Vol 5 Issue 1 2013
Taking the Sustainability Debate beyond the
Sustainability and Employability A Dream Ticket for South West Wales?
y t i il b a
The Big Interview Andy Middleton on “Elegant Frugality” Sustainable Tourism An Oxymoron?
Swansea Business School Ysgol Fusnes Abertawe
S e h
e u s
autumn/winter 2013 Volume 5 Issue 1
GREENWASHED? Taking the sustainability debate beyond the green gloss
The Big Interview:
Industry Perspective: SUSTAINABLE TOURISM an Oxymoron?
RURAL VIBRANCY? Creating Sustainable Rural Economies
Alternative formats If you require this document in an alternative format (e.g. Welsh, large print or text file for use with a text reader), please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Point of View: SAM MORGAN Sustainable Competitive Advantage Through People
News and Events
Next Issue: BRAIN-POWERED BUSINESS How do we Value Intellectual Capital?
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Disclaimer: The articles in this publication represent the views of the authors, not those of the University. The University does not accept responsibility for the contents of articles by individual authors. Please contact the editor if you have further queries. Ymwadiad: Mae’r erthyglau yn y cyhoeddiad hwn yn cynrychioli barn yr awduron, nid rhai UWTSD. Nid yw’r Brifysgol yn derbyn cyfrifoldeb am gynnwys erthyglau awduron unigol. Cysylltwch â’r golygydd os oes gennych gwestiynau pellach. Registered Charity Number / Rhif Elusen Gofrestredig 1139800 © UWTSD 2013. All rights reserved/ cedwir pob hawl. Front cover image: ©iStockphoto.com/Pupkis This Page: Image: ©CienpiesDesign/Shutterstock
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Think Piece: SUSTAINABILITY AND EMPLOYABILITY A Dream Ticket for South West Wales
Point of View: THE CONSUMPTION CONUNDRUM A Marketing Challenge
OPTIMUM POLLUTION An Uncomfortable Concept
Think Piece: SUSTAINABLE BY DESIGN Re-Thinking the Product Life Cycle for the 21st Century
ANDY MIDDLETON “Elegant Frugality”
CONTACT US / CYSYLLTWCH Â NI Web/ Gwefan: Email/ E-bost: Twitter: Post:
www.smu.ac.uk/swbr firstname.lastname@example.org @SWBusReview Lucy Griffiths South Wales Business Review Adolygiad Busnes De Cymru Swansea Business School Ysgol Fusnes Abertawe University of Wales Trinity Saint David Prifysgol Cymru Y Drindod Dewi Sant Ty Bryn Glas Campus Campws Ty Bryn Glas High Street / Stryd Fawr Swansea / Abertawe SA1 1NE
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PRODUCTION TEAM Editor: Lucy Griffiths Editorial Board: Kathryn Flynn Samantha Morgan Christopher Thomas Design & Print: UWTSD Print Unit
Greenwashed? Taking the Sustainability Debate Beyond Editorial:
the ‘Green Gloss’
Selected Contributors: Jane Davidson
Jane is Director of INSPIRE at UWTSD and was Minister for Environment and Sustainability in Wales from 2007 to 2011 during which time the Welsh Government agreeing to make sustainable development its central organising principle. Prior to that she was Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning where she introduced a new Foundation Phase for 3-7 year olds, the Welsh Baccalaureate, and Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (ESDGC) into the Welsh curriculum.
Dr Jill Venus
Dr Venus is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Management and leads a number of academic modules and projects. Her subject interests are in the areas of small business development, rural regeneration, project evaluation and women and entrepreneurship, and she is actively involved in research and consultancy in these fields.
Sam is Programme Director for CIPD programmes in the Faculty of Business and Management at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and brings vast experience as a Human Resources professional which enhances the student experience in the applied programmes she leads.
Lucy Griffiths Editor In this edition of the South Wales Business Review we focus on an issue which is of vital importance to everyone on the planet - the sustainability of our life here on earth. We aim to look at sustainability from a broad range of perspectives, taking on board the breadth of economic, social, environmental and political sustainability. Although we are a small country, Wales is already taking a position of leadership in this field with the development of the Future Generations Bill and we at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David are doing the same by putting sustainable development at the heart of our strategy. Our award-winning INSPIRE project is the hub for sustainable development at the University, and is led by Jane Davidson, former Minister for Environment and Sustainability. Jane explains the unique opportunity we have in South West Wales to build a sustainable environmental and economic future on page 18. Our big interview (p4) is with entrepreneur, speaker and educator Andy Middleton, in which he paints an inviting picture of a future where ‘elegant frugality’ enables us to enjoy life more whilst maintaining long term economic sustainability.
Andrew Campbell discusses the rhetoric and the reality of sustainable tourism on pages 6 and 7, and the Rural Alliances project highlights an example of how universities can have an impact on sustainable development on page 12. On pages 8 and 9 regular contributor Steve Griffiths considers the somewhat uncomfortable concept of 'optimum pollution', and marketer Will Fleming explores the complex set of issues facing marketing professionals in engaging with sustainability debates with integrity and authenticity on pages 16 and 17. Debates around sustainability cut across every aspect of our lives and every subject area we teach and this is why we are embedding this cross-cutting theme in all University of Wales Trinity Saint David programmes. As ever, I very much hope you enjoy reading this issue, and that it encourages you to consider how the sustainability agenda impacts your own life and work.
Lucy PS. To receive a regular copy by post or view earlier editions of the SWBR online visit www.smu.ac.uk/swbr.
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The Big Interview: Andy Middleton Andy Middleton
Andy Middleton is an entrepreneur, innovator and consultant who co-founded TYF, one of the UK's leading sustainable adventure organisations. He is an Associate Director of INSPIRE at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, a Board Member of Natural Resources Wales and is currently co-developer of the ‘Do Lectures’. We asked him about his vision for a sustainable future economy here in Wales and beyond… SWBR: You have built a highly successful and sustainable business at TYF – can you tell us a bit about the philosophy behind it? AM: On returning from a couple of years of travelling in my early 20s, I was reminded what an amazing place the St. David’s peninsula is and realised it was where I wanted to be. This corner of Wales is a place of extremes where the natural beauty, weather and possibilities of wild play can be seen from many different perspectives. Our very first adventures were built on strong principles as well as professional practice and I knew deep down that doing the right things was more important than any career that rewarded financially whilst damaging nature; that philosophy has stayed with us as we’ve grown and it has served us well.
SWBR: You also do a great deal of work beyond TYF in addressing sustainability at a ‘Macro’ level. What drives you as an individual to tackle the big issues? AM: Working with big businesses helped me understand the connections between huge projects and goals, and the actions that individuals and teams needed to put in place to make them happen. It was a short step to bring the know-how from this area to help groups in government and communities relate their actions to the big picture. A group of us have been exploring the benefits and impacts of achieving ‘R10’ goals – the 10/10 results that would be achieved if we fully took reality into account and knew we couldn’t fail – and realised early on that wildly ambitious 4 │ Vol 5 Issue 1 2013
goals trigger all sorts of creativity and optimism that incremental ‘box ticking’ never sets alight. Figuring out the rough cost and delivery plan for say, giving every child in Cardiff the skills to grow, prepare and cook tasty cheap food would only take a dozen people a couple of hours. Big enough questions rarely get asked, yet when they are, the doors of possibility are opened and new possibilities emerge. Whilst it’s not TYF’s job to make all of these things happen, we can take responsibility for keeping a flag flying that raises inspiration, ambition and hope.
“In a smarter future, we’ll be having a much better time using fewer things.” SWBR: Can you give us a sense of your vision for a sustainable future society. What would it look like? AM: In a thousand years or so, people will look back at the wreckage and remnants of our current ‘civilization’ and marvel at the fact we somehow managed to survive, despite our collective blindness and ignorance. It’s too easy for people to forget that many of the things that we are doing to damage our planet’s life support systems reduce our prospects for the future, and take away the joy of the present too.
My vision is for a future where ‘elegant frugality’ would be abundant. Elegant frugality is a delightful concept that I first heard used by Richard Davies, CEO of the Marches Energy Agency, that shows how simple things can be so much more fun than the avoidance and replacement of fear, and growing through overconsumption of limited resources. In a smarter future, we’ll be having a much better time using fewer things. Core services such as energy, food and water will be provided by social enterprises based where we live, and the complicated technology that we use on a day to day basis will be designed for disassembly from day one. Within 50 years, young children will not know the meaning of landfill and our natural resources will be valued as the treasures they’ve always been. Our economy will be better balanced, with a ‘full and fair price’ that includes all of the cost of making the product or service included in its price, not hidden away for a rainy day in the future. Communities of all sizes will acknowledge that climate change, sea level rise, biodiversity loss and resource shortages are going to have major impacts on most people, and the level of engagement to involve people in solving these challenges will be two or three times higher than it is now.
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SWBR: What needs to happen to bring it about? AM: We need to recognise that it is not business leaders’ or politicians’ responsibility to lead on this agenda, but ours; we must take individual responsibility for knowing what needs to be done, and playing our part in making it happen. By showing others what’s already possible, by working out risks and opportunities, we can eliminate many of the risks that our leaders might use as an excuse for not actually leading.
“When work feels like play, the world really starts to come alive…” The teachers that we work with know that children and students want more connection between now and the future. Our magic wand would see every student leave education with a dozen experiences under their belt of having made real change happen – sustainability actions that make a difference to other people. The third thing on our wish list is a radical up-skilling of the public sector’s 300,000 or so workforce so that every person is able to draw a direct line between their work and the major changes that will happen to their roles over the next 10 years or so. By ensuring that every person knows what risks and opportunities are ahead, we’ll be able to build the ‘competent crew’ we need to sail this ship of ours safely into the future.
SWBR: What advice would you give businesses who are considering ways of becoming more sustainable in their activities? AM: There’s a huge array of information out there advising business people what do – and much of it is conflicting. The most valuable thing that I’ve learned is the act of focusing on the ‘why’. Why are different things important to you in your business? Why is it important to take ‘reality’ into account? Why might you think about what your kids will say about your achievement? Why might your customers care more if you do? By focusing on the ‘why’, we have a set of values and a compass to navigate our business by – that’s already starting to make a huge difference to us and our customers. As for the technical things that you might do – heating, lighting, packaging, products etc. – ask people who have already done it for themselves, not the people who are selling products – those with experience will give you the best insights. Lastly, never doubt that doing the right thing is the right thing to do. We’ve gone to the line time after time in making decisions that were true to our values and that took into account the tricky seas ahead. I don’t regret a single one, and the result is that as a team, TYF has a become a business where our retail operations, adventure, education and consulting work are all united by common values and shared stories. When work feels like play, the world really starts to come alive…
“We need to recognise that it is not business leaders’ or politicians’ responsibility to lead on this agenda, but ours” Vol 5 Issue 1 2013 │ 5
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Sustainable Tourism - An Oxymoron? Andrew Campbell Andrew Campbell, Head of Leisure, Events, Tourism and Sport at UWTSD’s Faculty of Business and Management reflects on the real challenges faced by the tourism industry in tackling sustainability issues, and the surprising opportunities sustainable approaches may present. Sustainable tourism - clever marketing ploy or an industry imperative? A set of fine principles or simply a load of “green hogwash”? The debate was ever thus, and after recent media coverage surrounding leaked IPCC “climategate” emails, it seems it ever will be. The revelations over inaccurate global warming information were surprising, given society’s reliance and dependency upon computer technology. Forecasts over the loss of Himalayan glaciers and Arctic ice sheets – together with the anticipated 50% decline in North African crop yields have now been retracted. In essence many claims have been debunked and said to be exaggerated. For the climate change sceptics therefore, a victory of sorts. The emails, which emanated from the “Summary for Policymakers” report, a six yearly submission compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (September 2013), also made clear though that the evidence for climate change is irrefutable. Although the rise in surface temperature between 1998 and 2012 was 0.051C and well below expectations, the atmosphere and oceans have warmed – and there is now much less snow and ice in the world. Each of the last three decades has been warmer than previous decades and weather patterns have become more extreme. Temperature and sea level forecasts to the end of the century have been reworked, but they are still set to increase. The report stresses the need for 6 │ Vol 5 Issue 1 2013
renewed efforts to cut emissions of carbon dioxide. It would also appear that the media furore concerning these disclosures has had an effect upon public opinion. In a recent YouGov survey, 39% of UK nationals now believe that climate change claims have been exaggerated; whilst only 56% think that climate is changing because of human activity. In consumer research terms this is an interesting snapshot for the tourism industry. Such findings would also appear to mirror government thinking, where more emphasis is now being placed upon economic growth at the expense of environmental protection. One wonders, in light of these attitudinal shifts, how Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006) would be received today. The IPCC report is, however, strong in its defence of reducing carbon emissions and cites with “95% certainty” that humans have been the dominant cause of global warming since the 1950s. The date has significance for those working in tourism. It was from that time, in concert with advancements in aviation technology, that the industry (excuse the pun!), really took off. In 1960 international tourist arrivals were 25.3 million; by 2008 that figure had risen to 982 million; by 2020 numbers are expected to reach 1.6 billion (World Tourism Organisation, 2012). The rate of growth has been phenomenal, and for many countries it has been a force for good in alleviating poverty and improving standards of living.
Such passenger movement has not come without costs however, particularly within the context of global warming. Travel and tourism are estimated by the World Economic Forum to contribute 5% to all CO2 emissions. Economic success has been achieved, but at the expense of harmful environmental impacts. For commentators on sustainable tourism, this is the conundrum, where success may be viewed as a contradiction in terms. Factor in associated outcomes such as overcrowding, congestion and noise – and the impacts are intensified. No wonder then that for some, tourism should simply be about staying at home.....walking and cycling, with perhaps the occasional trip on public transport! Within tourism, a realisation dawned over the need “to protect the goose that lays the golden eggs”; that the industry must now seek to operate within its own means, conserving and enhancing the resource that it depends upon. Some guiding principles took root...that tourism must: operate within its natural capacities; recognise the contribution that local people and communities make to the tourism experience; accept that people must have an equitable share in the economic benefits – and that development must be guided and influenced by them (a “grassroots approach”). That said, initial acceptance of this new way of thinking was slow. I well remember hosting an evening for Pembrokeshire tourism operators in 1996, to discuss the need to adopt a more environmentally sensitive approach. Audience reaction
ADOLYGIAD BUSNES DE CYMRU│ was muted, in fact most reaction was focused upon my conversion to an alternative lifestyle, with many good natured comments and questions about my choice of sandals and beads! A year later however, the same audience returned, but this time attracted by a different proposition, “to trade more profitably”. The emphasis this time was not so much upon environmental sustainability, but upon cost savings within energy, purchasing, waste/recycling management and transport. Outcomes were very different and the evening was a great success.....making it so much easier to raise and debate the subject of sustainability. For the next seven years, delivering “green seminars” within tourism became a major part of my life. This sleight of hand in getting operators to accept principles of sustainable practice provided an insight into motivations which drive much individual and corporate behaviour. Put simply, the dual objectives of profit and sustainability are inextricably linked.
For example, Ryanair has now reduced its fuel bill by flying slower – and by charging customers for checking in luggage, which resulted in 140 million fewer items being checked in during 2012 (only 30% of all passengers now check in luggage). The maths is easy: less weight = less fuel used = less costs = increased profits. TUI saved £21 million between 2008 and 2011 through implementing green initiatives. Walt Disney Company made significant savings by reducing greenhouse emissions by 50% between 2006 and 2012. Similar stories abound throughout the industry, hastened in recent times no doubt, by trading through a recession - and through the introduction of government climate change levies and taxes. Sustainable practice has not been so easily attained within other areas of tourism, however, notably destination management. For some destinations, regulating visitor numbers has been problematic. In 1999, 100,000 cruise ship passengers visited Venice. In 2011, that figure had risen to 1.8 million, conveyed by 650 cruise ships. Vibrations from these “super liners” have caused irreparable damage to buildings and pollutants have also been harmful. Exasperated Venetians staged a three day protest in August 2013 with the aim to “take back the lagoon”.
Successful destinations will often have two narratives. One is of offering leading attractions and impressive facilities. The other is a more hidden side, characterised by an unhappy indigenous population, who may be experiencing more serious issues such as poverty, exploitation, human trafficking and unemployment. Frequently they may be suffering from a squeeze on basic resources such as water. These problems apply to destinations in both developed and developing countries....as much a problem in London, as in Bangkok. But conveniently authorities will often turn a blind eye to such injustice, for fear of upsetting the status quo. One often overlooked and important component within the sustainability debate, as mentioned above, is the visitor. Sustainability is not just about providers. In market led economies, it is the customer who dictates – and is central to all supply and demand theory. If one can change customer attitudes towards needs and wants, then sustainability will be more easily achieved. To take transport as an example, here in the UK, 85% of distance travelled is by car: 6% rail; 6% bus; cycling 2% - with bus usage outside of London in continual decline. Not in the least bit sustainable in terms of carbon emissions and congestion, reflecting clearly some entrenched views over the use of public transport. Although these views or attitudes could be changed through government intervention via taxation and regulation, a far more effective strategy to use would be education.
consideration by other academic institutions. In summary, the jury is still out on sustainable tourism. Many view it as an oxymoron, where industry actions, taken in the name of sustainability, mask the quest to increase profits. In climate change terms, questions continue to be asked over whether tourism is still ‘fuelling’ the crisis, but in answer to the original set of questions set out we can give some responses… Is sustainability an industry imperative? Yes. A set of fine principles? Undoubtedly. Clever marketing ploy? In some cases. “Green hogwash”? Certainly not!
The role of education is much understated and yet is by far the most influential tool to effect change. Education to provide knowledge and change attitudes...and through that, product choice, could influence to some degree some of the destination management challenges discussed earlier. Whilst admirable work is being carried out by charities such as Tourism Concern and the Travel Foundation, to name but two within the industry, their voluntary status makes it difficult to achieve widespread change. Far better that the subject of sustainability be introduced within school and University curricula, where more deep seated values could be nurtured. Here at UWTSD, the award winning work carried out within this field, by Jane Davidson and the INSPIRE unit, is an exemplar which deserves further Vol 5 Issue 1 2013 │ 7
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Opinion: Optimum Pollution - an Uncomfortable Concept
Steve Griffiths Steve is Assistant Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management at UWTSD and has taught economics and marketing at Swansea Business School for many years. His main research interests include analysing business ethics and CSR policies for business. Is there an acceptable level of pollution? Can we live with pollution? While an emotional response from many might be “No”, some economists might argue that it is possible to measure costs and benefits to identify a level which is ‘acceptable’. The concept of ‘the optimum’ is a situation where no better option exists. In order to reach this position economists like to use the idea of marginal measurements, incremental additions of policies, costs or benefits to define the optima in many different models. Most of us might recognise this at a personal level if we are honest. In our desire for a better material standard of living we may well compromise our care for the environment. For example, how many of us are
prepared to pollute the environment for the thrill of driving a fast sports car? The diagrams here illustrate how the arguments might develop. Figure 1 shows the Marginal Social Benefit (MSB) and Marginal Social Cost (MSC) curves to society of introducing more and more antipollution measures. The MSB curve shows that from a base of zero, in a world with no anti-pollution measures, we appreciate very quickly the benefits of being able to breathe cleaner air and walk in less dirty streets. At some point, however, as pollution is cleared the extra (marginal) benefits of even more clean-ups are less and less valued. Another extra antipollution measure to clean pollution which is hardly perceived does not make much impact.
Money value of regulations
In contrast the MSC curve rises relatively slowly at first. In the zero measure world, the first policies to be introduced are simple and cheap – targeting the easiest problems to solve will be low cost and have high benefit impacts. However as the measures increase and become increasingly more sophisticated, they may become increasingly costly (with fewer benefits) as the world cleans up. At some point it could be argued that there will be no net advantage in adding more measures as the marginal cost will be higher than the marginal benefit. We will then have arrived at our optimum level of pollution. This approach can, of course, be criticised, as economists will disagree about measurements and exact predictions as well as the moral and
Marginal Social Cost
MSB 2 MSB1
Marginal Social Benefits
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Suboptimal level of regulation
Number of regulation measures
Optimum Level of Regulation
Q1 Q2 Number of regulation measures
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“Campaigners need to impress policy makers to take the long term viewpoint and to measure all costs and benefits fairly, including the wider, often hidden, costs to society of unregulated business activities.”
ethical considerations. If it is accepted, however, it could be posited that not all antipollution measures will be worth adopting and so advocates of such measures will need to demonstrate their understanding of cost benefit analysis and find counter arguments worthy of consideration. Another problem for the analysis is the dynamic atmosphere in which the debate is taking place. The nuclear disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi have changed the minds of many previously pro-nuclear campaigners. In their risk assessment, even if the likelihood of a disaster happening is low; the impact if it did take place is so devastating that they believe it is a risk too far.
On the other hand, particularly if you live in a nation without fossil fuel or mountains for hydro development and are attempting to meet carbon emission targets, nuclear is seen as the viable option long term, given the uncertainty of renewables. In Wales, with the centenary of the Senghenydd mining disaster this year, we are all aware that coal and gas industries are not without casualties. Where does this leave the advocates of the ecological element of sustainability? Certainly there remains a need for campaigning. If society can be “sensitised” and informed of environmental impacts of certain behaviours it is possible to raise the MSB curve as in Figure 2, and as technology
progresses, innovative measures to eliminate pollution will become cheaper, as in Figure 3. Sustainability policies will put pressure on both these areas and will result in reducing pollution by raising the number of antipollution measures in the optimum. Campaigners need to impress policy makers to take the long term viewpoint and to measure all costs and benefits fairly, including the wider, often hidden, costs to society of unregulated business activities. Now is the time to invest in conservation and renewables or it will be our grandchildren who will suffer for our neglect.
Fig 3 £ 1 MSC
Number of regulation measures
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Point of View: Sustainable competitive advantage through people Sam Morgan Sam Morgan, Programme Director for CIPD professional programmes at Swansea Business School explores an often overlooked element of building sustainability in to your business – valuing and retaining your people. “People are an organisation’s greatest asset”. How often have we heard this well-worn – but very true mantra? Talented employees are of course the only asset which cannot be replicated by a competitor and therefore are potentially the key to sustainable competitive advantage. I say potentially because, without continuous investment, like all assets their value to the business will depreciate. Some have argued that in order to remain sustainable, individuals working in organisations need to learn more quickly than the pace of change (Purcell and Sisson, 2010). Is this really achievable? Probably not, but I do concur with the view that sustainable organisations are those who nurture talent and develop knowledge within the business – as this is what adds real value in the long term. Indeed, for the Human Resource function doing this more effectively than competitors is an imperative, a key lever to achieving sustainable competitive advantage though people. Nurturing talent and developing knowledge within a business is not something that happens accidentally, these are critical aspects of any business which need to be planned for. As with any plan, appropriate resources need to be attached, resources which if used effectively allow the plan to be met and the benefits to be derived. This is where Human Resources can really make an 10 │ Vol 5 Issue 1 2013
impact on the bottom line and consequently the future sustainability of the organisation. Coupled with talented, knowledgeable experts in the field of people management, organisations also need to ensure that such experts have access to adequate funds if they are truly to achieve competitive advantage through people. Why then do organisations cut back on investment in people development during times of austerity? I would strongly contend that this is the very time that higher levels of investment should be made in learning – after all it is people developing solutions to critical business challenges that will improve results and create a more sustainable future. The CIPD (2013) identified in their annual review of Learning and Development activities that in only 8% of cases has the economic/funding circumstances of UK organisations improved over the past 12 months, consequently organisations across all sectors are cutting back on their overall investment in developing their employees. Whilst not surprising, this is still concerning, as when reduced funding in learning and development is combined with a reduction in headcount within organisations, in many instances employees are required to take on a wider remit. Regrettably the funding to develop them to undertake additional responsibilities and deliver tangible results
to their struggling organisations is ever reducing. This may then lead to a cycle of increasing stress levels, higher absence rates and general disengagement from the organisation – all of which adds to higher costs, poor performance and decreased sustainability. This is of course a vicious circle which many organisations are currently experiencing. Although it is appreciated that organisations do not have bottomless pits of money to spend on training and development, most organisations do have individuals who have accountability for the attraction and development of talent – usually the Human Resource function or designated persons. These people should be central to designing and developing innovative and lower cost solutions to attracting, retaining and developing people, in order to help make their organisations more sustainable. Regrettably in times of austerity the Human Resource Function’s attention is often focused on facilitating exit strategies, streamlining terms and conditions and managing disputes – all essential tasks, but not ones which will lead to long term prosperity. Now is a critical time to invest in HR and allow them to innovate for the future; to do this effectively however they themselves may need to develop additional skills and knowledge within their own teams.
ADOLYGIAD BUSNES DE CYMRU│ There are many ways to do this, but engaging in professional development programmes offered by Universities like UWTSD that combine accreditation from the Charted Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) will ensure that staff in Human Resources teams are able to apply the most relevant, up-to-date and research-led insights in their working practice. Programmes are available from Foundation level right through to Master’s level, and all are offered on a part time basis allowing individuals to effectively manage work and study commitments. Crucial to the success of the programmes is the teaching team which is made up of experienced practitioners who have a wealth of Industry experience and who are passionate about making a positive difference to the skills and abilities of learners. Programmes that focus on exploring how employees can become a key source of sustainable competitive advantage within their respective organisations will help the organisation reap the greatest rewards for investing in their people. By encouraging participants to consider the current business climate and the challenges this represents for businesses and employees
of businesses, they become better equipped to balance the needs and expectations of individuals and their organisation to maximise the contribution of staff, whilst at the same time ensuring fairness, equity, motivation and job satisfaction are achieved.
For further information on developing your Human Resources team to gain competitive advantage contact: Sam Morgan, Programme Director (CIPD) email@example.com
The ultimate aim is to ensure your people become what they can and should be one of your organisation’s most valuable sources of future competitive advantage.
“Nurturing talent and developing knowledge within a business is not something that happens accidentally.”
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University Impact: Rural Vibrancy - Creating Sustainable Rural Economies Rural communities across Europe continue to face a variety of challenges, such as population shifts to cities and urban environments, globalised competition, reduction in services and digital exclusion. However, they also have the potential to respond positively to new opportunities such as the drive for sustainable energy sources, the slow food movement, and the ability to use technology to work in remote locations. In response to these issues, Jill Venus and Lindsey Gilroy on the Lampeter campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David have been working with partners in six North West European countries to develop and support new approaches that can contribute to the sustainability of rural communities. The Rural Alliances Project (funded via the Interreg IVB Northwest Europe programme) supports and facilitates the development of rurally based alliances between social and community organisations and local businesses within rural areas; creating dynamic structures that can bring local social and economic benefits.
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As the Rural Alliances project team state: “Rural Areas across Europe are experiencing rapid changes. Young people leave, not to return, new people move in and have to make new friends and connections with local life. The elderly wonder how long they can stay on their own. The old ways of earning a living from the land have changed, no longer dependant on agriculture and forestry. New types of businesses are setting up & adapting to modern trends. Families and communities have changed, from everyone knowing each other and helping each other out, to greater segregation & sometimes isolation. The spark, the mixture of what makes a village, town or area vibrant, is now more elusive.” (Rural Alliances, 2013). Ten of the project partners work directly with communities and businesses. The role of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (together with colleagues from Philipps University, Marburg, Germany) is to develop, test and provide supporting information, tools and models and to document and disseminate examples of good practice.
The project runs until 2015, and a range of tools have been developed and are now in the testing stage. For example there is a Skills Plotting Tool that assists communities to undertake an audit of their own community, and consideration work has explored what is meant by a Rural Alliance, the importance of different participants (individuals and organisations) and their commitment to shared goals. In rural communities, approaches to Alliance Building are an important consideration, and project partners in the Netherlands have been working at a very local level to develop the Osterwick Model for Alliance Building which has now been extended to the whole of the Brabant region.
“The spark, the mixture of what makes a village, town or area vibrant, is now more elusive.”
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“'Rural Vibrancy' describes the condition of a rural community, which is characterised by active involvement and the creative, dynamic interaction of people from different generations and groupings, with the capacity to act jointly and create common interests and objectives.” Within the Rural Alliance Project the Universities have adapted this model, and incorporated good practice from elsewhere to produce a draft blueprint for Alliance Building. This is seen as a cyclical process with four stages: • • • •
Building (selecting members, agreeing a purpose, planning how to operate) Managing (structuring and mobilising, organising governance, delivering) Reviewing (monitoring, evaluation) Long Term Planning (sustaining, scaling, moving).
In order to examine and explore wellbeing in communities and other concepts related to sustainability the project has developed and defined its own concept of Rural Vibrancy: “'Rural Vibrancy' describes the condition of a rural community, which is characterised by active involvement and the creative, dynamic interaction of people from different generations and groupings, with the capacity to act jointly and create common interests and objectives.”
The Rural Vibrancy Index is a tool that allows communities themselves to review what is happening at local level and to use a traffic light system (red, amber and green) to code the communities’ sense of their own wellbeing against a series of measures relating to: • Participation, • Organisational capacity, • Civil society, • Infrastructure.
This project is one of several current and recent projects involving the University of Wales Trinity Saint David that are working to develop understanding, tools and resources to support communities and local businesses, and demonstrates the real-world impact Universities can have in supporting their regional, national and international economies.
Sustainable communities need strong internal structures, with mutually supportive approaches that facilitate interdependency and the generation of new initiatives and concrete actions for the benefit of local people. Communities have always had such mechanisms and finding ways to enhance and build on these strengths will allow our rural areas to maximise on opportunities – this is where the Rural Alliances project is taking steps to develop and share ideas and good practices.
Image: © Simon Greig / Shutterstock
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Think Piece: Sustainable by Design – Re-thinking the Product Life Cycle for the 21st Century Dr Ian Walsh
Dr Ian Walsh, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Design at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, explores the possibility of a future where products are designed with sustainability in mind. Hardly a day goes by without some new edict calling upon us to reduce this or cut that. In the name of sustainability we are being called upon to rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, recycle and up-cycle. The calls for immediate action have reached such hysterical proportions and predictions of the end of the world as we know it seem to come from so many quarters that it can seem that we've passed the point of no return. The numbers quoted and the impacts predicted are too large to take in. Many are tempted to just give up and live for today and therein lies the problem. Like a 'yo-yo' dieter we go from one green fad to another whilst all the time we get fat on excess consumption. The aims of policy makers and environmental campaigners are laudable. Their objectives are well intended and must surely be embraced by society at large. However, we seem no closer to realising the dream of a sustainable society than when William McDonough and Dr Michael Braungart published ‘The Hannover Principles: Design for Sustainability’ back in 1992. In 2002 they went on to publish ‘Cradle-to-Cradle: Remaking The Way We Make Things’, and this seminal book marked a transformation in the way we see the cycle of sustainability. For them, the end of a product’s life became the catalyst for the birth of a new product, and thus seeing in the material content of an existing product the ‘nutrients’ of the next, turns recycling into a positive rather than a negative. Considering how we can re-use a 14 │ Vol 5 Issue 1 2013
product’s constituent materials rather than disposing of them revolutionises sustainable design. In the US, in the 1970s, John Lyle was one of a number of academics and forward thinkers who led the field in developing closed loop systems for sustainability. In this system a product’s life should be seen in the context of the ‘Circular Economy’. However despite decades of warnings and campaign after campaign we remain stubbornly indifferent to calls for radical change. It’s time to enlist the help of potentially the greatest ally in the fight for sustainability, the consumer. We need to rediscover the values that we once esteemed. William Morris the 19th century designer, artist and social reformer, alarmed at the relentless rise of industrial production declared,
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris How appropriate are those words to us today. Useful things last and beautiful things are cherished. Objects maintain their value when we retain our love of them. We have grown accustomed to the consumption of cheap products that fail to stand the test of time. Either through technical obsolescence or simply falling
out of fashion products are, all too often, discarded without a second thought. With that said, we need to attract consumers towards sustainability not just try to scare them into it. Like the old story of the wind and sun we need to create a desire to change and in this the role of design is vital. Designers and manufacturers have a duty to work together in this scenario. If we fail then the results could be catastrophic. It is important to note that the effects of over-consumption are already evident in the environment. It is evident that consumer demand and market creation has reached the point where the planet can no longer keep up with it; it is like pedalling a bicycle down hill and being unable to pedal fast enough to keep up with the speed of the wheels turning. The social responsibility placed on designers is enormous as they are in the best position to control the products distributed and the environmental impacts that ensue. The designer’s role is often to design products that are beautiful to look at, technologically advanced and appeal to the consumer’s sense of well-being or self-esteem. However, many of the most
ADOLYGIAD BUSNES DE CYMRU│ successful products on the market break all the rules regarding sustainable resourcing or design for disassembly. In this case the designer and manufacturer have broken the closed loop. The consumer accepting the product then compounds this act of unsustainability. Sixty years ago the psychologist Abraham Maslow sought to identify the factors behind an individual’s desire to fulfil their personal needs. His hierarchy has been used to explain the motivation behind the development of western consumerism. As we progress up the hierarchy we become more fulfilled and eventually fully satisfied with our lot. What Maslow had not bargained on was the relentless development of consumerism. The paradox of which is that the more we consume the less content we seem to be. Designers and manufacturers need to acknowledge their share of responsibility for this condition, and by accepting our shared responsibility, as consumers, designers and manufacturers, we can begin to deal with the big problems facing us. We need a cultural shift away from material acquisition as the means of fulfilling our need for belonging and selfesteem to one where sustainability, in every sense, brings us social acceptance. Only then will we begin to re-appraise the values that have drawn us into the downward spiral of over-consumption and the consequent effect on our natural world. How do we tackle these problems? Well, organisations such as the Institute for Sustainable Design (ISD) at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Swansea are examples of the support that is available to businesses in addressing unsustainable practices. ISD works with firms and
individuals to help them embed sustainable design thinking into their business. We can assist businesses in developing and adopting sustainability action plans and implementing sustainable workflows. ISD also works to assist business in accessing research partners to aid the development of innovative solutions. Above all the aim is to build a networked community of strong independent businesses delivering sustainable design and manufacturing across Wales.
Find Out More Contact The Institute for Sustainable Design E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.isdwales.com Image adapted from: ©GorbashVarvara/ Shutterstock
Without genuine partnership and acceptance of equal responsibility, true sustainability cannot be realised. As Wales prepares to receive a third round of European development funding we need to build a culture of innovative and sustainable design. A culture based upon values of sustainability that work with people rather than against them.
“By accepting our shared responsibility, as consumers, designers and manufacturers, we can begin to deal with the big problems facing us.”
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Point of View: The Consumption Conundrum – A Marketing Challenge Will Fleming Senior Lecturer in Marketing at Swansea Business School, Will Fleming, unpicks the challenges marketers face in addressing issues of sustainable consumption, and how they might respond… People love ‘choice’ and people love ‘things’, and so it follows that organisations create plenty of choice and plenty of things for those who are materially driven in their desires. Easy access to finance helps fuel this demand and we have witnessed a seachange in attitude towards credit within a generation. My parents, for example, would save to buy the things they wanted and receiving credit was never encouraged, in fact it was seen as a sign of personal financial trouble. I, on the other hand, was taught that credit could let me get what I wanted, and get it now; so I think nothing of using mortgages and loans to get what I want. I am now often embarrassed by the sheer number of clothes, cars, televisions, mobile phones, laptops, notebooks, games consoles, books, CDs, DVDs etc. that my family own and it always reminds me of John Hodge’s poem ‘Choose Life’:
“choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixedinterest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage... Choose your future. Choose life…” (John Hodge) 16 │ Vol 5 Issue 1 2013
Essentially, people choose to fill their life with ‘stuff’. Marketers encourage choice as they attempt to “satisfy people’s needs and wants” using marketing tools and techniques like branding, advertising and planned obsolescence to encourage demand and [re]consumption to increase sales / contributions for our organisations to secure their long-term future. It is all too easy to blame marketers for encouraging people to buy things that they do not need because they are a vital cog in the wheel of the machinery that requires perpetual growth for survival. They, however, might argue that they are merely responding to the demands of the consumer, especially the middle classes. It is no accident that economies with a large middle class are strong and active economies. Recent reports on some of the largest growing markets in the world namely Brazil, Russia, India and China (often referred to as the BRIC countries) have identified the influence of growing numbers of the middle classes on these growing economies, clearly good news for the Brand Managers and Marketing Directors of the major global products and services. What we have known for decades, though, is that this drive for more choice comes at cost. Since the industrial revolution mankind has been exploiting all
the resources accessible to them in the pursuit of a better way of life and in the process we are creating havoc in the ecological environment. As the world population grows and the number of people who can afford more things grows then, if we do not change the way we operate and the demands placed on our natural raw materials, we will reach the point where the world’s ecology cannot handle the drive of the main developed economies for further growth. It simply cannot continue and it is now common knowledge that there is a need for a much more sustainable approach. In 1987 the Brundtland commission presented their definition of Sustainable Development, as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". The three main pillars of sustainable development include economic growth, environmental protection, and social equality. Achieving a sustainable economy will, I believe, have important repercussions for marketing and the marketers of the future. Working With Governments In Wales the sustainability agenda has taken on a greater sense of importance with the Welsh Government’s forthcoming Future Generations Bill. This is a response to what is seen as market failure and suggests that governments believe consumers need to be protected from their own actions as it is unlikely that they will arbitrarily decide to reduce their consumption.
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The issue here for marketers will be not just lobbying politicians to protect their own interests but learning how to work together to negotiate better with government officials to ensure that they get a fuller case across. As marketers are expected to understand their customers they could play a vital role in anticipating responses to evaluate and judge government actions not only for the intended consequences they are trying to achieve but more importantly the unintended consequences of their actions. Working With Consumers In the ideal marketplace the consumers would be driving the changes needed. Unfortunately this has not occurred as it is difficult for customers to come together to build a consensus to drive the change. We have seen a number of anticonsumption groups but their fragmented and piecemeal approach has meant that none of these have become mainstream. The sheer scale of the fundamental change in behaviour that is needed means a much more holistic approach is needed if the issue is to seep into the public’s consciousness. Somehow we do not seem to equate that the damage done now will make it worse for our future generations. At its most basic level people are being asked to be less selfish and to give up the things that they perceive to be making their life more pleasurable and that will be a tough task. However, here again I feel marketers could make an impact in working with consumers. Now that there is a clear consensus in science that climate change is due to the actions of humans then maybe we can address what needs to be done. The challenge for marketers here is to use the marketing communications
tools and techniques they have to promote individual brands and how to use them for key issues. It must be more than just a government advertising campaign asking us all to cut down a little. It requires a co-ordinated and co-operative approach by the organisations concerned to produce fully developed integrated campaigns focused on a clear and concise message that includes and involves the key stakeholders like suppliers and intermediaries, financiers, local government, the media, pressure groups, educators, members of the community and professional bodies. The Marketing Response So Far Green marketing (including environmental and ecological marketing) has been the marketer’s response to these issues. The main theme has been to market products, services and brands as being environmentally and/or ecologically sensitive. In fact in some cases it was developed to create a sustainable competitive advantage over competitors to, you guessed it, buy more of ours than theirs, and so some commentators suggest that it is yet another cynical ploy by marketers to make people buy more. This for me gets to the real challenge for marketers and that is how to introduce sustainability into the organisation and permeate into all aspects of the business so that green marketing is not just a promotional fad but is integrated into all aspects of marketing.
organisations to deliver marketing in a form that is in the best interests of the consumers and society. It could be of strategic importance in the organisation because it may free professionals from the pressure of short-term aims and objectives like sales volume and sales value. There is a remit for marketers to engage in this agenda and a body of work already in place to draw upon, but it is now up to us to look at our modes of operation so that we can fully participate in the agenda. The Challenge For Marketers One of the biggest challenges we marketers face is how we evaluate and control marketing activity from a sustainability perspective. In many respects the current nature of markets through the desire to provide customer satisfaction and maximisation of returns for organisations has made life relatively easy for marketers. Certainly it has limited its horizons and allowed professionals to focus on growth. There now needs to be a change of emphasis on what we regard as important, what and how we report and how we view success. For example we need to make as much of consumption reduction and efficiency as we do for return on capital employed and returns on investment. Clearly a number of governments around the world will be watching the Welsh experience before committing themselves to public policy. If more do follow then the sustainability agenda could really offer a number of marketers a new reality, one in which they will have to think differently and act differently, where they need to learn new skills and work together with their key stakeholders and help to change the world, maybe it is time to “choose something else”.
In the early 1970s some U.S. marketing academics developed a concept they called the Societal Marketing Concept (Kotler and Armstrong, 2012:33). It has lofty ambitions in that it challenges Vol 5 Issue 1 2013 │17
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Think-Piece: Sustainability and Employability – a Dream Ticket for South West Wales? Jane Davidson Jane Davidson, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Practice, Innovation and Resource Effectiveness (INSPIRE) at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David explains how our region has a fantastic opportunity to lead the way on sustainable development. There is a big vision for South West Wales in the air at the moment, a vision of transforming one of the most beautiful parts of Wales and the United Kingdom into an attractive destination for more knowledge orientated activities, particularly in energy, advanced engineering/high value manufacturing, tourism/food, architectural services, legal and accounting, media, IT, business services, construction and real estate. Delivery of this big vision is at the heart of the new Swansea Bay City Region approach across the 4 local authorities – Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot - serving a population of 685,000, supporting some 280,000 jobs, and containing around 20,000 businesses. The new Swansea Bay City Region’s Economic Strategy 2013-2030 makes it clear that the vision must be sustainable, delivering opportunities for future generations, not just for the present. It must embrace long term solutions – some of which will be extremely difficult and challenging – building on the City Region’s existing strengths, whilst being responsive to new opportunities. It recognises that protecting and enhancing our substantial environmental assets is an essential component of the regeneration goals. The strategy does not call for quick fixes as past experience tells us that stubborn problems cannot be addressed in this way.
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The Challenge In this think-piece, I’m going to argue that if the principles of sustainability can underpin the City Region approach, then the stage is set for a hugely exciting, transformative development; playing to our environmental strengths, while fostering a collaborative and co-operative approach to a more socially just economy in South West Wales. We are privileged to live in a glorious, natural environment which includes 320 miles of coastline i.e. more than 30% of the new Wales Coast Path, two National Parks, the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the UK – the Gower peninsula – and dynamic urban centres including Swansea city centre, and attractive market towns serving as local economic, leisure and service hubs. We have globally significant firms, for example, Tata Steel in Neath Port Talbot and Valero in Pembrokeshire. We have two universities, providing a valuable mix of research-oriented and applied educational and innovation opportunities, as well as major tourism assets and leisure attractions. We can provide an affordable choice for families, with an average housing cost of under £110k, compared to more than £160k in the UK as a whole. In a number of key sectors we have the potential to drive real productivity gains and boost our economic competitiveness, both through our existing companies and potentially through new in-movers and further enterprise development in energy, advanced engineering/high value manufacturing, tourism, media, IT and business services.
But even with all these advantages, a major productivity gap has emerged between the City Region, the rest of Wales and the UK. In 2010, our productivity was equivalent to only 94% of the Welsh level and 77% of the UK total. On skills, we have insufficient people with higher level qualifications and too many people with no qualifications at all. Only 28% of our residents have NVQ4+ qualifications (degree level or equivalent), compared to 33% across the UK. Further, 14% of our working age residents have no qualifications, against a comparable figure of 11% in the UK. We don’t fare well on unemployment and economic inactivity either. All places across the UK have suffered as a result of the recession in terms of rising unemployment and economic inactivity. However, economic activity is now well below national levels – at 71% compared to 76% in the UK (and 72% in Wales). Further, jobs are all too often in those occupations which tend to pay relatively little.
The Delivery Mark Twain once famously said “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always had”. The new opportunity of the Swansea Bay City Region is an opportunity to do things differently; to not just try and drag a share of any investment in SE Wales into SW Wales but to play to our strengths – the landscape, the seascape and the quality of life and target what will work best for us and best for the companies we want to attract, because that will also be best for Wales.
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“The stage is set for a hugely exciting, transformative development; playing to our environmental strengths, while fostering a collaborative and co-operative approach to a more socially just economy in South West Wales.” Vol 5 Issue 1 2013 │19
│SOUTH WALES BUSINESS REVIEW First and foremost, we have to tackle the skills deficit in our region as our ability to attract the very companies we would want is substantially diminished by having 3% more unqualified residents and 5% fewer residents qualified to degree level or above, than other parts of the UK. Closing this gap is daunting, but we have the advantage of a couple of unique collaborations here which could play a significant targeted role in up-skilling the population. The first is the unique Central and South West Wales Regional Learning Partnership (RLP) which brings together local government (both education and regeneration), the two universities – Swansea and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, the five colleges of further education, third sector partners, work based learning and private sector representatives, JobCentre Plus and Careers Wales. It covers the local authority boundaries of Carmarthenshire CC, Ceredigion CC, Neath Port Talbot CBC, Pembrokeshire CC, Powys CC and the City & County of Swansea with the aim of ensuring publicly funded learning providers and associated organisations work collaboratively, effectively and efficiently across the areas of education and regeneration to meet the needs of learners and the regional economy. Ultimately, the partnership seeks to align regional learning and employment needs activity to the regional economic context. The RLP is the only one of its kind and has been acknowledged by Welsh Government as ‘transformational’ for its ability to plan collaboratively across sectors, to identify gaps and to provide high quality data on the basis of which members can take decisions about how and where to invest in up-skilling. The RLP is currently facilitating the development of the Swansea Bay City Region plan for employability and skills. The second unique collaboration is my university, the newly transformed University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), including Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion, with almost 27,000 students on five campuses in Swansea, six in Carmarthenshire, three in 20 │ Vol 5 Issue 1 2013
Ceredigion and two in London as well as the International Academy of Voice based in Cardiff. This is a new university model – a first for Wales - designed to serve the city region by delivering tangible benefits for learners, employers, industry and communities by offering a new integrated approach from school level to post-doctoral research across the Swansea Bay City Region, thereby actively addressing the skills gaps identified. The University intends to play a pivotal role in the promotion of social justice, economic renewal and the development of cultural and environmental wealth, for full time and part time students. As I write, staff members across the university are busy reviewing our current courses, testing their fitness for purpose and creating new ones for next September focused on employers’ needs using data from the RLP. Having looked at universities across the world, the new UWTSD has very specifically put the principles of ‘employability’ and ’sustainability’ at the heart of the new university’s strategic plan. Rather than focus exclusively on our individual course offer, as universities have often historically done, we also intend to focus on the graduate attributes we want our students to demonstrate. Quite simply, we want our graduates to become the next generation of creative problem solvers and active citizens – to be able to appreciate the importance of environmental, social and political contexts to their studies and to think creatively, holistically, and systemically and make critical judgements on issues. After all, many of them come from within our beautiful region and choose to stay within it, so how better to educate tomorrow’s community leaders? The education we deliver, underpinned by high quality research, will be distinctive; it will develop the minds and skills of our students, and also be inclusive, professional and employment-focused. We have just introduced a new TSD+ Employability Award to deliver on these
attributes and the more traditional ones of teamwork, self-reflection and communication. Hywel Evans, Chairman of Swansea Business Forum said last year, “My prospects would have been better and less constricted – as indeed would those of most of my peer group - if the programme you now propose to run at UWTSD had been available to us at Swansea those many years ago. Broadening students’ academic experience through offering them an opportunity to gain “real-life” expertise during their college days has many benefits. Students also gain by being able to more effectively evaluate the likely personal demands upon them of any specific job opportunity - based on the wider set of skills and background experience they have acquired through the TSD+ programme.”
“The role of INSPIRE is to work across the whole new University” The role of INSPIRE is to work across the whole new University to deliver more ‘inspired’ education, work-based learning and knowledge transfer opportunities to our region as well as to those full time students we attract here through our locations and our offer. We want to explicitly tackle the skills deficit as well as offer new professional practice opportunities in partnership with others - but to do it in a new, more sustainable way. Without under-estimating the challenges ahead for the new Swansea Bay City Region, we believe that holding our collective nerve to focus on sustainability and employability at the heart of the new city region, might just be the dream ticket we need for south west Wales.
The INSPIRE Project won the award for ‘Best Sustainability Project’ at this year’s Guardian University Awards.
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News and Events
Events @ Swansea Business School
For full details and booking for any of the below events please contact Jamie Tavender (Faculty Marketing Officer): email@example.com
27th November 2013
Issues in Business and Economics
Welsh Economics and Business Society (WEBS) Student Conference. Open to groups and individuals from all Sixth Forms and FE Colleges.
4th December 2013, 6pm
Small Business in Wales: The sustainability, employability and survival agenda
Speaker: Mr Iestyn Davies, Head of External Affairs, FSB Wales. Open event at Swansea Business School, all welcome.
16 January 2014, 6pm
Best of Wales A Welsh SME online tourism business start-up and growth case study
Speaker: Gareth Mahoney, Director, Y Gorau o Gymru / Best of Wales Ltd. Open event at Swansea Business School, all welcome.
23 January 2014, 6pm
Culture Shock: the experience of buying from and selling to China
Speaker: Dr Thomas Jansen. Open event at Swansea Business School, all welcome.
Business School Hosts Inaugural Postgraduate Alumni Conference Swansea Business School hosted its inaugural Postgraduate Alumni Conference this September, providing an opportunity for graduates, students, staff and our business partners to come together to learn from a host of industry experts and build their professional networks. The programme included industry speakers from Tata Steel, Linde Severnside
(Managing Director Trevor Walton is pictured here with Assistant Dean Steve Griffiths), Coastal Housing, Fusion Corporation, and inspirational advice from ‘Red Shoe Business Woman’ Rebecca Jones. Dr Margaret Inman, Head of the Centre for Postgraduate and Professional Studies and conference organiser, said ‘this was a fantastic event,
and an opportunity for alumni to benefit from being part of the lifelong learning community we aim to offer our students and graduates. This is one example of the range of networking and learning opportunities we offer our graduates to help them continue to develop as professionals beyond their studies with us.’
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Breadth and Depth in Defining Sustainability Michael Blowfield (2013) Business and Sustainability, Oxford, OUP. Blowfield’s textbook is a lively account evaluating the meaning of sustainability and its implications for business (defined in the widest manner). He claims that he is reviewing the general strategies, alternatives and drivers of this increasingly powerful business and academic theme, however there is much here for management functions, sustainable marketing, finance and managing people and stakeholders, to name just a few specialist fields. Many concepts will be familiar, the Triple Bottom Line, Resource Constrained Economy (RCE), the 5 Capitals of sustainable organisations, etc. However the book integrates them and puts them in context, testing their relevance to different cases and contexts. Throughout Blowfield effectively communicates that life is not and will not be simple. Future developments and organisational structures led by leaders who acknowledge the sustainability ethos, will have to struggle to be innovative, overcoming resistance, resource constraints and social/political opposition. The scope of sustainability goes beyond simple ecological concern, through green energy, externalities and the exploitation of finite resources, and quasi political themes such as equitable distribution of resources. Sustainable organisations will have to change their structures and modes for competing, consulting and development. Active engagement with diverse stakeholders, global governance and citizenship, collaboration with rivals for sustainable new product development, avoiding destructive competitive activities and responding to international intrusive regulatory frameworks, all seem to be part of the future. This more sensitive, socially interactive approach will need new skills and competences. The message is that we need to be investing now, if we are to meet the needs for sustainability in business. Progress is not inevitable. Haunting all of Blowfield’s discussions are the implications of not making changes and respecting the need for action: the prospect of future catastrophic breakdown. While this is not bluntly stated in this well-reasoned and referenced work, it may be inferred by the reader. Blowfield rather demonstrates the business case for development and innovation. The structure of the book is accessible to specialists or the general reader. It would be relevant to most students analysing future business environments. It offers no simple solutions to the complex challenges, but does provide approaches at various levels to help stimulate discussion and analysis of cases. Chapters are well laid out with supportive free online study material for students and tutors and a wealth of case studies directed at the different themes contained in the book. It will definitely be on my recommended reading list.
Reviewed by Steve Griffiths
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