Archive for November, 2011

by Murat Akpinar

Michael Porter

Professor Michael Porter

JAMK has been accepted into the Microeconomics of Competitiveness (MOC) network developed by Professor Michael Porter at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School. There are around 90 affiliate universities in the MOC network. JAMK is the second Finnish institute of higher education to join the network following Aalto University School of Economics.


MOC is a graduate-level course which explores the determinants of national and regional competitiveness through the lenses of strategies of firms, government policies, and the roles of actors such as industry associations and universities. The course analyzes clusters, organizational structures, institutional structures and change processes required for sustained improvements in competitiveness. Target students are graduate students in business, economics, development, government and related disciplines. Member universities in the network teach the course locally with the aid of resources developed at Harvard. The course is taught in the International Business Management master degree program at JAMK.

Selection Criteria

Harvard selects universities that are leading business schools in their regions. The ideal member university should have faculty with doctoral degrees and an ongoing research program in the field. Participation in the course is on an invitation-only basis. JAMK was recommended to the network via visiting professor Faheem ul-Islam who has been an affiliate of the network since 2006. Instructors from new affiliates should attend the new faculty workshop at Harvard in December prior to teaching the course. The workshop provides instructions on how to teach the course, how to use case studies in the course, and how to manage student teams in class. Matti Hirsilä and Murat Akpinar from JAMK will attend this workshop at Harvard during Dec 12-13, 2011.

Areas for Cooperation in the Network

MOC opens the doors for cooperation possibilities in teaching and research with highly prestigious schools in the network from all around the world. Instructors meet annually at Harvard to share their experiences in teaching of the course, learn about new developments, and exchange ideas for research and development. Cooperation continues throughout the year between instructors through joint projects and staff exchange. This is an excellent opportunity to contribute to JAMK’s internationalization.

Long-term Vision for Member Universities

The course addresses the ways in which the private, public and university sectors can work together to boost regional development and competitiveness. As such it does not only serve as a platform to educate young people but also to help universities to contribute to regional and national economic development. The course can be adapted to train public sector officials and private sector leaders. In that respect it stimulates projects in which students and faculty work together with business and regional government. As for JAMK, this course can provide the means to play an even more influential role in the development of the region of Central Finland.

First assess the implications of putting workers on payroll. Then limit future legal headaches by creating an employment policy


I own a professional services firm where [I have] a team working with me part time on a per-project basis. They all have other full-time jobs. I would like to get to the stage where I can hire two to four employees full time, but I’m wondering how and when to do that. Can you share some advice and ideas? —W.M., Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

The decision to move from self-employed to employer is among the most important a business owner must make. The added cost of employees can swamp a young company, particularly in an economic downturn or if there’s a sudden decline in business.

The most cautious strategy would be to wait until demand dictates that you must hire—because, say, you are routinely turning down work—and when you do, hire people who add to your bottom line, such as sales or administrative employees.

It is frustrating to work exclusively with “sidepreneurs”—people who leverage expertise from full-time jobs but can never make your projects their top priority, says Rhonda Abrams, president of PlanningShop, a Palo Alto (Calif.) publisher, and author of Successful Business Plan: Secrets and Strategies. “I’m in a similar situation, and it’s very difficult when you can’t even schedule a meeting with all the people you need, because one’s available only at noon and someone else is available only on Tuesdays,” she says.


But once you move from independent contractors to employees, you’re “changing your business model from variable-cost, low-regulation, and highly flexible to fixed-cost, highly regulated, and somewhat inflexible,” says Derek Alderton, a business consultant and lecturer at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. At least in the U.S., employers must meet a host of tax and labor requirements. And it would be far more difficult to lay off an employee if your projects were to dry up.

Here are some exercises to help you plan:

1. Calculate financial impact. Familiarize yourself with laws and costs that apply to employers in your country. Be sure to include “not only their direct salary or wage, but also the employer share of taxes, insurance, holidays, and vacation time,” says Gene Fairbrother, chief executive officer of MBA Consulting in Dallas. “At the very least, get your CPA to show you what last year’s financial results would have looked like if you had been complying with all the costs and regulations for employees, rather than project contractors,” Alderton says.

2. Consider alternatives. Could you hire student interns, temps, or part-time employees as a way to test the waters? “An intern or recent graduate can be hired full time per project or for a set time with the possibility of full-time employment depending on the growth of the firm,” says Philip Moorcroft, president of MGPS, an expense management consulting firm in Toronto. Bringing in a temporary employee or hiring a contractor as a part-time employee could increase the attention paid to your projects, minimize your costs, and allow the contractor more time to expand his or her moonlighting to make up for lost wages.

3. Make realistic projections. “When you’re working on a project-to-project basis, you don’t know how long things are going to last,” Abrams says. “Look over your existing contracts and see how many are ongoing, or could become ongoing. Then hustle to get signatures on proposals so you will be more confident about the future.”

If you want to expand your company, at some point you will need to bite the bullet. “The virtual company goes only so far,” Abrams notes. When you do hire, start slowly and be ready to deal with fallout from your existing contractors, Alderton says. “They will rightly perceive the new employee as being a threat to their own incomes or choice of desirable projects.”

Even with just one employee, you should create a manual that states your employment policies in writing, Fairbrother recommends. “Having your policies in place could save you considerable confusion and headaches later on, including legal costs if an employee or ex-employee challenges you,” he says. Search for sample employee manuals online or buy software that allows you to develop your own handbook. He recommends Nolo Press’s Create Your Own Employee Handbook.

Karen E. Klein is a Los Angeles-based writer who covers entrepreneurship and small-business issues.


by Stephanie Goddard

Ask yourself these work stress questions…and get some relief immediately.

  1. Will this matter in five weeks?
  2. Am I in someone else’s business or in my business?
  3. What about this person/situation irritates me? Do I have that trait? And if so, do I dislike it in myself?
  4. Why don’t I like that trait?
  5. Research shows if I hold this thought for longer than 17 seconds, I run the risk of physical illness. Is this worth getting sick over?
  6. Do I want to stay in this job? If yes, is my stressful thought creating behaviors in me that ensure my continued employment or potentially harm it
  7. If I do not want to keep this job, is my stressful thinking creating an exit strategy that will result in an excellent reference?
  8. What are the TOP THREE reasons I like this job?
  9. Am I trying to be right or do the right thing? Do I get the difference
  10. What I am worried will happen if I stop thinking about this?
  11. Are my thoughts about this completely true—or is it possible I have partial information? Is it possible I have filled in some gaps in a negative way?

via Work Stress Worksheet (Quick and Easy).

Guest Author Louise Fletcher founded Blue Sky Resumes after leaving a 15 year HR career. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and a member of the Professional Resume Writers Association, the Career Masters Institute and Society for Human Resources Management.

You know the feeling. You spend hours, or even days, creating a résumé. You pore over every word of your cover letter and agonize over what to say in your email. Then you hit ‘send’ and wait. And wait. And wait. No one calls. No one writes. You don’t know if anyone even saw your résumé. When this happens, it’s easy to get dejected and worry that employers are not interested in you. Don’t! Remember, they haven’t met you. They have only seen your résumé and that may be the problem.

An overwhelming majority of job seekers make basic mistakes with their résumés -­ mistakes that ensure that they will not get the interviews they deserve. If you feel as though you’re sending your résumé into a black hole, try this ‘Ten Step Program’ to diagnose problems and get your résumé working for you.

1. Is your résumé the right length?
You may have heard that your résumé should fit on one page. This is nonsense. Recruiter or hiring managers don’t care if your résumé is one or two pages long. But they do care whether it is easy to read and gives key information upfront. Your résumé can be one, two, or (occasionally) even three pages. The only rule is that the length should be appropriate for you. If in doubt follow the (very general) rule of thumb that less than 5 years experience probably only requires one page and more than that may need two.

2. Does your résumé clearly position you as someone who can meet the needs of the employer?
Think of a résumé as an advertisement for a product, only this time the product is you. Just like any other advertisement, positioning is everything. The person who receives your résumé will scan it quickly ­ perhaps for no more than 20 seconds ­ to determine whether you can help her company. Your job is to say quickly, clearly and loudly that you can!

Don’t just launch into a chronology of your career history. Instead, determine your own positioning by spelling out your message at the start of the résumé and giving the reader your version of events upfront. For this reason, you should use the first 1/3 of your résumé to create a compelling personal profile which highlights your key strengths in an attractive, easy-to-read format.