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Does New Zealand have 'short man' syndrome?

New Zealand has the state equivalent of 'short man' syndrome – comparing ourselves to other countries often and regarding everything from Olympic medals to average house prices.

robin mann world business capability congress

The default is to look over our shoulder to Australia and David Shearer keeps admiring Finland from afar, but Dr Robin Mann says we should have our sights firmly set on Singapore.

Mann says the Asian city-state has developed a culture of constant betterment that has improved its business performance immensely.

“Although a different environment it's really about the leadership in Singapore.

“They have put in place a culture which is about trying to become better continually, year on year,” he says.

“It’s embedded from the school system to business.”

The Massey University academic is part of a team organising the inaugural World Business Capability Congress this December and says we should look to other nations for best practices.

”I think there is less openness to learn from other nations – Kiwis think we can solve everything ourselves,” he says.

“Our congress is an opportunity to get businesses to talk more, share experiences and, with our international guests, we can facilitate a sharing of ideas.”

The congress aims to encourage international analysis, benchmarking and networking, which Mann says will be key to future Kiwi exporting success.

“Our export focus doesn’t always analyse internal processes of our international competitors.

“New Zealand firms often compare products, but never the processes that create them, which are the building blocks of excellence,” says Mann.

Speakers at the Auckland congress include international heavyweights from the private, public and academic sectors covering everything from innovation to HRM to performance benchmarking.

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