INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN DEVELOPING CONTINUING ...

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INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN DEVELOPING CONTINUING ...

  1. 1. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN DEVELOPING CONTINUING PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES IN STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT Dr Evgeny Polyakov1 Huddersfield University Business School, Huddersfield, United Kingdom Abstract This conceptual article looks at the role of continuing professional development (CPD) in the Russian Federation following the dramatic economic and political changes which the country underwent in the past two decades. The necessity for a CPD programme in strategic management for business and non-for-profit organisations is discussed and a new direction for research of training and professional development in Russia proposed. It is now obvious that the social, economic and political environment has been transformed significantly in Russia since the Soviet times. Due to the lack of well equipped professionals in such a dynamically changing environment there appears to be a necessity for professional development and hence this area remains the most important direction in the activity of the Higher Education in Russia. Anatoly Panov from Moscow International Higher Business School suggests that their professional development programmes can help specialists move one more step higher in their career ladder [17]. The reality, however, suggests that many professionals are in desperate need of going through additional retraining to be able to carry out their current duties effectively. Modern dynamic economic conditions may lead to a situation when top management of the companies face a sharp deficit of actual knowledge related to running the company, personnel management, finance, marketing and securing a sustainable competitive position of their company in the market [16]. Hence, professional development programmes will attract people who need new systematic knowledge related to the changed type of activity, or who feel a deficit of information caused by the fast transformation of the economic and business processes. However, to achieve a noticeable success it is not sufficient to offer a classical higher education supported by professional 1 Dr Evgeny Polyakov is a Head of Russian Centre at the University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom
  2. 2. development. It is imperative to establish a system of continuing professional development (CPD). This need is triggered by the reforms carried out in the country and the changes associated with it. Continued professional development has been defined by Madden and Mitchell [10] as the maintenance and enhancement of the knowledge, expertise and competence of professionals throughout their careers according to a plan formulated with regard to the needs of the professional, the employer, the professions and society. There is a clear indication that the purpose of all continuing professional development (CPD) is to promote effective performance at work [8]. CPD was referred to as an “activity which helps to maintain and improve professional competence” [13]. BSC research demonstrated an existing problem related to the imperfection of the management system and organisational structure which is the main challenge for modern business [4]. Recent international discussion concerning CPD also focused on either the needs of the individual professional or the interests of the professional bodies [5, 8]. There are, however, other stakeholders who could have a legitimate interest in the effective management of CPD. These include organisations which employ professional staff, non-professional employees, the Government, education and training providers and the clients of professionally qualified practitioners. Thus, research conducted by BSC shows that there is a lack of professional managing personnel as stated by company directors, recruitment agencies and regional employment services [4]. Managers are seen as concerned with such activities as planning, organizing, controlling, co- ordinating and leading. Reference to this emphasis can still be seen in some earlier management texts [9]. Similarly, research conducted in Russia demonstrated that heads of Russian companies believe that business development is possible with the help of concentrating attention on a company’s intangible assets, improving and structuring management mechanisms. 83% of top managers view the imperfection of management systems and organisational structures as the main challenge for business [11]. Hence, management training had to be justified in terms of organisational benefits [6]. Arkin also provided examples of organisations seeking to ensure that management development was driven by the needs of the business [1]. It is important to view performance-related training as competence-based and related to organisational needs. This view is supported by Bentley who argues that continuing development represents investment in performance [2]. It is apparent that one of the ways of solving this problem is to develop and introduce training and professional development programmes (67% of respondents) [11]. The research demonstrated an evident increase of top-managers’ attention towards solving internal problems of their companies. However, Tyson and Witcher [12] indicate that it is uncommon to find an integrated treatment of corporate objectives and human resource strategy within organisations.
  3. 3. To the extent that CPD seeks enhanced competence, and competence is defined in terms of performance, clearly the concept of CPD cannot be divorced from the requirement to ensure that activities which are undertaken are consistent with strategic and operational business plans [8]. Strategic management programmes are relevant to not only top-managers but also to entrepreneurs. More than 60% of entrepreneurs point out the need to obtain business-specific knowledge and competence [4]. Many entrepreneurs are also aware of an increasingly competitive environment that makes the development and implementation of business development strategies the most important source of providing long-term competitiveness of business in the region. From the discussion above it is evident that the use of the word ‘competence’ in the context of CPD implies an outcome in terms of performance. This definition explicitly recognizes the employing organisation as a stakeholder in the CPD process [8]. By engaging in development activities, the professional is expected to demonstrate an ability to perform to acceptable standards over a period of time, having regard to the changes and challenges which accompany all business and organisational activity. Hence, the aim of effective CPD is to provide a profession where members are fully trained and competent to perform the tasks expected of them throughout their careers [10]. As has been suggested earlier, the essence of CPD is that individual development needs must be business-driven. Only a small minority of organisations appears to have business plans which encompass suitable strategic management dimensions. Although organisations are prepared to invest resources in CPD this is often limited to certain groups of employees and administered on an ad hoc basis, without due consideration to corporate needs. If top management are to remain professionally competent, then they must be encouraged to formulate personal development plans which link to the organisation’s corporate business plans. The 1980s and the early 1990s witnessed a very heavy emphasis on continuous development and competence-based learning in the West. It is hoped that Russian managers of business and non-for-profit sector will recognise it and incorporate these elements in their CPD plans and expectations otherwise a wide gap between the knowledge of professionals and the business reality might occur even further separating Russian organisations from their counterparts in the West. The situation around professional development has been recognised by the Russian government and this resulted in signing of statement of intent on ‘Russian – United Kingdom Partnerships in Higher Education’ in July 2003 by the Secretary of State for Education and Training and the Minister of Education for the Russian Federation. The BRIDGE project was set up to facilitate this and aims to help UK and Russian HE institutions develop joint programmes that lead to mutually recognised qualifications. The project is sponsored by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES)
  4. 4. (England) is managed on a day to day basis by the British Council and is supported by the National Training Foundation [3]. The aims of the project include increase of collaborative effort between Russian and UK universities using joint programmes leading to dual degrees or other mutually recognised academic qualifications and to increase the awareness of the higher education systems in the two countries by means of building the basis for future sustainable partnerships between collaborating institutions. In response to the market demand and needs of the business and non-for-profit sector in the above mentioned areas a partnership2 has been established between the Institute of Management and Business in Ekaterinburg and the Huddersfield University Business School in developing a new CPD programme in strategic management and enhancing international cooperation business education providers in Russia and the United Kingdom. Development of the CPD programme in strategic management will assist in formation of the long-term Russo-British academic partnership in teaching provision of lifelong learning leading to a set of knowledge recognised both in Russia and in the UK. Enhanced academic mobility of lecturers, exchange of training methods and information resources on strategic management in transition economy also brings a deeper understanding of the corporate settings and requirements for continued professional development. Strategic management programs have a substantial development potential in Russia and there is a tendency that they will be in even higher demand in a medium term perspective because these programs provide business with the intellectual growth potential for increasing their efficiency. Taking into account the necessity of the strategic management knowledge in the region the universal nature of the course will guarantee a stable demand at the Ekaterinburg business education market including postgraduate students and senior corporate management of the business and the non-profit sectors. 2 The project is financed by the British Council under Bridge Project initiative. For more information see online <http:// www.britishcouncil.org/learning-bridge-project.htm>, accessed 22 January 2007
  5. 5. All managers and employees have the right to expect a good salary, a progressive career structure, heightened job satisfaction through better working conditions and a better work-life balance, in return for increased responsibilities and a commitment to continuous professional development. CPD enables people to keep their skills marketable when looking for a new job but it is also likely to become increasingly important in demonstrating that an individual can continue being effective in an existing role. The benefits of CPD are not only felt when a manager or an employee goes for promotion. Learning agility is one of the core competencies valued by many employers [15]. Ability to manage own professional growth is recently recognised as a key strength. Indeed, demonstrating the ability to go on learning new skills may increasingly become synonymous with having a job. One more issue arises when talking about professional development. There are two models of CPD, compulsion versus voluntarism. Madden and Mitchell [10] found that 25 per cent of professional institutions have a mandatory CPD policy. These include the Law Society, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants to name just a few. There is therefore an issue about whether CPD should be voluntary or mandatory. The benefits model, which is usually found in new or developing professional institutions, emphasizes the benefits of CPD to the individual, and CPD is therefore encouraged as a voluntary activity. At present it is possible to identify cases of good practice for both the compulsory approach and the voluntary approach [14]. Johnston summarizes that whereas CPD used to reflect personal interest it has now become a necessity which must be geared to professional performance [7]. Considering the two CPD models, there is a higher likelihood that the second model where the individual can take a conscious decision whether or not to pursue some particular form of CPD will have a higher rate of occurrence in Russia, which can be explained by the higher requirements being set by the employment market. There are a number of challenging tasks to be accomplished apart from establishing internationally recognised CPD programmes in Russia. A proposed further research encompasses an investigation of CPD practice in the Russian regions to ascertain how organisations manage their CPD interests in a highly dynamic environment at a time when the professional employees are increasingly aware of the need for continuous development and employment costs remain a major concern for any business. The outcome of this investigation would be a comparative analysis of the effectiveness of CPD management in Russia and the UK. 1. Arkin, A. (1992), "Professional Updating: The Employer′s Role", Personnel Management, Vol. 24 No.4, pp.36-8.
  6. 6. 2. Bentley, T. (1990), “The Business of Training: Achieving Success in Changing World Markets”, McGraw-Hill, Maidenhead. 3. British Council (2007), “Bridge Project initiative”. Available online <http://www.britishcouncil.org/learning-bridge-project.htm>, accessed 22 January 2007. 4. BSC (2005), “Report on smaller enterprises sector in Sverdlovsk region”. Business Support Center. Ekaterinburg. 5. Clyne, S. (Ed.) (1995), “Continuing Professional Development; Perspectives on CPD in Practice”, Kogan Page, London. 6. Institute of Management Working Party (1992), “The Continuing Professional Development of Managers”, IM, Corby. 7. Johnston, R. (1993), "The Role of Distance Learning in Professional Development", Management Services, No.April, pp.24-6. 8. Jones, N., Fear, N. (1994), "Continuing professional development; perspectives from human resource professionals", Personnel Review, Vol. 23 No.8, pp.49-60. 9. Lewis, P.S., Goodman, S.H., Fandt, P.M. (1994), “Management: Challenges in the 21st Century”, West Publishing Co., St. Paul, MN. 10. Madden, C.A., Mitchell, C.A. (1993), “Professions, Standards and Competence: a Survey of Continuing Education for the Professions”, University of Bristol, Bristol. 11. RUEM (2005) “Research on priorities of directors of Russian companies”. Annual joint research of RUEM Marketing Center and BKG Consulting, Ekaterinburg. 12. Tyson, S., Witcher, M. (1994), "Getting in Gear: Post-recession HR Management", Personnel Management, Vol. 26 No.8, pp.20-23. 13. Welsh, L., Woodward, P. (1989), “Continuing Professional Development: Towards a National Strategy”, Glasgow Planning Exchange, Glasgow. 14. Williams, C. (1994), "Voluntary CPD: Is it Possible?" Personnel Management Plus, Vol. 5 No.1, pp.32. 15. Williams, C. (2006), “Mind How You Grow”, People Management, Vol. 12 Issue 13, p. 53-53. 16. Киреева, М. (2005), “Школа успеха”. Деловая Москва, №24. 04.07.05. 17. Яремчук, Г. (2005), “Сыграть на повышение”. Газета Округа, №22 (189). 18.06.05.

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