Thursday, December 15, 2005

KTWV 06 Issue 23: An entry on three of my blogs

Prof. Ajeet Mathur, a good friend, a Mumbai Cathedralite and also a Delhi Stephanian, has just sent me an electronic copy of an article which has just appeared in a publication celebrating the history of Tampere, the major industrial city in South Finland, his present domicile.

I thought it appropriate to provide a link to it on all my three blogs, my personal blog, the Cathedralite Seventh Heaven Blog and the Stephanian Kooler Talk Web Version Blog.

Having read it during its composition stage, I can say that it is hot, hot, hot.

I had dicussed this with him just last weekend and wondered whether he thought some of his more caustic comments would get through the "Editors" (Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko and Antti Kasvio (eds.) eCity: Analysing the efforts to generate local dynamism in the City of Tampere to Meet the Challenge of Changing Global Economy, Tampere University Press, 2005).

He was on his seat's edge.

The book appeared publicly today, and he immediately wrote to me thus:

The Tampere book is published and officially released with my article intact!

With "Communities at Risk" (2003) and this, I have the satisfaction of having given sufficient warning of the shape of things as a dutiful resident as part of my respect for the flag I live under.

I shall post you a published copy tomorrow.

Here is the electronic version. Please feel free to circulate it to those who care or blog it as you wish.

Someday, when I have a personal homepage, I would be happy to provide a link to it for all interested persons to know. But that may not be before March 2006 because I am a technical ignoramous and have other things on my mind now.

Best Regards to you and Annikki,


If Ajeet is an technical ignoramous, I wonder what I am!!

"Communities at Risk" is also another great piece of work by him.

His Discussion Paper "Finland - India - Economic Relations A Twinning Study of Trade and Investment Potential" published in 1998 was a ground-breaking publication.

I had the honour of co-authoring the paper "To Serve or To Rule? Paradoxes of Shared Authority and Appropriated Power in E-governance". It was read by Ajeet at the e-Governance Conference in New Delhi in Decwember 2003 as I could not attend.

Here is an example of the hard-hitting writing of Ajeet in this article:

There are a variety of myths circulating in Tampere designed to foster confidence among residents and prospective partners and investors in Tampere that do not stand up to a reality check. In popular perception, the two universities, particularly the Tampere University of Technology spawns innovations; these innovations are incubated in a virtual science park; and, incubated innovations create new dynamic enterprises attracting large amounts of venture capital thereby creating a multiplier effect for new jobs and enhanced flows of incomes and asset creation. In reality, public money in the guise of projects has been used to fund jobs with soft targets and when a project ends, a 'next big project' is needed to repeat the cycle, since little of lasting value remains. Names of agencies change, agencies merge with each other to acquire fresh identities, new organisations get mandated and organizational forms undergo such metamorphosis that old wine in new bottles is easily mistaken for a new engine of innovation on which hope is pinned for a while until it is dashed again. Hermia was an ingenius institution that enabled students of the Tampere Technical university to be drafted into labouring for companies needing cheap student labour while the flowback from the beneficiaries to the University remains unknown. The total amount donated by Tampere region companies (including Nokia) to Tampere Technical University is about Euro 250,000 according to the list coordinated by the Tampere Chamber of Commerce. With few exceptions, hardly any inventions of the University developed commercially as a return on public subsidies and investments and most of the firms counted in powerpoint presentations evangelising the Tampere model pre-date Hermia or have nothing to do with the Technical University. In making an actual count together with Hermia senior executives, I could locate only 13 enterprises in all under the umbrella of e-accelerator (the number on Hermia's powerpoint slide was 300), of which just two had something to do with the Tampere Technical University. The first pillar of Tampere's business development strategy, Hermia, was entirely focused on technology and real estate brokering, and never organised to provide any international business development expertise to existing firms or to new ventures. Hermia officials candidly admit they have no idea where the medium and large enterprises in the Tampere region obtain international business know-how.

In 1999, a second pillar, Professia Oy was established from public funds (and mandated to develop knowledge intensive business services in 2002). After five lacklustre years of existence, this agency launched a 'Tampere International Business Office' in mid-2004. This old-wine-in-new-bottle initiative never compiled even a starting kit for investors in the region. Most of its budget was spent on staff salaries for its seven employees and travelling to exhibitions and making contacts overseas to entice investors to Tampere. From € 1 million injected into it, an income of € 28,000 was reported which works out to 2.8 percent return on net assets, well below long term market interest rates. On 17.8.2005, Professia Oy merged with Oy Media Tampere which employed seventeen persons with a 2.2 percent return on net assets which is even lower than Professia Oy (according to the press release of the merger announced on 17.8.2005). The fused entity in announcing the merger hints at new horizons and a stronger organisation but its business plan remains unclear. The use of public funds in Tampere is not associated with transparency or disclosure and residents are expected to believe that this old-wine-in-new-bottle that didn't deliver much in five years of functioning will now function as the beacon of new hope. 'Project thinking' with soft targets is a hallmark of the Tampere region. The big breakthrough is always optimistically depicted to be in the future. During Spring 2005, hope was pinned that Tampere would host the ASEM summit in 2006 during the Finnish Presidency of the EU and the wave of traffic that would arise through Euro-Asia business contacts. Meanwhile, Hermia leading the ICT sector big projects was being hived and restructured to give way to the biotechnology and health sector spearheaded by Finn Medi under the ambitious catch-all expression of the next big project BIONEXT.

Ajeet pulls no punches. He tells it as it is.

You can download a pdf copy of the article from this link The Future of International Business in the Tampere Region1 by Prof. Ajeet Mathur, University of Tampere

Hope you enjoy it. I am sure Ajeet would love to have feedback from you on this paper.

It is my homour to share two alma maters with him!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Super color scheme, I like it! Good job. Go on.