Reframing Government for the 21st Century (Fall 2103 and Spring 2014)

Esko Aho, M-RCBG Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School
Fall and spring, 2013-14
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 sessions to reframe government. A key focus will be to analyze how Europe and the U.S. can restore their competitiveness and improve productivity of their public sector by fully exploiting the potential of technology and innovation. The study group will address three overarching questions:

• Do small countries differ from large countries in terms of their requirements for a business environment and the role of the government?
• 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?
• What strategies can provide high quality physical and intellectual resources and a favorable regulatory environment for private-sector growth in key economic sectors?

Session 1.The Nordic Model: What is the right balance between efficiency and equality? Is a large public sector and high level of taxation an obstacle for global competitiveness?
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2:40-4:00pm, Bell Hall
This session will explore how Nordic countries have answered these questions.

Session 2. Digital Agendas of Europe and the United States: Defining Roles for Business and Government
Friday, November 22, 10:00am-12:00pm, Bell Hall
o John Haigh, Co-Director Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Executive Dean of HKS, and former head of AT&T’s wireless services
o Bengt Holmström, Paul A. Samuelson Professor of Economics, MIT
Session 3.Is BRIC Crumbling? Explaining Growth Patterns in Brazil, Russia, India, China, the US, and Europe
Friday, February 7, 9:30am – 12:00pm, Bell Hall
o The Honorable Felipe Calderón, Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School, President of Mexico (2006-2012)
o Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University Distinguished Professor
Comments from:
o Gillian Martin Sorensen, Senior Advisor and National Advocate at the United Nations Foundation, former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for External Relations

Session 4. The Nokia Bridge Case
Thursday, February 27, 6-8:00pm, Allison Dining Room, 5th Floor Taubman
Co-sponsored by the HKS Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative
Mr. Aho will lead a discussion of Nokia’s innovative Bridge program, which offers employees who lose jobs due to corporate restructuring the opportunity for reassignment within the company, coaching and seed funding for entrepreneurship, and training and skilling programs. Bridge is the current subject of an HBS case; Mr. Aho will be joined by Sandra J. Sucher, MBA Class of 1966 Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School, who is the lead author of the case, as well as Matti Vänskä, who directs Bridge. Dinner will begin promptly at 6 pm in Allison Dining Room. RSVP (to is absolutely required, as this event is expected to be oversubscribed.

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 is pursuing research on the changing role of the state in maintaining welfare and global competitiveness.

Esko Aho headshot.

M-RCBG Senior Fellow Esko Aho.