Harvard guru to analyse UK failings

The standard of management in British business lags behind the best in the world, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Patricia Hewitt, said yesterday.

Ms Hewitt said that tackling the "poor performance" of UK managers was essential to closing Britain's productivity gap with its economic rivals.

The Government has commissioned Professor Michael Porter, the renowned Harvard competitiveness guru, to carry out a £50,000 study into the failing of British management.

"The best British managers and leaders are amongst the best in the world," Ms Hewitt said. "But the average lag well behind the best and it is poor management of the production processes and poor management of people that account for that gap."

Last week a study from the consultancy firm McKinsey blamed the crisis in British manufacturing on poor management.

Professor Porter, who has carried out similar studies for India, New Zealand, Canada, and Portugal, will publish his report in January. The Government will publish its response shortly afterwards.

Ms Hewitt said the Government was not putting any limits on what Professor Porter could look at, including the level of government regulation on business. "We continue to put an enormous amount of energy into improving our regulatory performance and that of Brussels because that is where much of it stems from," she said.

Business organisations welcomed the focus on improving management skills but urged ministers not to "point the finger" at companies.

Andrew Beales, an economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Smaller businesses in particular find it difficult to set aside the time for specific management training.

"If this study shows that there's a real management problem in terms of skills, innovation and training we are quite prepared to accept that."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments