Just published – Transition management


Here is the introduction and link to an article Arnaldo just wrote with Eddie Borup on management and change in Vietnam.

Available at Projects and Profits

Transition Management: The Key towards Achieving Results

Nothing in this world is as certain as change. At the same time, the search for a definition of `change’ has been taking place for a long time and is still unresolved. The Greek philosopher Aristotle, has said, “change is the actuality of the potential qua such.” This can be translated in a more modern language, as noted by Jonathan Barnes, “something is in the process of change whenever it possesses a capacity of change and it is exercising that capacity of change.”

Barnes argues that Aristotle struggled to provide a clearer definition. However, Aristotle’s attempt to come to terms with the idea of change also demonstrates the relevance of the concept for human activities. This difficulty has always been present during the 2,300 years, which separate us from Aristotle and even though the definition provided by Barnes seems more intelligible to us, change remains an elusive concept.

In this article, we look at `change’ in the area of transition management. We present the experience of introducing a Western management approach at the Vietnam Academy of Social Science (VASS). This is being done through a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded project: “Support for Effective Policy Making Through the Development of Scientific Evidence-Based Research” (EBPM). In doing so, our aim is to reflect on the process of cultural exchange as well as on the challenges that this exchange poses.

Development assistance has gone through considerable changes during the last 50 years. During the 1950s, the theories associated to John Maynard Keynes asserted the central role to the government in devising policies to promote demand and fight unemployment. These led to the design of centralized modernization strategies, aimed at achieving higher rates of economic growth. In the early 1960s, Hans Singer produced evidence that development did not achieve poverty reduction and pointed at individuals’ capacity to increase capital as a key element of economic development. His ideas led to the concept of `human capital’, which describes the crucial contribution of knowledge and schooling to economic growth. In the late 1980s, the return to a neo-liberal emphasis brought the market back on the development agenda, but by the 1990s, the `third way’ political discourse advocated a new role for the state, in designing institutions that are conducive to accelerated growth and socioeconomic development.