MGT305 Managing People in International Settings
Official name: Republic of
Area: 620 Sq Km (239 Sq Mi)
Location: Southeastern Asia,
islands between Malaysia and
Population: 4,608,167 (July
Total population growth rate
Climate: Tropical climate
characterized by hot and humid
Official Language: English,
Chinese, Malay, Tamil.
The History of Singapore
In the 3rd century, China described Singapore as “Pu-lou-chung” or island at the end of a peninsula
By the 14th century, Singapore was part of the mighty Sri Vijayan empire and known as Temasek (Sea
Singapore had one military action in the 14th century when it became involved in the struggle between
the Malay Peninsula and Siam (now Thailand) and the Majapahit Empire
Located at the natural meeting point of the sea routes at the tip of the Malay Peninsula
Singapore was a sea port which had frequent visits from Chinese junks, Indian vessels, Arab dhows
and Portuguese battleships
By 1824, just 5 years after its founding of the “modern Singapore”, the population had grown from 150
In 1832, Singapore became the center of government for the Straits Settlements of Penang, Malacca
The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 increased Singapore’s importance as an expanding trade
center between East and West
Sir Stamford Raffles established Singapore as a trading station and introduced a policy of free trading
which attracted merchants from all over Asia, the United States and the Middle East
The History of Singapore
Chinese and Indian traders had sailed around Singapore since 5 A.D.
Singapore became a trading outpost for the Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya and
influenced the region from 7 A.D. to 10 A.D
In the 13th century, Srivijaya became overshadowed by the spread of Islam
and Singapore became under the influence of the Muslim empire named
Malacca was situated on the western side of Singapore thus allowing it to
become a thriving free port for trading and a commercial center
Stamford Raffles and First Resident William Farquhar moulded Singapore
from a jungle to a successful endeavor by building hospitals, schools, roads
and a clean water supply. These infrastructure improvements boatloads of
immigrants from China and India in search of prosperity and a better way of
Form of state: parliamentary republic
President: ceremonial head of State – elected by popular
vote, has minimal authority
Prime Minister: head of government,
appointed by the President
Elections once every 5 years
Ranked #4 on the Corruption
Perceptions Index in 2008
Women are underrepresented
in Singapore government
Member of APEC,
UN, supports concept of
Southeast Asian regionalism
Based on English common law
Law founded on the Constitution,
legislation, subsidiary legislation and judge-made
Criminal law - Singapore
retains both corporal punishment
(in the form of caning) and capital
punishment (by hanging) as
punishments for serious offenses.
For certain offenses, the
imposition of these
penalties is mandatory.
• Commitment to Free Market principles
• Outward oriented policies
Significant Economic Statistics – 5 Year intervals
1997, 2002, 2007/08 (Most recent)
• Spectacular 32 fold growth in per capita Gross National Income (GNI) since
independence (1965) – now S$ 51, 100 p.a.
• Gross Domestic Product (GDP): S$142b, 158b, 243b (’07)
• Consumer Price Index (CPI): 96.2, 97.8, 110.3 (Base year is 2004)
• Inflation: 2.0%, -0.4%, 6.5%
• Exchange rate S$/US$: 1.48, 1.79, 1.50 (’07)
• 2009 Budget (April 1,‘09 to March 31, ’10): 66 Billion (Estimated expenses)
55.3 Billion (Estimated revenues)
• Hit by global recession. Sectors exposed to external environment most
affected: Manufacturing, Tourism, Trade, Transport & Financial Services
• Unemployment, retrenchments on the rise. Employment growth to weaken.
• Saw two consecutive quarters of year on year negative GDP growth
Challenges & Initiatives & Results
1960 –’64: Challenge to advance beyond simple
Created several economic agencies to spearhead
development. Followed Import substitution strategy.
Avg. GDP 5.1%. Mfg. grew from 11% to 14% of GDP
’65 – ’78: Challenge of growth as old supports
Adopted Export oriented strategy. Sought foreign
investors to engage in manufacturing and services.
Employment Act improved labor climate. Built
infrastructure. Nationalized industries where private
sector lacked capital.
Avg. GDP↑ 10%. Unemployment ↓ 3.6%. Mfg. share
of GDP ↑ 24%.
’79 – ’85: Challenge of new competition:
Set up 3 yr. wage correction plan, focused on skills
enhancement, moved toward automation &
computerization, made policy shift toward higher
value add investments.
Avg. GDP 7.3%. Share of skilled to total employment Singapore: An Asian Tiger
doubled from 11% to 22%
See notes page for additional information
Economic background (Contd.)
’86 – ’97: Optimization Challenge of
Shopping in Singapore Maturing economy.
Deepened technology base; cluster
development to maximize synergies at firm and
industry level; promotion of mfg. & services –
twin pillars - to broaden economic base;
Avg. GDP 8.6%. Direct investments abroad up
from 16.9 Billion (’90) to 75.8 Billion (’97).
’98 Onwards: Challenges of international
financial crises in ’97, ’98 and 2001 (9/11
Globalization through WTO, regional, bilateral
free trade agreements; improving
competitiveness in costs, in diff. industries and
of Human Capital; promoting business and
further improving business environment.
Avg. GDP 6.7% 1998 through 2007.
See notes page for additional information
The Society and Culture
- The Concept of group, harmony, and mutual security.
- Family is the center of the social structure.
- Extended family
Face and Respects
- Having face indicates personal dignity
- Singaporeans are very sensitive to retaining face in all aspects of their lives.
- Egalitarian society, yet retain strong hierarchical relationships.
- Respect for elderly
- Singaporeans are group dependent and rely on facial expression,
tone of voice, and posture to tell them what someone feels.
- They tend to be subtle, indirect and implicit in their communication.
- Silence is an important element of Singaporean communication.
Language and Religions
The four official languages of Singapore are Mandarin, Malay, Tamil
Singapore English usually come from other languages spoken in
Singapore, especially Malay and Hokkien called Singlish.
Speakers of Singlish will usually end his sentence with a distinctive
exclamation. The three most common are ah, lah, ley and what.
A plural society comprising a multi-ethnic
and multi-religious people.
– Buddhism 31.9%
– Taoism 21.9%
– Islam 14.9%
– Christianity 12.9%
– Hinduism 3.3%
– Other religions 0.6%
– No religion 14.5%
Education and Holidays
- 20% of Singapore’s GDP is spent on education.
- Literacy rate among residents 15 yrs & over in 2007 is 95.4% Singapore
uses student centric education system and Bilingualism policy is a cornerstone.
- Four levels of education
- Primary education- Typical age: 6
- Secondary education- Typical age: 12
- College education-Typical age: 16
- University education- Typical age: 18-19
- Holidays in Singapore reflect the culture and
religious diversity of the country.
- Chinese New Year
- Buddhist Vesak Day
- Muslim Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha
- Hindu Deepavali
- Christmas day and Good Friday
Standard of living
- Singaporeans live and work in a safe environment. The
crime rate declined over the last decade to 709 cases per
- The labor force participation rate was 65.1% in 2007.
- Singapore has a low infant mortality rate of 2.1 per 1000
live births, and a high life expectancy of up to 78.2 years for
males, and 82.9 years for females. There were 16 doctors
per 10,000 population and 11580 hospital beds in 2007.
- About 90.7% of Singaporeans own homes, with 74.4%
living in HDB 4-room or larger flats, or private housing.
employment laws and
highly stable labor
No minimum wage law
Positioned as a
regional hub in Asia
High demand for HR