Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Public Sector Reform in Bhutan

In November I travelled to Bhutan to deliver a course on Service Excellence to civil servants as part of the Management Development Program hosted by the Royal Institute of Management and the Royal Civil Service Commission in collaboration with the ANU and the University of Canberra. It was a great chance to learn about the challenges related to service delivery faced by civil servants in Bhutan as they confront the twin pressures of development and democracy.

One of the most interesting parts of the Bhutanese reform story is the unique development philosophy they have adopted, Gross National Happiness, which captures an important range of aspects not just economic development. Whilst many outside Bhutan think this is a quirky notion, it captures the Buddhist beliefs which underpin life in Bhutan such as protection of nature, and the desire to preserve important social and cultural aspects. Some have suggested it represents a "post-modern state" (for some comments on this see my paper in Public Administration and Development).

I have recently written two papers on Bhutan with Debbie Blackman from the University of Canberra. These will soon be published in Public Administration and Development and the International Journal of Commerce and Management. You can get an early draft of the Public Administration and Development paper from the Crawford School discussion paper site.

It was my second visit; in 2008 Debbie and I worked with colleagues at RIM to develop courses for their upcoming Masters program.

Here I am pictured with Thinley Namgyal from RIM, taking a break as we hiked to the famous Taktshang Monastery or Tigers Nest. Thinley did his MBA at the University of Canberra and he is currently the Registrar at the Royal Institute of Management.

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