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From the Publisher

Welcome to the second issue of the MSB Business Review as we continue to seek to contribute solutions to the assorted challenges that confront our businesses, the nation, and the region in the perennial pursuit of growth and development. The realities of the “price” of recovery from a recession with such dire global consequences partly prompted Time to label the first decade of the twenty first century, “the decade from hell.” Yet for us, despite our limited room for fiscal manoeuvres and other constraints, opportunities abound.

It is apparent that the stages of the business cycle have shifted enough to defy our capability to effectively predict and plan using accustomed signals and paradigms. As we emerge from this recession, business and government organizations will be forced to invent innovative responses to new patterns of business volatility. For example, the prospect of restoring the human capital displaced during this period of economic decline is bleak. We typically, and correctly, recommend entrepreneurship for dislocated employees but fail to implement strategies to optimally deploy the pool of talent that ‘survive,’ unaware that the long established growth-freeze-layoff cycle of managing human capital has been made redundant by the reality of the new business milieu.

In this issue, we have therefore elected to spotlight “Talent Management in the New Economy” as our cover story. This is especially apropos as the increasing emphasis on knowledge management and innovation in the knowledge economy and society has shifted the competitive battlefront to the management of information assets and raised the premium on talent as a key creator of value. Society for Human Resource Management CEO and President Laurence O’Neil observed recently that the most important challenge to an organization’s effectiveness is finding and growing talent. This is a notion that the noted talent management consultant, Marc Effron, confirmed in recent research which revealed that 72% of American companies are struggling in the war for talent. In this instalment we can only graze the surface of this important and complex issue. Yet we assert that good talent management practices are positively correlated with business growth and
are central to value creation in the knowledge economy.

Excellent business magazines attract readers naturally. They cater to fertile minds and present well researched and reasoned positions to help advance the practice of business and management. They convey important, credible, and relevant information in a straightforward manner to help solve important problems and facilitate intelligent decisions. We are therefore grateful for the feedback we have received from individuals and organizations. We have taken both commendations and recommendations for improvement on board in order to reinforce the strengths you identified and extirpate the weaknesses you outlined.

We are excited to share our perspectives with you objectively and without advocacy. I wish you much reading pleasure and some enlightenment and hope the articles in this issue can initiate debate, instigate novel and innovative ideas, contribute a brick to nation-building or perhaps simply produce that “aha” moment that provides the spark for an entrepreneurial or business development idea.

 

Evan Duggan
Executive Director , Mona School of Business


 

From the Editor
 How do we achieve growth and create jobs in an economy still mired in recession a year after the government reached a Stand-by Agreement with the International Monetary Fund? In recent months, policy-makers, legislators, business leaders, investors and others have put forward various ideas to find answers to this question which has become a national priority.
Under the Stand-by Agreement, Jamaica is able to access some US$2. billion from the Fund and related multilateral financial institutions over a 27-month period. Also, the Jamaica Debt Exchange has reduced government interest cost on local debt by some $40-billion. A major objective of these measures is “to restore macroeconomic stability and create conditions for strong and sustained growth and to enable the economy to benefit from the recovery in the global economy.” The IMF missions and the government point to declining interest rates—while noting that they are still high— moderating inflation, and to the stable, though appreciating, exchange rate. But have we taken sufficient opportunity of the breathing room to generate growth and provide jobs?

In this second issue of the MSB Business Review we explore this question from a range of perspectives. Economist Michael Witter, in his contribution, notes that job creation in the present context is not easy. “With a contracting domestic economy, the traditionally risk averse* Jamaican investor will probably adopt a wait-and-see attitude.” With the international economy rebounding slowly the Jamaican economy is unlikely to get much bounce from external demand quickly. “This does not augur well for our two largest inflows of foreign exchange, namely, remittances and tourism expenditure.” In these circumstances a lot will turn on whether management can motivate workers to become more productive; whether interest rates will fall fast and low enough to encourage borrowing for investment; and whether ways can be found to decrease energy costs—widely regarded in business as a high hurdle in the way of efficiency and competitiveness.

Our cover story offers three views on talent management in the new economy: Mayberry Investments executive Dennise Williams examines ESOPs, pointing out that they can be used to improve quality of life and allow for job security; Danny Roberts, a former trade union leader urges ‘unfreezing’ traditional corporate culture and human behaviour at the workplace that inhibit productivity and competitiveness; and researcher
Christine Marrett makes the case for more self-directed learning and career planning.

On the matter of interest rates, Dennise Williams reports that banks argue that any significant lowering of rates will require macro-economic stability, better international credit rating and general reduction in the cost of doing business. University bursar Archibald Campbell calls on government to take appropriate actions to reduce uncertainty and promote efficiency.

On reducing energy costs, Halden Morris, a professional engineer, outlines gains from on-going conservation and efficiency measures on the Mona Campus which can be used by other businesses; Phillip Paulwell, Opposition spokesman on energy, is concerned about government’s overdependence on LNG as a strategy going forward. Meantime, he suggests several immediate steps including re-negotiating the licence with Jamaica Public Service. We did not get the government’s view as a promised article from Energy Minister James Robertson did not arrive.
We hope these and other stories in this, our second issue, will contribute to the search for a solution to the jobs crisis. It has a particular urgency for the 15-29 age group where 60 per cent are either unemployed or out of the labour force. The consequences of failure cannot be contemplated.

  

Claude Robinson,
Editor