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No economy can be successful in any field unless it has close collaboration and integration between concerned field and academia. It is high time that the spheres of academia and industry overlap especially with all the changes and development that is coming into the country and into the region.
The realization has come late but come none the less that these spheres instead of being separate, should be coinciding. It is for this purpose an initiating step was taken by the MBA 1.5 students from Department of Management Sciences under the supervision and guidance of Mr. Imran Qadir, Lecturer and Focal Person Entrepreneurship & Business Incubation, Management Sciences, UoH.
A one day workshop meant for the regional industry was held on Tuesday, 16th May 2017 at University of Haripur titled “Rethinking Business Models: CPEC, Challenges and The Ways-Out” which brought together spokespeople from the local industry of Haripur, Hattar, Gadoon, Islamabad/ Rawalpindi, Abbottabad and the Chief of Strategy & Business Planning from Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC), Mr. Hassan Ansari.
After recitation of verses from the Holy Quran by Mr. Azhar Mehmood, Maj. S. Waqar Sabir and Ms. Mudassira Bibi formally opened the session and oriented the participants about the purposes of the workshop. It was followed by a welcome address by Mr. Shiraz Khan, Head, Department of Management Sciences, UoH who stressed upon the importance of industry-academia collaboration and that KPEZDMC has the most critical role to play especially in bridging the gap between the two and developing sustainable models for such a cooperation.
Mr. Hassan Ansari then took the centre stage and built the narrative around CPEC as a vehicle for economic development being not just an end, but as a mean. He was of the view that by the end of it, instead of seeing CPEC as a challenge and devising ways out of it, we must seek the opportunities of CPEC and the ways forward. 18 different economic zones are being developed in this region and a number of early opportunities are available for investments to be made in. He highlighted that CPEC is a minor but critical part of One Belt One Road (OBOR) project with the objective of “shared prosperity through economic cooperation”.
Mr. Rafique Ahmed Khuhro (Assistant Prof. Management Sciences) then moderated an extremely engaging and productive Focused Grouped Discussion with the representatives of local industries like Steel, Pharmaceutical, Food, Automobile, etc. They who highlighted prevailing challenges faced by the local industry related to fuel prices fluctuation, governmental subsidies, lack of skilled labour, obsolete industrial technology, logistical problems like shipping lines being effected due to peak hour bans on transportation, lack of research and development, investors distrust in new products and solutions, lack of raw material and basic manufacturing, lack of specific expertise and knowledge by government officials in charge of the industry, inability of local industries to compete with Chinese counterparts, unclear intentions and plans of the government especially around CPEC, low standard of education, absence of entrepreneurial mind set and behaviour specially amongst youngsters, substandard research infrastructure and environment, lack of smart workers not just hard workers, and many more.
Responding to the above challenges raised by the industry, Mr. Ansari briefly explained that CPEC should be seen as a cascaded program which will take Pakistan to the next level in the orbit. By focusing first on infrastructure, secondly on industrialization and thirdly on agriculture a multi layered plan is developed to make Pakistan the next industrial and manufacturing hub. Mr. Ansari also stressed the importance of having a consistent approach and a system in which the nation is driven by shared prosperity. The Pakistani nation needs to let go of the rent-seeking approach and become more entrepreneurial to seek, benefit and harvest the real fruits of CPEC.
The post-Lunch session was designed and coordinated by Mr. Imran Qadir with the primary objective of floating the revolutionary model of effectuation and to build its importance as a viable solution to the current challenges faced by the local industries and businesses. In order to build the argument, firstly, the participants were engaged in a fun learning activity; The Marshmallow Challenge. Multiple mixed groups were made comprising of industry personnel, Management Sciences’ faculty and students. Learning objectives from this activity were to realize the participants about the importance of being action oriented rather than plan oriented in unknown environments. Moreover, learning from small experiments and trials can produce more unique solutions, particularly if the future cannot be predicted. And most importantly, failures provide important insights to improving products or services.
Secondly, the concept of uncertainty was explained using one transparent and two opaque urns containing some random stuff. Participants were allowed to draw from each urn to understand different types of uncertainty. Transparent urn showed predictable patterns which can be suitable for huge commitments and high risks. On the other hand, opaque urns showed unpredictable patterns and hence established that business models based on prediction and information become irrelevant in such environments.
Thirdly, keeping the above two concepts in mind, Mr, Imran Qadir contrasted between causal and effectual models and highlighted the validness, suitability and effectiveness of effectual models in times of extreme uncertainty and high information asymmetry (where causal models provide minimum guidance and confidence). Effectual models are based on the principles practiced by expert entrepreneurs, businessmen and industrialist. Saras Srarsvathy is of the view that expert entrepreneurs primarily base their actions on available means not on perceived goals with collaborative mind set, open to opportunities coming their way, focus on the downside risk and control and are against massive resource commitments especially at inception level with high vulnerability. Effectual models are based on following principles namely:
Mr. Imran Qadir argued that developments are the result of interactions between critical stakeholders with the intention of creating something meaningful for all. We aspire to inculcate the right entrepreneurial mind set and behaviour among society and industry and are very optimistic in such regard.
At the end, the worthy Vice Chancellor, UoH shared his valuable views and distributed certificates and shields among the participants. He also admired the industry personnel from industry for their valuable time and also the organizers from university whose dedication made this great event possible.
Note: The Case study based workshop on the same subject to demonstrate application of effectuation based entrepreneurial models in corporate scenarios will be held in near future and its information will be communicated shortly via email or SMS to the concerned. For further details about this upcoming workshop, please contact Mr. Imran Qadir on firstname.lastname@example.org or 00923149020204.