Reasons for not Training? LO5814

Michael McMaster (
Wed, 21 Feb 1996 15:28:10 +0000

Replying to LO5740 --

Thomas, as a consultant to some of the UK's larger companies - and
other European ones as well - I have a somewhat different perspective
on the issues you are exploring. My response may have something to
do with my basic approach which is grounded in "An interpretive
approach to complexity and emergence".

I believe that "short-termism" is a complex of excuse or
justification, misunderstanding, oversimplification and a little bit
of reality. The very successful companies tend not to worry about
"short-termism". The average and lower worry about it because "the
city" doesn't trust their word - for generally good reason. They
cannot predict effectively and they have no strategy that can be
judged on its own merits. Given that conditions, I too would resort
to being most concerned with the short term.

The "poaching problem" no doubt also contains some validity.
However, it too is more of an excuse and justification. Many of the
turnaround companies and leaders in their field spend far mor on
education and development that those who justify not spending on the
possibility of "poaching". (Ignoring the implications of ownership
that "poaching" implies.) Employees are likely to stay where they
are most respected and most developed - and these tend to go
together. They are also more likely to produce the returns that
justify the higher contribution to profit or wealth that they can

Your "low skill equlibrium" theory points at the same situation.
That is, without the investment in development of people, there is
little choice but to focus on mass-production of low quality goods.
(See Unipart and the Jaguar/GKN car body manufacturing for evidence.)
It's more likely that the UK managers have not confronted the
difficulty of development and think about it in a very linear way.
They are also inhibited, it seems to me, by some cultural bias
against knowledge and education.

Corporate control structures are lacking the world over when it comes
to accounting. These systems are hopelessly stuck in the "old
fashioned" view of a material universe where what counts is physical
stuff rather than information and knowledge. (I can say this with
some authority as my original degree and training is as a Chartered
Accountant.) This interacts with my earlier comments about
short-termism and lack of thinking, theory or strategy.

Michael McMaster


Michael McMaster <>

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