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Covid-19 weekly update from GEM Experts. Issue No.2

Published on
30 March 2020

Last week, we shared opinions from 12 of our experts on the evolutions they foresee in the areas of higher education, technology, health and the environment as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic... 

As an international business school and business lab for society, we have decided to share our experts opinions each week during this period of confinement. This week, six experts give us their analyzes on the economy (national and international) and on teaching (continuing education and employability).

1/ COVID-19: the inevitable end of neoliberal economic policies

"Neoliberal policies implemented in Europe and in France during the last 40 years are not responsible for the world health crisis, they do however, have a role to play on the sizeable impact it will have on our continent. While they are not at the root of this economic crisis, the Covid-19 crisis shatters the illusion of a factory-free and free trade economy that benefits everyone, of deregulated finance and of a state with little intervention. What this crisis shows without a doubt is that without industry, without public services such as health services, without protection of the vital activities of a country, without sufficient stock, without coherent organization of national production, without international cooperation and without anticipation, no country can cope with this type of event. It also demonstrates that financial means do exist as soon as the vital structures of a country are at stake. We will need to consider this, when after this crisis, we start to work on biggest reconstruction site of the century: the ecological transition."
Gregory Vanel, Expert in International Economics at Grenoble Ecole de Management

2/ Solidarity taking forms of support for economic ecosystems

"While the current state of emergency, is primarily a health emergency, and many organizations are making valuable and original contributions, such as shifting the focus of their production to manufacture equipment that is lacking (masks, supply of raw materials, etc…), economic difficulties for many organizations, both small and large, are multiplying each day. In times of crisis, the resilience of economic ecosystems depends on the willingness of healthier companies to support their partners in difficulty. These may concern customers, suppliers, or even competitors, as relationships cannot be solely limited to competition (as shown by the increasing forms of co-petition). Payment facilities, priority deliveries, and sharing of production capacities, are economic peace practices that have beneficial effects for everybody. This situation of urgency calls for rapid development of these practices that may last well beyond the crisis."
Hugues Poissonnier, Expert in Strategy and Purchasing at Grenoble Ecole de Management

3/ Who will reimburse the large scale financial support policies deployed?

"National governments and Europe are putting large-scale financial support measures in place to assist many sectors of their economy brought to a halt by the current crisis. For example, the British government is guaranteeing to maintain 80% of salaries and of revenues for the self-employed using public funds. At the same time, banks are being encouraged to do everything they can to help economic players survive during this hibernation period so that they can get back to business as soon as the context evolves. Despite these initiatives, the support provided will not necessarily be sufficient for everybody. According to public authorities, some companies will inevitably disappear. Nobody yet knows who will ultimately pay the bill. Will it be the taxpayer? For some commentators, they foresee that it will be the wealthier individuals or businesses who will be asked to repay the loans as governments may not wish to increase existing public debts, still high in many European countries following the 2008 economic crisis."
Phil Eyre, Expert in Economics at Grenoble Ecole de Management

4/ Stress Management, creativity and adaptability: are students increasing their employability?

"Adaptability and taking a step back and are often among the soft skills requested and evaluated by companies during recruitment interviews. Students who have been able to strengthen and develop these skills creatively and effectively with the current context may have an additional advantage for their future recruitment. Contingency and uncertainty management as well as risk management are part of business life. The development of these skills imposed by this crisis on young people may be a long-term advantage for them in business management. The impact of the crisis on the resilience and creativity of students will also need to be studied in the medium term."
Rikke Smedebol, Employability and Learning Design Project Manager at Grenoble Ecole de Management

5/ The crisis: an accelerator for trends and continuing education

“In several respects, this crisis is going to accelerate trends that were already at work in the continuing education sector. As regards teaching methods, France is lagging behind in the digitalization of training, despite more significant developments in recent years, through the emergence of multiple EdTechs. Confinement obliges large numbers of employees and students to use digital tools and to learn how to work remotely. At the end of this confinement period, while we will all be happy to go back to face-to-face exchanges, it is also likely that a lot of the previous resistance to using digital tools, will have disappeared.
On a deeper level, the crisis will lead us to question the liberal economy and its flaws, and will certainly strengthen demand from both individuals and companies to integrate systemic and meaningful approaches to our programs. From this point of view, the expertise conveyed by GEM research professors will be more than ever at the heart of our training programs on agility, economic peace, geopolitics or even ecological transitions. These should not only motivate our reflections, but should more importantly be concretely transformed into training skills for companies.”
Gaël Fouillard, Director of Continuing Education at Grenoble Ecole de Management

6/ Coronavirus: the virus that makes Higher Education cough too

"For several weeks Covid-19 has been paralyzing the activities of an increasing number of countries. The Higher Education sector is no exception and it is has been seriously impacted. The numerous relations that so many organizations have with Chinese institutions means that a multitude of important decisions are having to be taken in a multitude of complex situations …In the medium term, I'm afraid that there will be a decrease in the number of Chinese (and Asian) students on our programs during the next school year. This particularly worries countries that are used to hosting many, such as Australia. In the long term, I'm afraid of the geopolitical consequences (because we really are in a geopolitical context)." Read more on his blog.
Jean-François Fiorina, Vice Dean and Expert in Geopolitics at Grenoble Ecole de Management

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