Foreign managers meet at NIU

By Moin H. Khan

NIU is the meeting ground for managers from six developing countries who want to share and learn managerial techniques and skills.

Eight civil servants and technocrats from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea are participating in a six week mid-career management program offered by NIU’s Office of International Training and Consultation. This program started on June 8 and will run until July 17.

The program, which started last year, is known as International Institute for Effective Management and Decision Making. OITAC offers IIEMDM in collaboration with NIU’s College of Business and College of Continuing Education.

Dwight King, associate professor of political science and full-time director of IIEMDM, said special care is being taken to address the needs of the participants from the Third World countries.

Participants were asked to describe particular institutional or managerial problems they faced in their countries. These problems are used as case studies in several sessions, King said.

e said unless IIEMDM can link the general theory with the context of developing countries, the program cannot make claims to be providing Third World managers with techniques that are going to be applicable and relevant in their work.

King, who worked in Indonesia for four years, said many of the instructors of the program have previously worked in the developing countries.

The participants start the program by learning the skills of microcomputer applications and eventually move on to obtain technical skills involved in data collection, evaluation and its reporting, King said.

King said IIEMDM offers sessions in interpersonal and administrative skills, which include personnel management, motivation, communication, and instructional technology. He said the program also includes classes on financial management, capital investment analysis, techniques for forecasting revenues and strategic management or policy analysis and decision making.

“In the final week we will talk more explicitly about how the whole organization might be adapted to a particular developing context,” King said.

OITAC arranges a field trip once a week to a Chicago area and local organizations, he said. “In the field trip we look at the actual practice and application where it’s going,” King said.

National organizations participating include the United Nations Development Program, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Economic and Social Commission of State of Illinois. DeKalb-based organizations participating include Johnson Controls, Ideal Industries, County Clerk’s Office, DeKalb Bank, DeKalb Pfizer Genetics, and DeKalb Corporation.

Franklin Van Buer, director of OITAC and creator of IIEMDM, said OITAC markets the program in different countries. Van Buer has worked in about a dozen developing countries.

“Since this kind of program has no state support, we have to be able to get enough participants to pay all the costs to the program,” Van Buer said.

King said, “If it’s a good program our reputation is going to be enhanced abroad. It’s an investment on the part of the university.”

Usha Dixit, a linguist specialist from the Nepali Ministry of Education and Culture, said the program is “very helpful. Use of case studies from the developing countries makes the program interesting and practical for us,” Dixit said.

Shakti Aryal, president of NIU’s International Relations Club said this type of program is helpful in building international links.