EDITOR’S LETTER : Beware big Bro

A quick flick through this issue of Management might suggest it’s bureaucrat-baiting season. Or is it genuine concern that the power of third term in office has rather gone to the Labour Government’s head?
The relationship between bureaucrats and business folk has always been tad tetchy. Despite all the rhetoric around working together to effect economic growth and wellbeing, there distinct sense of unequal power dynamics. It can all get bit paternal.
So when the Government says it’s here to “help” – what business actually hears is the word “hinder”. It would really prefer the political powers-that-be just get on with cutting corporate taxes and building roads and leave messing around with business to the real business folk.
Which is why Trevor Mallard’s exhortation that SOEs should go out and multiply doesn’t really cut it with the business sector. As Graeme Hunt points out in this month’s cover story, such moves are seen by business as further extension of the “state’s long arm” into its natural territory. Adding more acid to the mix is research suggesting that the governance of said SOEs is becoming increasingly hampered by political bias – an issue covered in depth in our flip-side issue of The Director. For further interesting peek at how political bias can hinder commercial objectives, read this month’s governance and management feature on local government-owned entity, The Edge (The Director p14).
The same issue is canvassed in our corporate governance feature (p66), which asks whether public sector governance has become charade where commercial nous is increasingly being substituted by political patronage and interference.
All that said, it would be shame if business and bureaucrats dropped reflexively into their opposing default positions on the bureaucrat-business interface. The reality is that there are natural tensions between business and Government – particularly when it comes to regulation. New Zealand businesses are far from alone when they get their ties in twist about the preponderance of red tape. And in global terms, we’ve been given credit by the World Bank for being the best place to do business (even if business groups reckon they weren’t measuring the right things). And while businesses reckon there’s no evidence regulation contributes to business growth, there’s certainly evidence to suggest that bad corporate behaviour can flourish in its absence. The trick is to ensure natural tension doesn’t preclude constructive conversation because that’s where the best recipes for creative initiatives emerge.
And still on the subject of constructive conversations – there were plenty being had around the topic of leadership at the recent “Leadership Week”, joint initiative by Leadership NZ, Excelerator, the Sir Peter Blake Trust and NZIM. More of the same are promised from next month’s Management Week (see NZIM p30) – which is being planned as major annual promotion to focus attention on management development and excellence.
The reality is that in any sphere, there’s always room for improvement – and that’s where the debate needs to focus.

Visited 5 times, 1 visit(s) today
Close Search Window