Friday, December 10, 2010

For Chef Malcolm

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Jim Carrey- Canada

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's This?

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Praise when merited is not a boon: yet to a generous nature, is it pleasant to utter it. Herman Melville

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Prayer At All Times

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Obama's G20 Closing Conference

Considering the heap of dirty dishes Obama was presented with upon arriving in the Presidential Office I think he did as well as could be expected in Seoul recently. Here is a final press conference from that meeting.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Links on India-Japan CEPA

It appears an internal voluntary Indian steel import tariff exemption on semi-finished is being considered on re-exports:

Interesting interview with President/CEO of JFE Steel regarding general Indian interests.

Recent article on possible Japanese steel market growth plans in India.

Specific to rolled steel semi-finished products to be exported to India.

Nothing specific to coil or the agreement yet other than, "The Devil is in the Details." Many sectors face almost immediate reductions in tariffs while others will be slowly staged over the next nine to ten years.

This steel news website might provide better intel?

It appears we are not alone in having few details about this CEPA?

Thus how could it be considered "free trade" if no one can even read the text of the agreement?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Research Managers: Hanging on the Wicks of the Fingernails

Research Managers: Hanging on the Wicks of the Fingernails

Rob Norman details the unique struggle of his collective stakeholders in a multi-party group of researchers forming their own institute to ensure that necessary resources are directed towards the continuation of their funding efforts and projects. Earlier Professor McMillen had discussed that university administration could supplement and jump start funding challenges and even provide stop gaps where certain grants might have challenging lead time delays.

However Norman reveals that early university support waxed and waned and while providing a small investment to ensure that the foundation of the collaboration could be implemented could not be relied upon to generate operational income for several hundred researchers. In his case, team members include a dedicated marketing manager and a funding applications manager whose purposes are to focus entirely on acquiring and maintaining minimum funding resources. He describes that while the opportunity to win competitive category one Australian grants income is slight the returns on generating a winning proposal could be 48 million dollars of funding. Aside: did he get the funding?

The funding sources and categories pursued would rely upon consistent planning and revision on the conditions of the institute's orientation itself limited in scope to ensure research is conducted which meets the vision and mission of the organisation. Norman describes his role as a sandwich between the institute researchers and the Board of Directors which while not necessarily at odds possibly gripe and nip at each other through Norman. Therefore managing relationships between these two groups could require calm and patient nerves of steel.

CSIRO appears to mitigate risks by including large scale core areas of research innovation and a decades long development of its key success factors to provide a holistic and historical inter-generational record available to its own cadres. In terms of its scope while possibly not considered "too big to fail" or "too big to cut funding" probably has many opportunities to share resources across disciplines when and where there are shortfalls in funding. Smaller groups such as the Woolcock, CW+L and the Centre for Sleep Research are highly segmenting their research pursuits and probably benefit from the niche orientation of the nature of their disciplines. For example, I would imagine that sleep research centres are few and far between and while I realize that more than sleep is researched there the opportunities for funding are more narrowly classified and possibly with few other competitors for similar funding than compared to CSIRO research domains.

Cooperative research centres and efforts at greater collaboration are aiming for similar efficiencies and focused results as Norman's specialized but diverse stakeholders whereby a collective approach to funding and grants applications may result in higher successful approval returns or as one of our classmates earlier summarized, "united we stand, divided we fall." The purposes of the ARC and NHMRC are also intended (whether results support intention would be my contention) to streamline funding applications and sources to reduce overlap and redundant or duplicated results. For the purposes of discerning nightmarish but realistic scenarios Professor Dawson at SARDI reflects upon the less than complementary world that the majority of Australia's finest researchers find themselves in. Namely that these innovators and creators be they applied or "head in the clouds" social scientists are hanging on by the wicks of their fingernails in full-time part-time or full-time contracts subject to perpetual uncertainty in terms of future or continued funding. Commercial project collaborations may be the refuge of those researchers seeking to fill their bowls with more than a crust of bread when annual funding chops whittle their portions further.

Personally for all my learning pursuits I have been a boot-strapper. I've paid for it all out of my own meagre pocket. But it has given me the freedom to select among options and choices which only seem to multiply around the world. While I have yet to call myself a contract researcher I still see it as potential future possibility. I eagerly await to ride the international waves of possible incentives to my adding my lot to the grants applications and proposals process. But that would require a completed PhD. As I focus on short to medium term risks in funding such a three to four year process I do appreciate the complexities and variations in strategy necessarily dependent upon the size and scope of the research group itself and its ability to ensure success. Good results are useful and expand knowledge. If only the field of research could claim successive decades of peerless accountability and benefit to society. Any groups which can demonstrate that should be blessed with the longevity which adequate funding supports. I am loathe to rely or depend upon governments or their agencies for that support. They appear too fickle for my taste.

On Internationalisation, Global Workforce Selection, and Fish Tanks

On Internationalisation, Global Workforce Selection, and Fish Tanks

Sorry to hear of your negative experience with what appears to be a failed attempt to engage cross-cultural bridging without representational dimensions of quantitative differences in cultures as exemplified by Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions model. Yes he is a white man.You would not be the only Asian to consider the comparable usefulness of variations in cultural values to be fairly limited in scope as Ha-Joon Chang demonstrates in Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and The Secret History of Capitalism (2007). He reviews history to exemplify that cultures change and that for example barely a hundred years ago most literature published among formerly imperialist nations considered Japanese and Germans to be lazy, untrustworthy and disreputable. However it is perhaps white man's nature to seek categorize differently from that of the Asian.

Another book which appeals to me in terms of international perspectives is perennially The Geography of Thought (2003) by Richard Nisbett. My Korean students often react strongly to the idea that Canadians and Koreans might perceive a picture of a fish tank much differently.

However there is a lot of evidence out there to suggest that most multinational corporations have carefully selected their global-local employees and often discover their inter-cultural gaffs only when it costs them millions to billions of dollars in lost revenue. Employee selection among global companies is often according to highly specific cultural values selecting among individuals whose results in various HR competitive tests, interviews and performance reviews best support the mission and vision or values of their own corporate organisations. As a result these workers may often reflect greater similarities in terms of values across cultures than within them. Singapore would appear to be an Asian nation which provides opportunities for like-minded but culturally dissimilar people to innovate and create new opportunities based upon shared vision and mission whether on a corporate or multicultural level.

I agree that a key function of human resources needs to be geared towards cross-cultural inclusiveness however much of the research I have read in international HR functions suggest that best practices are often few and far between especially in recent efforts among nations like Canada for example to integrate needed new medical professionals from abroad. There is also a large body of evidence to suggest that many equal opportunity programs do not account for quality of skills or experience among selection practices which place priority on addressing disparity in proportional representation among various cultural or ethnic groups alone which often appear to leave the suitability of a white male candidate dead last. As well there is a dawning reality in Canada that the universities and researchers themselves appear to be facing similar increased selectivity among funding agencies for more calculated and commercially viable results generated from tax-payer funded programs. This would accord with what we are witnessing in Australia. Would increases in claims of academic misconduct not also be possibly tied to decreases in funding resources? Through increased equal opportunity would such claims of misconduct then not possibly be proportionally represented among perceived minorities and other special interests formerly under-represented?
Canada: "Lagging innovation leads feds to launch review into R & D," The Vancouver Sun, October 13, 2010

We have already learned an incredible amount in the course of these studies of the challenging nature of even simply increasing domestic collaboration alone. Just adding an international dimension to the course of innovation results in research can only magnify and highlight inherent weaknesses in systemic ineffective or inefficient management of research funding, accounting and reporting which already exist in national innovation systems around the world.

I am sure Singapore does have much to teach the rest of the world in terms of ensuring smooth successful collaboration results among multicultural groups and participants.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Child's Song

The Dark Night of the Soul

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Invitation to Mom's Funeral

Invitation to Mom's Funeral

On Friday Oct 1 Mom went into an unconcious state. She was receiving morphine as needed. She was unable to take nourishment. Her organs were gradually shutting down. At approximately 10 PM she went to be with the God who gave her life, and we will carry her with us always. Maman's funeral is being held at 11 AM on Wednesday October 6th with reception to follow at the church hall. Visitation will be on Tuesday October 5th 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm. She is currently at White Family funeral home in Kentville. This is such a sad message to be sending anyone. I can tell you this is a funeral I will not miss and welcome you to join us in celebrating her life. Please pass the message on to anyone I may have missed.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

For Mom: Dying of Incurable Cancer

Quand tu chantes je chante avec toi liberté
When you sing I sing with you my freedom
Quand tu pleures je pleure aussi ta peine
When you cry I cry with you in your pain
Quand tu trembles je prie pour toi liberté
When you tremble I pray for you my freedom
Dans la joie ou les larmes je t'aime
In joy or in tears I love you
Souviens-toi de jours de ta misère
You remember the days of your misery
Mon pays tes bateaux étaient tes galères
My country and your boats were mine too
Quand tu chantes je chante avec toi liberté Et quand tu es absente j'espère
And when you are absent I hope
Qui-es-tu? Religion ou bien réalité
Who are you? A religion or a kind reality
Une idée de révolutionnaire
Are you a revolutionary idea
Moi je crois que tu es la seule vérité
I myself believe you are one  truth in my life
La noblesse de notre humanité
I myself believe you are the nobility of our humanity
Je comprends qu'on meure pour te défendre
I understand that you die in defense of your life
Que l'on passe sa vie à t'attendre
And that one spends life waiting for you
Quand tu chantes je chante avec toi liberté Dans la joie ou les larmes je t'aime Les chansons de l'espoir ont ton nom et ta voix
In the songs of hope are your name and your voice
La chemin de l'histoire nous conduira vers toi
The path of history leads us toward you 
liberté, liberté
(Verdi / Arr. A. Goraguer / P. Delanoë / C. Lemesle)

International Gallop

Glad to follow your digressions and I agreeably gallop ahead following your lead as I pick sandstone shards out of my flanks and hindquarters.

I agree with you regarding the need for improved personal and system/policy relationships building in the internationalizing of research systems and the effects of global integration of best practices. So far while it doesn't appear to be as effective as it could be I think you are correct that working with people from different countries, cultures and why not say disciplines is about the only way to realize what in and out group thinking or "group think" may be in its comforts, its limitations and how it influences our decisions.

As in your experiences with Singaporean students in Perth my own undergraduate school in Canada also had a large Asian and Singaporean student body while I was there with a regular annual Asian Banquet. One of my closest classmates from that period Mel Kheng from Upper Serangoon Road is about the most non-conformist I have yet to meet and is now probably somewhere between Orchard Road and Kangiqsualujjuaq in Northern Quebec with his sled dogs. He moves from job to job like a nomad. We pondered the means to cracking Dr. Eagles' codes of rhetoric considered appropriate to The Faerie Queene together in 16th century literature. He was the only Singaporean there at Acadia at the time not to follow the commerce stream.

I sometimes wonder if my absence from this program would be more welcome than my critical analysis? I do apologize for lengthy posts however I would willingly shorten my appraisals in our readings thus far if I were to find any greater examples of the questions I pose considering improvement. I agree the sphere of international collaboration may be more challenging than those found closer to home. But I do not lose hope in its benefits I think Australia's record of integration rates of international students is commendable not only as a source of income but also apparently as a source for new ideas and perspectives on old problems and possible solutions not only in the budgetary and income-based necessities of international education.

Aren't international collaborations also a means to finding equitable choices and contingency and rewards based incentives to motivate researchers which otherwise would never be explored? Why shouldn't this be a profit making enterprise at the same time as it is for the mind?

It is a paradox not only that some of the first cross-cultural research was used to fight and win wars in Japan (courtesy of Navaho Code Speak and Clyde Kluckhohn with the US Army) and an internal corporate audit of multinational subsidiaries by IBM as the world's premier global company (Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions). National researchers in Australia bemoan the loss of the tax payer generated income once more easily provided not only by corporations limited in scope and growth funds without growing internationally but now noticeably reduced due to globalized transnational migration of many formerly nation-based outsourced industrial productions.

Why have multinationals been able to fully utilize these principles of cross cultural management in the commercial sphere where most shareholders prevent much moral hazard from managerial influence through incentives while many Australian educational institutions appear to not only discourage commercial approaches to collaborative research as Cutler does but at the same time develop courses such as this?

I find there appears as much conflict of interest in this sphere of research commercialization as there is consensus. It is hard to fathom what the real debate is about given the numerous global business benchmarks available to prove that cross-cultural management is a viable industry. Emulation by research organisations should be a possible goal one perhaps requiring greater organisational transparency as has been the case in the multinational finance and accounting of the world's most innovative businesses. Without leadership in this area I fear the majority of strategic measures available in the business world may be useless in the academic one. While I agree that researchers should be encouraged to convene with international peers without resolving this prior issue it may mostly devolve into budget consuming meet and greet events without a proper system of rewards and incentives to collaboration?

I did read in the past that the improvements in the Australian higher educational research policy and systems of twenty and twenty-five years ago came about through forensic assessment of global competitor nations in the style of quality awards evaluation and teams of multidisciplinary researchers from Australia going abroad as small groups with specific tasks to perform and learn from their peers in competitor nations to inform policies and systems planning. Why not just do this again? Didn't it work in the past? I'm sure it wouldn't cost 3 billion dollars.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Nags, the Snags and the Swags: Practice What You Preach!

As research organisations aim to become more 'international', how can we (researchers, research managers, employers) be sure that the relationships are more than just marriages of convenience?


When I first arrived in Korea in 1996 it was anything but convenient. Certain adjustments needed to be made and mostly by me. Yours truly represents the approximately fewer than 3-5% percent of "foreigners" as we are termed here who remain beyond a one to two year term. Sometimes called "lifers" or "veterans" the hardest generalizations to bear are:

  • couldn't get a job back in his own country ( true) never had a full-time or more than minimum wage job there in my life, left home at age 22 and left the country at 24.
  • couldn't get a girlfriend only wants to bed as many Korean women as possible ( false) had a fiancée before coming here told me I was too honest about the place and decided to break it off haven't met a woman I loved like that since.
  • only cares about money ( false) the highest paying job offer so far received was an unethical one and would have been about a quarter of a million dollars a year working for US Army Generals through BAE Systems as a social scientist in Iraq.
  • doesn't care about his family ( false) travel home about every 18 months.
At the time I could have taken an on-call fisheries inspector position from a privately contracted formerly government department position in Canada if I had paid for the training. Like I said Korea has never been convenient but it has grown comfortable and what keeps me enlivened is continued learning. It became a more globalized nation especially after returning here again after three years in the desert while living in Abu Dhabi. I really got bored there with all of the holidays and few real duties other than showing up for work on time, lying around the office and collecting a pay check. UOW was the only winner on the block there in Dubai at the time years before "The Knowledge Village" when I attended the education fair in 2003. I was hungry for learning and there were few real other local choices. That remains the case. Most are not international or global by choice as it is now a matter of survival.

It is in this spirit that some observers (e.g. Kivinen, 2002; Newman, 2000) caution that concern with global competitiveness could lead higher education to easily lose sight of its traditional academic values such as social criticism, preparation for civic life, and the pursuit of curiousity driven learning and scholarship. (Kreber: 2009)

These values are not always a reality among Korean students and I sometimes feel I am introducing them to such foreign concepts for the first time. UOW studies were not a marriage of convenience either. I was beginning to realize that my mind was capable of and wanted to learn new things and that I should follow my interests. It took me over two years to find the job I have here in Korea today and it has been nearly a complete realization of the strategy it took for me to get here where I want to be. In the fourth year here I had succeeded in breaking a record for staying in one job more than three years and every day I continue to break that record which is unbelievable to me. I am where I belong which appears to be in a foreign country as it is what my work experience and training made me good at and I do not agree with much of what academia tells me I should or must be:

  • couldn't do a research degree ( true) the one PhD who looked at my CV briefly for a research assistantship which would have paid the costs of remaining in Oz and studying further didn't even care to meet me face to face even on the recommendation of one of his peers
  • doesn't want to give up his job ( true) if you spent ten years working and studying looking for this job you wouldn't leave it either it's a sweet little spot I call, "Dan's Workshop."
  • doesn't have team spirit ( false) my team is over 160 members strong - I'm one of their leaders and I'm 99% happy.
  • is a second rate student ( false) the academics who haven't taken a similar path know nothing about internationalization or globalization but market and kiss it's ass extremely well.

You have to try working zero job security teaching contracts for seven years straight abroad to learn more about why international business studies may be the most appropriate field in terms of your run of the mill ESL teacher who has taken a look at the industrialization of global education. In fact has been one of its insignificant cogs. Curiosity does have a place at the table of learning and so does boredom. Business is interesting to me. I consider what I do to be my business. The world is my market place. My students are my customers. I must work, earn and save money to retire hopefully not "penniless or without a pot to piss in." Unless a doctoral program is generous enough to remember that then forget about it - I don't want any more part-time jobs. Ever. I'd rather work overseas anywhere and forever on contracts than submit to miserly doctoral research program funding that doesn't pay me enough to live and work on to be creative and innovate.

When I relocated to Campus East in 2004 for my final semesters I took the last two semesters overload to save a semester of living costs and graduated in the top 5% of my cadre with a letter of recommendation for doctoral studies in 2009. I only found out I was in the top of my class five years later when I asked for that letter to apply for a doctoral scholarship that included 40,000 USD in annual living expenses as well as accommodation benefits in Switzerland to study Chinese international investments which is about what it would take to get me to do a doctoral study. Apparently a few others agree and beat me to it. I remain at my current post. I did realize Australians are different from other international students too. At least they were globalized enough to the point that half of the dining hall was 99% Australian whites and the other half was 99% mixed international students ~ mostly Asians and everything else. This was a big difference over UOWD which had (perhaps "has") large Iranian and Indian cadres. Most of those Iranians wouldn't be there if they had their choice either. Prior to 1979 they were the largest numbers of foreign students in the USA. In my classroom and Department of Commerce a handful of Australians there were mostly kind and helpful. I had very little time to be "pro-social" anyway. I am trying to say Australia - while making strides still has a long way to go.

The Nags, the Snags and the Swags: Practice What You Preach!

In agreement with Bartel the structure of a university culture allows or inhibits the facilitation of strategies to enhance internationalization. Look at those single digit percentages of either Australian or Canadian students for that matter hovering around 2-3% who ever engage ANY offshore studies or work experiences. They are similar in Korea as well.

I couldn't access the additional readings I think because my computer crashes so frequently I have failed to install an institutional journal access feature to read them without paying for them out of pocket. In fact jstor operates sporadically. But I did pick up Leask's Internationalization of Curriculum: Key challenges and strategies from 1999 for free from her staff page. Hope that'l l do?

Leask's Three Stages

On the first stage of putting policies into practice: I would love to see UniSA publishing for free access all of its social sciences and applied sciences research organizations annual reports beyond a general accounts of the entire university but putting policy into practice online including those from Dr. Dawson's Sleep Research Centre and Dr Babcock's Social Quality of Work Centre. So far I am not convinced that a research management student (such as me?) is adequately provisioned with the required material examples to well complete the final task assignment of this current course without more transparent accounting practices. So far I find several research organizations in Australia do not provide easy access to such resources including those managed by my former quality management lecturer. So far I can only surmise that they might be spending their research funds on similar " magicians and rabbits in hats" to the tune of 70,000 AUD as at a CSIRO conference in 2005 and that educators who would mark me on my budgets, informed and researched opinions would not penalize me because I do share their perspectives on accountability and transparency. Let's account. Let's apply that.

Second stage - staff development: It's really hard to teach old dogs new tricks and Australia's research and university teaching crowd surely classifies as mostly "old dog" with fewer than 20% under the age of 35. I realize that "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink." However the most demanding and most rewarding instructors I had at UOW were first generation non-white immigrants. With those instructors if I challenged their beliefs and opinions on the final exam with contrary but also researched opinions and beliefs I was rewarded. That should be the measure in Australian international education and research in my opinion but too often it is not. I can only surmise that not enough researchers and educators there have had to work or live abroad to grow or prosper as a minority not by choice but through necessity, to have to adapt one's perspectives to those which are at times radically different or to define tolerance as a willingness to amicably agree that inequalities and injustices exist and occur across all cultures due to the advantages or the disadvantages of being born a generation too early or a generation too late. That some really do have fewer opportunities than others or natural gifts at birth still striving to succeed excel and relate and that the barriers of distance, religion, social caste, nationality, cultural values, language and income should not be a barrier to learning. ,As Robyn Wilkes former coordinator of Campus East once mentioned to me, "twenty years ago we were a lot kinder to each other." I have the tendency to agree.

Third Stage - Changing Teaching Practice: Most classes at UOW were crammed full with 70 or more students, three hours lectures twice a day with upwards of 250 slides in each. The process was industrial and good teachers took more than a glance at well prepared work before they assigned grades. One of them would even re-read and note how many minutes he spent reading the paper marked upon the graded paper itself. That way he could dissect as many contentious areas as possible to justify his grade and provide the necessary feedback which must be constructive rather than destructive to be effective. Namely when teaching adults there is a need to provide the path to improvement. It must be apparent. Otherwise it may simply be the case of, "I didn't like your argument." And that is never enough.

Bartel M. (2003) " Internationalization of Universities: A University Culture-Based Framework," Higher Education, Volume 45, No. 1 (Jan., 2003), pp. 43-70.

Kreber, C (2009) " Different Perspectives on Internationalization in Higher Education," New Directions for Teaching and Learning, No. 118, Summer 2009.

Leask B. (1999) Internationalization of the Curriculum: Key challenges and strategies, UniSA/IDP.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Grants, Scholarships for Higher Research in Korea and Asia

Grants, Scholarships for Higher Research in Korea and Asia


1. Studying in Korea from A to Z.


3. Grant Opportunities . (from Payap University, Thailand)

4. Grants, Scholarships and Fellowships (from Open Society Foundations/Soros)


5. Funding Opportunities for Studying Abroad. (from Canadian Society for International Health)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Collaboration Success Equals More Social Scientists?

After hearing from Rob and Drew, what major challenges stand out in forming productive collaborative research relationships?

Collaboration Success Equals More Social Scientists?

Dr. Dawson’s remarks upon his initial cynical views of collaboration were bridged successfully only when engaging with a particular unnamed networked and skilled relationship developer who assisted him in developing talents for collocating people across organisations whereby trust and social capital could be nourished. Then projects could be increased in scope, scale and budget all substantially. This person was not a scientist. His example correlates even to the physical separation of the arts and sciences discernable in my own undergraduate studies in Canada at Acadia University. Each discipline appears to undermine the relevancy and accessibility of the other but like yin and yang intellectual capacities arte possibly best served by skills in both fields.

Coldly Dawson also explains that successful collaboration should not feel like (revenge?) or a, “one night stand.” His management of a CRC grant was assisted not only by the university clustering director but also his tenure as CRC engagement group leader where he experienced new challenges and explained, “tall poppy phenomena” can develop when and if funding and grants allocations become too concentrated to one CRC project stream. He also identified the benefits of long-term funding in providing a safety net to allow good science to take place where there might otherwise be “Taylorist perspectives” or “clip board amnesia.”

His preference for a diversity of income streams as operational insurance includes participation in more than one CRC at a time if possible and a problematic engagement with the social sciences perhaps proving a critical area of future improvement necessary to see greater institutional collaborations in future as recommended by O’Kane’s report. Favourite quotes: Neither government nor industry wants to pay you to tell them they are a bunch of bastards.” or “We don’t need independent biological observers who pass judgment from the heavens.” In contrast to the heavens as an expatriate abroad the pay may be extremely poor in peaceful heaven as well. I prefer an exciting hell?

It is easy to agree with Dr. Dawson on these points. However good quality management decisions are often difficult to make without high level executive agreement that certain “biological observers” may have the right “rock of eye” or qualities of observation and criticism which do make sound organisational or strategic sense even when or if that observer does or does not possess the correct disciplinary credentials as Dawson has previously noted. A recurring theme is a dearth of managerial training. The social sciences produce many graduates who more often than not fail to progress in career paths which correlate with their particular studies probably willing to be cherry-picked on the road to heaven in their velvet-lined ditches. Why would most of the world’s business teaching faculties for example, not include a majority of social science refugees if this were not so? While slow speaking and slow learning may be the prevue of the convention renting jet-set I am not convinced that commercial project collaborations benefit any more than political junkets do in generating better trade relations among nations or collaborators. It is perhaps a Reaganesque trickle down philosophy that does not trickle far from the revenue stream.

On the other hand Dr. Lewis provides the bootstrap learning curve which more closely shapes my own progressive learning path and perhaps the ticket to greater collaboration. Everyone may need to learn and listen more? Quite simply learn what they already do not appear to know? He details the bitter realities of needing to constantly reshape the vision and mission of his organisation (SARDI) as well as hiring and firing based on grants approvals with the whimsical budgetary constraints of a “Stalag 17” mentality. He rearranges the deck chairs on the Titanic to inform real working and future employment conditions in his nine research centres which dominates the conversation whereby participants are given the opportunity to assist in shaping the direction of the organisation and hopefully generate more revenue streams less reliant upon government handouts or Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. In his facilitator approach taking ownership of the collaboration efforts requires a reworking and revalidation of mission and vision every four to six years as well as deconstruction of what he terms, “The Republic of Science” approach whereby researchers must shift towards an IP and commercial data confidentiality mindset more aligned with business than traditional knowledge generation to survive budgetary shortfalls. For example just as he described that commercialisation as a concept was not well established even a decade ago neither were the opportunities for specialized learning or teaching even in the field of international business English itself spun from general English as a second language programs where I currently reside gaining an income to finance learning about what it takes to rework an organisation into something which might generate a similar self-sustaining income based on its own research. He details pragmatic approaches shared by both social and pure scientists.

Lewis’s focus is on strategic plans which show consistency in scope between partners as well as a need for “equal partnership” among them which would inform Dawson’s view to avoid “cringing” between disciplines as well regarding social science and pure science as two essential wings in the exemplary exercise necessary for both avian and profitable flight (to the heavens where none may be barred entry or called out as bastards?). Simply strategic mission and vision are a couple of applied social science inventions. Shared intellectual capacities, scope of credibility and capabilities need to exist as well. Both speakers insist on a shared language among collaborators. He lists the difficulties of collaboration as they reside in the necessary qualities of strategic planning. For example, strong business models are necessary as without them all is lost, an ability to track what capabilities exist at present and with poor budget or finance options could be quickly gone or eaten up by operational constraints, being able to agree what end goals will be and how they will be achieved or shared, all objectives when absent, will ensure destruction in terms of collaboration efforts regardless of discipline.

Lewis explores that without these internal systems in place from the onset no collaboration project will ever take successful flight out of a research organisation and bolsters this with examples of his own successful case study: Root Disease Testing Service a product with a profitable market which necessitated development of its own technology contracting consultancy. In it he details that researchers need remain part of the negotiating team as they can often answer essential and critical questions related to product development under his R*T*D*I*C scientific product plan: Research, Development ,Transfer , Innovation: representing change in the industry and community. While he admits little to no management training over his career it would be a continued fatal flaw to say that the most economical and best model for researchers to follow would be to learn as you go. This would be costly in terms of gut reaction where few funding agencies might aspire to attribute best practices to that. While both research managers appear to do so a little extra bootstrapping might go a long way towards better refining their attributes and duties to their talents. Under such terms one must return to Dawson’s claims that a managerialist preoccupation may come to dominate an otherwise fine researcher. Return to Lewis to find an entire culture of change must be undertaken internally for research organisations to better grow commercial gains. Would you even be given a car to drive without passing a basic license exam? What about administering 9 billion in commercial funding projects over twenty years?

Lewis, R. (2001) Commercialisation Delivering to Market Seeking a New Paradigm Executive Director South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The CRC equals The Spanish Armada?

What do you think are the potential disadvantages of collaboration for both the national innovation system and individual organizations?

The CRC equals The Spanish Armada?

First of all, as the range and scope of collaboration in Australia's National Innovation System (NIS) has only increased over the last twenty years the stakes have only grown larger in terms of opportunities, risks and gains. When researchers were isolated in their small enclaves and monastic-like laboratories or cells dabbling away in pure research and/or silos, writing crabbed, indecipherable notes in lab books and otherwise taking few phone calls or conference presentations while publishing into their obscure and dusty journals their rambling over their musings and mumblings were without "visions of sugar plums."

Fewer IP derived riches were in their heads illustrating poor choices for research vision and hence perhaps impacted upon fewer individuals frittering away the public weal and perhaps resulted in lower or insignificant absolute economic losses.

Now as a result of improvements in depth and breadth of the national research sector through integration any grand but poor policy decisions will affect and cost more researchers on the innovation vision and mission front than ever before.

While collectively an Australian research armada may forward the interests of innovation and global competitiveness as well as increasing commercial returns there remains as example in hubris the most famous armada in history namely The Spanish Armada which failed miserably in its mission due to poor strategic leadership decisions on the part of its Commander Alonso Pérez de Guzmán y de Zúñiga-Sotomayor, the 7th Duke of Medina Sidonia who lost most of his fleet by foolishly sailing into the voracious belly of a great storm.

Australia' s NIS is one that seems fraught with similar needs for improvement and thus attracts the attention of policy reports which seem to make endless, repetitive overlapping recommendations for change management including those we have reviewed so far. In our bible of sorts Powering Ideas may simply be establishing the legacy of Senator Kim Carr in line with that of Felipe II otherwise known as the King of Spain who bankrupted his nation in efforts to reign over colonial and continental competitors. As well as having far too many choicesPowering Ideas may be just as bad as having too few of them resulting in complacent inaction and ineptitude at the Admiralty Office in terms of collaboration efforts thus far. So goes the worst cases of ineffective collaboration. Its real costs may grow greater than its future worth.

O' Kane in Collaborating to a Purpose: Review of the Cooperative Research Centres Program (2008) highlights the issues and problems present in the current management of collaborative research in Australia to suggest it is barely a functioning prospect. Chiefly one weakness is that even with a twenty year record of collaboration programs on the books report only minute percentages of universities or businesses and firms in Australia having actually participated in CRC programs to date. 570 business collaborations represent roughly 3% of Australia's total eligible pool while 2% of Australia's universities represent about one of Australia's 47 institutions at any given time. Any real business plan would need to show increases in at least 10-15% of net profits or in the case of CRC perhaps business, university or commercial enterprise participation rates of growth as return for seed funding or incubator approval.

Next evidence of a shift from broad goals early in the program's inception to end-user or customer driven research at present appears to have resulted in a pull versus push scenario reminiscent in the current revolution in global industrial production. This whereby retail product and service organizations are becoming better skilled at determining market driven innovation than designers and researchers may be.

The push-pull shift may also represent itself as an intergenerational difference in research priorities whereby the current originators of knowledge and information soundly reject future commercial, customer or societal needs due to: stricter focus on commercialisation itself, tighter data management requirements, more elaborate milestone constraints, and inflexible IP and profit sharing needs. Collaborating to a Purpose reports that even while good corporate governance is now standard in the management of CRC projects where in the past it was not there remains evidence of lack of general knowledge in university or institutional and even commercial enterprise research as to how to actually develop and profit through the commercial research projects so far conducted.

This conclusion comes after seeing twenty years of program (mis?)-management and nearly a total of 9 billion AUD in tax payer funded CRC projects as perhaps an abominable disadvantage to collaboration efforts. If no one knows how to do it then why have they spent 9 billion dollars trying?

O' Kane reports that the CRC has become progressively less attractive to many key participants such as CISRO and the almost oneuniversity institution that comes and goes perhaps changing its name as many times as a Greek freighter in the process. Collaborating to a Purpose details the disadvantages of collaboration itself more concretely than idle conjecture or pure fiction ever could. Frequent disagreement and renegotiation of IP rights and profits sharing among "so-called" collaborators delay contractual agreements and is described as a key factor impeding the process of innovation and transfer of ideas itself which is one of the defined goals of the CRC.

Furthermore while evidence of benefit to the taxpayer is noted to be a net financial return it seems while ponderous at the same time utterly preposterous that no precise calculation of that figure is easily or currently available. Where then is the good corporate governance so described? Due to the current disadvantages and apparent lack of competent or transparent financial management present at CRC, O'Kane makes eight remedial recommendations to that body where effectiveness and efficiency of meeting innovation goals are questioned and at the same time exclaiming that new funding to keep this armada afloat is needed as Mother Hubbard's Cupboard is now thread bare and the dogs of the CRC are now without future bones. So far it appears the CRC embodies the disadvantages of collaboration at the same time trumpeting this to be its purpose?