Interview with Professor Gregoir, Associate Dean for Faculty & Research

Written on 21 March 2012.

Stéphane Gregoir

Why does EDHEC regularly engage in public debates? When it comes to its training and the direction of its research, EDHEC adopts a policy of relevance. Training and research should cater to, or at least anticipate, the needs of businesses and society as a whole. This relevance, which is more than just academic recognition, is an internal criterion for evaluating our activities. It takes into account the different expressions of interest we receive from across the globe from companies, regulatory bodies and managers, trade press and the academic world. It’s a virtuous cycle because the exchanges that we generate feed our thought processes, which in turn allow us to improve our training and enrich our research. As EDHEC’s history and values demonstrate, it has always been a committed player. So it is natural that, as part of its mission to train both young people and experienced professionals, it engages in public discussions and sheds light on current issues that are linked to our areas of research. We hope that this will help the average person better understand his or her environment.
How do you implement this policy? As I mentioned, the audience drawn and the interest generated by our research in both academic and professional circles are key elements that are central to the success of our strategy. EDHEC is a non-profit organisation and within its administrative board and executive committee, it sets its objectives and criteria allowing it to evaluate whether the said objectives are achieved. Using our research and training to serve business and society, whilst at the same retaining a legitimate academic status, is summarised by our credo– Research for Business.

Our policies for recruitment, partnership, faculty management and communication all form part of this strategy. Together, they help create a sustainable economic model. To evaluate this strategy, alongside the criteria of the quality and quantity of articles published in academic journals, we also take into account information such as the number of professionals who attend our training seminars, the number of citations in both trade and regular press, as well as the financial scale of our partnerships. In 2011, our research was quoted in over 450 articles in national and international press, over 3,000 industry professionals attended our conferences or seminars and our partnerships brought in €7 million in resources. EDHEC is ranked as the second business school in continental Europe in terms of the number of quotes in international financial and economic press (INSEAD being in first position).
In 2007, you gave your input during the presidential campaign. What will your main lines of communication be in 2012? In 2007, we put forward proposals to reform the employment contract in France and we also shed light on the macroeconomic benefits of a “VAT for job” reform that corresponds to a decrease in employee social security contribution rate off-set by an increase in VAT rate as opposed to a “Social VAT” reform which amounts to simultaneously decreasing the employer social security contribution rate and increasing the VAT, fiscal policy which was implemented in Germany in 2007.

In practice, the employment contract reform was limited to the introduction of a new means of terminating a contract which was far less ambitious than what was evoked in campaign discussions. In a bid to improve the competitiveness of French businesses, the French government recently retained “Social VAT”. It’s a risky choice. The very likely impact that this measure will have on inflation was neglected – especially when we take into account the fact that the financial situation of companies is currently not favourable to a drop in prices made possible by the reduction in employer social security contributions.

This inflation will negatively affect household consumption – the last source of economic growth. “Social VAT” will benefit sectors that are uncompetitive as well as those that have little exposure to international competition – and the increase in competitiveness will be minimal. There is a need for otherl policies that can influence productivity. A “VAT for job” reform could be structured in such a way so as to make employment more attractive and to sustain consumption. This year, during the current presidential campaign, we will release the results of our research – on one hand, we will look at the issues of the employment contract, job security and the integration of young people into the job market; on the other hand, we will address the sensitive issue of funding for higher education and how students should be involved in these expenses.

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