Rethinking Government: Not bigger or smaller but smarter

Study Group led by Esko Aho
Senior Fellow, M-RCBG
Spring 2013

The current economic and financial crisis in the U.S. and Europe has prompted a deeply ideological discussion of the question, “Was the worst economic crisis since the 1930s the result of too much government intervention and regulation, or too little?” More important than answering this question is to analyze what kind of government is needed to regain global competitiveness and create a sustainable foundation for long term growth:

• What strategies can provide high quality physical and intellectual resources and a favorable regulatory environment for private-sector growth?
• What kind of future public-private sector relationship will be optimal to make the most of the huge opportunities offered by science, technology and innovation?
• Do small countries differ from large countries in terms of their requirements for a business environment and the role of the government?

M-RCBG senior fellow Esko Aho, former Prime Minister of Finland and head of government and public affairs for Nokia, invites students to a series of three sessions “to rethink government “ and analyze how Europe and the U.S. can restore their competitiveness by fully exploiting the potential  of technology and innovation. 

To apply to be a member of this study group, please send your CV and short (one-paragraph) statement of interest to Jennifer Nash, Associate Director of M-RCBG, by Friday, February 1.  Sessions will be held on three Fridays:  February 8, March 8, and April 19, in the morning.

Session 1:  The Role of Education in Creating Global Competitiveness: The Case of Finland
Friday, February 8
Guest speaker: Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of CIMO (Ministry of Education and Culture) in Helsinki, Finland, and winner of the 2012 Education Award issued by the Trade Union of Education in Finland.

Session 2:  New partnership between business and government
Friday, March 8, 2013
A smart government is a critical component of national competitiveness. Good business cannot be made in an environment that is not healthy. In parallel, societies cannot solve their economic, social and environmental problems without using the best resources and talents provided by the private sector. What are the key characteristics of that kind of ecosystem?

Session 3:  The Role of Technology Innovation:  Healthcare and education
Friday, April 19, 2013
In several critical sectors, broad bottom-up exploitation of science and technology must be supported by a top-down operational  “architecture.”  This session will explore government’s role in promoting that architecture, focusing on the examples of healthcare and education.

Esko Aho bio
Esko Aho has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the private sector and government service.  Since 2008, he has led Nokia's government and public affairs function, overseeing the company's global policies and activities regarding sustainable development and social responsibility. He has been a member of the Nokia Leadership Team since 2009, stepping down from that role on August 31, 2012. Mr. Aho was prime minister of Finland from 1991 to 1995.  He was elected to Parliament in 1983 and served on several key committees. He also served on the Nordic Council and the Finnish Delegation to the Council of Europe, is a former vice chairman of Liberal International, and was President of the Finnish Innovation Fund, SITRA, from 2004 to 2008. Currently, Mr. Aho is a member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) World Council and vice chair of ICC Finland, as well as a board member of the Technology Academy Finland. He also serves as a board member of Terveystalo and is vice chairman of the board of Technology Industries of Finland.  He holds a master's in social science from the University of Helsinki. As a senior fellow, Mr. Aho will pursue research on the changing role of the state in maintaining welfare and global competitiveness.

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