Norway’s premier management school is the target of harsh criticism – for poor management. An independent report examining the recent problem-ridden reorganization at Norway School of Economics (Norges Handelshøyskole, NHH) has found that its managers failed on several critical counts, including planning the changes and talking about them.
The report was commissioned by NHH in the wake of conflicts that led to severe unrest among school employees, a surge in sick leave among the school’s administrative employees, several resignations in anger, and a highly publicized letter of concern from professors and other staff.
Bergen-based NHH is often considered the top business school in Norway. Among its alumni are Statoil CEO Helge Lund, investor Jens Ulltveit-Moe, former top banker Svein Aaser and the current head of Norway’s oil fund, Yngve Slyngstad. Even Norway’s top selling crime author, Jo Nesbø, went to NHH.
The report, carried out by consulting firm PwC, said that “the planning and execution failed on several levels” during the reorganization of the school’s central administration last year. PwC said that NHH had little experience from reorganizations, no communication plan for the project, and top managers who just weren’t listening to their staff.
The dean of NHH, Jan I. Haaland, accepted the report’s conclusions in an inteview with newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) on Friday, but declined to go into details.
“Certainly there’s a lot we could have done differently … the central theme in the report is about openness, communication and involvement. On those points, we could have done better,” Haaland said. He’s on his way out of his job, having reached the end of his eight-year elected term.
The school’s managing director, Ole Hope, is also on his way out, taking a new job at Bergen Business Region. In an e-mail to DN, Hope also admitted to errors and misjudgement.
“In retrospect, I realize that I should have thought differently about the need for information, and (should have) ensured a better flow of information about the process,” he wrote.
“The report illustrates in a good way the lack of necessary framework, lack of change capacity, lack of competence on the rules of labour relations, and differences in understanding various (management) roles,” he admitted to DN.
PwC’s analysts also targeted the school’s corporate culture, saying it had made matters worse. They pointed to a presence of tight informal networks on the fringes of the official management structure, and that those networks had been in a position to greatly influence management decisions.
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