Douglas promotes rules based involvement in public utilities

POSTED: 01/19/12 1:27 PM

Dr. Scott Douglas presents his 300 page doctoral thesis Great governance in small societies to Governor drs Eugene Holiday while civil law notary Miguel Alexander looks on. The presentation was done at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa on Wednesday night.

St. Maarten – Dr. Scott Douglas has said that involvement, leadership and communication are the three main ingredients of a success in corporate governance. He posited the ideas during a presentation on his thesis Great governance in small societies that was held at the Westin Dawn Beach Resort and Spa on Wednesday night. The session included a presentation of a copy of the summary and entire thesis to Governor drs Eugene Holiday.

Douglas’ 300 page thesis is a compilation of 107 interviews with politicians, civil servants and company directors about 16 policy fields related to public utilities like airports, harbors, electricity and water companies. The final document highlights some lessons from Aruba, Curacao and St. Kitts that are applicable to small countries like St. Maarten. Douglas decided not to do research here because he felt it would be colored by biases since his father Ruud Douglas once worked for five years as the advisor to the Lt. Governor when it comes to corporate governance.

“I had to be neutral,” Douglas said.

In the newly graduated doctor’s view the key element in corporate governance is the desire to becoming a better country by identifying best practices locally and abroad that can be followed. He also stressed that the eventual beneficiary – the citizen – should be able to contribute to how decisions are made.

Douglas sees the implementation of each of the three core areas he discussed as a balancing act. In terms of involvement he specifically believes that rules on corporate governance should be used to create clear roles for each stakeholder so they know how and when they can get involved. Under the heading Balance of Power he posits that leaders should turn patronage into leadership by amongst other things stimulating that there is opposition to their ideas. Under the heading Knowledge Douglas urges entities to consistently stimulate the flow of information to combat things like gossip and misperceptions.

“None of the three things will work on their own. Success will bring together involvement, leadership and spreading information. People must demand information and leaders must stimulate that,” Douglas said.

The latter statement was part of an urging for all people in the country to “stand up and speak up” when an issue affects them. The young scholar from an old school (Oxford University) believes putting forward an opinion is better than “being too much about delegation.”

“People have got to get directly involved,” Douglas said.

At the end of the day Douglas hopes that applying the three principles he promoted will allow each citizen to realize the investment they are making in public agencies and then measure that against what they get back in return.

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