Saturday, April 26, 2014

Perspective Thinking

Our scholars have responded with vigor to the post 1990s experience with some authority in a publication entitled, Economic Turbulence: Shifts in Business Strategies and Practices, coedited by Prof. Albert Mellam, Prof. Pulapa Subba Rao, and other colleagues from Indian universities, namely Prof. K. Siva Rama Krishna of GITAM University and Prof. B. Anita Kumar from the Sri Krishnadevaraya University.

Prof. Mellam was at that time of publication in 2011, the Foundation Executive Dean of the School of Business Administration. He is now the Vice Chancellor of the University of Papua New Guinea.

Prof. Subba Rao is the Professor and Convener of the Executive MBA Program in the School of Business Administration at UPNG.

Prof. Mellam and Prof. Subba Rao co-authored the essay: “Human Resources Management Through Information Technology.”

Both men were instrumental in seeing the success of the Business School from just an idea to one that celebrated the success of its MBA program with the launch of the MBA Alumni Association in Port Moresby this year.  The MBA program has been the success story attracting high caliber executives in the government and private sector in Papua New Guinea.

During the launch of the MBA Alumni Association the Finance Minister and current MBA student, Hon. James Marape, spoke on behalf of the Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill, and was joined by luminary alumni like Ian Tarutia of NASFUND and others.

Economic Turbulence: Shifts in Business Strategies and Practices offers some gems of insightful knowledge emerging from collaborative research and dialogues between scholars in Papua New Guinea, India, and elsewhere in the world.

The PNG colleagues who contributed to this important publication include Prof. David Kavanamur, now the Director General of the Office of Higher Education, former UPNG Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ross Hynes, and fellow colleagues such as Jacquelyn Tanda, Dr. Ken Ngangan, Karlus Kepakan, Ponnusamy Manohar, the late Peter Koe, Alphonse Kona, the late Dr. Terence M. Laufa, Dr. Lakshmi Narayan Pillai, Dr. Joyce J. Rayel, Bernard Esonu, and Leo Marai.  

Together with colleagues from India, Australia, Philippines, Norway, Eritrea, Bangladesh, and USA they discussed micro-economic impacts, strategic implications, human resource strategies, women in management, cultural issues and information systems.

According to the editors the book, “Economic Turbulence: Shifts in Business Strategies and Practices, covers a wide range of areas like macro-economic implications of economic turbulences, impacts on exports as well as export strategies, corporate strategic impacts and functional level strategies like human resource strategies. It deals with the role of transformational transfer pricing in exports of various countries.”

The book covers “shifts in human resource and industrialization strategies of various companies consequent upon the economic turbulences. It also covers even the macro-level aspects like job stress, occupational stress, mentoring and counseling in shaping human resource strategies. The significance of leadership in managing toxic assets is dealt as a matter of fact to prevent the ill-effects of recession in various countries.”

In his summation of the discussion on “The Versatility of the Papua New Guinean Public Sector in the Face of the Turbulent Global Economic Environment,” the late Peter Koe remarked that the writing is on the wall: “In a nutshell, the versatility of the Papua New Guinean public sector as pointed out elsewhere is handicapped by factors such as financial and manpower resources and the defective organizational design and lack of institutional inter-connectedness. These and other issues need to be addressed to make the sector more vibrant, responsive, and dynamic.”

Prof. D. Kavanamur discussed culture and strategic alliance in Papua New Guinea. Prof. Kavanamur’s discovery is “that all alliance management processes were affected by the negative influence of PNG’s societal culture, including corruption, political interference and wantokism. These influences interfere with decision-making, are apparent in slow decision-making at management board level, and reflect strong social culture rather than business culture, emerging loan default culture and bigmanship resulting in strong respect for hierarchy.”

A strategic approach in dealing with his challenge is to do ‘perspective talking’, says Prof. Kavanamur: “Exposure to, and training in, cross-cultural management skills enhances the alliance management process. This allows partners to appreciate differences and to work on common interests, rather than focus on fault-finding. The ability to focus on the big picture, while simultaneously tracking operational or process issue, is an art alliance managers need to master.”

Further succinct discussions on cross-cultural perceptual differences of financial statement uses in PNG and its implications for human resource management and training is the discussions Dr. Ken Ngangan and Karlus Kepakan make in this book.

Another poignant discussion is that by Prof. Mellam and Jacqueline Tanda on the challenges faced by women managers in PNG: “The dual roles of women as house makers and employed professionals; the demands and expectations of socio-cultural obligations; relationship alliances such as the wantok system; crime; health and education; workplace pressures’ and in particular, those that conflict with the cultural position of women in society, contribute significantly and in unique ways to the challenges of being employed in PNG...Women continue to be marginalized in leadership and politics.”

In their discussions on global challenges for human resource development in Papua New Guinea Prof. Mellam and Leo Marai have this to say: “The trigger for PNG to advance must be a total and unequivocal commitment to investment on the training and development of its human resources. There are no other simplistic solutions to advancing PNG’s development agenda and growth strategies.

Bernard Esonu gives a critical discussion on how the lack of technical expertise and skilled manpower is impeding the development of the Local Government Level in Papua New Guinea. This is an area that the government needs to address in order to achieve efficient service delivery and accountability at the Local Level Governments and the districts and wards across the vastness of PNG.

In this book review I highlighted only the discussions that Papua New Guinean scholars made on their researches and their observations of the economic development and the challenges faced in human resource development in PNG.

A must read for perspective thinkers.

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