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Report of Discussion

Tuesday, 17 February 1998. A Discussion was held in the Senate-House of the following Reports:

The Report, dated 14 January 1998, of the General Board on the establishment of a Margaret Thatcher Professorship of Enterprise Studies (p. 334).

Professor P. H. NOLAN:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the world we inhabit is shaped fundamentally by business enterprise. The enterprise of those who own, manage, and are employed in business is a powerful force propelling the advance of production capabilities in poor countries and in sustaining the increase in prosperity of rich countries. Understanding the conditions that promote or hinder this force is an exceptionally complex task. A wide variety of factors influence its operation. These include human psychology, cultural traditions, the organization of markets, the nature of the institutions of production, as well as the political and legal environment within which business enterprise is undertaken. Serious scholarly study of the factors that influence business enterprise has a long tradition stretching back to Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations (1776).

There are large areas still to be researched in the study of business enterprise in the distant and recent past, in both developed and developing countries. Moreover, we live in an epoch of unprecedented change in the nature of business enterprise. Vast territories of formerly isolated planned economies and developing countries are being drawn at high speed into the world economy. Business activity is becoming truly global and the systems of communication that link business activities together are undergoing a revolution. Serious study of business enterprise in this new environment is an essential task for one of the world's leading universities.

The establishment of the Margaret Thatcher Professorship of Enterprise Studies in this University to further research and teaching in this vital area of social change, past and present, is greatly to be welcomed.

Professor D. E. NEWLAND:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I speak as Head of the Department of Engineering. May I begin by reminding the University that my Department is the parent of the Judge Institute of Management Studies. Lectures to engineers on management topics began as early as 1922 when a course of lectures to third year students on the 'Economics of the Metal and Engineering Trades' began. It was followed by a course on 'Management' that began in 1930 and lasted until 1947 substantially unchanged. During the 1940s, the Institution of Civil Engineers gave the University an annual grant of £1,000 for five years 'to foster among engineers the closer study of the economics of engineering projects, the organization and management of engineering works, and the relations of aesthetic considerations to engineering design and construction'. It was stipulated that the Department of Engineering would be responsible for teaching these subjects and for 'such research and study as may be necessary to ensure progress and alignment with the changing conditions'. These initiatives were taken further in 1954 as a result of a proposal from the then University Grants Committee to establish in Cambridge a Chair or Readership in Engineering to develop fields of study lying between Engineering, Economics, and Industrial Psychology. The endowment was to be provided by funds from United States economic aid. The University accepted this benefaction, which led to the establishment of a Readership in Industrial Management in the Department of Engineering in 1955. The Judge Institute of Management Studies is the outgrowth of that initiative. On behalf of the Department of Engineering, I agreed some time ago that the Industrial Management Fund provided by American aid should be transferred from the custodianship of the Department of Engineering to that of JIMS. That transfer was made in recognition of the close relationship that my Department maintains with JIMS and of our approval of many of the objectives that the Judge Institute has set for itself.

A subject of particular importance to us is the successful development of engineering artefacts from conception and prototype testing to full-scale industrial exploitation. The United Kingdom has not been as successful as some other countries in doing this and so reaping the benefits of industrial enterprise. We have an outstanding record of creative innovation but we do not always take our good ideas through to industrial success. The proposed Chair of Enterprise Studies recognizes this. Its intended field combines aspects of technology and knowledge transfer with the study of financial and risk management and investment in an international setting. That is a subject where the driving forces and circumstances of industrial achievement merit detailed further research. In short, the field of this proposed Chair is important and its holder will be addressing matters that are of concern to the engineering profession, as well as to the wider community.

Lastly, Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I refer again to the stipulation that the Institution of Civil Engineers made when first supporting Management research and teaching in this University. It was that we should engage in 'such research and study as may be necessary to ensure progress and alignment with changing conditions'. I suggest that the University will be doing exactly that if it accepts this generous offer of a benefaction of £2m for the endowment of a Professorship of Enterprise Studies. For these reasons, I recommend that the offer should be gratefully accepted.

Professor Sir KEITH PETERS (read by Mr H. J. EASTERLING):

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, it is obviously a responsibility of a university to advance understanding of the world around us, including the world of business, and, as was made admirably plain in the Report, the achievement of international excellence in understanding the forces that influence enterprise falls within the legitimate interest of the Judge Institute. Members of the Regent House will doubtless be aware of my past concerns over the endorsement of values consequent upon acceptance of funds from outside organizations (I refer to BAT, of course) and the need, under such circumstances, to examine the relation between the benefit to the University and its students and an explicit or implicit endorsement of values which are essentially anti-academic. I do not believe that any cogent arguments can be advanced to suggest that acceptance of the gift from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation would constitute an endorsement of anti-academic values, and I urge that the benefaction for the endowment of the Professorship be accepted.


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, just over twenty-eight years ago, the then Senior Bursar of Trinity College, Dr John Bradfield, was authorized by the College Council to take the first steps in the creation of a Science Park in Cambridge. This was in response to a report of a University Committee chaired by Professor Sir Nevill Mott on the relationship between the University and science-based industry. When I became Senior Bursar in 1993, I inherited responsibility for what had by then become a major success story - a success not only because of the efforts of my distinguished predecessor but most importantly because of the success of the eighty or so companies on the Park. We now receive visitors from all over the world, who want to know how to create the conditions for a successful science park, how to stimulate innovation, how to encourage knowledge transfer, and how such enterprises should be financed. It is difficult, therefore, for me not to be acutely aware of how important such matters are, which fall under the heading of 'Enterprise Studies'. It seems wholly appropriate that the University should now use the generous donation from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation to establish a chair in the subject and I warmly welcome the proposal.

On the wider question of external funding, I would also like to add how important I think it is for the University to seek a diversity of funding sources, whether from government, from industry, or from charitable foundations with a variety of perspectives, so as to avoid undue pressure from any of these sources.

We need, of course, to be careful and set ground rules in accepting individual donations, which ensure that the independence, objectivity, and integrity of the University are preserved. Those requirements seem to me to have been fully met in the proposal to accept this important donation from the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, and I hope the recommendations of the General Board will be accepted.

Professor S. J. N. DAWSON:

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I speak as Director of The Judge Institute of Management Studies. In 1987, just over ten years ago, the General Board set up a committee to review the provision of teaching and research in Management Studies. In 1989, their report recommended the establishment of an Institute of Management Studies and the establishment of a number of new offices, including Professorships, which it was anticipated would be largely funded through external endowment. Building on the sure foundations gained in the Department of Engineering, the Institute came into being in 1990, and with the aid of generous and diverse benefactions is now establishing itself as a leader in Management Education and Research. As the General Board Committee remarked in their preliminary review of the Institute in 1997, there is a strong need for the establishment of further Professorships in the Institute for two reasons. First, in order to provide senior leadership across the multi-disciplinary range of our academic work. Secondly, to bring our staffing profile closer to that of our national and international competitors.

The establishment of this proposed Professorship will allow us significantly to enhance and provide focus for our work in the broad field of Enterprise Studies. The study of enterprise in competitive markets is an essential part of Management Studies. The field covers research into the political and economic climate in which enterprise may be encouraged or inhibited, and embraces innovation, knowledge transfer, the economics of the firm, general, financial, and investment management, marketing, and distribution; in other words, all aspects of a firm's external environment and internal operations, which can be seen to have an effect on the generation and success of new and growing enterprises. Establishing and nurturing successful enterprise is regarded as an essential part of every economy, regardless of any political persuasion.

Most leading American and European business schools include Enterprise Studies in their curriculum, and there are already several established chairs and research centres in this subject in internationally renowned schools of Business and Management. The University of Cambridge should not be left behind in making this important academic development. Taking advantage of the generous offer of £2m will facilitate the growth of this critically important subject area within Cambridge. It will enable the pursuit of independent scholarly research and create the opportunity for significant developments in teaching at undergraduate, postgraduate, and post-experience levels.

If established, election to this Professorship will naturally be made in accordance with normal University procedure by a sovereign and independent Board of Electors, who will choose and appoint the best candidate within the field.

When the Institute was formed, generous benefactions from Sir Paul and Lady Judge and the Monument Trust enabled the rebuilding of the Old Addenbrooke's Hospital to provide the Institute with a landmark building in the centre of Cambridge. In the early days, the endowment of Professorships by KPMG and Guinness was warmly welcomed by the University as providing the means through which Management Studies could grow. More recently the generous benefactions received from Mr and Mrs Peter Beckwith, Dr Dennis Gillings, and the Sinyi Foundation have enabled three new Professorships to be established in the fields of Marketing and Strategy, Health Management, and Chinese Management.

Our growth and development into an Institute worthy of the name of Cambridge University is closely linked to our ability to attract significant and diverse outside funds, which being freely given, preserve our academic freedoms to research and teach. One may also note that, if we secure external endowments, the Institute is, of course, through its growth, adding to the pool of resources available to the University, rather than requiring the University to spread its scarce resources ever more thinly.

The offer of a benefaction, which will enable the establishment of a Professorship of Enterprise Studies is of great significance to the development of Management Studies in this University. Echoing the decision of the Management Studies Syndicate and reflecting the views of my colleagues here in Cambridge, I warmly and wholeheartedly welcome the offer, and support the establishment of the proposed Chair.

The Report, dated 2 February 1998, of the Council on amendments of certain Statutes (p. 363).


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, we have been getting some experience with Statute K, 5 of late, and I rise merely to say that I know that it is now recognized that it needs reformulation; to express the hope that we shall attend to that as a matter of urgency and not merely tinker with it; and to make some suggestions on the basis of what we have learned.

It is vitally important for it to be possible to call to account those entrusted with tasks by the University. The remit of the Board of Scrutiny is limited and it reports only once a year. Oxford has the device of the asking of a Question which has to be publicly answered. But when we make speeches in this forum the Council has the discretion not to answer any question raised, and although I have striven to ensure that my invocations of Statute K, 5 and their outcomes have been acts in the face of the Regent House and duly published to the University, that is a precedent which has to be set. It is not even clear whether a member of the Regent House invoking Statute K, 5 acts on behalf of the Regent House in doing so, though I think it important that it be recognized that it is so.

At present Statute K, 5 is, paradoxically, both too strong and too weak to serve the purpose it needs to serve. We do not want to have to bring a University process to a juddering halt for months while there is an 'inquiry' under the Statute, as happened with the promotions last summer. But we do not want a question raised to run on unanswered until it becomes impossible to do anything, as I would suggest has happened over the ruling that those who had applied directly for Chairs in this year's promotions process would, if they were unsuccessful, not be considered for Readerships by default. Nor do we want to be in a situation where it proves impossible to require officers to say whether or not they broke a rule operating under a Grace, which has been the subject of another invocation.

The best way to raise a query is to have a friendly word, and I greatly hope that we shall now be able to return to that way of doing things. No one could prefer the infliction of raw wounds upon one another which has been going on lately.

But if, after the attempt to talk it through amicably, there remains a disagreement about the intention of a rule or the validity of an action, we need a way of resolving it. Statute K, 5 is there to give us a means of setting our own house in order. It provides that any member of the Regent House may represent to the Vice-Chancellor within thirty days that some act of a person or body having power to act under the Statutes is in breach of the Statutes and Ordinances.

But the problem of independence arises at once. When the act in question is an act of the General Board or the Council, or some other central body or committee, or an officer serving it, it may well be the case that a Vice-Chancellor was in the chair. So he cannot provide the independent ear, and he has to appoint a deputy under Statute D. But even then there can be no guarantee of independence. If there is a natural justice objection to someone being judge in his own case, the same objection applies to his choosing who shall be judge in his stead. I do not for a moment question the integrity of those who have thus acted in recent months. The nemo iudex problem is structural not personal. But it is real.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the rulings on my recent invocations - the issues are legally extremely complex and I emphasize again that I seek to make no point about the good faith of the officers involved - we clearly need to take a radical look at Statute K, 5 and provide ourselves with a mechanism for calling to account which is not going to land us in the kind of thicket we have been getting into.

I do not propose to use the Statute again in its present form.

We need a more realistic time-scale. Matters of the sort which have been addressed through invocations of Statute K, 5 in recent months cannot easily be satisfactorily dealt with in the ten days the Statute allows. We need rules about who gets legal advice paid for by the University (so far only the officers whose actions have been challenged do, so that the member of the Regent House invoking the Statute is obliged to spend a good deal of time in the Squire Law Library). We need to make practical working rules for ourselves about disclosure and hearings, and procedure in general.

Better still we need to provide a space in which we can seek a consensual solution, to avoid officers feeling 'got at' with consequent adjournment to the trenches by both 'sides'.

Cambridge has no Visitor. Though we have a very concerned and helpful Chancellor, his jurisdiction is extremely limited. In his judgement in ex parte Evans, Mr Justice Sedley thought the appeal to the Chancellor arguably 'not a true alternative form of recourse'. It is certainly a tall order to have to get fifty signatures within a week, when one would have to begin by explaining to each potential signatory not only what is at issue but the legal arguments which have to be challenged. We need an appeal mechanism that is less unwieldy, and one not necessarily taking the time of busy officers at Buckingham Palace. But we do need a means of getting an independent view, if necessary going outside the University to ask for senior help.

Above all, we need something which works. I hope a working party can now be established to take stock of our recent experiences and to devise for us a better strategy for meeting the proper requirement for accountability in the University.

No remarks were made on the following Reports:

The Report, dated 2 February 1998, of the Council on a third phase of the Stage III extension to the University Library (p. 361).

The Report, dated 28 January 1998, of the General Board on the establishment of a Professorship of Nuclear Medicine (p. 369).

The Report, dated 20 January 1998, of the Faculty Board of Earth Sciences and Geography on the Museums in the Department of Earth Sciences (p. 369).

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Cambridge University Reporter, 25th February 1998
Copyright © 1998 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.