Timor-Leste Values

This report contains probably the most useful information you could have if your working or planning to work in TL.

The report is a detailed assessment of the values of the Timorese people. Through a series of interviews and questionnaires they assess 1,200 people to determine what it is that will motivate them and which values will be aligned to and assist ‘development’.

Unfortunately, I do not necessarily agree with the analysis, as ‘development’ is defined strictly in terms of western capitalistic and materialistic values. It seems ironic to me that they bothered to do the study only to identify what values would be problematic and may need to be circumvented, changed or kept under careful and watchful scrutiny in order to conduct successful ‘development’ of western values. Surely the analysis should have been centred on answering the question ‘How do we develop Timor so that what the Timorese value is maximised?’

Regardless, the results are very useful and provide significant insight into why Timorese act or behave the way they do in some situations. Bearing in mind that this is a generalisation or stereotyping exercise based on a a nationally representative sample and supported by additional interviews with teachers, academics and senior social figures.

I strongly encourage all foreigners working in Timor to read this report and keep these Timorese values in mind when you think of ‘development’.

What I wish I could achieve

While i’m here in TL I’m supposed to be developing a distribution and sales network for renewable energy technology (RET). An example what I wish I could develop is contained in this article.

The reality is that these programs are waaaaaaaay more advanced and sophisticated than what I could even wish to develop here in TL.

Its kinda sad actually. Guess it certainly ain’t going to happen if I blog instead of doing work.

Working in a foreign culture

In uni, I did a subject called ‘International Management’. At the time I thought it was a bit of a joke. My ideology then was that everyone was the same, motivated by the same intrinsic things and culture was just a set of rules that could be understood and applied appropriately. 
It seems to me now that is not the case, although I still think the subject was a joke.
That subject focused on taking cultural considerations into account when considering a market for products. It focused on the impact of cultural considerations on the value chain and how this would impact sales and demand. 
No doubt these are important considerations. What seems more important is if the staff understand and work within the same ideology as the staff in the home country?
 I can tell you that here in Dili, that is not the case.
Its a really tough working environment and its baby steps here at the moment. I’m not even sure if everything I have learnt regarding behavioural change, motivation and leadership applies here. In fact, i’m pretty sure it doesn’t. Its a different world. 
The difficult concept to grasp about Timor is that up to 10 years ago, this place was equivalent in terms of business understanding as the UK in the 17th century. It was a cottage economy at best, and hardly even that. The concepts of producing excess for sale, selling services, contracting, efficiency, and mass production are all massively foreign. Can you imagine not understanding that? Can you empathise with how confusing and frightening all this change must be? I can’t, it is incomprehensible to me and probably many who were born and educated in a much more developed system. 
If the Timorese do not understand these concepts, how can we expect them to comprehend the individual motivating forces embedded in them. Of course we cannot, so we need to identify what currently motivate them and how that can be linked to the organisational goals. At the moment a huge goal congruence exists between organisations with western based development ideals and local timorese staff who do not understand how they fit into those goals.