Barriers Firms Face In Execution Of Global Strategy Business Essay

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Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has been in operation since April 2005, having replaced the pioneer Arts and Humanities Research Board which had served the same mandate since its founding in 1998 (AHRC, 2010). AHRC thus was established as a successor to the AHRB (AHRC, 2010). Today, AHRC functions as a government agency, specifically as a non-departmental public body (AHRC, 2010).

Since its establishment in April 2005, AHRC has been sponsored by the UK's Department for Business Innovation and Skills with a mission to elevate the acquisition and transfer of knowledge to the arts and humanities industries in the UK (AHRC, 2010). The firm's vision is to be a recognized globally, as a leader in the advancement of research in the arts and humanities. AHRC has several strategic goals including promoting and supporting the production of consistent and progressive world-class research applicable in the arts and humanities industries (AHRC, 2010). The organization also aims at promoting and supporting postgraduate training that is designed to adequately equip graduates for further research or for other professional careers in their respective industries (AHRC, 2010).

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The AHRC also aims at strengthening the impact of research in the arts and humanities, by encouraging skilled researchers to aptly consolidate, disseminate and transfer the knowledge acquired through research to other socio-economic contexts that can make a difference in the society (AHRC, 2010). Finally, AHRC aims at raising the profile of studies, research and practice of the arts and humanities in the UK while also aiming at being an effective advocate for the arts and humanities industries to play a larger social, cultural and economic role (AHRC, 2010).

The mandate of AHRC can thus be summed up as supporting and promoting acquisition, dissemination and application of knowledge from the academia to the arts and humanities industries within the UK, so as to elevate the status of these industries and its participants in the UK's social, cultural and economic contexts to a world-class esteem (AHRC, 2010). This is primarily in two ways namely, funding research in the industries and enabling the industry players to access postgraduate studies that they can use to channel the acquired knowledge back to the industries (AHRC, 2010).

Contemporary Strategy

Currently, the AHRC is operating from a perspective of appreciating the fact that public/private sectors collaboration yields benefits to both sectors. By supporting the industries, the UK government hopes that the industries will grow into larger roles in the social, cultural and economic development agenda of the government. For instance, the UK government realized the need to link the universities with the businesses in 2003 and thereby set up a committee, popularly known as The Lambert Committee, to investigate and to report on the viability of business-university collaboration within the UK context (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, 2004).

The mandate of the Lambert Committee was to validate the existence of such collaboration and if any, to propose ways in which it can be improved and promoted (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, 2004). The Lambert Committee initiated the first stage of their mandate by seeking ideas from all the stakeholders from both the academia and the private sector business fraternity (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, 2004). This committee, chaired by Richard Lambert, published its independent review of the UK Business-University Collaboration and presented it to the UK Government on 4th December 2003 (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, 2004).

Following the Lambert Report, the UK Government deliberated and published a 10-year investment framework and the 2004 Spending Review (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, 2004). This framework represented the Government's ambition in building business-university collaboration in the next decade, as a way of boosting economic growth as well as public services. Ideally, the Lambert Report and the Government's framework concurred on the need to fund a research system that was capable of delivering innovative and progressive knowledge to the existing and new businesses (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, 2004). It is in this role that AHRC comes in, to support research and postgraduate studies in the creative and cultural industries as a way of boosting knowledge transfer between the UK universities and the business sector (AHRC, 2010).

Currently, UHRC is collaborating with the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sports and other public departments in its attempt to create a link between businesses and universities (AHRC, 2003). One early achievement has been the launch of a Creative Industries/Higher Education Forum to act as the interaction platform for those in the creative and cultural industries and those in the related academia fields. AHRC has stated that this platform will serve the purpose of bringing together both the supply and demand side of knowledge transfer as a way of fostering stronger links, relationships and new development activities (AHRC, 2003).

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The strategy currently adopted by AHRC in attaining its mandate currently is that of facilitating exchange of ideas, formation of links and relationships and establishment of knowledge transfer channels between the academia and the business sector in the UK creative and cultural industries (AHRC, 2003). Before knowledge is transferred, it must be acquired. That is why AHRC has committed and invested heavily on funding further research in the creative and cultural industries as well as postgraduate studies for practitioners in these fields (AHRC, 2003).

This thus allows for individuals to gain and acquire knowledge from the academia that can then be transferred to the business sector. AHRC's operational role currently, is of providing an amicable environment that readily enables both the ideas and creativity nurtured by the academic community in UK universities to be developed, unlocked and transferred into the creative and cultural industries (AHRC, 2010). This has seen AHRC working with numerous analogous bodies such as RDAs, with the aspiration of finding ways to establish and improve the knowledge transfer links from the academia to the society and the economy (AHRC, 2010).

SWOT Analysis

Strengths

AHRC has the benefit of having adequate government funding to carter for its research and scholarship grants. Having a steady supply of capital is central to the success of their mandate. As shown by 10-year investment framework following the Lambert Report, the UK government is committed to establishing progressive research and knowledge transfer and has in the last five years, allocated a substantial amount for this purpose (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, 2004). Secondly, the Lambert review identified that the government has been giving very impressive R&D tax incentives to stimulate business investments. This means that AHRC has a favorable bargain chip with which to lure the business sector to join research initiatives and benefit from what the universities have to offer (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration, 2003).

AHRC has also employed a very effective strategy in executing its mandate, by incorporating the views, participation and interests of all the stakeholders in the UK creative and cultural industries as well as the academic sector (AHRC, 2010). This has given it a very popular support base as well as entrenched it solidly as the main route of all business-university collaboration links. The organization has been accepted by both the academic and business sector as the core mediator if this collaboration, with the government giving it the necessarily validation to play that role effectively (AHRC, 2010).

Further, the organization structure as will be discussed in a later section of the paper, is very solid and effective administrator of the link between businesses and universities in the UK. A good example is the peer review mechanism put in place to select the applications to be awarded research and postgraduate study grants each year. It constitutes the most qualified professionals and academicians in the creative and cultural industries today in the UK and the process itself is thoroughly scrutinized for accountability, openness, professionalism, integrity and fairness (AHRC, 2010). This ensures that only the best and most qualified applications are funded using a yardstick of the ability of the research or study to transfer knowledge from the academics to the arts and humanities industries within the UK, as the qualification criterion for all applications (AHRC, 2010). Such structures not only guarantee that the organization stays true to its mission and mandate but also ensures that it gets consistent and increasing support from the industries and from the government (AHRC, 2010).

As noted in the Lambert Report, the committee noted a presence and ongoing businesses and universities collaboration in 2003 (prior to the establishment of AHRC) (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 10). These collaborations were already working across the UK region with a great promise of promoting their scope substantially in the future. This means that AHRC was founded to nurture an existing network of collaborations and did not have to do a lot of groundwork research, sensitization and consultations. The ground was rich and in need of a central authority to mediate the needed business-universities link. In this way, AHRC emerged as a solution to a need that the stakeholders within the academic and the creative and cultural industries had already felt and attempted to resolve (AHRC, 2010). This is a major strength that explains the success of AHRC in only the five years it has been operational. Instead of having to do the preparatory work such as or creating awareness, AHRC has come into an already defined role to progress the vision of the industry and of the government.

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Weaknesses

AHRC has not been involved in promotion of awareness and support of the business-university collaboration. The organization has primarily focused in funding research and postgraduate studies. There needs to be a program that seeks to promote the concept and the need for such collaboration among industry players and scholars. Many businesses still do not know of the availability of such links and many students and universities are ignorant of the same. AHRC has a weakness in that it is only inclined towards financial assistance and not in awareness building, support lobbying and educative forums to advertise the idea.

AHRAC is also severely limited in that it does not help universities in infrastructure building and or expansion to accommodate the increased demand that arises when industry players join the universities. AHRC only provides funding for tuition and research and not capacity building of the institutions that facilitate such studies. This robs it of an important bargaining chip while trying to increase the number of industry players participating in research and postgraduate studies.

Opportunities

The Lambert Committee reported that one of the reasons why institutions mandated with establishing the business-university links should be optimistic is that, there is a very high potential for research support by the business sector (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 9). UK's relatively stable and strong 'economic performance of the last few years has the potential to improve the ideal climate for business investments of all kinds', thus providing an opportunity for businesses to invest further and commit to research initiatives (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 9).

AHRC has a great opportunity as the business sector begins to seriously embrace the potential of increased research in the creative and cultural industries. Their report also noted that, the public spending on research has been increasing significantly, facilitating the UK research base to remain impressive by international business standards, 'whether it is measured by quality or productivity of the generated output from research' (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 9.). Business-university collaboration has been hampered in the past by lack of funding and support by the stakeholders ranging from the government, private sector and academic institutions. Of late however, there is an increased support in king and finances, for such collaboration. With shrewd strategic planning, AHRC has the potential to promote this collaboration to infinite proportions.

Another finding of the Lambert Committee is that 'there is a marked change of culture in the UK universities currently, a change that has been enforced in the last one decade, which will facilitate greater support for external involvement in knowledge transfer (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 9). According to the report, most universities in the UK are now actively seeking for opportunities to play a larger role in the national and regional economy. This means that AHRC will readily find a willingness to partner with business among most UK universities today, providing the organization an opportunity to play a mediation and enabling role in pursuit of its mandate.

The UK universities have also compared well in the quality of research against the highest available international benchmarks in the last decade and a half and they are thus very appealing to many corporations (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 12). Many companies and individuals in the creative and cultural industries will be attracted by the repute and ongoing improvement of the UK academic establishments in research. Further, the institutions of learning are increasingly paying more attention to social-cultural issues such as development, governance, poverty, culture and entertainment industry, and in so doing creating many departments and training infrastructure to accommodate and simulate the needs in the society (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 11). This means that AHRC will find many opportunities in the universities where to fund research and scholarship for practicing personnel.

Threats

Advances in research do not always translate to advances in the society. Sometimes, research can be accumulated in libraries, books and journals and never passed on to the industries it is relevant to. AHRC can fund research and postgraduate studies and the knowledge so gained be only for academic purposes. There is therefore a threat that such funding will only advance academic purposes and never be simulated by the creative and cultural industries in the UK (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 65). To eliminate this threat, AHRC must enforce applicability while selecting the research and postgraduate grant applications they receive. AHRC should focus on generating knowledge that can and must be funneled back to the industry.

AHRC also identifies several threats to the effective execution of their mandate as seen in a recent report released on their official website. According to the report, the real benefits of business-universities collaboration in the UK must not necessarily involve the large companies and institutions (AHRC, 2010). One has to consider however, the potential of the small-scale companies in the society versus the impact of the large companies and institutions. The report notes that many universities in the UK have already developed firm links with numerous businesses within the creative and cultural industries (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 12). However, most of these companies are small enterprises (SMEs). SME's are limited in the way they allow knowledge to permeate into the industry because they mainly involve a few enterprising individuals as opposed to companies employing thousands of people.

Again, universities are in the business of training and not making alliances. They cannot from thousands of small alliances with individual SME's. This could otherwise limit the potential of such collaboration in the creative and cultural industries. To resolve this threat, AHRC has started to form 'creative clusters' that allow numerous local and regional SME's together into a single platform, from which they can generate new and innovative products, ideas and processes that will spread further into the society and impact many people at a go. Such clusters are now operational in Scotland, London, Sheffield, Bristol, and even Nottingham (AHRC, 2010). While courting the large corporations, AHRC is now able to supported small business enterprises (such as the small-scale individual's entrepreneurships) as effectively as the large ones, and thus impacting on all sectors of the creative and cultural industries in the UK.

As the AHRC report states, there is a threat that the business-university collaboration will only involve a linear transfer process where knowledge from universities is passed on to the industries (AHRC, 2010). This would eventually mean that the knowledge acquired looses touch with realities in the society and that it becomes increasingly impossible to implement that knowledge. There needs to be an interaction between the people, data, information and infrastructure from both the universities and the creative and cultural industries such that the knowledge sought and acquired is relevant to the industry needs (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 44).

Porter's Five Forces Model Analysis

Michael Porter postulated the model of strategic analysis referred to as the Porter's five forces in 1979 while at the Harvard Business School (Kippenberger 1998, pp. 24-25). It is used today as a framework for conducting industry analysis as well as developing business strategy (Kippenberger 1998, pp. 24-25). The model draws heavily from the Industrial Organization economics literature to derive the market forces that determine a market's competitive intensity and attractiveness (Kippenberger 1998, pp. 24-25). Three of these five forces have external sources of competition while two are internal threats. In most applications of Porter's five forces model, analysts combine it with the SWOT analysis as detailed in the foregoing section (Kippenberger 1998, pp. 24-25).

The first force in Porter's model is the existing rivalry between the market players (sellers) (Porter 1998, pp. 32 -66). The UK has several business-university collaborations, most of which were in existence prior to the formation of AHRC. Notably however, these collaborations are not in competition at all since they involve individual arrangements between firms and academic institutions (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 11). Between the links themselves, there is hardly any competition. The only rivalry that can be detected is between the market players who require funding for their research or postgraduate studies. The amount of grants available is still low compared to the demand and AHRC is working towards establishing more sources of grant funding from the private sector (AHRC, 2010). As noted in the preceding analysis, most companies in the UK have shown an increasing support for collaborations in research and this may reduce the scarcity of such grants.

The second force in Porter's model is the power being exerted by the customers in the market (Porter 1998, pp. 32 -36). UK companies are increasingly realizing the need for continued research and are thus competing to explore ways and partnerships in research building. Lambert report notes that, 'companies are gradually moving away from the system in which all their research was done only in their laboratories and in secret, to a system in which companies are actively looking to collaborate with other institutions in an open innovation platform' (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 11). This will work to the benefit of AHRC since the companies will welcome the research initiatives provided on a centralized system as AHRC's.

The third force in Porter's model the impact of suppliers to the market (Porter 1998, pp. 32 -36). AHRC gains a steady and consistent budgetary allocation from the government to fund their research and postgraduate study grants. They are currently seeking to increase their grant pool with funds sourced from the private sector, and as the Lambert Report details, such sources are becoming increasingly easy to find in the UK today. Many of the practitioners in the creative and cultural industries are willing to undertake research and further studies in their areas of interest, meaning that AHRC has an assured supply of funds and ready market to distribute these funds to (Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration 2003, pp. 11). The fourth of Porter's Five Forces is the impact of suppliers on the market players (Porter 1998, pp. 32 -36). In this regard, AHRC has entered a market that it has readily been accepted by existing business-university collaborations, including those established prior to 2005. Today, the creative and cultural industries stakeholders in the UK look up to AHRC as the official platform to establish and maintain business-universities collaboration for the promotion of research and exchange of knowledge. That highly placed esteem works to the benefit of AHRC in executing its mandate effectively.

The last of Porter's five forces is the threat of having substitute products launched in the market (Porter 1998, pp. 32 -36). AHRC has a threat as analyzed above that the research it funds will be substandard, inapplicable to the industries or shelved in institutions instead of being transmitted into the business industries. This could hinder achievement of its core mandate. To reduce this threat, AHRC has strived to qualify and fund only those applications that promise to benefit the industries through a thorough peer reviewed selection process. Further, it is creating a platform of interaction between the businesses and the academic professionals to enable a mutual exchange of knowledge and to ensure that the research and postgraduate grants are awarded to pursue industry-relevant knowledge (UHRC, 2010).

A Balanced Score Card

Developed Robert Kaplan and David Norton at Harvard Business School, the balanced scorecard refers to a system of strategic planning and management used by businesses and industries, governments and nonprofit organizations across the world to align their operation activities alongside their vision and strategies (Haberberg and Rieple 2001, pp. 67). This helps organizations to improve their external and internal communications as well as to monitor their performance against set strategic goals (Baker 1992, pp. 27 - 96). As a performance measurement framework, the balanced scorecard adds strategic and non-financial performance evaluation to the financial metrics used traditionally by managers, as a way of building more 'balanced' appreciation of organization's performance (Sanderson 1998, pp. 9-13). 

It suggests that organization performance should be viewed from four perspectives namely the learning and growth perspective, the business process perspective, the customer perspective and the financial perspective. In these perspectives, AHRC has performed exemplary well in the five years of its existence. It is the premier British Research Council today, with an approximately budget allocation of £102 million yearly (AHRC, 2010). The government allocates this funding as a way of supporting research in the arts and humanities as well as postgraduate studies for individuals in these industries. AHRC has also been seeking more funds from the private sector with a promising success (AHRC, 2010).

The areas covered by AHRC range from languages (linguistics and applied linguistics), law, English literature, archaeology, design, creative arts and even the performing arts. In the last eight years, AHRC has awarded an average of 700 research grants and over 1,350 postgraduate scholarships (AHRC, 2010). This operation efficiency has resulted to high esteem of AHRC among the stakeholders in the private sector, with the government and the academic institutions they interact with. Again, the mandate (mission and vision) of AHRC is to promote research and postgraduate studies in the arts and humanities industries (AHRC, 2010). They have served this purpose exemplary well in the last five years. Their balanced scorecard is therefore an impressive one.

Quality Management Plan

As noted earlier, there is therefore a threat that such funding will only advance academic purposes and never be simulated by the creative and cultural industries in the UK. To eliminate this threat, AHRC has enforced applicability while selecting the research and postgraduate grant applications they receive (AHRC, 2010). AHRC has successfully enabled generation of knowledge that can and is being funneled back to the industry. Each award is granted after a lengthy and rigorous peer review process aimed at ensuring that only the best and most qualified applications are funded. The yardstick used to qualify an application is the ability of the research or study to transfer knowledge from the academics to the arts and humanities industry within the (AHRC, 2010).

Firms Governance Plan

AHRC is currently operating as one of the seven Research Councils operating in the UK today. Its current Chairman of the Board is Sir Alan Wilson while the current Chief Executive is Prof. Rick Rylance (AHRC, 2010). AHRC has been praised for having very efficient structures. The organization structure is very solid and effective administrator of the link between businesses and universities in the UK. A good example is the peer review mechanism put in place to select the applications to be awarded research and postgraduate study grants each year (AHRC, 2010). It constitutes the most qualified professionals and academicians in the creative and cultural industries today in the UK and the process itself is thoroughly scrutinized for accountability, openness, professionalism, integrity and fairness (AHRC, 2010).

Conclusion

This paper has attempted to analyze the viability and performance of Arts and Humanities Research Council. The mandate of AHRC as discussed by the paper can be summed up as supporting and promoting acquisition, dissemination and application of knowledge from the academia to the arts and humanities industries within the UK. This is aimed at elevating the status of these industries and its participants in the UK's social, cultural and economic contexts to a world-class esteem. This is done primarily in two ways namely, funding research in the industries and enabling the industry players to access postgraduate studies that they can use to channel the acquired knowledge back to the industries.

In a SWOT analysis of AHRC, the paper concluded that the organization has many strengths and opportunities working for its execution of the mandate that the weaknesses and threats, and that AHRC has effectively worked around the threats and found ways to overcome the weaknesses. They have served their mandate exemplary well in the last five years and many opportunities to increase the collaboration between universities and businesses still exist. The change being witnessed in the creative and cultural industries in the UK today are working towards greater achievement of AHRC's mission.

In an analysis using the Porter's Five Forces model, the paper concluded that AHRC is in a very promising position in the market today. For instance, the paper detailed how most companies in the UK have shown an increasing support for collaborations in research and this may reduce the scarcity of such grants. Further, UK companies are increasingly realizing the need for continued research and are thus competing to explore ways and partnerships in research building. These eventualities are working to the benefit of AHRC since the companies will welcome the research initiatives provided on a centralized system as AHRC's. Even more promising finding of the analysis is that many of the practitioners in the creative and cultural industries are willing to undertake research and further studies in their areas of interest, meaning that AHRC has an assured supply of funds and ready market to distribute these funds to. Finally, AHRC's highly placed esteem works to their benefit in executing its mandate effectively. Further, it is creating a platform of interaction between the businesses and the academic professionals to enable a mutual exchange of knowledge and to ensure that the research and postgraduate grants are awarded to pursue industry-relevant knowledge.

The paper has also established that, given that AHRC's mission is to promote research and postgraduate studies in the arts and humanities industries, they have served this purpose exemplary well in the last five years. As such, their balanced scorecard is therefore an impressive one. The same has been diagnosed for quality management and governance plan. This is explained by the fact that, each AHRC award is granted after a lengthy and rigorous peer review process aimed at ensuring that only the most qualified applications are funded and that the organization structure is very effective in administrating the link between businesses and universities in the UK, based on accountability, professionalism, integrity and fairness.