Communiqué: Center Launches Inaugural Executive Education Course for Indonesian Officials

December 7, 2011
Communiqué: Center Launches Inaugural Executive Education Course for Indonesian Officials
HKS Professor Mary Jo Bane lectures during the inaugural Leadership in Transformation in Indonesia course

Center Launches Inaugural Executive Education Course for Indonesian Officials

By Kate Hoagland – Communiqué: Fall 2011, Volume 9

“The success of Leadership Transformation in Indonesia lies not with what we have done in the classroom, but rather will be seen over time once you return to your government positions in Indonesia,” said Anthony Saich, Ash Center director, addressing an audience of newly elected Indonesian public servants along with members of the Indonesian embassy, Harvard faculty, researchers, and staff, many in traditional, colorful batik attire. Saich’s remarks were part of the closing dinner commemorating the Center’s inaugural executive education course for Indonesian officials held September 12 through October 7, 2012.

Nineteen recently elected Indonesian district heads and mayors (Bupati and Walikota) along with 19 of their heads of regional development and planning (Ketua Bappeda) served as the first group of students of the Leadership Transformation in Indonesia course. Because newly elected district heads and mayors in Indonesia typically do not come from a background in government service, Leadership Transformation was created to provide an in-depth, country-neutral conceptual framework, essential technical skills, and broader development perspectives for such officials to create and implement innovative solutions to pressing social and political problems.

While Indonesia struggles to cope with challenges as a relatively new democracy, a key focus of Leadership Transformation is institutional capacity building and reform. Since 1998, the country has managed to transition from an authoritarian regime to the world’s first majority-Muslim, multi-party democracy. Yet, issues of poverty, ethnic diversity, inadequate infrastructure, and geographic dispersity threaten to undermine the country’s continued progress. “We can be a powerful example that Islam, democracy, and modernity can go hand in hand,” remarked Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at a JFK Jr. Forum in September of 2009. “But at the same time we face many challenges in the management of poverty and unemployment problems, and in how we can maintain and strengthen our democracy.”

The Curriculum: In Detail
Faculty Co-Chairs Anthony Saich and Jay Rosengard designed the course around three general themes: Strategic Leadership, New Public Management, and Sustainable Development. Taught by over 20 Harvard faculty, the teaching team also included three Indonesian faculty members from the Economics and Public Administration Departments of Universitas Gadjah Mada and Universitas Indonesia, both in Indonesia. They served as course facilitators, helping to bridge the conceptual framework with the realities of local government reform in Indonesia. The first week of the course took place in Jakarta with classroom sessions; the remaining three weeks included classroom sessions at Harvard Kennedy School and structured site visits with local government officials in the United States.

Within the Strategic Leadership track, Jorrit de Jong introduced participants to “the three circles” conceptual framework, a tool for analyzing organizational strategy that can be used to facilitate more effective public policy formulation and implementation. Archon Fung expanded upon this framework by discussing how community policing efforts in Chicago can serve as an example for improved civic participation and less bureaucratic, more transparent government. Other topics included Kenneth Winston’s discussion of ethics and accountability through the lens of cases on corruption in Central Asia and family planning practices in India; David King on executive-legislation interactions; Roger Porter on the executive branch leadership of the U.S. presidency; Tarek Masoud on the Arab Spring democratic revolutions and the potential parallels with Indonesia; and Alex S. Jones on best practices in releasing information to citizens and the press. Because a key area of leadership is managing for the unexpected, Amy Edmondson spoke about group decision making during a crisis. Arnold Howitt used the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and a 2001 tunnel fire in Baltimore, Maryland, as examples of the different management styles necessary during crises and routine emergencies.

During the New Public Management track of the course, instructors explored the changing role of government in an increasingly marketized environment and how social services can be delivered by mobilizing untraditional groups of society beyond just government. Anthony Saich, Akash Deep, and José A. Gómez-Ibáñez looked at the growing role of NGOs, the practice of contracting out services, and how public-private partnerships can be used to finance infrastructure, drawing from cases about a highway project in Melbourne, Australia, and a bus terminal in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. David Dapice discussed regional competition and cooperation issues in light of Indonesia’s decentralization. Jay Rosengard complemented this discussion with an exploration of Indonesia’s fiscal decentralization, local government finance, and Indonesia’s property tax reforms; Linda Bilmes introduced the concept of a balanced scorecard – a tool for tracking and managing budgeting and financial performance. Anthony Williams shared his experiences as mayor of Washington, D.C., for a lecture on organizational change. Deborah Hughes Hallet and Robert Behn provided analytical and decision-making tools to assess management performance using examples of rising sea levels in Indonesia and CompStat, New York City’s performance management system for curbing crime.

Indonesia is in the midst of a rapid and expansive migration of people from the countryside to the cities. This urbanization poses many new pressures as demand for social services swells and the local economy and physical infrastructure become taxed. It is within this context that the Sustainable Development track was designed to offer participants real-world examples of success in managing urban development. Nicolas Retsinas explored urban housing policies in the United States and implications of the current housing crisis, while Alan Altshuler, José A. Gómez-Ibáñez, and John Macomber offered analyses of patterns of urban development as well as effective policies for encouraging sustainable physical and economic development. In addition to discussions on urban development, Malcolm McPherson addressed the unique challenges posed by rural and agricultural development. Mary Jo Bane presented on the design and implementation of social safety nets drawing upon programs in the United States and potential solutions Indonesia could adapt, and Ricardo Hausmann placed such topics within a broader discussion of how poor countries have advanced to become more economically successful by developing their “productive capabilities.” Lant Pritchett built upon Hausmann’s discussion with a presentation on specific equity growth solutions.

Beyond the Classroom
Participants also visited local government offices in the United States, primarily in Massachusetts and North Carolina as a means of fostering lasting peer-to-peer support and collaborative problem-solving networks. Indonesian officials met with their American counterparts at the same level within regional and state offices in North Carolina, along with service delivery employees and local university leaders. In addition, they witnessed animated debate by local citizens and politicians at a Raleigh city council meeting, and met farmers and local residents at a county fair in the Winston Salem.

“Because mayors, Bupatis, Bappeda heads, and people in similar positions around the world share the same challenges, they understand each other despite language differences,” said Jay Rosengard, faculty co-chair of the program. “We find that visiting those on the front line of service delivery along with the political players in local government and witnessing how they compete and cooperate with each other helps our participants internalize much of the curriculum taught in the classroom. It is our hope that such interactions offer lessons that can be adapted to Indonesia as local government leaders manage their own decentralization responsibilities and develop mechanisms for regional cooperation among electoral jurisdictions.”
“I would like to convey my gratitude to all parties involved in organizing this program,” said Jondi Indra Bustian, head of the local planning agency in Bengkalis District, Riau, Indonesia. “The nuance of the discussion supported by a world-class faculty has broadened and enlightened our view of subject matters that we thought we had already understood. It is now up to us to implement what we have learned so we can provide the best for our people in Indonesia.”

Leadership Transformation in Indonesia is the result of a collaboration between the HKS Indonesia Program and the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs (KemenDagri). Through the generosity of its founding donor, the Rajawali Foundation, the HKS Indonesia Program plans to offer Leadership Transformation through 2014. The course is one of many initiatives of the HKS Indonesia Program, which promotes research, education, and capacity building in support of democratic governance and institutional development in Indonesia.