Monday, August 16, 2010

The ethics of business and research


So what are the good sides of every LNG project and its endeavour to see equal revenue distribution to the landowners? And what are the bad sides to all that? What is it about tourism in PNG that enables it to thrive one moment as an industry and then loses it value the next? And what are the shortcomings of a good HIV/AIDS program in a predominantly busy industrial environment?

These are some of the many ethical questions IBS (Institute of Business Studies) proposes to answer through its new publication, the IBS Journal of Business and Research.

Launched last week at the IBS campus, 6-Mile, the journal runs for 67 pages and is selling at PNGK80, US$80 and AUD$80 (airmail postage included).

There are five main stories represented in this publication, namely Ray Anere’s Governance Issues Relating to Liquefied Natural Gas Project, Joyce Rayel’s Development of Human Capital in Papua New Guinea: A cornerstone for successful tourism and hospitality industry, Ravinda Rena’s Information & Communication Technology Education in Papua New Guinea: Development challenges, Lekshmi Narayana Pillai’s Contemporary Leadership Strategies to Manage Financial Crisis and Sakaya Enopa Botu’s Contemporary Issues in Business: Impact of Culture and HIV/AIDS on employee motivation – a Papua New Guinea perspective.

These five papers invite serious observation from the reader on certain issues affecting both business and developmental strategies in the country. Be those observations ethical in nature or simply based on discerning certain complexities that are found in every MOA signed, every ambitious project launched or every new policy introduced – these call for serious scrutiny and critiquing.

Ray Anere’s essay on governance issues relating to the current LNG project is one such example. How far has the government gone in answering the needs of each landowner faction throughout the country? What are the percentages involved in every MOA agreement signed and do such percentage promises meet the developmental needs of the rural regions containing these landowner populations? On this point the author suggests that policy makers do not turn a blind eye on the arguments of men such as Hon. Mr. Anderson Agiru, or those of the landowner factions from the Gulf and generally the Southern region of the Highlands. An oversight on arguments and proposals such as this, suggests the author, may lead to certain spill over effects that may prove as inevitable as those recently experienced within the Central Province.

Joyce Rayel’s essay on tourism and hospitality industry needs careful study. Questions relating to how Papua New Guinea copes with current projects in place for this industry need re-visiting. More emphasis, argues the writer, needs to be placed on manpower training and development, particularly in the rural settings in order to allow the industry not only to survive but to also successfully meet the challenges of a rapidly growing international market. With an approximate figure of 100,000 or so visitors per year (quite possibly more by this time), that is quite a rich figure to look at. But we must have the necessary and adequately trained manpower in place to meet such a growing demand in the industry. It means simply setting up the right sort of training institutions throughout the country with sufficient amount of well-funded resources to make the whole enterprise workable at all. Papua New Guinea is without doubt a member of the global community and subsequently must live up to that demand.

Being a member of the global community implies also that we improve on our educational programs surrounding advanced technological set ups, particularly in the area of communication. This becomes the next topic of discussion in this IBS publication, as offered by Ravinda Rena. A sufficient educational coverage in this area, argues the author, should give way to information technology systems that increase power and confidence to the skilled work force of the country. It is true much of the country lacks this mode of educational expertise, and it is all the more disheartening if the rural sector in particular is denied access to such educational privileges. But, concludes the author, this aspect of our nation’s development, if properly looked at by the necessary policy makers and if these policies are properly implemented and executed they can in turn give way to a stimulating economic growth that should help alleviate the nation’s impeding poverty.

An article in a September issue of the National Weekender last year by this author (“September is a book hunting season”) ran along the lines that places like IBS would be fitting places where a potential businessmen, rather than devoting much time to dreams about becoming a prophet of Wall Street one day, should sit down and share a thought or two on the workings of global economics and how this might be understood in a PNG business environment. As if in response to that remark this next article by Lekshmi Narayana Pillai reflects on that. It is all about practical modes of managing financial crisis in a PNG business locale. There must be tight control on cash, advises the author, “increase frequency of overall control,” including increasing the same amount of communication with employees in order to maintain their confidence. The article is in two parts: the crisis we hear about at global level, what causes it, it mishaps and remedies; and, of course, in the second part, the author’s suggestions on leadership priorities which should help manage “toxic assets during the hours of economic crisis and uncertainty.”

The last article by Sokaya Enopa Botu looks at possibilities of every employer providing educational and awareness programs on HIV/AIDS for its employees. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that such facilities exist to help curb the spread of the epidemic. Present industrial set ups seem to lack these and that is a discouraging sign. 

Finally, as the tone of the last article suggests, a research publication is a publication indeed. But what is that publication if at the same time it fails to ask some of the crucial ethical questions that surround us today, in our country. Setting up a financial organization or running a business school is fine. But we would prefer to see some of the most important ethical questions that affect us deeply go along with all that. Looking at the world from that perspective IBS as an institution of higher learning in our country has served us well today.
                           Photos courtesy of IBS Corporate