Moustafa Haj Youssef, Senior Lecturer, has been working with Harvard University on a number of research and management teaching initiatives. We spoke to him about what this means for students at Liverpool Business School.
LJMU postgraduate students will soon be studying a course devised by Harvard Business School, is that correct?
Yes, that’s right, LJMU postgraduate students particular those enrolled in the MSc International Business and Management and MSc Management and Digital Business programmes will have the privilege of studying a module designed by the founder of modern business strategy Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School. The Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC) module designed by Institute for Strategy & Competitiveness at Harvard will run from the next academic year 2022/2023.
How relevant will this course be for Business and Management students in Liverpool?
This is a very unique offering for postgraduate students as the course aims at equipping students with frameworks and models on competitiveness and economic development that are essential tools for growth. The course explores the determinants of competitiveness and successful economic development viewed from a bottom-up, microeconomic perspective. Engaging in competitiveness initiatives at this scale will help our local and international students to develop the theoretical and practical knowledge needed to drive economic growth in their cities, nations and regions, therefore to have an impact on the society; impact being a key outcome of LBS and LJMU’s mission.
How did you discover this course and how do you think it complements and enhances students’ current knowledge and employability?
MOC originated in 2002, when Professor Michael Porter and colleagues designed the course for students at Harvard. After the successful launch, they wanted to create a platform for education institutions and trained professors to teach the course around the world. I came across it after publishing a research paper on national competitiveness back in 2019. The paper was published in Competitiveness Review, a leading platform for academic research and conceptual policy dialogue on competitiveness. The journal is led by experienced professors and editorial team from Harvard Business School and the Center for Competitiveness of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.
I have been strongly encouraged by the editors to engage with the wider community of the MOC and promote the project within LBS and the management team. I have received endorsement and after a very stringent application process, a course affiliation agreement was signed between LBS/LJMU and Harvard paving the way for myself to formally become the official affiliate of the MOC-Harvard network.
For students, this course significantly enhances their understanding of competitiveness and provides a holistic perspective on how to think about competitiveness and drive strategic economic development. Being trained by Professor Michael Porter and HBS and inducted to teach Harvard course at LJMU allows us to gain access to all course material include elite international cases developed by HBS. Additionally, affiliates across the network that includes academic teams from 66 countries have the advantage of collaborating on research in all areas of competitiveness.
Tell us a little about how the thinking of people like Michael Porter apply in the real world of business?
Michael Porter is a distinguished professor at Harvard Business School and the pioneer of modern strategy theory. His work has formed the foundation of strategic development at both micro and macro levels. From external macro environment analysis using the diamond model all the way to the internal company analysis of the value chain, Porter has been very influential in developing and providing tools that significantly help in framing and understanding the environment in which organisations operate and how they can find the right positioning that allow them to achieve competitive advantage. His recent work focuses more on the aspects of competitiveness, which are directly related to productivity and focuses on the microeconomic foundations of competitive advantage that underpin productivity in organisations, nations, regions and clusters. He has brought economic theory and strategy concepts to bear on many of the most challenging problems facing corporations, economies and societies. His work has helped many companies and even economies achieve greater success and become more competitive.
Which students will be eligible to take this module and who will teach it?
The students enrolled in the MSc suite of programmes (IBM, Management and Digital Business) will be taking this as part of the managing strategy core module. We are exploring other programmes where this module can run and I wish to make this course available to policy makers in both private and public sectors as part of a CPD offering. For instance, this could be very useful for the local authority (e.g. Liverpool Council) to help in driving competitiveness of the city.