Professor channels former PM Bob Hawke and calls bosses bums

March 10, 2021
Professor channels former PM Bob Hawke and calls bosses bums

I had a little taste of media exposure today, when asked to appear on a television program to discuss employees having time off through the day to attend A Lunchtime MBA.

It began as a discussion about the importance of the business lunch.

This is something very important to all MBAs because we know much great thinking and planning takes place around a white tablecloth stained with Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon and red wine jus.

In fact, in the paper, The business lunch: toward a research agenda, Cabral‐Cardoso and Cunha argue that more research needs to be done on the topic of the business lunch because:

Despite today’s heavy workloads and the pressures for efficiency, the business lunch appears to keep its popularity, showing the importance of personal contact in the process of networking in today’s business practices.

And yet, despite the known importance of “the business lunch”, it seems some employers are hesitant about (or righteously opposed to) giving employees extended time for lunch meetings.

In the interview, one of the panel of journalists asked me to comment on an employer who put out a memo to staff saying, “I pay you to work your sorry asses off for me and not prop up artisan eateries run by hipsters who don’t wear socks.”

Apart from the non sequiturs, I took issue with the employer’s attitude, thus:

The employer might well be suspicious of employees attending a “lunchtime MBA” because as author, Peter Drucker, has noted, no MBA schools teach the art of business lunches despite lunch being the time and place where more business decisions occur than at any other time. That is, until now. This goodly fellow would do well to update himself and realise the power of releasing his subordinates into my care during the most important meal of the day!

I stand by that sentiment.

My Bob Hawke moment

Towards the end of the interview, I was asked what I would say to employers who disciplined or even dismissed employees for attending A Lunchtime MBA.

My first reaction was to note that for the employer it would be their loss.

Not only would they look ignorant in the eyes of any peers with MBAs, but they would be losing the very employees any business needs; people who look for fast, efficient ways to get things done.

Pushed further, I quipped that such a boss would be a bum.

And that’s when the internet memes began and the clip embedded below started being circulated on social media.

As much as the froth and bubbles of the social media frenzy has provided much mirth for the faculty and students during our team collaboration session in the University Bar, there is a most salient point to finish with.

When one looks as productivity growth as an annual percentage, employers like those referenced above would expect Australia (where we frown on business lunches) to be sailing strongly at the top of the field, much like Australia II in 1983, whereas, in fact, it is Spain, a national that seems to be perpetually on siesta or lunch break, that is outperforming us.

EXHIBIT 2 TOTAL FACTOR PRODUCTIVITY GROWTH, 1980 - 1990. Source: OECD Data, referred to in Giuseppe Nicoletti and Stefano Scarpetta, “Regulation, Productivity and Growth:” OECD evidence”, Economic Policy Vol. 18 No. 36 (abril 2003), pp. 9-72.

So, next time somebody you know refers to Australia as the land of the long lunch, scold them for being wrong and for failing to understand that what this country needs is a business lunch-led recovery.

And with that, my dessert has arrived, so I will leave these thoughts here and add some footnotes to my napkin.

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