One report on immigration, six different news stories

November 7, 2014

This week saw the publication of research on the economic impact of immigration to the UK. The breaking media reports made me think of six authors in search of a headline

The research was conducted by the Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at University College London (UCL) and published by the Royal Economic Society in the Economic Journal.

In its own summary of the work, UCL headlined it as

Positive economic impact of UK immigration from the European Union: new evidence , adding that the report showed that European immigrants to the UK have paid more in taxes than they received in benefits, helping to relieve the fiscal burden on UK-born workers and contributing to the financing of public services.

A political football match starts

The report signaled the kick off at a political football match as national and international media joined the game. The headlines show how a complex report can be reported selectively.

Sky News

The Sky headline selects the main point indicated in the UCL article, that EU migrants pay in more than they take out of the economy

The Guardian

The Guardian touches on the political point that the UK ‘gains £20 billion’ from EU migrants

The BBC

The BBC suggests that New EU migrants add £5bn to UK

Business Week

Business Week notes that EU migrants ‘ add billions to UK public finances

The Telegraph and Daily Mail

The Telegraph and Daily Mail have taken a different approach.

The Telegraph notes that ‘Immigration from outside Europe cost £120 billion’; The Mail that Non-EU migrants are costing £120 billion.

Making sense of the headlines

You have to look at the report to decide which headlines summarize what the authors believe to be the key finding of their report, and which headlines are, shall we say, more selective.


Amanda Staveley: “If not the architect a big piece of the architecture” of Abu Dhabi RBS deal

March 28, 2012

Amanda Staveley is a global networking superstar. Her latest role has been a broker of a proposed deal to sell-off part of the UK Government’s investment in The Royal Bank of Scotland to Abu Dhabi

LWD has followed the high-flying career of Amanda Staveley for some time. Our post [Sept 2008] on her networking activities has been one of the most visited, although its author suspects that its popularity may owe more to its image of Ms Staveley than to its textual information:

Her network of significant contacts in The Middle East had involved her earlier in the year in the negotiations by Dubai International Capital for purchase of shares that would lead to a takeover at Liverpool Football Club. In this she had been working on behalf of Sheikh Maktoum. This deal was to fall though, but shortly afterwards, she was hired by Thaksin Shinawatra, the beleaguered Chairman of Manchester City Football Club, who was looking for a buyer for the club. Early reports gave prominence to the charismatic figure of Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim and his audacious public claims for turning Manchester City into the biggest and richest football club in the world.

The RBS share sale

This week, [March 27th 2012] a news story broke internationally concerning the speculation about the sell-off of shares held by the UK government in The Royal Bank of Scotland. The Wall Street Journal described it as follows:

Amanda Staveley, a British banker renowned for deal-making with Arab Gulf power players, is advising Abu Dhabi on its potential purchase of a stake in the U.K. government-owned Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS), according to [an unnamed source].

Staveley already helped broker a deal that saw Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, participate in a £7 billion fundraising for the U.K. bank Barclays in 2008. Given her past success, Staveley is likely to be an important figure in the RBS deal. [The unnamed source said] “If she’s not the architect, she’ll be a big piece of the architecture.”

The negotiations between Abu Dhabi and the U.K. Treasury and U.K. Financial Investments PLC, or UKFI, which was created to hold the government’s stake in RBS, were unlikely to produce a deal for some time. “Talks have been going on for many months, but if something were to happen it would take several [more] months.”
It remains unclear which entity or entities in Abu Dhabi might hold a stake in RBS should the deal go through, the said. What percentage of the bank Abu Dhabi would buy or how much money it would spend were also open-ended, and the “discussions are likely around what needs to be invested in the business.”

Acknowledgement

The image above of Amanda Staveley was obtained from The Sebamban Website


Home secretary Theresa May creates a new Border security force

February 21, 2012

Theresa May announces a restructuring of the Border Agency. Her announcement coincided with release of the Vine report into border security checks. The links between the report and the Home Secretary’s announcement seem rather loose

Although the Vine Report into Border Security and the Ministerial announcement were made simultaneously, they are quite different in focus.

The Minister indicates that she accepts “all the recommendations of the report”, but makes it less clear that her proposal is not based on the report, which offers operational ‘fixes’ rather than strategic ones.

The ministerial announcement concentrates on a reorganization which splits the Agency into two. In organizational terms it is an attempt to differentiate structures and activities to reflect a major distinction between two groupings. The Vine report is strictly operational, and makes no strategic recommendations.

The BBC reported the announcement by the Home Secretary [20th Feb 2012] :

“The Vine report reveals a Border Force that suspended important checks without permission; that spent millions on new technologies but chose not to use them; that was led by managers who did not communicate with their staff; and that sent reports to ministers that were inaccurate, unbalanced and excluded key information. The Vine report makes a series of recommendations about how to improve the operation at the border, and I accept them all. I do not believe the answer to the very significant problems exposed in the Vine Report is just a series of management changes.
The Border Force needs a whole new management culture. There is no getting away from the fact that UKBA, of which the Border Force is part, has been a troubled organisation since it was founded in 2008. From foreign national prisoners to the asylum backlog to the removal of illegal immigrants, it has reacted to a series of problems instead of positively managing its responsibilities.
The extent of the transformational change required – in the agency’s caseworking functions and in the Border Force – is too great for one organisation. [The Border Force is to] become a separate operational command, with its own ethos of law enforcement, led by its own director general, and accountable directly to ministers”

How to Create Organizational Silos

MBA students will recall how this sort of change has major organizational consequences which have been well-documented since at least the 1960s. They may also recall the dilemmas of centralizing and decentralizing control over business activities, and how any such differentiation risks creating organizational ‘silos’.

How to Deal with Potential Silos

Implicitly, the change will not work if it adds a layer to what may be seen as a classical organizational pyramid. The traditional structures are now recognised as too inflexible to function in fast-changing environments. In any change programme, the new system requires designed-in ways permitting integration so that there is valuable communication flow between the two sub-systems.

To be continued …

See background in an earlier LWD post


Engineering firm A E Harris has Survived Ten Recessions. How did it do that?

October 26, 2008
Russell Lockcock

Russell Lockcock

There are few firms that have survived three generations of family ownership unscathed. Engineering firm A E Harris has done so and also battled through ten recessions. How did it do that?

The evidence suggests that the added value from family ownership diminishes in impact after two at most generations from founder to son or grandchild. Few firms survive into the fifth or sixth generation of family ownership, although European examples are perhaps more common than American, where market dynamics have tended to increase the proportion of firms succumbing to takeover or worse.

A powerful example from England is that of relatively small manufacturing firm A E Harris. Its survival for over a hundred years has seen it outface ten recessions, according to its current chairman Russell Luckock. He should know, he has been its leader for over fifty of them, taking over as a young man of 21.

He told The BBC about his experiences

“The company was founded 128 years ago by my great-grandfather just near the same central Birmingham site that we occupy today. The firm started out making hand made jewellery and tool making equipment and has gradually expanded to the company I run today. I started out at the firm as a favour, helping out for a few weeks, but I stayed on a bit longer and have now been here 53 years. It’s important to realize that you get a recession about every 10 years and each and every one you go through will be different …”

The seventy four year old leader sees a recession as a time requiring drastic and painful cost-management but also a time of seeking new kinds of business. He has recently been forced to cut back and close down unsuccessful sites, but the company survives.

I don’t think Mr Luckock would see himself as an example of servant leadership, but he captures some of its characteristics, such as a strong sense of duty and responsibility to his employees. He talks of fighting tooth and nail to save jobs, but has made the adjustments if needed for survival of the rest of the company. For example, in the last decade the business shrunk from nearly 200 employees to around forty, against competition from the Far East.

There are some parallels with Warburtons, another example of a UK family firm, and one that has survived into its fifth generation of the family.

This kind of firm is, arguably, an extended family, with strong family values. Survival through a tenth recession can not be guaranteed, but A E Harris has as much chance as any as it takes on its tenth battle against such tough economic conditions.

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