02 Jun 2010

Sample Essay: Succession Planning in Family Owned Businesses in Kuwait

The model employed in this study involves analyzing the previously published literature and research findings on the issue of succession planning in family owned businesses, and extending this discussion to investigate the relative practices in Kuwait as far as this subject-matter is concerned. Family-owned businesses have always been confronted with grave concerns about succession planning, irrespective of the locations where the businesses were founded ( Ciampa & Watkins, 1999). This realization points to three significant and direct criteria that are structurally related and helpful in understanding all issues pertaining to the past occurrence of successes or failures in family-owned businesses’ succession planning: (1) the refusal of the possible successors to recognize the existing management leadership of the business; (2) rejection of potential successors by the administrating groups; (3) the administrating groups fail to honor the potential successors, even though generally recognized by the family owing to certain undisclosed reasons.

Critical analysis of literature has also indicated that the three main issues highlighted above could be better explained by associating them with five strategic factors that determine the execution of succession planning in family-owned businesses. These factors include (i) Individual factors, (ii) relationship factors, (iii) context factors, (iv) financial factors and (v) process factors. It is interesting to detect that these five factors overlap as further investigations are launched on the issue of succession. In Kuwait, other minor mitigating factors may include but not restricted to religion, social status, personal intelligence and other important issues. However, sharp similarities exist among all cases of family-owned business successions; and this phenomenon indicates the generality of the issue (Sharma & Rao, 2000).

2.1 Individual Factors

It has been discovered that individual factors play a significant role in the issue of succession in family-owned businesses: this is against the backdrop that those who are involved in the process are classified into two different categories-the successor and the incumbent (Massis, et al., 2008). In Kuwait, family-owned businesses are of different types: they could be huge oil companies, agricultural firms or farms, trading and commodities’ businesses and so on (Oxford Business Group, 2008). And each of these businesses consists of the two categories-successor and incumbent. So, how does the nature of the successors indicate the possibility for successful transfer of business leadership power within a Kuwaiti family?

2.1.1  Lack of adequate business acumen in successor (s)

It is unfortunate that succession planning may become impossible if the successors are found to be lacking in the necessary managerial capability needed to run the business they are expected to assume its mantle of leadership (Morris, et al., 1996: Handler, 1990). Apart from on-the-job training, future successors in Kuwait are not necessarily groomed with the intention that they would take over the family business one day. It will have been wrong to think about such an issue when the head or leader of the family who heads the family is still alive (Parker, 2007). Only in recent times that members of some families are sent to universities in the West to acquire some useful knowledge in business administration in preparation for their eventual take-over of the family business (Parker, 2007)

2.1.2 Disinterestedness shown by the possible successor (s)

In a situation whereby a potential successor demonstrates acute disinterestedness in taking over the leadership of the business, this may cause the other decision-makers involved in the succession process to reject the successor, irrespective of his position or status in the family pedigree. This reveals that such a person will not be motivated in running the business successfully (Hoy & Verser, 1994). Not all Kuwaiti family mandated that their children should be involved in the day-to-day running of the family businesses (Al-Hijji, 2010). Hence, this kind of practice results in unmotivated and fearful future business leaders in the area: an attribute that may lead a family business into total failure if not avoided.

2.1.3 Sudden death of the known successor (s)

Kuwait, like every other Arab nation operates familial hegemony where the eldest male child of the family is expected to automatically become the next leader in case the head of the family has died. But in some unfortunate instances, the potential successors may also lose their own lives due to some natural or uncontrollable circumstances. In such situation, a vacuum will be created, and this may cause some difficulties in carrying out smooth succession process (Handler, 1990). To quickly fill up the vacant position in the family business, some clans have resulted in appointing a relative to do the job or even appoint unrelated private administrators to manage the affairs of the business (Handler, 1990). This circumstance may create some ethical problems among the rest family members if they are concerned about the success of the family business in the future, or wishing to jealously guard the business secrets that had helped the family succeed. An issue a total stranger may not worry about.

On the other hand, the actions of the incumbents are also a serious issue of concern in the process of transferring family business leadership into the hands of any qualified, self-motivated and experienced successor (s).

2.1.4  Diehard incumbent can derail the succession planning

It is a common practice in Kuwait that if the first son does not perform to the expectation, the second son will take over from him to save the family business from uneventful collapse (2002). This practice could turn out to be ineffective if the incumbent (first son) has developed a strong liking for his position as the manager of the family business (Bjuggreen & Sund, 2001). The incumbent will strongly resist a change of leadership for the family business; hence, the succession procedures will be truncated.

2.1.5  When incumbent is at the centre of some events

In a circumstance where the incumbent engages in activities like divorce, marriage, or childbirth, it is likely that these events will hinder smooth transfer of business leadership to the successor (Bjuggreen & Sund, 2001). In Kuwait, business leaders are routinely involved in state functions or forum; if the incumbent is engaged in such a forum for a long period of time, this could also slow the process of transition into the new business manager. Divorce, childbirth and marriage can affect the actions of the incumbent in a way that it may take a longer period of time to allow a successor to take over the family business. In a situation there are personal rancor among the family members, the family business operations may be grounded during this hiatus (Ciampas & Watkins, 1999) .

2.2  Relationship Factor

The level of relationship within a family or a group of relatives could also determine the extent of success when dealing with the transition of business leadership from the incumbent to the successor ( Astrachan & Shanker, 2003; Martin, 2001). If there are rancor and unhealthy discord among members of the business family, this will definitely affect any effort to transfer the leadership of the business from one member to the other. These issues are described comprehensively in the following sub-titles.

2.2.1  Unhealthy Parent-child Relationship

Succession planning in a family where there is unhealthy relationship between the parent (possibly father) and the child who will succeed him sometimes makes the process unsuccessful (Dyer & Panicheva Mortensen, 2005). In order to prevent dangerous relationships from occurring within a Kuwaiti family, emphasis is laid on the moralistic important of Islam, whereby children are urged to accord more respect to their earthly parents (Ghabra, 1987).

2.2.2 Disharmony within a family

Constant misunderstanding within a family could make the members of the family hate each other’s gut (Goldenberg & Goldenberg, 2007). If attempts are not made to resolve any lingering disagreements among family members prior to the discussion about succession, such a problem may prevent smooth transition-and the family business will suffer.

2.2.3  Sensitive Nature of the Family Members

If family members are always the type that are quite sensitive about the issue of making the strategic decision, it may be difficult to quickly agree on a successor as Kuwaitis strongly believe in reach a common consensus on most issues (Ghabra, 1987; Al-Hijji, 2010). And overt reliance on the decision of a prominent member of the family, whom others deferred to, may delay the succession planning process.

2.2.4  Unreliable Successors

The family members are likely going to reject a successor they deem unreliable: this is because many family members would be unsure the successor could make good judgment about running the day-to-day operations of the company. This stigma of unreliability may force the successor to be defensive, and possibly cause a family rancor that could threaten smooth transfer of business leadership (Gallos, 2008).

2.2.5  Inadequate Commitment on the Family Part

The reality is that family members are generally going to show uncommitted support to a successor that lacks merit, business acumen, and the willingness to serve. The philosophy in most family businesses is that of loyalty to all the members (Galetic, 2002). A successor who lacks complete loyalty to all the family members may be inappropriate to represent the interests of all the members in the company;, hence, the family members may reserve their commitment to such a successor base on his or her character.

2.2.6  Non-members’ Influence on Succession Planning

It has been discovered that non-members can sometimes constitute a setback in the process of changing the leadership of a family business. This is evident in circumstances whereby there is a quarrel or some disagreement among the non-member, the incumbent and the successor. This problem can get complicated when the proposed successor had had some fights with the non-members (Gersick, 1997).  There could be conditions for distrust, non-commitment and total disagreement on the part of non-member when it comes to the issue of supporting the candidacy of the proposed successor (Bjuggreen & Sund, 2001). The non-member could be managers, auditors, or other officials of the company whose position in the company matters a lot for the progress of the business.

2.3.0  Financial Factors

Irrespective of the level of discipline in a Kuwaiti family due to the Islamic view on wealth possession and other monetary concerns, most family businesses still inculcate the art of money management into the minds of the children of the family in preparation for smooth and efficient succession (Warde, 2000). However, it is also glaring that if the issues of taxes (inheritance, corporate etc) discussed below are not properly handled, succession within a family business structure may be impossible. In fact, it could prove quite difficult for both the incumbent and the successor because having the appropriate knowledge about the management of inheritance, company, and property taxes are essential for leading a firm into legality and prosperity (Astrachan & Shanker, 2003).

2.3.1  Inheritance Tax Issue

If there are any indications that the proposed successor may not be able to sustain all tax burdens related to the company, it may be impossible for the incumbent, non-member and family members to ratify or approve the choice of such a successor. Although individual workers that work for a company are not expected to pay taxes in Kuwait, but corporation and other taxes related to the operation of a company cannot be avoided: it is punishable criminal action to do so (O’Shea, 1999). 

2.3.2  Financial Requirements

There are some costs necessary for assuming the leadership of a family-owned business-these include the resources needed to offset the financial requirements of heirs to the business and to employ professionals that will help in developing the company (Gersick, 1997). If there is any indication that the successor may not be able to handle these responsibilities, it is may be impossible for him or her to ratified as the successor. Technically, it requires professional employees to man the routine operations of a company and drive it to profitability. But in the absence of all these financial requirements, the family business may be heading to total failure or collapse (De Massis et al., 2008). A potential successor with enviable characteristics and management skill will likely enjoy the support of all parties involved in the succession planning processes. As hinted above, children of business owners in Kuwait are receiving some forms of on-the-training from their parents. Nowadays, parents also send their children to the universities to study business administration in preparation for succeeding them someday (Gersick, 1997).

2.4  Context Factors

It has been discovered that the context of the business may also hinder the succession process. The context includes but not restricted to the prevailing business environment, the political implication and cultural relevance (Ciampa & Watkins, 1999). This explains the observation in Kuwait where religion, culture and politics influence the day-to-day performance of a business (O’Shea, 1999).

2.4.1  Unstable Performance of the Family Business

When a family business does not function as expected, it is likely that this situation will affect transferring its leadership to a successor. Take for instance, a business may become redundant and unprofitable if the demands for its services have been drastically reduced. Previously in Kuwait there was a huge demand for bicycles, but as the economy improves and more Kuwaitis become rich, the business for cars begin to boom, while that of bicycles suffer a little (Ghabra, 1987). This situation may have necessitated that the incumbent has made an attempt to sell off the family business to stave off the losses (Al-Hijji, 2010). And once this action takes place, it will stop the incumbent from relinquishing his or her position to the successor.

2.4.2  Reduction in the Business Scale

When a family business continues to lose so many of its major customers and suppliers its scale of production will be dramatically reduced. In this circumstance, the successor would be unhappy to be given a moribund company to manage. The reason for the loss of customers may be due to the bad management exercised by the incumbent (Dyer & Panicheva Mortensen, 2005). In many cases, it will be difficult for the successor to resolve whatever problem his or her predecessor may have had with the customers. Hence, the successor will decide if it is reasonable to assume the leadership of a company that will be out of business within a short period of time.

2.5  Process Factors

The nature of the procedures adopted in succession process determines if it is going to be successful or not. If all the parties that are involved in succession planning are carried along in the process, they will likely offer their complete support for the process, and the succession will be done quickly and conscientiously: Kuwaitis strongly believe in communal harmony, and people are happy when they are respected and accorded appropriate recognition (Al-Hijji, 2010).

2.5.1  Communication

It is imperative that there must be good communication among all family members, the incumbent, the proposed successor, the non-member and all other parties involved in succession proceedings (Shamah & Rao, 2000). This will help to iron out controversial issues without giving a chance to doubt, distrust, misinterpretation and other disturbing concerns (Ciampa & Watkins, 1999). The incumbent will be happy to introduce the successor into the business, if he or she has no knowledge of such before; the successor does not do anything to undermine the current efforts of the incumbent at the company; both the incumbent and successor have good support from the rest family members, non-members and the customers.

2.5.2  The Due Process

It is unlikely that a succession can occur if both the incumbent and successor refuse to follow the due process required for such a transition to take place (Ciamppa & Watkins). If there are personal grudges between the incumbent and the proposed successor, the due process may not be recognized. The incumbent may decide to lengthen the time required for such a transition to occur and prevent the successor from mounting the position of leadership.


Al-Hijji, Yacoub, Y. 2010. Kuwait and the sea: a brief social and economic history. Lancaster: Arabian Publishing Ltd.

Astrachan, J.H., & Shanker, M.C. 2003. Family businesses’ contribution to the US economy: a closer look. Family Business Review, 16 (3): 211-9.

Bjuggreen, P.O., & Sund, L.G. 2001. Strategic decision making in intergenerational successions of small-and medium-sized family-owned businesses. Family Business Review, 14 (1): pp. 11-23.

Ciampa, D., & Watkins, M. 1999. The successor’s dilemma. Harvard Business Review, 77 (6), pp. 161-168.

De Massis, A., Chua, J. & Chrisman, J.J. 2008. Factors preventing intra-family succession. Family Busness Review, 21 (2): pp. 183-199.

Dyer, W.G. Jr. & Panicheva Mortensen, S. 2005. Entrepreneurship and family business in a hostile environment: the case of Lithuania. Family Business Review, 18 (3): pp. 247-59.

Galetic, L. 2002. Characteristics  of family firms management in Croatia. MER Journal for Management and Development, 4 (1): pp. 74-81.

Gallos, Joan, V. 2008. Business leadership: a Jossy-Bass leader. London: John Wiley and Sons.

Gersick, K.E. 1997. Generation to generation: life cycles of the family business. Boston: Harvard Business Press.

Ghabra, Shafeeq, N. 1987. Palestinians in Kuwait: the family and the politics of survival. Jackson (TN): Westview Press.

Goldenberg, Irene & Goldenberg, H. 2007. Family therapy: an overview. Florence (KY): Cengage Learning.

Handler, W. 1990. Succession in family firms: a mutual role adjustment between entrepreneur and next-generation family members. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 15: pp. 37-51.

Hoy, F., & Verser, Verser, T. 1994. Emerging business: emerging field: entrepreneurship and the family firm. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 19 (1): pp. 9-23.

Martin, H.F. 2001. Is family governance an oxymoron? Family Business Review, 14 (2): 91-96.

Morris, H., Williams, W. & Nel, D. 1996. Factors influencing family business succession. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 2 (6): pp. 68-81.

O’Shea, Maria. 1999. Kuwait. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish.

Oxford Business Group. 2009. Report: Kuwait 2008. Oxford: Oxford Business Group.

Parker, Philip M. 2002. Executive report on strategies in Kuwait. San Diego: Icon Group International, Inc.

Sharma, P., & Rao, S. 2000. Successor attributes in Indian and Canadian family firm: A comparative study. Family Business Review, 13, pp. 313-330.

Warde, Ibrahim. 2000. Islamic finance in global economy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

30 Jan 2010

Sample Essay: The Difference Between Management and Leadership


Is there any difference between leadership and management? Or leadership and management are the same? On a close look it can be seen that many managers are not leaders, though successful in their field. Leaders lead from the front and managers believe in directing controlling and planning and improving the efficiency of the organization. A manager makes the subordinates to work, a leader work with the people. Management philosophers and thinkers have been interested in identifying the difference between a manager and a leader.. Some leaders show management skills and some mangers show leadership skills. (Mccrimmon M, 2007) It is now well established that there is difference between a manager and a leader

Leader leads from front

A leader leads from the front. His language will be like come let us do the work. On the other hand a manager believes in planning and coordinating the work. He uses management techniques to manage others. Followers voluntarily follow the leader. This may not be the case with managers. Subordinates is been asked to obey the instruction of the manager by virtue of his position. The subordinates may be obeying the manager on his leadership skills or may be just as it is part of their duty. It is also common the subordinates dislike the manager and still follows his action to save his or her job. A leader has his interest common to the followers. When the common interest is being identified, people voluntarily follow him. Rather than asking the people to work, a leader prefers to call them for work and they just follow the instructions of a leader. This important quality makes a big difference between the style of functioning of a manger and a leader.

Difference in working style

There is a big difference in the working style of a manager. A leader attracts the people with the charisma he is having. He used to have an upper hand in technological knowledge than the workers. Leadership may not have any relevance with the functioning of the organization. On the other hand the management is different in its way of functioning. A manager keeps the organizational priority at his best. He has to do certain tasks as per the guidelines set by the organization. He then plans to achieve this by his people. Here the manager uses the modern management tools. He is interested in directing, planning and organizing. To make this effective he also uses modern management tools. A leader innovates and the manager administers (Bennis W, Doyal S, 2006). Leadership is setting up vision and Direction and management is implementation of this (Doyal S, 2006).

A leader set his vision and the followers follow his vision almost voluntarily. He seldom needs force to attract towards him in execution of his direction and vision. On the other hand the manager executes the vision of the organization. On his journey towards this he will also be using leadership skills to effectively manage his people. A manger with leadership skills can effectively manage the organization. There should be a force attracting the followers or a subordinate to the person directs them. In case of leadership it is often the quality of the leader or his charisma that attracts the people to him. On the other hand the manager and the leader should be the two sides of the coin. Latest management trends show an inclination towards improving the leadership qualities of a manager. It is accepted that a manager should improve the output of the organization but it should be on the cost of the people working in the organization.

Directing Function

The directing function of the manager is making people ready to perform certain task or assigning certain task to the people. This functional area of the manger has more to do with leadership. Once a task is to be performed, the concerned manager has to detail people or direct people to accomplish the task. This is mostly done in different ways by a manager and a leader. However both leader and a manager use the function of directing. Followers voluntarily work as per the direction where as manager needs to have something else for motivating the people to work. This may be different to different organization and also as per the management style it differs. Organizations have special structure and policies to motivate the people to work and managers are part of it.

In the field of emergency medical services the directing function of the manager has a lot to do with routine jobs. Things are to be done at high pace and many times immediate decisions are to be taken. The chances of going these decisions wrong are high. In this scenario subordinates should be motivated and encouraged to take decisions at time of emergency. Also the manager should be able to provide directions without any delay. His competence as a leader is very important. A leader comes forward to take the responsibility of the actions of his followers. The followers also recognize this fact and there are more people willing to work under a leader under emergencies. This is what actually needed in an emergency service. At the same time the leader should be conversant with the procedures adopted in an emergency. A manager is a technical person and he is likely to be thorough in procedures and policies. Union of managerial qualities and leadership skills will be a good formula for emergency medical services.

Emotional Intelligence

Leaders are emotionally more intelligent than ordinary managers. A manager wants to be successful should have high emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and control one’s emotions and to understand the emotions of others. People having high emotional intelligence tend to be leaders. According to Terry, “a leader shows the way by his example. He is not a pusher; he pulls rather than pushes (Terry R G, 1988). A typical manager does not follow this style. He plans and direct people to get the work done. There is set of duties and responsibilities for each person in the organization. A manager ensures this is been done. He uses his control function to see things are going as per the schedule. A manger often uses his control powers. In contrast a leader expects his subordinates to perform the way it is desired. For example if a staff is coming late to his duty. The typical manager may think of taking corrective action, where as a leader may be thinking to find out the reasons behind the late coming of the staff and may be willing to support that person. Similar actions make the follower emotionally attached to the leader and they keep the individual interest only next to the common goals

In emergency medical service, emotional intelligence is a highly required quality of the person heading the operation. A leader who is empathetic and understands the emotions of others can do a lot in getting people involved in the service. A leader should avoid knee jerk reactions. It is already said emotional intelligence makes the difference in actions of a manager and a leader. A manager who is low in emotional intelligence may follow only the rule book and this kind of attitude may lead to poor quality service especially in emergency medical service. It is good to be knowledgeable but at the same time the managers should understand the need of being empathetic to the subordinates and the customers.

Leadership in Emergency Medical Service

The EMS (Emergency Medical Service) is becoming more and more complex day by day. The system is working with a lot of supervisors, ordinary staff and managers and a wide net work is being formed. Due to all these it has become very difficult for people associated with these services to survive without leadership skills. A leadership includes motivating and directing people to work. Emergency service requires quick action and this demands intrinsic motivation rather than anything. Only a true leader can make the intrinsic motivation in people following him. A leader motivates people to work for a common goal. In this service too, the person heads the department has to motivate the people to work for the common goal. A true leader can do it more effectively than a manager.

A leader should be a team player. Emergency service is always a team play. Mere management principles will not make any difference to the organization. A lot of uncertainty is present with the Emergency services. A manager should be capable of handling these services. People under him should be willing to work for extra hours if required. If extra service is required it should be given on volunteer basis. Here the scope of leadership is more visible. A leader can motivate his team members to provide their best.

Team members perform will perform to their full potential when the team leader motivates them to do so. The team leader should be empathetic to his team mates. He should make the people well aware of the team goal and the members should feel that the goal is common to all. Then only their full potential can be utilized. A leader should also provide a platform for the members to learn and grow. This will make the team members to become more professional. This will also increase the efficiency of the team to perform tasks.

Functions of management

Functions of management are Directing, Organizing, Planning, controlling and staffing. Professional managers are trained to perform these functions. Some people are on the view that Directing is the most important function of a manager. Many managers believe decision making is an important function of the manager. In the Emergency Medical Service Industry manager should be good at decision making. He will have to make decisions in seconds. A manger is trained to have these qualities. In management schools Case studies are used to impart the skills of decision making.

A leader has the quality of decision making and directing, a leader’s method of directing and decision making differ from that of a manager. Leaders decision are derived from that of his team members where as the managers decisions are learned decision and the decision the manger thinks to be good for the company.  In respect to other function like controlling and planning a manger uses modern management tools. An ordinary leader may not know these tools for planning and controlling. Hence in these function a manger may have an upper hand in delivering the duties. But if the manager has leadership skills then he can really outperform an ordinary manager. All leading management institutes have special curriculum to sharpen the leadership skills of the managers. It is also said it is important to become a leader then become a manager by learning management tools. Management is ‘managing men’ and a leader is expected to do this function well. Leadership involves in common interest and goal. By this common interest and goal a leader can motivate people to attain common goals. Managers seek scientific methods to perform their task. Leaders are not interested in going for such tools and management techniques. They are good motivators.

Born Leaders and Managers

Many people believe leaders are born to be leaders but not they believe there are born managers. People believe management qualities are trained. This may not be true regarding leadership qualities. For example, in accident sights some people emerge as leaders and guide others on what to do. These leaders are not trained to become managers or leaders. It is also observed that such people repeat the leadership role in similar occasion. This shows they are born leaders. Many view that leadership skills can be trained on individuals. But training on leadership skill is more difficult than training on management skills. It is also observed that function of direction is the most difficult part for any managers. Unless people have certain inborn skills it is difficult to direct other people.

In emergency medical service, to make the service more useful and effective, leaders are required than mere mangers. Emergency situation are unique and the robotic act will not help. A kind of intuition is the requirement of medical services. It is not that made up managers will be a failure. But born leaders can perform the task of emergency dealing perfectly

Leaders should have technical skills and personal skills to be more effective. If the leader does not have adequate knowledge people may not obey him in the long run. The followers should believe that the leader is more knowledgeable and technically competent than them. This gives the followers confidence to work with the leader and they will feel an assurance that the leader will look after them in case of any trouble. Leaders are more approachable than managers. They like to meet people and discuss their problems. Leaders suggest measures to resolve the worries of the people when people approach them. These characteristics are not applicable to managers. Managers are mainly concerned in increasing the profitability of the organization. In contrast leaders are more concerned about their followers.

Managers and Leaders

Successful managers are efficient leaders. Bill Gate is a successful leader as well as a good manager. There are other examples too. Most successful managers are not MBA holders rather they are good leaders. On a close view it can be understood that it is important to become a leader first than becoming a manager. Story of successful managers in all fields underlines this factor.

There are other differences in the styles of managers and leaders. A manager makes his decision and then sells his decision to his followers. Manger compares alternatives before making decisions. He asks his subordinates to question if they have any doubt. In case of a leader his decisions are more acceptable to the mass and that is the reason they follow the leader.


There is a difference between leadership and management. Managers are more concerned about planning, controlling, staffing and organizing. Leaders are more concerned about directing and organizing people. They act more as a representative of the followers. People follow leaders voluntarily than by virtue of their position. Leaders should have high emotional intelligence. In Emergency Medical Service leadership qualities are more sought after than mere management skills. Managers with good leadership skills can produce best result. Successful business people are good leaders as well as good manager. To be successful in the long run a manager should have leadership skills.


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06 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: Outcome Evaluation of a Public or Non-Profit Organization

1. Introduction

Public sector across levels of governance is under intense pressure to provide better services with the least resources possible. It is essential to optimize the usefulness of available resources in order to achieve the best possible results. Non-profits likewise need to utilize the available tools and human resources to the maximum, since they often have to depend on external unreliable sources of funding and hence must guard against the possibility of shortage of capital and other resources.

Policy analysts and public managers, therefore, are also under the scanner for their ability to harness the resources available to the maximum. They ought to be able to decide as to which programs should be implemented and given priority over other programs with respect to the allocation of funds, time, effort and other resources. Hence, they need to be able to prioritize what services will be offered and evaluate whether the programs designed to provide such services have been effective and efficient.

The most commonly used interdisciplinary approaches and methods for evaluating policy impacts and program outcomes are cost-benefit analysis, randomized field experiments, quasi-experimental assessment, and participatory assessment. Thus we have a host of designs to choose from for the study.

The quasi-experimental design is of many types which includes the following:

1. One-Group Posttest-Only Design:

It is extremely simple and rarely found being used in social science research.

2. One-Group Posttest-Only Design with Multiple Substantive Posttests:

It allows pattern matching, as well as multiple, unique, and substantive posttests

3. Pretest-Posttest One-Group Design:

It can be implemented either the same units or different units receiving both pretest and posttest. It however suffers from single group threat.

4. Nonequivalent-Groups Design (NEGD):

Since the distribution is not random, there is a risk of selection bias. It is a method that can handle the discrepancy of internal group threats well. It incorporates the concept of a control group to eliminate internal validity problems.

2. Methodology

A non-equivalent groups design (NEGD) was followed, based on a pre-test and post-test of both an experimental and a control group, as suggested by Trochim (2002). Only the experimental group was exposed to the intervention. The control group was included in the study to control the possible history-effect as a threat to the internal validity of the study. The non-equivalent groups design is a quasi-experimental design and is widely used in social research. It differs from a pure experimental design in that the groups are not randomly assigned (Trochim 2002).


In this study thirty-six people were included in the experimental group. They were chosen because they had already enrolled for the six-month training intervention that was to be evaluated. The participants were all between the ages of 18 and 25. Fourteen participants were female, and twenty-two were male. The experimental group members were not engaged in any formal secondary or tertiary studies at the time, although all of them had completed secondary school and some of them already had tertiary qualifications.

In selecting the control group, care had to be taken to select a group that would provide an adequate control. In order to ensure that the two groups could be validly compared in terms of previous exposure as well as motivation levels, the main criterion was that the control group, like the experimental group, should be in the same intermediary phase between school and work, and should also be actively involved in some way or another in preparing themselves for the workplace. Another criterion was that the control group should not have been exposed to the training intervention or elements thereof. For the reasons mentioned above, the control group comprised twenty second-year commerce students from the University of Pretoria, ranging in age from 20 to 22. Ten members were male and ten were female. They were all in the intermediary phase between school and work and they were all actively involved in preparing themselves for the workplace. The fact that they had already successfully completed their first year of studies, coupled with the fact that they (out of a class of more than fifty) decided to take part in the study, is a further positive indicator pertaining to motivation levels. During the six-month period that the experimental group participated in the training programme under review, the control group continued with their daily class routine. In terms of the control group not being exposed to the social constructivist training programme or elements thereof, it is significant that second-year students were chosen: the undergraduate commerce programme at the University of Pretoria is not at all structured in a social constructivist manner. Classes are very big (fifty plus); students do not form learning communities in small groups but attend their respective programmes individually; the programme is divided into separate subjects with a strong focus on conveying content and assessment is done according to traditional examination methods. Thus, although one can never create a true experimental situation where members of a control group are not exposed to any form of social constructivist learning whatsoever in their academic or personal lives, the research team felt confident that the control group experience was significantly removed from true social constructivism to provide an adequate control for the purposes of the study.

The Training Intervention

The training intervention was designed and presented by a private educational initiative consisting of team members from various fields such as psychology, education, theology and business. The intervention was a six-month full-time (8:00 -16:00) programme and was funded by private investors, as well as by the registration fees from the participants themselves. The programme aimed to develop individuals to be successful in the workplace of the future. The primary goal of the programme was to develop certain characteristics that could form the foundation for developing the participants’ ability to function in the workplace of the future. Although the characteristics they would require were seldom explicitly focused on, the programme design and training methodology aimed to develop these characteristics as an indirect consequence of the day-to-day training interventions. Some of the themes covered by the training interventions were life skills and personal mastery, entrepre-neurship and business, making sense out of history, news and politics, economics and statistical reasoning and environmental awareness.

The training methodology that was followed could be broadly divided into two main categories, namely facilitated group interventions and facilitated one-on-one interventions. While the group interventions allowed for the participants to explore and master the desired learning objectives collaboratively, the one-on-one sessions took place between a learner and a learning partner (coach) and allowed the learner to reflect on her/his progress in relation to her/his personal future goals and objectives. The learning partners and group facilitators were all experienced HRD practitioners qualified in the fields of psychology and education.

The group sessions made extensive use of activities that engaged the learners in a process of discovery and group reflection. Some of these activities were simulated, while others were real life experiences. Many activities were also designed by the learners themselves, which created considerable buy-in from learners into the learning process.

One example of a simulated set of activities that was used is a high ropes adventure experience. These activities took the learners out of their comfort zones and stimulated discussions around group dynamics, leadership, interpersonal relationships, uncertainty, change, personal goal-setting and risk. One example of a real life activity that was used was the ‘R50 business’. Each student received R50 on a Thursday morning and on the following Monday had to report on the profit she/he had made. Principles of entrepreneurship and business opportunities were derived from this activity. The subject matter was thus experienced by the learners as an integrated whole, situated within the context in which it would be used again in future.

Facilitators steered the process and created an environment in which the learners could arrive at their own conclusions. The learners also came from diverse cultural and academic backgrounds, which extensively influenced discussions and conclusions.

Assessment was an ongoing dialogical process between peers, the learning-partner (coach) and the learner, the facilitator and the learner and self-assessment. Except for the psychometric assessment that was conducted as part of this study, assessment of progress never took place by means of a test or exam and was continuously used to set new development targets and to celebrate targets that had been reached. Table 1 compares the practical implementation of the training intervention with the principles of social constructivism.

The Research Process

Based on the literature review, a number of specific characteristics were identified as necessary for success in the workplace of the future. A battery of psychometric instruments was compiled to measure these characteristics. The pre-test for the experimental group was done on the first day of the training programme and the post-test on the last day. There was thus a six-month period between the pre-test and the post-test for the experimental group. The control group also had a period of six months between the pre- and post-tests, but were not exposed to the training intervention. The control group’s tests were administered during class time, as they all continued with their day-to-day university classes over the six-month period. The testing conditions for both groups were very similar, as both groups were tested under controlled classroom conditions.

Measurement Instruments

The psychometric battery that was used as the assessment instrument consisted of sixteen tests from the Situation Specific Evaluation Expert (SpEEx) and Potential Index Batteries (PIB) series. The individual tests that were included in the psychometric battery have satisfactory, well-researched reliability (ranging between 0.58 and 0.92) and validity (ranging between 0.70 and 0.94) statistical records (Schaap 2004). The tests measured the following constructs: creativity, stress tolerance, type A/B behaviour, frustration tolerance, self-acceptance, adaptability, internal/external actualisation, conformity/non-conformity and the demonstrative, Samaritan (behaviour), persevering and evaluative social styles. Table 2 indicates how the constructs that were measured are linked to the characteristics that the training programme focused on.

3. Results

Statistical Analysis

The Mann-Whitney U-test was used to determine the significance of the differences between the variation that took place in the experimental group and in the control group over the six-month period between the pre- and post-tests. In this test, each treated entity is compared to each control entity. This test is used when any treated entity can be validly compared to any control entity. The interpretation of the results of the Mann-Whitney U-test is similar to that of the normal except that the U-test uses the sum of rank orders rather than the statistical mean. The statistical decision criterion was set on the level of Where results were statistically significant, the practical significance (meaningfulness) and effect sizes were also calculated. The reporting of effect sizes is encouraged by the American Psychological Association in their Publication Manual (APA, 1994). For differences between averages the meaningfulness level was set at d = 0.5 (medium effect size) (Cohen, 1988). The meaningfulness (d) pertaining to the comparison of the experimental and the control groups is represented as follows (Steyn 1999):


d = Meaningfulness

= The mean of the post-measurement of the experimental group

= The mean of the pre-measurement of the experimental group

= The maximum standard deviation between the pre- and post-measurement of the experimental group.

For results with medium and large effect sizes, the Bonferroni adjustment to alpha levels was made (Hsu, 1996).

The direction of the change in the experimental group was positive in the cases of creativity, adaptability and self-acceptance and negative in the case of the evaluative social style. The differences on the adaptability (large effect size), self-acceptance (medium effect size) and creativity (medium effect size) scales are also practically meaningful according to Cohen’s test for meaningfulness (practical significance). If the Bonferroni adjustment to alpha levels is made to rule out coincidental differences, only the difference on the adaptability scale remains significant. However, when doing the Bonferroni adjustment, care should be taken not to discard results that could in fact be valid (Hsu, 1996).

4. Discussion

If the Bonferroni adjustment is applied the alternative hypothesis can be fully accepted only for the adaptability of the experimental group in comparison to that of the control group. Still, given the fact that the creativity and self-acceptance differences are also meaningful (practically significant) according to Cohen’s formula, and given the danger of discarding valid results through the use of Bonferroni’s adjustment, the alternative hypothesis for the dimensions of creativity and self-acceptance is (at least) preliminarily accepted. Participants in the programme were thus significantly more capable of adapting to a continuously changing environment than they were before participating in the training programme. Participants were also able to display relatively higher levels of creativity and creative approaches to problem-solving than they had been prior to the intervention. The levels of confidence and acceptance of self were also relatively increased. The attributes of creativity (Grulke, 2001; Brownstein, 2001; Cetron, 1999), adaptability (Boyatzis, 1999; Herman and Gioia, 1998) and self-acceptance (Branden, 1997) are all regarded as essential for succeeding in the workplace of the future.

The demonstrative and evaluative social styles of the participants also underwent a statistically significant (though not a practically meaningful) change. This could mean that participants were relatively more willing to express themselves assertively and to take part in group discussions than they were before the intervention. They were also relatively less evaluative in their social approach, meaning that they would take decisions faster and with less worrying about having every bit of information before taking action. Being willing and able to express oneself, take risks, get involved and create action are also regarded as essential attributes for succeeding in the workplace of the future (Ridderstrale and Nordstrom, 2004; Boyatzis, 1999; Epstein, 1998; Branden, 1997).

However, according to the results, the training programme did not have a statistically significant impact on constructs such as stress and frustration tolerance, type A/B behaviour, internal/external locus of control, conformity/non-conformity and the social styles called ‘perseverance’ and ‘Samaritan’. For these dimensions, the zero-hypothesis is accepted. The training intervention was thus partially successful in developing the characteristics that were measured.

The purpose of this research was to determine whether or not a training programme which was based on the principles of social constructivism was effective in developing individuals for the future world of work. In order to determine this, a psychometric test battery was used to measure a number of constructs that are related to what certain scholars regard as being characteristics needed for success in the future workplace.

First, we need to acknowledge that the idea of a ‘future workplace’ will remain (at best) a hypothetical one that will keep on changing as we move towards it. Second, we have to admit that many questions regarding developing people for this workplace still remain unanswered as this study indicated only the development of adaptability, creativity and self-acceptance while a score of other characteristics and competencies will very probably also be required in future workplaces. However, this study does add value in that it extends the insights we already have in terms of human learning to the area of developing young people (in the phase between school and work) for the workplace(s) they are about to enter. As all organizations are confronted with the challenges and uncertainties of the future, the way in which we develop young people to enter these organizations should be re-evaluated on a continuous basis. This training programme used a social constructivist approach that acknowledges the fact that people learn best when doing, discovering and sharing. In this way the divide between learning and real life decreases and are we able to also develop ‘softer’ characteristics such as adaptability, self-acceptance and creativity.

This study had three main limitations. First, due to logistical constraints, the groups were not assigned randomly. Second, due to the cost of the intervention which limited the number of participants to the programme, a Solomon four-group design could not be followed. The Solomon four-group design would require an additional two control groups that did not take part in the pre-test evaluation (Trochim, 2002). This would control the effect that the pre-test might have had on the participants. The limited sample size also makes it difficult to generalize these results to the wider population.

A third possible limitation of the study is situated at a more philosophical level. The training programme that was evaluated was based on the educational principles of social constructivism – a markedly post-modern philosophy and approach. In addition to this, the context which forms the backdrop for this study is that of the workplace of the future – a context that certainly tends increasingly to the ‘post-‘ side of modernism. The study thus evaluates a post-modem training programme, based on a post-modem educational philosophy, in order to determine whether or not it effectively develops people for a post-modem workplace. However, the methodology which is applied in executing the study is very modernist and positivist in its approach. It is a methodology where human characteristics are broken down into psychometric constructs which are (almost mechanistically) measured and statistically analysed. This becomes especially problematic when one tries to link each construct measured seamlessly with the exact nuances that the literature associates with the successful individual of the future. The question is whether the world of metaphor, story and dialogical understanding can be subjected to the measurement instruments and research methods of the world of mechanistic and systematic understanding in any valid way. However, this study wishes to communicate its message effectively to the modernist remnants in our present-day institutions responsible for preparing young people for the workplace. It therefore has to be able to express itself in the language and idiom best understood by these institutions. Still, it would be interesting to see how a more qualitative or even narrative research model would have evaluated this training programme.

Further research that could add further valuable insights might be a post-post assessment to indicate the sustainability of the changes that took place. This could most effectively be joined with a qualitative assessment in order to determine the real level of success the experimental group achieved in the future workplace over a longer period of  time. From the researcher’s subjective experience of the experimental group’s development, the question of age may also be of interest. Does age have an impact on the efficiency of a social constructivist learning experience? The age-differential between the two groups was too small to make any conclusions in this regard, although there were stages in the programme where the older participants seemed to be getting more value from the process than their younger classmates.

Works Cited

Trochim, William M.K. (2001), The Research Methods Knowledge Base, Cincinnati, OH: Atomic Dog Publishing, pp.191-254.

Trochim, W. M. K. (2002), Nonequivalent groups analysis, The Research Methods Knowledge Base. Available at: <http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/statnegd.htm>

Shadish, William, Cook, Thomas and Donald Campbell (2002). “Ch. 4: Quasi-Experimental Designs that either lack a control group or lack pretest observations on outcome,” Quasi-Experimentation, Dallas, TX: Houghton Mifflin.

Hsu, J. C. (1996). Multiple Comparisons Theory and Methods, (London: Chapman & Hall).

Cohen, J. (1988) Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences, revised ed (Orlando, Florida: Academic Press).

Grulke, W. (2001) Radical Innovation (South Africa: Thorolds Africana Books).

Brownstein, B. (2001) Collaboration: the foundation of learning in the future, Education 122(2), p. 240.

Cetron, M. (1999) Fair or foul? Forecasts for education, School Administrator, 56, p. 6.

Boyatzis, R. E. (1999) Self-directed change and learning as a necessary meta-competency for success and effectiveness in the 21st century, in: R. Sims and J. G. Veres (Eds) Keys to Employee Success in the Coming Decades (Westport, CN: Greenwood).

Branden, N. (1997) Self-esteem in the Information Age, in: The Organization of the Future (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass).

Ridderstrale, J. and Nordstrom, K. A. (2004) Karaoke Capitalism (Stockholm: Bookhouse Publishing).

01 Aug 2009

Essays on The Maxims of Ptahhotep

During the last century, we have seen an amazing transformation of our educational system globally.  Focus has gone from the simple distillation of hard facts and imposed philosophy to peaceful multicultural respect and individualism.  The one thing that has never changed is the recognition of the importance of education.

One of the best selling areas in modern literature is that of leadership and effective management.  Many feel that these concepts are recent inventions, yet evidence exists that the principles of leadership and effective management can be traced to the First Kingdom of Egypt, some 4500 years ago.  Ptahhotep, vizier under King Isesi of the Fifth Egyptian Dynasty, is attributed as the author of The Maxims of Ptahhotep.

The Maxims of Ptahhotep is an ancient work that collects the advice of Ptahhotep to, assumedly, his son or a favored subordinate officer of the Pharoah.  The document survives in the form of the Prisse Papyrus, housed in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and in to additional texts housed in the British Museum.  It is important to note that there are significant differences between the three texts, though the basic content is the same.

The Maxims reflect the values of truthfulness, self-control and kindness, much the same was that texts such as the Boy and Girl Scout manuals do today.  They also contain guidelines for how to conduct oneself when in the presence of social superiors.  One of the best resources regarding the document is Lichtheim’s “Ancient Egyptian Literature”, Volume I, published by The University of California Press in 1973.

Essays on such ancient documents can be difficult for students.  Much of their content is culturally specific.  Without an understanding of the culture of Ancient Egypt, the translation of many of the maxims seems confused.  Our professional writers, skilled in research techniques, are adept in the translation and communication of such materials and are able to assist students in the preparation of any writing assignment, even on such esoteric pieces of literature as The Maxims of Ptahhotep.  All they need is your order.

Filed under: College literature papers — Tags: , , , — admin @ 10:03 pm

03 Sep 2008

Leadership research papers

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