Project Management on World Trade Organization ministerial Conference of 2005
The aim of this report is to investigate the project management aspects relating to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) ministerial conference in 2005. This report details the issues relating to project management and the impact of the project management practices on the outcome of the event. It identifies the key stakeholders in the project and the role they had in determining the success/failure of the project.
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This report further discusses the role of the leadership and the effective team building and management skills and how much of an impact these had in the successful project delivery.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Sixth Ministerial Conference which is abbreviated as MC6 and popularly known as the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference was held between the 13th and 18th December, 2005 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The total turn around expected for the conference was representatives from around 148 countries across the globe. The Hong Kong People’s Alliance led a protest on the WTO which mainly consisted of farmers from South Korea. The three main designated protest zones included Wan Chai Sports ground and the region around Wan Chai Cargo Handling Basin. The total budget for the ministerial conference was Hong Kong $250 million (WTO, 2005).
The highest decision making body of the World Trade Organisation is the Ministerial Conference that meets a minimum of once every two years. This ministerial conference provides the organisation with the direction and helps in the decision making process (HKPA, 2006). The conference held from 13th – 18th December 2005 is the sixth ministerial conference and was aimed at making a decision about the liberalisation of farm trade and reaching an agreement relating to farm subsidies . It also aimed at successfully concluding the 2006 Doha Round (Target WTO, 2005).
The role of the project manager
The project manager of the WTO conference 2005 is responsible for the success of the project and also ensuring that the stakeholders relationships are well maintained and that all the stakeholders are able to effectively communicate and share their ideas about agricultural issues (Heydon, 2006).
Given that the WTO ministerial conferences play a major role in the decision making process and ensuring that multilateral trade agreements are smoothly implemented, the role of the project manager cannot be underestimated (Alam, 2008). This report discusses the role of the project manager in establishing good stakeholder relationships and his role in the success of the project.
Project Objectives and Scope
The objectives and scope of the 2005 HK WTO conference was to establish:
Market access – reduction in the tariff of goods
Domestic support – direct payments to be made to the farmers and local producers
Services – remove restrictions internationally in various service sectors and
Singapore Issues – demand for transparency in laws, fair competition etc. (UN, 2005)
The scope of the project management planning activities included arrangement of venue, security and emergency, organisation of logistics, managing media, budgeting and risk and contingency planning (Alam, 2008).
This section of the report discusses the key stakeholders in the HK WWTO 2005 meeting, stakeholder analysis methods to effectively communicate with these stakeholders in order to ensure smooth communication. Stakeholder Analysis is defined as the activity which analyses in depth the attitudes of all the key stakeholders towards a project (Goodpaster, 1991).
Other definitions by researchers (Freeman, 1984) include ‘a group of individuals who can affect or be affected by the achievement of the organization objectives’.
The key stakeholders of the WTO include the member nations, the vendors, tradesmen, farmers and other categories of trade associations, the media, the public, governing bodies, the international trade community. It also includes the general population and public that are affected directly or indirectly as a result of the agreements and arrangements made by the WTO Ministerial conference committee (Alam, 2008).
High Power , High Interest
One of the member nations that holds high power as well as high interest in the World Trade Organisation. There are a total of 153 nations in the WTO and the USA engages with various other nations and takes a leadership role in the WTO ministerial. For instance, USA played a key role in the Doha Conference and was blamed both directly and indirectly for holding up the talks and the progress of the sessions. Given the high power and interest it holds in the WTO, USA aims to boost its exports. It plays a major role in the WTO negotiations to enhance its stance in the WTO as a ‘leader’ and also to use the opportunity to initiate talks with its trading partners like Japan and India. Given its power, most decisions of the trade-rounds are highly influenced by the United States (BBC, 2013).
High Power, Low Interest
Hong Kong as one of the key members of the WTO was the host to the fifth ministerial conference in the year 2005. Though being a key member, Hong Kong has not shown much interest in the activities of the WTO and has not taken any proactive steps in issue resolution of the ongoing issues of the WTO. Be it agriculture or environmental issues,Hong Kong remains to be a silent spectator in most cases which clearly indicates the lack of interest in influencing the member states or steering them to decision making on specific issues (BBC, 2013).
Low Power, High Interest
The farmers and the agriculture community worldwide have high interest in the activities of the WTO as the trade agreements that are negotiated and agreed upon have a serious bearing on their livelihood and concerns. There is a growing concern relating to fairer trade markets, food security and farming subsidies. Though there is a lot of interest shown by the farming community, they do not have the power to speak and hence do not have the influencing capability. The increase in the suicide rates of farmers is also attributed to the failure of WTO to understand their concerns and the lack of transparency and inequality in dealings of the WTO (Long, 2007; Shiva, 2014).Researchers also suggest that there is a lack of understanding from the WTO committee members on the needs of the farmers and the decisions made are not in line with their demands (Anderson and Martin, 2005).
Low Power, Low Interest
The last type of stakeholders have the least power and are also not very much interested in the activities of the WTO. The citizens of Hong Kong for example, belong to this stakeholder group. Given that the multilateral agreements are huge and complex, the authorities do not have the capacity and capability to scrutinise the details of all contracts. Also, the authorities of a country are not held accountable for the negotiations and agreements signed. This makes them lose interest given that they neither have the power nor the capacity to influence the decision making. Also there are restrictions that prohibit them from questioning the authority (Keohane and Nye, 2001; Scharpf, 2000).
Stakeholder management is essential for the smooth communication and functioning of an organisation and also to ensure that the objectives of the organisation are achieved. Stakeholder management should be in line with the strategic management objectives of the organisation and the type of the stakeholder that needs to be satisfied should be taken into account depending on the organisation type in order to ensure that these expectations are met. It is essential to first identify the various stakeholders, their role in the organisation, the decision making authority they have in the organisation and how much their ideas or ideals would affect the success of the organisation. Once these are identified, it is essential to develop a stakeholder management strategy that is aimed at not only satisfying these stakeholders but also helps achieve the overall objective of the organisation (Freeman, 2001).
In a multicultural organisation or where the organisation is huge and spans across different continents and cultures, the stakeholder management strategy becomes inevitable. It defines the communication methods and helps understanding the do’s and don’ts in each geographic location. It also helps achieve transparency in operations and facilitates better participation of the stakeholders in the decision making process. Stronger business decisions that are sustainable, long term and ethical are facilitated by a good stakeholder management approach (Carroll and Buchholtz, 2014).
Researchers believe that not all stakeholders of an organisation have equal importance. For example, in a non-governmental organisation which is aimed at helping people, the pubic might be the key stakeholder as opposed to a business organisation which aims at satisfying the primary needs of the shareholders. Hence, in a diverse world where the needs of the organisations differ, it is essential to understand the primary stakeholders who needs to be satisfied and devise a communication management plan to ensure that the communication to these stakeholders are made in near real-time and in an effective manner (Podnar and Jancic, 2006; Jacobson et al, 2009).
Tuckman’s Communication Model
Bruce Tuckman devised a five step communication model in the year 1975.
These five steps includes:
Forming: This is where the leader gives the guidance to the team and the initial stage in the communication process. This is a stage where the roles and responsibilities are unclear
Storming: Brainstorming activities take place, compromises happen, clarity increases and the team members get a basic understanding of what is required of them
Norming: The team members agree by consensus. The leader facilitates the decision making but the team members are now in a position to agree. The roles and responsibilities defined by the leader in the forming stage are now very clear and evident.
Performing: The team members are strategically aware and are able to execute their responsibilities and perform better in order to achieve the goals. They work on their own and there is very little interference from the leader. The leader is called for when there is guidance required both in terms of personal and interpersonal development
Adjourning: Also known as Deforming or Mourning, refers to the breaking up of the group after the successful completion of the task. This stage involves identification of good performers, the well-being of the team and also measuring the performance. (Tuckman, 1977)
This report gave a brief about the role of the project manager in the HK 2005 WTO ministerial conference and the various stakeholders, the level of interest and the power to influence the decision making of the WTO. Furthermore, this report also discussed effective stakeholder management techniques and methods, communication strategy in relation to the WTO.
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