How future oriented is your country?

This was pointed by Jennie Bev in one of her comments in this blog and Unspun thinks it provides a fascinating insight into why some countries do better, and others fall by the wayside. It is a short article from a Harvard Business Review article by Mansour Javidan. It is based on a larger global study Javidan has been conducting on culture and leadership.

The common complaint in Indonesia is that the government and some businesses engage only in short term thinking. The axis on “forward orientation” seems to bear this out. Indonesia is, of course hit also by low ratings in its “competitiveness,” and that’s perhaps why we’re not doing as well as we could be.

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By surveying over 17,000 middle managers in 61 societies, we have been able to discern clear differences in nine key areas. One of these is what we call “future orientation,” or the extent to which a culture encourages and rewards such behavior as delaying gratification, planning, and investing in the future….We found that societies vary greatly in how oriented they actually are to the long term, but in most cultures people’s personal values and aspirations are similar and quite future oriented. What’s more, most people feel their cultures aren’t as forward thinking as they should be.

JavidanSource: Mansour Javidan, “Forward-Thinking Cultures,” Harvard Business Review (July/August 2007)

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Indonesians not doing it?

Thang is a, er, rather controversial writer. Here’s his opinion on the protesters against Nike in Singapore’s Business Times.

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Just Do It instead of playing blame games

Business Times – 07 Aug 2007
Indonesia must step up moves to improve its investment climate to retain foreign players


IF you want to solve a problem, the first step is to acknowledge it exists. But sadly, this is not the case with some people in Indonesia, who like to blame foreigners for many things that go wrong in the country.

Take the case of Nike. Recently, thousands of workers from Naga Sakti Parama Shoes Industry (Nasa) and Hardaya Aneka Shoes Industry (Hasi) took to the streets in rallies against the American athletic apparel company because it ended working contracts with them.

Nike said it did this because of poor quality and late deliveries.

But the workers thought otherwise. Carrying banners like ‘I hate Nike’ and ‘Go to hell Nike’, they demanded the company restore its contracts with their factories – and denied the problems that Nike said it had.

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Kalla: stop using foreign consultants

kalla.jpgKompas today reported that Vice President Yusuf Kalla has once again reiterated that to achieve independence as a race all ministries and officials should no longer use foreign consultants or employees.

“If we keep on asking for help from foreigners and other countries, we might as well dissolve the Ministry of Research and Technology. It’s a shame to have professors and doctorates if we depend all on and only entertain foreigners,” he was quoted as saying.

He must think that there are a few Brazilian foreign workers here.

The mysterious ways of the KPPU

The Jakarta Post’s front page lead today wonders what is behind the Business Competition Supervisory Commission”s (KPPU) zeal in investigating Temasek’s equity involvement in Indonesia’s telecoms industry.The article contains quotes suggesting that the KPPU may have been inspired by Russian company Altimo to investigate Temasek. The Singapore conglomerate’s movements have by and large been fairly transparent and known to Indonesians for sime time.

The timing of the KKPU’s decision to investigate Temasek now is curious, if not suspicious. More on Russian telco Altimo here.

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KPPU turns up heat on Temasek
Andi Haswidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU), the country’s antimonopoly watchdog, said Wednesday it had uncovered prima facie evidence of monopoly practices by Singapore’s Temasek Holdings in Indonesia’s telecoms industry.

KPPU chairman Muhammad Iqbal told The Jakarta Post that the findings marked the end of the preliminary examination of the case, and the beginning of a more detailed investigation.

“We will start summoning witnesses some time next week, including from Temasek,” Iqbal said.

Iqbal said the evidence that had been uncovered included the fact that there was cross-ownership by Temasek in Indosat and Telkomsel, which violated article 27 of the 1999 Antimonopoly Law.

Temasek owns a 56 percent stake in the SingTel Group, which in turn holds a 35 percent stake in Indonesia’s largest mobile telecoms firm, Telkomsel.

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Russian ‘mafia’ in town?

It’s amazing the type of information when businesspeople get together. Unspun was in a committee meeting of a chamber of commerce this morning and these are some of the interesting information he’s heard:

  1. The Russian “Mafia” is in town. They are apparently trying to take over some huge business assets, some of which are owned by Temasek right now.
  2. Some investors are finding that once you set up processes, Indonesian workers actually perform very well, better than Chinese workers, in fact. A manufacturing firm here has been winning regional orders on the strength of that.
  3. The number of large advertisements in newspapers for senior executives has dropped by half since the beginning of the year.
  4. USAID chief Bill Frej is bound for Khazakhstan
  5. Where premans are concerned, a group from Ambon calling themselvesKey or Kei are active and are controlling the Kuningan area
  6. Bank Indonesia is putting the screws on foreign banks about employing foreigner. one of the reasons it is doing so is it believes this will help create jobs locally. The unemployed figure apparently is 40 million. The banks argue that unless they have adequate foreign senior workers they can’t expand their businesses and create employment. And so it goes.
  7. Businessmen are complaining that customs are holding up shipments during their clearing process. So some creative types are shipping them throughSumatran ports. It all depends on which contacts the transporters have and where their contacts have been posted to because the customs rotate their staff.
  8. Threat of terrorism down but there is still a need to be vigilant. Small bombs are in, big bombs out.
  9. The retail sector is looking good. There has been an upsurge of consumption over the past two months, according to one retailer.

Have very little idea of the veracity of some of these information, but I thought I’d pass them on.

Malaysia’s TNB pulls out of Tenaga Coal?

In yet another case of Malaysian investment gone sour, Malaysian utility giant Tenaga Nasional Berhad may pull out of  TNB Coal  in  Kalimantan.  See the story here and further reports on the background of the deal here.
When will Malaysians learn that investing in Indonesia is not a stroll in the park, that while the rewards can be great, you got to know the place and the people well to make your investments work?

Anybody home? Minister finally begins to coordinate food distribution

Bisnis Indonesia reports today that Trade Miniser Mari Pangestu says she will meet with relevant authorities, businessmen and retailers TODAY so that she can have accurate information on the food distribution situation as regards to the floods in the Greater Jakarta area.

While it is good that something is being done Unspun cannot help but marvel at the sense of urgency of this government.  Four days after the massive floods begin, nearly 200,000 made homeles, huge logistics problems regarding food and water distribution and the Minister is finally holding a meeting to get information? Did she have to wait until Monday? Why can’t it have been done over the weekend? A clash with the salon appointment?

But why is the Trade Minister getting into the shindig anyway? With most of Jakarta underwater (a radio report yesterday said 80% of north Jakarta was already under) and so many homeless, not to mention at least 20 deaths, what we have here is clearly a disaster of vast proportions. Jakarta should be declared a disaster area and come under national government control with one person or body controlling and directing all the relief and rescue efforts. But who? Nobody’s home, it seems.