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Polum, N 2011, 'An analysis of management development practices for senior executives in the Papua New Guinea public service', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright N Polum 2011


Senior executives in the PNG Public Sector organisations play a key role in the delivery of the core functions of service. They provide high quality policy advice to government and implement government programs, including the delivery of services to the community. They have a particular accountability to ensure the delivery of outputs that contribute to the achievements of outcomes as determined by government. Meeting these challenges requires a unique combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes and effective HRD systems, as well as policies and strategies to nurture these competencies.

Thus, the PNGPS has undertaken a number of activities that focus on Management Development (MD) of the Senior Executive Services (SES) personnel. Management Development is increasingly adopted by organisations seeking to attract and retain talented employees. They are increasingly using MD initiatives as a means of enhancing their capability to realise their organisation goals. However, success will only occur if MD interventions are adapted and implemented in ways that are congruent with the changing needs and expectations of the new organisation.

This study assessed the current state of management development of SES personnel in the PNG Public Sector organisations. Specifically, it sought to identify interventions associated with executive development effectiveness. The pragmatic paradigm was adopted for this research, and multiple purposes of exploratory, explanatory and descriptive approach to study were used, although exploratory was more dominant.

The two-phase sequential, exploratory mixed methods approach was adopted for this study. This approach allowed the researcher to collect strategically multiple forms of evidence, such that the combination of methods presented convergent and divergent evidence, subsequently strengthening the findings of the mixed methods study. Both primary and secondary sources of data were used for the study. Phase I used interview tools to elicit data from CEOs/departmental heads from twenty-one (21) public sector organisations, while Phase II employed a self-completing questionnaire to elicit data from 150 senior executives representing different sectors of the government. Thus, triangulation was used all throughout this study. All data collection was conducted in Port Moresby.

The focus on this research was initially on learning and development interventions. However, the interview data revealed a number of factors identified by participants as very important. Two of the interventions relate specifically to SHRD: HR policies & effective practices, Training and Development (T & D). The other two interventions relate indirectly to SHRD – capabilities and requirements of the executives and organisational support. Further two variables relating to learning and development were added onto the four interventions – pre and post leadership skills and behaviour.

The statistical tool SPSS v17.0 for Windows was used to perform exploratory and other statistical analysis of the data collected. Results from the quantitative survey (Phase II) data confirmed and supported findings from the in-depth interviews (Phase I). Inferential statistics such as paired sample t-test results revealed that there is a significant difference between pre- and post-program leadership skills, and between pre- and post-program behaviour. A stepwise multiple linear regression analysis results revealed that the most parsimonious sets of independent variables closely related to MD effectiveness are HR Policy and Effective Practices, and Training and Development. Furthermore, the study revealed that there is a lack of systematic approach to T & D in the public sector organisations and that post-program evaluation at impact level is hardly conducted in the national departments to determine the level or extent of impact the programs have on the senior executives. It also revealed that there is an absence of succession plans and exit policies, particularly at national level and some statutory organisations. For capabilities and requirements, the study found that technical or qualification requirements are met where most of the participants had acquired a basic university degree with many possessing a postgraduate qualification such as an MBA.

This research provides many contributions and implications for theory, policy and practice and provides recommendations for HR practitioners, top management and other stakeholders such as funders of capacity building activities. It does so by providing a framework on MD Effectiveness and a process or cycle on Training and Development. Finally, this study provides avenues for and recommends future research activities in relation to Management Development of SES personnel in the PNG Public Sector organisations.