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Challenges and innovation in the era of transformation

ISfG's Professor Andrew Massey addressed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations international Conference

ISfG conference news story

On 1 November, Professor Andrew Massey, of King's International School for Government, addressed the Association of Southeast Asian Nations international Conference at Sejong, the Administrative Capital of the Republic of Korea.

The conference focussed on New Challenges and Inspiring Innovation in Personnel Administration in the era of Transformation. His keynote speech, delivered by invitation of the Minister of Personnel Management of the Republic of Korea (HE Kim Seung Ho), was entitled, "Facing the Global Future in Public Administration"  and addressed some of the wicked problems confronting administrations around the globe. These existential threats include (amongst others):

  1. Climate change and environmental degradation;
  2. The end of globalisation, or at least its current and most recent phase;
  3. Inflation, an economic scourge that destroys economies and sometimes governments and societies;
  4. Large scale unstructured migration, something likely to continue as climate change accelerates; the impact of wars and authoritarian regimes have consequences beyond their own borders, often resulting in misplaced people;
  5. The loss of faith by countries’ general population in their governments and the state’s ability to deliver a range of effective services. This loss of faith and ending of deference is seeping over into a lack of belief in the role of experts and has been exacerbated by the global Covid pandemic and official responses to it.

The conference was attended by senior government officials from a range of Southeast Asian countries and senior representatives from the OECD, the UN and the Australian Public Service Commission. A range of common problems were identified, including those listed above, and a series of presentations discussed ways in which those countries represented could approach the issues through the recruitment and training of their respective senior public services. The conference and its constituent organisations had the goal of facilitating enhanced cooperation in personnel administration and policy coherence among the ASEAN countries.

As such, there were inputs exploring the anxieties confronting Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand, with regard to future developments in public service delivery. In addition to country-level case-studies, speakers from the OECD, UNDP and Australia presented work from comparative studies exploring effective ways of recruiting, retaining and developing the skilled cadres of senior civil servants and public officials required by countries to effectively tackle wicked problems and deliver the public services required across the region and indeed across the globe.

Because many of the issues confronting countries are similar, the suggested public policy and administrative solutions also contained similar approaches, but of-course the resources available to different states vary enormously, with some countries being populous and economically and technologically advanced, while others for a range of largely historical reasons, require assistance to deliver good governance, an essential foundation to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Although no definitive solutions could be agreed upon, a series of core approaches emerged and a general consensus on the need to invest in developing the structures of good governance deploying modern administrative techniques and technology within a framework of progressive standards.