather than having a need for the current network of managers. ‘Smart’ organisations will be more efficient, providing better services to their customers. According to current patterns, inequality between countries as a whole is likely to decrease but also increase among individuals in a world of ‘smart’ technologies, organisations and cities. There is the assumption that low-skill jobs will be replaced; with our existing economic model disrupted, a new lifelong education system will be required to upskill workers for the new jobs created.

“This vision of the future is sure to raise moral and ethical issues such as drones fighting our wars, using genetics to cure cancer, or even AI controlling our sacrosanct justice system as lawyers and even judges could become obsolete. All the three previous industrial revolutions led to conflicts – will this one be any different?”

‘The future of work 4.0: Disruptive technologies, opportunity or threat?’ Business Perspectives masterclass also featured presentations on the possibilities of a basic income and regulating blockchain led by Lecturer in Law Robert Herian from the OU Law School, as well as a discussion on some of the opportunities and challenges posed by potential economic ‘disruptions’.

Video Highlights: The Future of Work 4.0: Disruptive technologies, opportunity or threat? Reply

Are we in the dawn of a new era?

Technology is rapidly changing both our work and lives. Many experts are predicting that we are rapidly headed toward a ‘fourth industrial revolution’.

In this masterclass, held on 2 May in London, Lecturer in People Management Dr Charles Barthold asked how can the rapid technological advances in computing, robotics and communications that are revolutionising work and life, be empowering, rather than dis-empowering, for people and organisations? He explored the ways in which practitioners can use technology for social empowerment and how we can create a smarter work force.

Robert Herian, Lecturer in Law from The Open University Law School, discussed Blockchain – what is it, how it is regulated, and how it will affect workplaces of the future.

Video highlights are available:

You can also share your views and comments about the event or topic by following us on Twitter @OUBSchool, using #OU_BP.

Disruptive technologies and intelligence: business opportunity or threat? Webinar Recording Reply

Our Business Perspectives webinar on “Disruptive technologies and intelligence: business opportunity or threat?” took place on Friday 26 January. If you missed the webinar or want to watch it again, it is now available to view on demand.  If you haven’t already, you will need to complete the registration form for access.

WATCH THE WEBINAR

Download the slides

During our webinar we discussed how general data protection and compliance may be affected by a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ as technology rapidly changes both our work and lives. This was followed by a question and answer session with questions and insights from the webinar audience.

Our webinar panellists included David Mudd, IoT Business Development Director, BSI and Dr Peter Bloom, Head of the Department for People and Organisations, OUBS. The webinar was facilitated by Janet Barker, External Engagement Manager, OUBS.

You can also share your views and comments about the event or topic by following us on Twitter @OUBSchool, using #OU_BP.

How well do we adapt to change in the workplace? Reply

Matthew Haigh (1)

Guest blogger: Dr Matthew Haigh is Senior Lecturer in Accounting at The Open University Business School (OUBS). Dr Matthew Haigh is leading the Festive Networking event on Wednesday 6 December. For more information, visit the OUBS website.

This mis-named Brexit – the existential crisis of our day. Maybe, or maybe not. What to do about it seems the more pressing question. Any period of substantial structural change represents an opportunity to examine ourselves as much as an opportunity to understand employment markets. Take the City of London as an example of a regionally important market. The interesting thing here is that one can see the best parts of regionally important industries dumped into a tiny area, all co-operating, competing, communicating and relying on each other. Basically, the City’s an ant’s nest and not many outside it know much about what happens inside. In the lead up to EU-withdrawal, we might be able to learn both something about the City and something about how well we adapt to change in the workplace.

At the time of writing, EU-withdrawal already tells us something about the City. What stands out in public discussions and the press is a generalised fixation on the City. It’s interesting that the City’s borders – who’s in, who’s leaving and where they’re heading – has suddenly become a matter of national concern, when what the City does is organise a market without borders: globalised financial services. The City supports 100,000 business administration positions; 87,000 positions in financial services; 80,000 in professional services; insurance, perhaps surprising some, comes in at 50,000 positions; technology, 25,000 and growing fast, and retail with 23,000 positions (1). All in one not very square mile, plus Canary Wharf. As we approach the big date of 29 March 2019 – the day the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union – how will this employment pattern change?

If one were to look at recent data, it would appear that net employment losses in the City, going forwards into 2019, are likely. Perhaps net losses in 2019 will prove no larger than any of the five big employment dips since 1997. Certainly, there has been widespread expectation that the City’s employment landscape is about to change. Between March 2016 and November 2017, the fourteen regional newspapers distributed in central London published at least 700 articles alluding to the City’s future relationship with the European Union. Four rhetorical themes emerge in London’s daily press: in descending order, we have Loss (42% of headlines), Existential Threat (30%), Uncertainty (15%) and Hardship (11%). Let’s take a peek at two articles.

Extract 1, 8 November 2017:
“Wall St warns Trump team of Brexit point of no return. High-level meetings hear lack of clarity threatens thousands of UK financial jobs. […] Absent clarity from the government about post-Brexit plans, the executives said jobs would move back to the US or to other European capitals as banks begin to enact their worst-case contingency plans, the sources said.”

Extract 2, 31 October 2017:
“Brexit/City job cuts: Oliver’s army: Consultants predict the loss of 75,000 jobs, but forecasts of shake-outs are often wrong.”

Extract 1 adopts a militaristic tone: ‘Wall St warns’, ‘point of no return’, ‘threatens thousands’. Many headlines have used numbers to frame predicted losses in the City. A headline from October 2016 predicted 100,000 City positions at risk. A few weeks later, another warned “Losing clearing would cost London 83,000 jobs […] up to 232,000 losses across the nation”. A year later, one read “Uncertainty over Brexit transition ‘could put 75,000 City jobs at risk’”. This type of arithmetic rhetoric speaks strongest to Existential Threat.

Extract 2 may prompt your knowledge of military history. The headline alludes to the professional status of soldiers in the New Model Army and their eventual fate: unemployment. The New Model Army fought for a Commonwealth of England, only to be disbanded in 1660 following disputes over pay and political demands. A connection to the ‘army’ of commuters heading for City of London is clear, as is our classification of Extract 2 under the Loss and Uncertainty categories.

In all of this, the City has been cast both as a victim of circumstances and as something to blame, or that should be made responsible, for the consequences. Why both victim and scapegoat? The answer, of course, is employment multipliers, with the Office for National Statistics using multipliers between 1 and 5 for financial services, insurance and related industries (2). Whatever happens in the City in the run-up to March 2019 we might expect that to be felt across a range of employment markets. So we might benefit from considering how well we adapt to change.

Conveniently, a tool exists to help you gauge how you adapt to change. It’s called a career adaptability scale, it’s from vocational behaviour research, and it’s been tested in English-speaking and non-English-speaking countries. Access a copy of the instrument and score yourself using a five-point scale: 5 for ‘strongest’ to 1 for ‘not strong’ (3). If your total score comes out below 60, you might need to work on your adaptability strengths in the run-up to March 2019.

  1. See The Impact of Firm Migration on the City of London, http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/economicresearch, accessed 10 December 2017.
  2. See ONS tables ‘Type I employment multipliers and effects by SU114 industry and sector (market, government and NPISH) Reference year: 2010’.
  3. Mark L. Savickas and Erik J. Porfeli (2012) “Career Adapt-Abilities Scale: Construction, reliability, and measurement equivalence across 13 countries”, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 80, Issue 3, Pages 661-673.

Video highlights from our masterclass – Disruptive Technologies and Intelligence: Business Opportunity or Threat? Reply

During our masterclass in Hemel Hempstead on 11 October, Penny Asher, Director, Executive Education at OUBS hosted David Mudd of BSI and Dr Peter Bloom of OUBS at this event to explore the challenges of working smart with disruptive technologies and intelligence.

Dr Bloom’s presentation asked “Are you ready for the fourth industrial revolution and should you be?” and discussed issues such as whether we are heading for a utopian or dystopian future workplace, considering new ways of working, planning for the future today, and highlighting that the future is not inevitable.

David Mudd’s presentation explored the “Internet of Things: What does it mean for business today?” David addressed issues including Reward vs. Risk, IoT security, why people matter most and why your organisation shouldn’t rush into joining the new revolution.

Video highlights are available:

Are you ready for the fourth industrial revolution and should you be?

Dr Peter Bloom, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Studies, The Open University Business School

The Internet of Things (IoT): What does it mean for businesses today? The rewards and the risks

David Mudd, British Standards Institution (BSI), IoT Business Development Director

Disruptive Technologies and Intelligence: Business Opportunity or Threat? Reply

Join us for an exclusive joint event with BSI (British Standards Institution), on Wednesday 11 October, 12.00 – 17.10, where we will explore the challenges of working smart with disruptive technologies and intelligence.

In this masterclass, Dr Peter Bloom will share insights into his new innovative Research into Employment, Empowerment and Futures group (REEF) – the first of its kind in the world to focus on the future of empowerment in the age of robotics. Peter will ask how can the rapid technological advances in computing, robotics and communications that are revolutionising work and life, be empowering, rather than dis-empowering, for people and organisations?

BSI, Internet of Things (IoT) Business Development Director, David Mudd, will share his knowledge and perspective on the rapid technological advances in IoT devices and how IoT technology can transform businesses, in terms of organisational performance and customer experience; also the pitfalls, from minor operational inconveniences to huge potential liabilities and brand damage, and how to avoid them.

Places are limited. To book and for further information, please visit The Open University Business School website.

Rapid internationalisation and performance: Is the sky the limit? Reply

Dr Raquel Garcia-Garcia
Guest blogger: Dr Raquel García-García is lecturer in strategic management at The Open University Business School (OUBS). Dr Raquel García-García is leading the Business Network Breakfast Briefing on 12 September 2017. For more information, visit the OUBS website.


To speed or not to speed is the looming question in today’s time-competitive international markets

After studying the outcomes of foreign expansion for several years now, the speed at which companies internationalise their operations and the returns they obtain from doing so is one of the topics that interests me most. Time is key in the current business world, but can multinationals keep up the pace?

Multinationals have traditionally expanded abroad slowly and gradually, moving from neighbouring countries to more distant ones. IThis internationalisation model prevailed in the international economic landscape during much of the 20th century. However, in recent years some multinationals have managed to defy this traditional pattern by successfully expanding abroad at a dizzying speed.

Professors Mauro Guillén and Esteban García-Canal provide various examples of this latter type of company in their book Emerging Markets Rule. Specifically, they discuss the cases of BYD (China), América Móvil (Mexico), and Ocimum Biosolutions (India). Wang Chuanfu founded rechargeable battery manufacturer BYD in 1995. By 2008 the company was already the largest manufacturer of nickel-cadmium batteries, selling more than 500 million batteries a year around the world. Tapping into its technological expertise, the Chinese multinational also made a triumphant incursion into manufacturing electric vehicles. Another example of a company that has taken the international markets by storm is América Móvil. Established in 2000, telecommunications giant América Móvil turned owner Carlos Slim into one of the wealthiest people alive (according to Forbes magazine). The company has operations in 25 countries and is considered to be the leading provider of wireless services in Latin America. Around the same time Indian entrepreneur Anu Acharya set up Ocimum Biosolutions, which expanded relentlessly to become one of the indisputable leaders of the bio-IT industry. As of 2017 the multinational has ventured into the US, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region.

However, multinational companies coming from emerging markets such as China, Mexico or India are not the only ones that can reap the benefits of a rapid foreign expansion. In a recent study co-authored by myself and professors Esteban García-Canal and Mauro Guillén (Journal of World Business, 2017) we found that firms from the ‘old’ Europe can also keep up with new trends in internationalisation and profit from speeding their internationalisation process, thus providing some hope to the managers of established multinationals from developed economies whose global leadership has been challenged by newcomers to the international scene.

Relying on a sample of Spanish listed firms, our results show that the speed of internationalisation has a different effect on performance depending on the timespan considered. Whereas it fails to have a significant effect in the short term – that is, on accounting measures – it displays an inverted U-shaped pattern in the long term – namely, in the capital markets. This implies that managers should pay attention to both short- and long-term measures of performance to have more accurate estimations of the effect of a rapid internationalisation.

The U-shaped pattern found between speed of internationalisation and long-term performance highlights that some multinationals can actually benefit from a high speed of internationalisation. Nonetheless, it also warns managers that they need to be aware that there is limit to the positive relationship between the multinationals’ speed of internationalisation and their long-term performance. In other words, managers cannot speed up the foreign expansion of their firms ad infinitum without eventually experiencing a decline in their value in capital markets.

Additionally, the results of this study account for knowledge-based factors that can support or hinder a successful rapid foreign expansion, which managers should take into consideration when making decisions about the speed of internationalisation at their firms. Whereas technological knowledge might be helpful at first to boost the benefits of a rapid internationalisation, it may become detrimental beyond a certain speed. This is ultimately explained by the need of multinationals to adapt their technology to the characteristics of the host countries where they operate. Technology adaptation to foreign markets is hard and time-consuming. Attempting to do so in a short period of time is likely to lead to higher costs and failures.

The diversity of a multinational’s international experience also plays a pivotal role in the relationship between speed of internationalisation and long-term performance. In this regard, even though the prior exposure to diverse institutional contexts may limit the learning opportunities when speeding up the internationalisation, it also helps managers decide more rapidly the multinationals’ course of action, which eventually allows them to outweigh the setbacks of a rapid international expansion.

Time is precious, and even more so in the international business scene. Speeding up the internationalisation process can be a good idea for some companies. However, managers must be cautious before expanding abroad in a rapid fashion and assess whether they have the necessary tools to succeed in doing so beforehand.

This article was originally published by HR Magazine. Read the original article.

Better Governance. Better Consequence – webinar recording Reply

Our Business Perspectives webinar on ‘Better Governance. Better Consequence’ took place on Wednesday 15 March 2017. If you missed the webinar or want to watch it again, it is now available to view on demand.

WATCH THE WEBINAR

During our webinar we used sport as a metaphor to explore governance. We explored multiple facets of governance and how, in an ever changing world, sport and business have similar qualities. We also explained how lessons from sport may be applied across business. The webinar also included video highlights from our masterclass in London on 23 February.

Professor Simon Lee, Professor of Law and Director of the Citizenship and Governance Strategic Research Area at The Open University joined as our speaker. The webinar was facilitated by Peter Wainwright, MBA alumnus and Consultant at Askyra Ltd.

You can also share your views and comments about the event or topic by following us on Twitter @OUBSchool, using #OU_BP