Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Harvard management guru's Singapore tribute backfires

UPDATE: Perhaps rather predictably, the Straits Times has re-published Davenport's blog as the main piece in its comment section today (Thursday) under the headline "Not perfect, but still a role model". It's ironic that the piece probably came to their attention because of Singaporeans criticising it.

Tom Davenport is an American management guru who has written books such as The Attention Economy, What's the big idea? and Thinking for a living and writes a rather self-elevated blog called The Next Big Thing for Harvard's business publishing unit.

After a recent trip to Singapore he penned a laudatory post about the city-state, suggesting in typical management speak that it could be a "model of judgement" for the US.

He praised Singapore for being hardworking, disciplined, obsessed with education and ethnically diverse with good infrastructure and a strong economy.

So you'd think his comments would go down well with Singaporeans, right? Well, think again. Of the more than 20 reactions all but one or two are highly critical of his rose-tinted view of Singapore.

The commenters seem to take particular umbrage at Davenport's suggestion that "many of the seemingly autocratic regulations might be justified by the ethnic diversity and high population density of the country".

It's interesting that while China's online rabble tend to target blogs that make negative comments about their country, Singapore's internet community tend to go after anyone who is too positive about their nation.

Hat-tip to The Online Citizen.

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