Ghanaians must disabuse their minds of the perception that lateness is part of their culture, the Resident Representative of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS), Mr Klaus D. Loetzer, has advised.
That was because holding on to such a perception would lead to the entrenchment of the practice, a situation which, he noted, would impact negatively on the country’s development.
He said lateness was a habit which, practised over time, developed into a tradition which was later taken as a cultural norm.
He, therefore, challenged all to separate negative traditional practices from positive cultural norms.
Mr Loetzer was speaking at the opening of a two-day national conference on cultural and corporate governance organised by the National Commission on Culture (NCC) and sponsored by KAS.
He said clearly separating negative traditional practices from positive cultural norms helped to discard what impacted negatively on the developmental strides of the country.
Expressing his support for the conference, he said KAS had worked with the Private Enterprises Foundation (PEF) in promoting corporate governance and also with the NCC to harness cultural values in the country’s development agenda.
“The conference, consequently, serves as part of the converging point in our contribution to the development process of Ghana,” he added.
Mr Loetzer pointed out that culture was reflected in the structures, systems and symbols of organisations and also impacted greatly on the private sector.
He said developing a good corporate culture required leadership for the needed direction in attaining objectives.
The Chairman of the NCC, Prof George Hagan, said at the core, management was a behavioural science and branch of cultural anthropology.
He said when people sought to develop a culture among groups, households and businesses, they had to recognise that the people and resources being managed had their traditional cultures, that is, “the totality of their ways of life”.
The key to good management then, he noted, lay in understanding the culture of the corporate entry, particularly the mindset, values, attitudes, norms and the types of behaviour coded into the vision, mission and strategic objectives of the enterprise.
Prof Hagan said under colonialism, management was in the hands of the British and a few Africans who were designated as holding “European posts”, explaining that that had changed now, with the management class having the same “collective mindset”, being of the same cultural beliefs, ideas, attitudes and behavioural expectations that were all influenced by their culture.
He said how those factors influenced corporate and leadership culture, how they impacted on employment practices and the management of people, resources and time were issues that needed to be examined and rationalised with the country’s development agenda.
A member of the Public Services Commission, Dr Sebastian Bemile, in his submissions, said culture was far more than the music and dance that most people thought it was.
He endorsed the conference as a way of reinforcing positive cultural practices and doing away with the negative.
The Chairman of the State Enterprises Commission (SEC), who chaired the function, said it was sometimes irritating at functions when music and dance troupes were ushered in to do what organisers termed a “cultural dance”, particularly when the programme was already behind schedule.
He said the conference was opportune, as it showed that culture mattered in corporate governance in the efforts of the country to attain a middle-income status by 2015 and in the era of the golden age of business.
DAILY GRAPHIC, THURSDAY, MAY 22, 2008, PG 15