Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Surprising 'Mission Statement' of Singapore's Economic Development Board

Here is a note I wrote earlier today to colleagues in an international network concerned with sustainability and sustainable development.

As some know, I have been living and working in Singapore since the beginning of January. I see Singapore as interesting case study because, it precipitously faced problems of limits when it was forced to leave the Malaysian Federation and become independent in 1965. There can be no doubt that did rise to the challenges that limits, finite water and land, especially posed.

I do appreciate that many have reservations about Singapore as a model. I am still very much in a learning mode but am forming some preliminary thoughts in a paper I am preparing to submit for presentation at the upcoming System Dynamics Society meeting in Seoul.

In the course of my research I began investigating Singapore’s Economic Development Board, one of the key institutional architects of the country’s development successes. I found the Board’s mission statement, reproduced below, to be most interesting because of how closely the ‘core values’ resembled those of the instructional technologies/faculty development organization I helped build at American University. That they listed ‘care’ as the first core value I found particularly striking. Of course Enron and AIG have somewhat similar statements (I once checked the AIG web site shortly after its collapse), but Singaporeans take these things seriously, in my observation. Incidentally, if anyone is interested in short, tightly written book that views the Singapore experience favorably, I recommend one by my Lee Kuan Yew School colleague, Henri Ghesquiere entitled Singapore’s Success (Thompson Learning Asia 2007).

The EDB mission statement follows:



The Economic Development Board (EDB) is the lead government agency that plans and executes economic strategies that enhance Singapore’s position as a global hub for business, investment and talent.

Our vision

Create a compelling global hub for business, investment and talent.

Our mission

Create sustainable GDP growth for Singapore with good job and business opportunities for its people.

Our core values

Shared by one and all at EDB, these core values shape and guide the organisation in whatever it undertakes.


We care for each other, respect people as individuals, listen to understand, and seek to enrich the lives of those we work with.


We never compromise on integrity. To be honest, sincere and reliable is the way to earn trust and build long-term relationships.


We work together, inspire each other and celebrate success.


We need imagination, innovation and initiative to create a better future.


We dare to always do what is right, stand by our convictions, confront our shortcomings, be different when necessary, and lead.


We strive to be the best that we can be, using our talents and abilities to reach out and fulfill our potential.


We serve Singapore and our people, believing that what stirs the human spirit is to be able to go beyond the self to serve a higher cause and a greater purpose.

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