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Business meetings in a post-pandemic world: When and how to meet virtually?The COVID-19 pandemic that erupted in 2020 forced businesses across the world to adopt virtual meetings. With many people working from home, software platforms like Zoom and Teams became ubiquitous. However, their widespread use also revealed many weaknesses and limitations. While technologies for virtual meetings have existed for decades, these technologies have advanced significantly in recent years, and today range from audio-conference facilities to telepresence rooms with high-resolution video and sophisticated virtual presence features. The available alternatives differ significantly in costs, complexity and capabilities, and choosing the most effective technology for each meeting setting is not always easy. This is important, since after the pandemic, virtual meetings will move from being a necessity to being a widely accepted alternative to traditional face-to-face meetings. Consequently, the questions of when and how to meet virtually will become even more significant. In this paper, we describe a decision-making framework for choosing when and how to meet virtually, based on the importance of communication capabilities for categories of meeting objectives and taking into account meeting size and duration. The framework is based on extensive empirical research conducted in partnership with a number of major US and European companies.
What to reward executives for? A taxonomy of performance metrics in executive incentives supplemented by an overview of business practiceExecutive target setting and linking it to incentive systems, proves to be a complex process. Moreover, boards are under increasing pressure to use a balanced set of (strategic) performance metrics, and to look beyond financial indicators. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are defined as critical indicators demonstrating a company’s progress towards its key business objectives. The challenge many boards and companies are facing, is two-folded. On the one hand, there is an increased focus on the use of non-financial performance metrics to be included as a driver in executive incentive systems. On the other hand, companies are also having difficulties to find the right set of financial KPIs and often tend to use “easy-to-measure” data while the real challenge is about finding the more critical KPIs, taking into account shareholder structures, business cycles, level in organisational hierarchy, but also being aware of the drawbacks caused by at least some financial KPIs. Vlerick Business School’s Executive Remuneration Research Centre has developed this paper in order to inspire practitioners looking for the ‘right’ financial and non-financial KPIs, both underlying short-term incentives and long-term incentives. It does so by providing a taxonomy of different indicators that can be used. On top of this, the reader will be inspired by the inclusion of a large set of real-life examples (more than 100!) found in remuneration reports of Stoxx Europe 600 companies as a key source of inspiration, grouped by type of KPI. The objective of the paper is not to be prescribing by providing the ultimate set of KPIs, which would be a mission impossible as this is highly dependent on each firm’s specific situation. Rather, the objective is to take a broad and non-prescribing perspective by providing an encompassing overview and inventarisation of performance metrics used in executive remuneration. As such, it offers a guide to improve the choice of key performance indicators by summarizing examples and inspiring practices. Needless to stress that KPIs need to be deduced from the firm’s strategy and the objectives the firm wants to achieve.
Spillover effects of distribution grid tariffs in the internal electricity market: An argument for harmonization?In many countries, distribution grid tariffs are being reformed to adapt to the new realities of an electricity system with distributed energy resources. In Europe, legislative proposals have been made to harmonize these reforms across country borders. Many stakeholders have argued that distribution tariffs are a local affair, while the European institutions argued that there can be spillovers to other countries, which could justify a more harmonized approach. In this paper, we quantify these spillovers in a simplified numerical example to give insight and an order of magnitude. We look at different scenarios, and find that the spillovers can be both negative and positive. To be able to quantify these effects, we developed a long-run market equilibrium model that captures the wholesale market effects of distribution grid tariffs. The problem is formulated as a non-cooperative game involving consumers, generating companies and distribution system operators in a stylized electricity market.
The future of renewable gases. Our take on the role of renewable gases in the energy transitionThe European Green Deal aims to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. This vision of a net-zero carbon future has prompted the European Commission to up its emission reduction target: by 2030, greenhouse gases should be cut by at least 55% compared to 1990. This target was approved by the European Council in December 2020 but is still to be translated into European legislation. Meeting this target requires decarbonisation of all carbon-intensive energy consumption sectors, i.e. industry, buildings and transport. Quite understandably, the gas sector is concerned about its future. Natural gas is, after all, a carbon-based energy source, which, in the absence of carbon capture and storage, contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Initially, many thought the energy transition would be an all-electric one. Those who still think so are now in the minority. Electrification is not always feasible, technically or economically. In some cases, full decarbonisation will require the use of alternative clean energy carriers, such as renewable and low-carbon gases, like hydrogen and biomethane. The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, along with other legislation, is currently being reviewed to update it in line with the new 2030 emission reduction target. This Directive already includes targets for electricity generation from renewable sources, so it is expected that similar targets will be set for renewable gases. Given that technology and infrastructure investments have a lifetime of typically 20 to 60 years, the gas sector has no time to lose. This is why the Fluxys Chair was founded in January 2018. Fluxys is the independent transmission system operator that owns and operates Belgium’s high-pressure natural gas transmission grid, its natural gas storage infrastructure and the liquefied natural gas terminal in Zeebrugge. Through academic research by Professor Leonardo Meeus and doctoral researcher Martin Roach with the Vlerick Energy Centre, the company is seeking to anticipate any upcoming Belgian and EU legislation in order to make informed investment decisions. How can the existing natural gas infrastructure be repurposed for the transport of decarbonised gases? How can we harness the full potential and opportunities of renewable gases? What context is needed to decarbonise the gas sector so that it can play a role in the future integrated energy system? Two years on, it is time to take stock of what we know and what we do not yet know. The white paper ‘The future of renewable gases’ outlines the context of our research, as well as providing background information.
A new algorithm for resource-constrained project scheduling with breadth and depth of skillsThis paper addresses a multi-skilled extension of the resource-constrained project scheduling problem (RCPSP). Although a handful of papers dealt with the multi-skilled RCPSP (MSRCPSP), little to no attention is given to the ideal levels of skills for multi-skilled resources. In this paper, skills are measured along two dimensions known as breadth and depth. In a project environment, the breadth of a resource is perceived as the amount of skills an employee masters. The depth of a skill is the efficiency level at which work can be performed by a resource that masters that skill. The MSRCPSP with breadth and depth consists of scheduling activities with skill requirements and assigning multi-skilled resources to those activities. To be able to efficiently solve the MSRCPSP, a genetic algorithm is developed. Using the created activity schedules and resources assignments, the best workforce characteristics are analysed. Key aspects in this analysis are the breadth and depth. The problem-specific procedure combines a new representation, a new crossover and tailor-made local searches. Computational experiments measure the impact of different multi-skilled resources and their efficiency levels on the makespan of the project.