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MOU between Govt. and UWI to use research-driven data to direct policy

Published:Friday | January 16, 2015 | 1:01 AMJohn Myers Jr

The Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) and the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce are to sign a memorandum of understanding as the Government moves to increase the use of research-driven data to inform policy decisions.

Executive director of the MSBM, Professor Densil Williams, told a Gleaner Editors' Forum on Wednesday that the industry and commerce ministry would be utilising the expertise available at the MSBM to generate this kind of data to guide policy decisions. The university professor noted that the use of research-driven data by local businesses and the Government, while still inadequate, was slowly improving.

"We will be signing a memorandum of understanding with the Mona School of Business and Management and the ministry to look at how research can be used in driving a lot of things that they do," Williams told the forum held at The Gleaner's corporate offices in central Kingston.

He said also that the Ministry of Finance has been relying increasingly on research data to inform much of the tax-reform policies that it is seeking to implement. Other government bodies, including the agriculture ministry, have been making increased use of research data.

"What we are seeing, in essence, is that there is a greater convergence between academia and policymakers," he said.

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Encouragingly, for Williams and his colleagues in academia, more Jamaican businesses are developing a larger appetite for research data as they better understand and appreciate their importance in guiding management decisions.

"Over the last Ö seven years, I realise that there has been a greater facilitation of businesses to get researchers to come in and sit down and talk to them and get more data from them."

Continuing, the MSBM executive director revealed that "just recently, for example, GraceKennedy went into Ghana and Ö they actually asked us to design a case study to better understand the cultural dynamics as to how they move into these markets".

Williams said part of the MSBM's remit is to highlight the importance of research in the growth and development of local businesses and, consequently, the Jamaican economy.

"What we do - the conferences, the research, all of these things that we are doing - is to better prepare our enterprises to increase production and productivity, which, at the end of the day, the real impediment to growth is productivity. What we are trying to do is to clear the hurdles for productivity so our enterprises can become more competitive and [achieve] growth," he said.