Batuhan: OFW corporations-A A +A
Friday, October 11, 2013
I GOT to talking with one of our elder parishioners in the church where I go to, and we discussed his advocacy issues and where he spends much of his time in terms of volunteer work. What he said jolted me to my senses and made me think about the cost that economic prosperity—or at least prosperity in a relative sense—has brought to the Philippines.
These days, it is not uncommon to hear of them as our modern-day heroes. By these, we mean of course our Filipino overseas foreign workers (OFWs), whose remittances to the Philippines help shore up our foreign reserves, balance our payments, and generally make life better for all of us.
Known as the 21st century diaspora, our countrymen are spread all over the globe, working in the oil rigs of the Middle East, to the fishing boats of Alaska, the households of Hong Kong, and the bars and night spots of Japan. They leave behind families and loved ones, brave the loneliness and desolation of being by themselves, endure harsh working conditions and sometimes abusive employers—all for the sake of putting bread on the tables of their families back home in the Philippines.
But as my elder friend tells me, the significant economic benefit comes at a staggering social cost—a cost that we often do not realize is being incurred by so many families whose elders are in distant lands.
In OFW families, often one of the parents is away working abroad. In not-so-rare cases, we even have instances where both parents are away, leaving the task of running their households to their children. And this is where the problems start.
Without a functional head to man the household, the children are often left to their own devices. Sometimes there may be elders or other adults to supervise, but they do not have the authority of the real parents.
This OFW phenomenon has apparently given rise to drug abuse, increase in teenage pregnancy, more teenage criminality, and generally a lot of broken and dysfunctional families. In fact, people are now referring to these times as “the lost generation” because so many young people have been affected by the situation.
I can’t help but contrast this state to what is facing many companies today.
The rise of the Internet and the phenomenon of globalization have also given way to new forms or organization where there are no visible leaders, where reporting lines are all “matrices” and heads of functions, as opposed to organizations, are located in countries so far away from where their people actually are.
I always maintain that human organizations—be they families, companies, schools, fraternities, the boys and girls scouts, etc., all function similarly.
Each of them needs a head that the members can look up to. The leader must also be able to decide on all matters related to the running of the organization. For example, the mother/father tandem will be able to give permission to their kids if they want to go out, approve their purchases of clothing, vet their selection of schools, and even advice on their choice of boyfriends and girlfriends.
Now imagine if there is no family decision-maker on the spot, because the leader is thousands of miles away, as in an OFW situation? The result is ensuing chaos.
The same thing goes for companies, too. It is not an ideal situation to have no leader, or to have leaders so far away, and leaders for different functions, who do not have authority for the whole unit. The result is just going to be ensuing chaos.
What goes for families, indeed what applies to each and every human organization, applies to business organizations too. Whoever does not realize that probably needs to spend time on an Alaskan fishing boat, thousands of miles from their nearest and dearest, until they come to their senses.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 12, 2013.