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The Globe and Mail Editor-in-Chief David Walmsley Appointed to Long Run Initiative (LRI) Board of Governors

The Long Run Initiative (LRI) is pleased to announce that Mr. David Walmsley, Editor-in-Chief of the Toronto The Globe and Mail Canada’s national newspaper, will be joining its international Board of Governors, effective immediately.

David brings a powerful and unique perspective to the LRI board. “On behalf of our Founder-Directors Professor John Turner and Dr. Michael Aldous, I am delighted to welcome David to the LRI,” Founder-Director Dr. Laurence B. Mussio said. “His career experience, his remarkable leadership in Canadian and international journalism and his intuitive understanding of the importance of connecting hindsight to insight about contemporary challenges makes him a perfect addition to the LRI.”

Uniquely among LRI Governors, David has connections to both city reference points of the LRI – Belfast and Toronto. Indeed, his late father George was Dean of Science and Agriculture at Queen’s University, Belfast (2003). David began his journalism career at The Belfast Telegraph in 1992. He was named young journalist of the year for Northern Ireland in 1995 for investigative work. He worked as a reporter and editor at a series of market-leading news organisations in Scotland and London before moving to Canada and assuming the leadership of The Globe and Mail. During his editorship, The Globe and Mail has twice won The Michener Award (Canada’s Pulitzer) for public service journalism.

David is the also chair of the non-profit Canadian Journalism Foundation and is a founding member of The Trust Project (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, University of Southern California). In 2017 he created World News Day – a global initiative that puts the audience on stage to explain how journalism improved their lives, and in December 2019 David is to be appointed a board member of the World Editors’ Forum, Paris. He also sits on the advisory council of the digital media zone at Ryerson University and is a media member of the World Economic Forum, Davos.

Included in David’s UK reporting was his role as Associate Producer of the Cutting Edge Channel 4 documentary (UK) The Final Flight of Zulu Delta 576 (1997). He was also contributing author to the anthology Reporting the Troubles (2018). Sir Harold Evans, the veteran editor and author, has described Walmsley as “the Man Who Might Save Newspapers” (Town and Country magazine, Sept 2016).

On behalf of the LRI, please join us in welcoming David to the Board of Governors.

Download the Press Release
The Globe and Mail Editor-in-Chief David Walmsley Appointed to Long Run Initiative (LRI) Board of Governors2019-11-19T11:06:11-05:00

Learning from a Different Past

The LRI has invited Professor Geoffrey Jones, the Isidor Straus Professor of Business History at the Harvard Business School (HBS) and LRI Governor to reflect on the study of the long run in emerging markets. Professor Jones is the founder of Creating Emerging Markets, an extraordinary initiative that aims to level the playing field in the study of business history. Here, then, is Professor Geoffrey Jones.

Learning from a Different Past

If current debates about the societal and environmental challenges faced by our society suffer from too little learning from history, they arguably suffer even more by not learning from the history of the majority of the world’s population who live beyond the developed West. This is something Harvard Business School’s Creating Emerging Markets project has been trying to address. Harvard faculty conduct lengthy video interviews with individuals who have led highly impactful businesses and NGOs for decades across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.  It’s a public goods project aimed to contribute to transforming research, education and policy making. The interview transcripts are fully accessible at the website for download, as are hundreds of video clips from the interviews. Photos of some of our recent interviewees can be seen below.

This project began with a conversation between myself and the late Chilean shipping entrepreneur Sven von Appen over a decade ago. He asked me, as one of Harvard Business School’s business historians, why Chilean business leaders and policy-makers seemed unable to learn from history, and kept repeating the same mistakes. On reflection, one of the answers to the puzzle hit me – there was remarkably little reliable information out there on the past of Chile’s businesses. The CEM project set about assembling an oral history database which would, at the very least, give people the opportunity to learn from the past. On emerging markets, there’s a lot we do not know. These interviews now dramatically supplement the quality of information we have on many countries.

What has been learned? The answer is many things already, from the crucial importance of reputation for businesses faced with turbulent politics and economics, to the differences in how business leaders in different regions even perceive uncertainty and risk. The lessons of how business leaders have dealt with corruption and innovation in emerging markets over the last four decades have now been distilled into HBS cases which are designed to educate a new generation of managers. A revealing feature of the interviews with many of these iconic entrepreneurs was their sense of purpose, the expression of some sort of higher motivation that they believed they were pursuing. Many of them saw themselves as playing a significant role in the development of their societies. We have just published a paper based on the interviews which reveals how many of them have invested in educational projects, sometimes reaching hundreds of thousands of young people, and sometimes embracing highly innovative pedagogies, freed from the straightjacket of public sectors.

A number of Western countries, most visibly Great Britain and the United States, are undergoing the kind of political and institutional turbulence formerly more associated with Africa and Latin America. The story of how some emerging market businesses have grown, innovated and exercised a positive social impact, despite facing turbulent conditions and populist political leaders, seems to suddenly relevant to all of us.

Learning from a Different Past2019-10-30T17:04:57-04:00

Confronting the Productivity Challenge

For 250 years, consistent improvements in productivity have created an engine for economic growth, greater prosperity and better standards of living. Since the Global Financial Crisis, that two-and-a-half century winning streak has stalled: productivity has flat-lined.

Productivity – how to generate it and sustain it – constitutes one of the most complex and serious challenges facing contemporary economies. It is also the focus of LRI Roundtable No. 2, to be held on 8 November 2019 at Queen’s University Belfast. Our discussion will focus on understanding the factors that drove such a dramatic take-off in productivity, how it was sustained over such a long period of time, and how and why in recent years growth has slowed.

Productivity constitutes a serious challenge both for enterprise and for public policy – inside firms and across the national and international economies. For businesses, productivity is a driver of profits and a catalyst of scale and growth within businesses. The lack of strategic focus on productivity improvement holds back many companies: repeated failure to invest, or to deploy technology are two of the most serious problems. Yet, the challenge is not only about investment and technology deployment: commentators also point to the need to develop managerial culture and practices as equally important in delivering productivity improvements. How can business leaders ensure that their managers are suitably equipped for this task?

For policymakers, a different but complementary set of considerations are at play. A broad range of policy factors relating to investment, innovation, technology, enterprise, and skills are linked to productivity growth. How can policymakers stimulate innovation ecosystems, whilst enabling businesses to leverage subsequent breakthroughs?

This is the grand challenge that we will be addressing in this LRI Roundtable event. The event offers the opportunity to consider what business leaders and policymakers can do to address the challenge of low productivity and discuss related issues such as the future of work and the role of business schools and universities in driving innovation and improvements in management education that positively affect productivity.

Event details:

8th November 2019

2pm – 4pm

Riddel Hall

Queen’s University Belfast

Keynote speaker: Andy Haldane (Chief Economist, Bank of England)

Chair of roundtable: Kevin Lynch (former Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet of the Canadian government)

Participants: Nick Crafts (University of Warwick), Andy Haldane (Bank of England), Diane Coyle (University of Cambridge), Angela McGowan (CBI), and David Paulson (Queen’s University Belfast)

For further details of the event and to confirm attendance please contact Michael Aldous, Michael.aldous@longruninitiative.com.

Confronting the Productivity Challenge2019-10-30T16:48:53-04:00

An Economist’s Guide to Economic History

The LRI are delighted to support the launch of the new book, An Economist’s Guide to Economic History, Edited by Dr Matthias Blum and Dr Chris Colvin, colleagues at Queen’s University Belfast, and with chapters contributed by LRI Directors, Professor John Turner and Dr Michael Aldous. The book will be formally launched at an event at QUB on the 18th January with a Roundtable Discussion including contributions from Prof. Wendy Carlin, Prof. Nicholas Crafts and Paul Winfree. If you are interested in the LRI agenda please check out the book and/or come along to the launch for a stimulating discussion on the importance of history in economics.

An Economist’s Guide to Economic History

Edited by Dr Matthias Blum and Dr Chris Colvin, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.

Without economic history, economics runs the risk of being too abstract or parochial, of failing to notice precedents, trends and cycles, of overlooking the long-run and thus misunderstanding ‘how we got here’. Recent financial and economic crises illustrate spectacularly how the economics profession has not learnt from its past.

This important and unique book addresses this problem by demonstrating the power of historical thinking in economic research. A carefully curated collection of short chapters guides economics lecturers and their students through the field of economic history, and advises them on how they can actively engage with economic history in their own teaching and learning.

Matthias Blum and Christopher L. Colvin bring together important voices in the field to show readers how they can use their existing economics training to explore different facets of economic history. Each chapter introduces a question or topic, historical context or research method and explores how they can be used in economics scholarship and pedagogy. In a century characterised to date by economic uncertainty, bubbles and crashes, An Economist’s Guide to Economic History is essential reading.

Riddel Hall, 18 January 2018, 1:30PM

A roundtable discussion on the past, present and future of economics as a discipline, with a particular focus on how it is taught at university and understood by the general public.

Panellists include:
• Professor Wendy Carlin CBE (University College London), economist and director of the CORE Econ project, which aims to overhaul the way introductory economics is taught at university.
• Professor Nicholas Crafts CBE (University of Warwick), economic historian and expert on UK productivity across the past two centuries.
• Mr Paul Winfree (Heritage Foundation, Washington DC), health economist and former senior advisor on budgetary policy in Donald Trump’s White House.

Event to coincide with the official launch of An Economist’s Guide to Economic History, a new edited volume aimed at introducing economic history as a field of study to economics lecturers and their students. Published in December 2018 by Palgrave Macmillan and edited by Dr Matthias Blum and Dr Chris Colvin of Queen’s University Centre for Economic History, the book’s website is http://www.blumandcolvin.org/.

To register please go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-past-present-and-future-of-economics-book-launch-and-roundtable-discussion-tickets-53585834674

An Economist’s Guide to Economic History2019-01-08T15:12:55-05:00

BMO Financial Group Chief Talent Officer Mona Malone named to Long Run Initiative Board of Governors

The Long Run Initiative (LRI) is delighted to announce that Mona Malone, Chief Talent Officer for BMO Financial Group, will be joining its international Board of Governors, effective immediately.
Mona brings a deep skill set and a unique perspective to the Long Run Initiative’s Board. “On behalf of our Founder-Directors Professor John Turner and Dr. Michael Aldous, I am delighted to welcome Mona to our new initiative,” Founder-Director Dr. Laurence B. Mussio said. “Her career experience, her remarkable leadership in her field and her extraordinary understanding of the importance of connecting hindsight to insight about contemporary challenges makes her a perfect fit for the LRI.”

Mona is Chief Talent Officer for BMO Financial Group and leads the team responsible for talent, learning, diversity & inclusion. She holds company-wide accountability for organization design, talent planning and recruitment, diversity, executive succession and leadership development, and she leads BMO’s corporate university – the Institute for Learning (IFL) – and enterprise learning programs such as orientation and risk management.

Mona has led roles in human resources and in the business over her 20 years at BMO. Mona was a Retail Banking Sales Leader at BMO in the Greater Toronto Area and VP Product and Marketing Officer at ePost (a joint venture between Canada post and BMO) in addition to a range of senior HR roles such as CHRO of Canada’s Personal and Commercial Banking group.

Mona lives in Toronto with her husband and three children. She is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her community service with youth development organizations. She holds an Honours Business Administration degree from Ivey Business School at University of Western Ontario. She is an Advisory Council member for the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership at the Ivey Business School.

About The Long Run Initiative (LRI)
The Long Run Initiative is a not-for-profit forum linked to the Queen’s University Belfast Centre for Economic History and SIERC. The Initiative is founded on three precepts:
• To demonstrate the practical value of historical expertise to contemporary decision makers.
• To create dialogue between academics, businesses and government.
• To provide an independent and international perspective on the challenges facing business and society.
Currently, the LRI achieves these aims through the organisation of high impact roundtable events that bring together speakers and participants from a range of academic, corporate and policy backgrounds to discuss historical trends that shape key contemporary challenges.

Download the Press Release
BMO Financial Group Chief Talent Officer Mona Malone named to Long Run Initiative Board of Governors2018-12-20T14:52:51-05:00

Why History?

The Long Run Initiative has been established to help guide executives and policymakers understand the importance of history to their decision making. Why should business leaders and policymakers care about economic history? Can the past really help us make decisions in the present and for the future? A study of the economic past is useful for at least four reasons.


First, economic history helps us understand trajectories. In other words, it gives us an insight of where the economy has come from and where it is headed. Demographic changes have major effects on markets and public policy, but it is only by looking at the long run that we can understand the trajectory of demography. Without it, businesses have no idea of the size and shape of future demand for their products and services and governments cannot plan infrastructure and major capital projects. Trade wars, Brexit, and Trump can only be understood by looking at the trajectory of wealth inequality and globalisation over time.


Second, past economic events provides lessons for businesses and governments today, particularly when they are faced with volatility. During the global financial crisis in 2008, where did U.S. bankers and policymakers go for advice? They went to the Great Depression and all the great work that economic historians have done studying that cataclysmic event. However, in the case of the UK, there was no such playbook to hand. Indeed, the subsequent Parliamentary enquiry into the banking collapse in the UK recognised the importance of economic history not just in informing firefighting, but in fire prevention. It made the bold claim that the crisis may not have happened had bankers and policymakers been better educated about past crises and it recommended that the Bank of England become better acquainted with financial history.      


Third, in an era of constant change and major disruption from the Big Data revolution and the rise of the robots, economic history provides contextual understanding and lessons for organisations in terms of how technological revolutions in the past have affected firms and workers. Technology is simply the replacement of human exertion, whether physical or cognitive, with machines. Over the past 250 years, there have been three occasions when technology has taken a major leap forward – the steam engine, electrification and computerisation. The introduction of each of these technologies had major ramifications for workers, firms, capital markets and governments. Each of these technologies has made redundant multitudes of workers, but they have also created new industries and new work opportunities.  


Fourth, every organisation has its own history and it is incumbent upon present leaders to ‘indoctrinate’ employees regarding the story of their organisation. Where has it come from? How has it changed over time? The origins of the organisation inform and shape its mission. It can also be used to create a strong brand identity among all its stakeholders. Furthermore an organisation’s history can provide current executives with great leadership training material. How did the organisation deal with volatility and new technology in the past? How did it penetrate new markets in the past? How did it build customer and employee relationships?

The Rhyme and Meter of History

It is the Long Run Initiative’s contention that every organisation and every leader in an organisation needs to learn from the past. This is why top business schools like Harvard Business School have courses for their MBA students on the history of capitalism and business history. Mark Twain said that ‘history never repeats itself, but it does rhyme’. We set up the Long Run Initiative to help leaders understand the rhyme and the meter of history so that they are better placed to lead their organisation.

Why History?2019-10-30T16:49:56-04:00

Announcing the Official Launch of the Long Run Initiative

New Global Forum Created to Bring Corporate Executives, Policymakers and Historians Together to Connect Long-Run Context to Contemporary Challenges

TORONTO, Canada and BELFAST, Northern Ireland, 1 October 2018Signal Influence Executive Research & Communications, Inc., (SIERC), Canada, and Queen’s University Belfast’s Centre for Economic History announced today the creation of the Long Run Initiative, (LRI) a new, not-for-profit global forum bringing together academic experts, business leaders and public policy makers to provide context and deepen understanding from history of the grand challenges facing business and government.

LRI analysis focuses on connecting where we have been to where we are now, and where we are going on a range of specific issues. We believe that by understanding the past we can better appreciate the forces that have created the present and how they will shape the trajectory of future business, economies and societies.

The LRI connects academic experts with business and policy decision makers to uncover how long-run forces connect to present and future challenges facing your organization.

Through the organisation of short, high-impact roundtable events, the LRI creates a dialogue to exchange knowledge and stimulate ideas, giving participants the opportunity to reflect on and discuss parallels from the past, and consider how these lessons apply to their own organisations. In May 2018, the LRI hosted its first event, at Queen’s University Belfast, on a grand challenge topic: information revolutions. Events are being planned in the UK, the United States and Canada in 2019 and 2020, with plans for expansion.


The Initiative is founded on three precepts:

  • To demonstrate the practical value of historical expertise to contemporary decision makers.
  • To create dialogue between academics, businesses and government.
  • To provide an independent and international perspective on the challenges facing business and society.

The LRI brings together the capabilities of two organisations to create a unique set of interests and expertise.


The Long Run Initiative is led by its co-founders and directors: Prof. John Turner (UK), Dr. Laurence B. Mussio (Canada) and Dr. Michael Aldous (UK). Their combined experiences as academics, senior consultants and advisors and historians led them to believe there was a huge opportunity to bring together people who don’t normally have space or time to interact with each other. They conceived the Initiative as a forum to build new connections and create a dialogue that encourages reflections on the long-run.


The LRI’s Board of Governors are drawn from the upper echelons of business, government and the academy in the North Atlantic World. The Board includes:

  • Sir Jonathan Stephen Day, CBE (former Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, UK) (United Kingdom)
  • The Hon. Kevin Gordon Lynch, former Clerk of Her Majesty’s Privy Council for Canada and Chairman of the Board of SNC Lavalin (Canada);
  • William Arthur Downe, CM, Immediate and Past Chief Executive Officer of Bank of Montreal Financial Group (Canada);
  • Dr. Judy Stephenson, The David Richards Fellow in Economic History, Wadham College, Oxford (United Kingdom)
  • Dr. Geoffrey Jones, Isidor Straus Professor of Business History, Harvard University (USA)


Professor Turner remarked on Queen’s University Belfast’s role in LRI’s foundation and development: “Queen’s University Belfast has been shaping a better world since its charter was granted by Queen Victoria in 1845. The university’s Centre for Economic History is recognised as one of the leading centres in the world for the study of business and economic history. The LRI is the next step in its evolution as it seeks to shape a better world by helping business and public-sector leaders understand the usefulness of the past to their decision making today.”

Policy makers and civil servants face numerous complex challenges. Whilst history cannot provide solutions to today’s problems, it does offer vital context to understand the processes and long-run trends that shape our world.

The LRI provides opportunities for experts from the worlds of academia, politics and business to discuss and learn from historical episodes and experiences, and consider how these lessons affect our responses to current and future challenges. I hope many decision makers can take advantage of this important forum.

– LRI Governor Sir Jon Day, CBE

SIERC Chief Executive Officer Dr. Mussio remarked that the LRI is a “both an exciting and potentially important initiative. It’s exciting because this is among the first initiatives of its kind in the North Atlantic world. Our plans are to bring together some of the best scholars in the field to discuss some of the practical grand challenges executives and government policy makers must deal with. It’s potentially important because our vision is to apply ‘insight from hindsight’ so we can understand the challenges before us. SIERC is therefore delighted to partner with Queen’s University Belfast in the LRI. We are in it for the long run.”

Dr. Michael Aldous explains that “examining historical roots provides rich context, and understanding of patterns and trends. It is important to connect historians, policymakers and corporate executives, to facilitate evidence-led discussion on long-run trends to help make sense of critical contemporary challenges.”


Please visit our website for more information at www.longruninitiative.com.


The Centre for Economic and Business History at Queen’s University Belfast

The Centre for Economic History at Queen’s University Belfast is one of the largest groups of Economic and Business Historians in the world. Amongst the group and its wider network, are academic experts working on a diverse range of issues including economic development, globalization, corporate governance, banking crises, bubbles, corporate failures, demography, and political economy. The Centre’s mission is to explain the past to understand the present by understanding the trajectory of the economy and drawing lessons from past experiences for present global challenges. Visit us at www.quceh.org.uk.


Signal Influence Executive Research & Communications, Inc. (SIERC) is a boutique consulting firm specializing in the strategic application of organizational experience for senior leadership. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, we are connected to a global network of scholars, researchers and consultants. Together, we help transform insight into strategy. Since 2002, SIERC has served elite clients in financial services, telecommunications and information technology, as well as in the government and university sectors. Visit us at www.sierc.ca.

For further information: SIERC Contact: Dr. Laurence B. Mussio, CEO, Signal Influence Executive Research & Communications, Inc., laurence.mussio@sierc.ca, Tel: +001 416-729- 9173; QUB Contact: Dr. Michael Aldous, Queen’s Management School, m.aldous@qub.ac.uk, Tel: +0044 (0)28 9097 4549.

Download the Press Release
Announcing the Official Launch of the Long Run Initiative2018-12-20T10:42:05-05:00

May 2018, Belfast UK, Information Revolutions Roundtable

The theme of the event evolved from numerous discussions amongst the participants around issues of innovation, productivity, and globalization. Phrases such as Industrial or Information Revolution easily set off debates amongst economic and business historians. What are the causal factors? How do they relate to previous revolutions? What are the likely effects in light of previous experience?


May 2018, Belfast UK, Information Revolutions Roundtable2018-09-26T19:41:18-04:00
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