Tag Archive | "research"

Fairness: Process as important as outcome

Fairness: Process as important as outcome

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Politicians and public officials can heed research on fairness perception to provide principled leadership.

Fairness is like a cherry pie: To present the final cut of the pie is necessary but insufficient, as demonstrating cutting it is just as important. Especially with 2016 looming in the background.

Research on fairness perception is important. Especially so in the domain of public policy-making and leadership.

This is so as fairness perception research provides insights into how and why people think what is fair or unfair with public policy.

Very broadly, there are two categories of fairness: Outcome fairness and process fairness.

First, outcome fairness refers to the extent we perceive distribution of outcomes as fair.

For example, in the context of work, the distribution of outcomes include: Pay, promotion and praise.

In society, it could be the distribution of fungible resources, such as wealth.

Second, process fairness refers to the extent we perceive procedural rules to have been followed to be considered fair.

In processes, there is a reliance on accuracy, absence of bias, consistency and the capacity of individuals to influence outcome.

Therefore, the more people perceive processes as fair, the more satisfied they are and the more commitment they show to their work, for example.

Also, fair processes are as significant as fair outcomes.

Moreover, the current evidence suggests process fairness is a stronger predictor than outcome fairness in people’s evaluation of the fairness of leaders.

Therefore, it might no longer be tenable for leaders to only display outcome fairness.

Politicians and public officials ought to pay attention to how people see the process by which policies are decided and implemented, and the way administrative decisions are carried out. Process fairness is king.

Not to fear, as a robust body of research is available to help policymakers adopt evidence-based approaches to create processes that enhance fairness perception.

Towards noble ends, principled adaptive leadership follows the understanding of fairness perception. And this helps in practical actions and solutions.

Editor’s note: Although not explicitly mentioned, adopting principled adaptive leadership will be useful come 2016.

This is a 60-second reduction of the original article published in The Straits Times on Nov. 9. The writer is David Chan, director of the Behavioural Sciences Institute and professor of psychology at the Singapore Management University.

30% of voters are sceptical, but not politically cynical

30% of voters are sceptical, but not politically cynical

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Survey shows this group of voters are more politically knowledgeable.

The sceptical but non-cynical voter has been described as a non-mainstream media consumer who is more likely to be male, more educated, have more household income and younger.

A survey, conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies that polled 2,000 voters who cast their ballots at the recently concluded General Election in May, showed that 30% of these voters are sceptical consumers of information, but are interestingly, not politically cynical.

This group of information-consumers expressed less trust of the mainstream media, but also perceived blogs, Facebook and Twitter as not always fair.

They are not politically cynical because they care to stay engaged and are not distrustful of politicians’ motives and do believe that what they do can make a difference through their understanding of the process and participation.

This group is termed the non-mainstream media demographic by the researchers. This label coined by the researchers is for a group that tended to be young, male, more educated and come from a household with more household income.

However, it is also noted in the research that the online and offline participation of the non-MSM demographic is overall still low in absolute terms.

This article is a 60-second reduction of the original article published in The Straits Times on Oct. 5 (below).

A disenfranchised Singaporean PhD holder speaks out

A disenfranchised Singaporean PhD holder speaks out

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A note from a disenfranchised Singaporean PhD holder after reading the recent news about research and PhD holders in Singapore.

Local PhD holders are having it worse?

I am refuting the first paragraph of this ST article – “Dr Hoh Chung Shih could have easily walked into a teaching or research position at a university” – as bull.

(Editor’s note: A snippet of this ST news originally appeared on New Nation on Sept. 7 but was subsequently lost as our site was compromised by hackers. But now it is back up again on Sept. 21 for posterity.)

This statement is entirely dubious. Unless you know the head personally or are super duper top of your field type, you can never “walk into a position” at a university.

And why would that be so? One reason is because the position a PhD holder wants to “walk into” is already saturated with foreigners anyway.

Basically, the user-generated comments attached to the original online ST article are more of the real thing than the happy conditions portrayed within the article by ST. There is one comment about the average researcher who won’t survive, which I find to be very true.

And there are many reasons for this not just because of the influx of foreigners.

But basically, I have heard of and known so many Singaporean PhD holders who decided to stay overseas and not come back. In that sense, that’s brain drain, but of course, Singapore has the money to buy in foreigners who are better, right?

The world scrambles at the millions offered up to foreigners to come set up their lab here, so basically, we Singaporean PhD holders are made to compete with the rest of the world here in our home country.

Look, I’ve always wanted to be a scientist since young, but the circumstances around me forced me to reconsider my future. And this isn’t about feeling a sense of entitlement just because we Singaporeans have a place just because we are in Singapore.


The root of the problem still lies with the people who fund research and their expectations of research.

As it is, many Singaporean PhD holders in my workplace are feeling disillusioned, unappreciated and unmotivated. I think that the root cause for this is the government’s attitude and approach towards research.

They want tangible profits fast. In other words, research is akin to running a profit-making entity. Basic research without commercial value are shut down or dismissed as useless and funds are directed towards so-called “science with commercial value”.

This is unrealistic because this is not how research works.

(Editor’s note: This is true. Viagra, that happy blue pill that is making a lot of money, was never intentional. It happened as a by-product while researching for something else altogether.)

Underlying this is the discrimination of Singaporean locals. Somehow, foriegners are deemed more ‘talented’ than locals. I have so many examples of how foreigners are promoted in favour of locals, how difficult it is to find employment after an overseas post-doc, foreigners holding top positions, so on and on.

What Singapore really needs is to switch paradigms and focus on developing the local PhDs. But sadly, I don’t think we will see this in my generation.

This note was published on the condition of anonymity.