J.E. Austin Associates, Inc. (JAA) was founded in 1986 for the purpose of assisting businesses, governments, non-profit organizations, educational and financial institutions, producer organizations, and other organizations around the world to improve productivity, to enhance competitiveness, to strengthen management and strategy implementation, and to facilitate economic development.
JAA’s practice areas have centered primarily on strategy and management consulting for the development of emerging and developing economies. The focus of this work is on increasing business competitiveness and growth, increasing and enhancing public-private dialogue processes, developing mechanisms in the public and private sectors to improve their competitive advantage, boosting trade and investment opportunities, fostering institutional and organizational improvement, intensifying performance of small and micro-sized enterprises, supporting the private sector in increasing food security, and expanding social development capabilities of an economy.
JAA stresses facilitation and building local capabilities. The company therefore emphasizes the “downloading” of tools, methodologies, and approaches to local partners and ensures that they have the best information, lessons, and skills available to identify and implement initiatives most likely to achieve sustainable results. JAA believes that economic growth, competitiveness, and other development challenges are best addressed by empowering local stakeholders to own the development process.
Since 1986, JAA has completed more than 650 projects in 120 countries. In any given year, JAA’s professional staffers work on projects in more than 30 countries worldwide.
Our Areas of Work
Agribusiness, Agriculture and Food Security
JAA helps clients to identify the productive and competitive potential inherent in their agricultural sectors, and to develop strategies to achieve this potential.
Decentralized Economic Growth
JAA is committed to facilitating market-driven economic development based on the drivers of economic growth and competitiveness.
Business is solidly at the center of economic growth and competitiveness. Therefore, enabling strong sustainable business performance is at the core of JAA’s mission, experience, and expertise.
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
JAA has a proven track record in supporting entrepreneurs to develop new products, enter into new markets, and find key financing and skills.
Generating investment is a key component of a healthy GDP recipe.
National, Regional, and Industry Competitiveness
The key to sustainable development of any industry in a country or a regions depends on how tightly knit its various components are to achieve a common goal of maximizing customer and the shareholder value.
Policy and Public Private Dialogue
The presence of a robust public-private dialogue is a critical contributor to competitiveness.
A competitive workforce is crucial to enabling an economy to develop its productivity, attract investment, and identify and implement competitiveness strategies.
Dr. James E. Austin, referred to by the London Financial Times as the “Harvard Business School’s guru on developing countries,” currently holds the Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School as a Professor Emeritus, where he created the Management in Developing Countries course.
For more than twenty years, his research has been dedicated to strategic management in developing and emerging economies. Dr. Austin served as the Director of Agribusiness Programs at the Central American Management Institute (INCAE). In 1980, the World Bank commissioned him to write Agroindustrial Project Analysis, a book that is still in use today.
In addition to teaching and writing, Dr. Austin has worked to strengthen management schools around the world. He is internationally recognized as a leading authority on strategic management and provides consulting services to a wide variety of clients. He is the co-chairman of Harvard’s Social Enterprise Initiative.
Kevin X. Murphy
President and Co-Founder
Kevin Murphy is a business/sectoral strategy and competitiveness expert with twenty-five years of experience in enterprise development, strategic management, competitiveness analysis, investment and trade, and related executive-level training. Mr. Murphy provides strategic management services to corporations and advises governments and donor agencies on fostering economic development and foreign investment strategies. He has directed numerous international projects focused on competitiveness, privatization, agribusiness development and enterprise development.
Mr. Murphy has authored or supervised the development of over one hundred business case studies on competitiveness, investment, and trade and strategy issues in developing countries. Mr. Murphy is also the co-author of the Manual for Action in the Private Sector (MAPS) methodology, a strategic tool for assessing constraints and opportunities for private enterprise and industry development in Africa. MAPS exercises have been implemented in over fifteen countries in Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Mr. Murphy is a graduate of Harvard Business School, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the University of Louvain, Belgium, and the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
C. Martin Webber
Executive Vice President and Partner
Martin Webber is a strategic management and management consulting professional with twenty-five years of experience in economic growth, enterprise development, trade and investment and agribusiness. A leader of JAA’s work in competitiveness, value chain development, public-private dialogue and institutional change, he has worked with more than 50 industry clusters and sectors, and more than 100 business associations and many public and private organizations in more than 40 countries.
A key figure in competitiveness and value chain development in countries such as Armenia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Georgia, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Philippines, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, and Uganda, Mr. Webber guides and facilitates business-led initiatives and policy improvement. He has helped devise strategies to improve the quality of dialogue between the private and public sector and to improve the development of the investment and trade environment for industry clusters. He has prepared and supervised case and similar studies of many companies and organizations. Mr. Webber is a frequent advisor, speaker and writer on issues of competitiveness and business-led economic growth.
Prior to J.E. Austin Associates, Mr. Webber worked in senior positions with Louis Berger International, Inc. and Apogee Research. These were management and economic consultancies, with particular emphasis on infrastructure and related services, and economic growth. A Canadian from Montreal, residing in Washington, DC, Mr. Webber obtained an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill University. Mr. Webber was the 2005 co-recipient of the first “Making a Difference Award”, presented to alumni of the Harvard Business School.
Mike Ducker is the Entrepreneur in Residence for the Global Entrepreneurship Program, part of the Egyptian Competiveness Project in Egypt, a USAID funded program . He has been supporting and working for entrepreneurs for 17 years with a focus on market development, new product development, investment strategies, and institutional development to support entrepreneurs and innovation. Mr. Ducker’s previous work includes designing a business plan for a Center of Entrepreneurship Excellence in Pakistan, managing an investment project in Egypt that helped facilitate $6 million of financing to entrepreneurs, and developed concept papers for innovation centers in Bosnia. Mr. Ducker has created training courses that showed entrepreneurs how to reach local and export markets in Armenia and Kosovo. He has presented his research on entrepreneurship and ICT development to USAID, the UN, and the greater development community. Mr. Ducker was also an ICT advisor in Kenya for 2 years and in 1998, Mike helped set up and invested into an e-learning business in China.
Before his work in development, Mr. Ducker worked in the private sector for 9 years including working as a marketing director for small entrepreneurial high tech firms in which he was able to land new sales to fortune 500 companies. Mr. Ducker started his career in accounting/financial management and was part of a management staff that turned around a distribution company from losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to profiting $1 million. He has created several training courses on entrepreneurship and ICT that he has taught internationally and in the US. He earned his MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and is a former Certified Management Accountant. Mr. Ducker reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and finished 7 marathons, including the Safaricom Marathon in Kenya which is ranked by Running World Magazine as one of the top endurance marathons.