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Win-Win Outcomes: Public-Private Teamwork Boosts Manufacturing Competitiveness

As the strategic use of public policy intensifies, collaboration between policymakers and business leaders to create win-win outcomes becomes more essential finds WEF/Deloitte report.

Q2 / Spring 2013
It takes teamwork to succeed in the highly competitive global manufacturing environment. That’s a key finding of “Manufacturing for Growth: Strategies for Driving Growth and Employment,” a new World Economic Forum report produced in collaboration with Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. “Increasingly, businesses, government, and academia are partnering to make strategic choices about how to develop and sustain the knowledge and capabilities necessary to be leaders in the advanced manufacturing economy.”

The report was a yearlong effort that involved feedback from about 70 multinational manufacturing executives, as well as data and input gathered at workshops and through other types of research. Nearly all of the execs who took part in the study said they worry about how they’ll be able to attract and retain the kind of talent they need to succeed, and they expressed concern about driving their organizations’ innovation agendas. The solution, according to the respondents, is collaboration between the public and private sectors, and also involving universities, research centers, national labs, and other nonprofits. Many of the executives pointed to existing public-private partnerships as examples. “These organizations address relevant, timely, and current issues while anticipating future demands and trends,” notes the report.

The report also identifies public policy as a major factor determining global manufacturing competitiveness. “The impact that government policies can have across a number of competitiveness drivers — including trade; financial, monetary, tax, and legal systems; infrastructure; education; labor markets; and science and technology — is significant,” the report notes. Needless to say, public policy can be quite complicated, but the plan for making it work for business is rather simple, according to the report. Once again, it’s teamwork: “As the strategic use of public policy intensifies, collaboration between policymakers and business leaders to create win-win outcomes becomes more essential.”

A key part of creating a win-win outcome is getting a handle on taxes, according to the report: “While specific country tax systems vary from country to country, executives broadly said that the countries that could offer competitive advantages in lowering an organization’s overall effective tax rate, as well as remove resource and cost burdens often associated with compliance, would be the winners.”

Those who provided input to the research also favor policies that enhance free and fair trade, and they’d be thrilled to see improvements in energy prices and security. “Executives broadly expressed that countries that could provide clean and sustainable sources of energy at a competitive cost would offer a significant advantage over other nations,” the report states. Work force issues are key, too, including education and a focus on creating workers who will thrive in the world of advanced manufacturing.

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