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Call for greater business skills in Government's plan for 'new' military

A senior academic has demanded greater use of private sector business skills in the Ministry of Defence, as Government rolls out its plan for a vastly different structure to the UK’s military which is based on significant partnership with industry.

Posted: 2 December 2014

image for news story Call for greater business skills in Government's plan for 'new' military
Professor John Louth

In a new research paper, Professor John Louth, who specialises in critical management, and is also a member of the Royal United Services Institute think tank, says Government is moving towards greater partnership with the private sector to meet defence requirements around the globe, in a plan described as the Whole Force concept. He says this significant change is not yet fully understood by the public, is ‘free-wheeling’ and also calls for private sector skills like project, management, understanding of value for money and public relations to be injected into the process.

He also states that many former senior military figures now work in the private sector, and their skills and knowledge need to remain accessible to Government.

Professor Louth said: “For any initiative to take hold, especially within Government, it must first typically look like a project with a clear set of activities and resources, a timeline, recognised outputs and outcomes; and responsible personnel. How can we tell if the right contracts have been let…if UK defence as a whole is not being planned and managed as a coherent enterprise?

“Industry possesses experts in portfolio management, risk management, and project delivery – practices that are often perceived to be lacking within the public sector. Blending these overt commercial skills with more specific defence skills can only benefit those concerned with protecting the UK’s borders or prosecuting its operations.”

Developing graduates with the skills needed to run businesses and organisations is key to the degree schemes run by Roehampton’s Business School.

Professor Julie Hall, Director of the Business School said: “Every day our students learn the most efficient, modern and accepted ways to operate ethically in the world of business, skills, which Dr Louth says are absolutely essential to the better running of our country’s defence capabilities.

“We’re proud to produce graduates who can run significant projects, understand and deal with the risks and who know the correct ways to explain them to stakeholders, whether that is a management board or people in the high street. These skills together with our focus on ethical business practices in the wake of several banking scandals are what make our graduates successful in finding work in the private and public sectors.”

John Louth is Professor of Defence, Business and Management at the University of Roehampton, and Director of Defence, Industries and Society at RUSI.

Read about Roehampton’s Business School degree schemes.

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