Management of the Serbian Diaspora Virtual University as a Complex Organization.

Author:   Jovan Filipovic


As the transnational movement of people increases, the world’s most developed countries have elevated immigration policy to the status of a principal strategy for economic development. “A war for talent” is the phrase coined to describe severe competition among these countries to attract talent from around the world, mostly from developing countries. Human resource procurement resulting from this “war”, if handled in a sophisticated manner, can be translated into national power.

The general objective of this thesis is find how Diasporas play as a cultural and economic avant-garde of transformation . It has been proven and this is especially true for academic and other intellectual Diaspora communities, because science and knowledge creation are global enterprises. It is the tendency and gift of knowledge workers to associate freely with their peers around the world, through transnational knowledge networks that breed excellence in science and knowledge creation. It turned out that their proclivity to move in order to improve and absorb transnational knowledge through Diaspora networks, and made it available through Diaspora Virtual University, actually a community of identity, is an essential quality of an emerging national economy of a developing country.

This study hopes to demonstrate that the best way to transform brain drain into brain gain is through brain chain (networks) and that complexity theory offers the best framework for achieving desirable level of quality of organizations such as Diaspora Virtual University. In addition, the study will hopefully encourage further and more detailed research into this phenomenon as well as reinvigorate intention to implement a new model of leadership for quality in complex organizations such as DVU.

The thesis also presents results of the research done to gain insight into magnitude and diversity of Serbian Diaspora human resource potential, which is both the stimulus and “warp and woof” of the Diaspora Virtual University. Extended data base, which also includes close to 6400 Serbian PhD’s, shows that practically there is no single field (academic, research, cultural, entrepreneurial, and sport) in which Serbian Diaspora is not significantly represented. The findings are further generalized to corroborate claims of the importance of Diaspora virtual universities for the creation of knowledge economy frameworks in other countries with significant Diaspora. Although these findings appear encouraging we still cannot configure the appropriate model of government engagement in Motherland-Diaspora partnership. Moreover, in practice, the situation is even grimmer, since intellectual Diaspora is often faced with challenges arising in an environment complacent to the needs and wants of certain political groups.

The model of the Serbian Diaspora Virtual University (SDVU) embodies a framework designed to enhance transformation of brain drain into brain gain and the enabling processes for the purpose of improving administration performance. Transnational structures, described as “societal relations spanning pluri-locally above and between the traditional container spaces of national societies” (Pries, 2005:176), convert into Diaspora when “Motherland” becomes apparent, and transnational community of experts in Diaspora may develop into a Diaspora Virtual University. In fact, Diaspora Virtual University may be the nucleus and, eventually, the hub of congregation of experts living in Diaspora.

Founded in Diaspora studies literature, philosophical interpretations of virtual and CST (complex (chaordic) system thinking), economic and innovation theory and backed by an analysis of Serbian intellectual Diaspora, the thesis “Management of the Serbian Diaspora Virtual University as a Complex Organization” is intended to serve as a theoretical and practical resource for academics and researchers, policy makers, people of entrepreneurial spirit and business people both in Motherlands and worldwide, including Diasporas. It presents the reader with a flexible, malleable approach to Diaspora Virtual University (DVU), one that invites a diverse and creative method of interpretation. The thesis intends to distill a clear philosophy on which the DVU concept will be founded and to come up with an operational design capable of instilling life into it. The thesis is approached largely from empirical and theoretical standpoints, from the perspective of a member of the Serbian intellectual Diaspora and a scholar.

Summary of the findings:

1. Adapted model of a virtual organization, integrated with CAF (Common Assessment Framework, which is based on the excellence model of the European Foundation for Quality Management-EFQM), can be applied to expert transnational networks which can be integrated into a Diaspora Virtual University.

2. Appropriate leadership positively influences the development of Diaspora Virtual University as the nucleus and, eventually, the hub of congregation of experts, as free spirits and agents, transnationaly living in Diaspora.

3. The role of the government (public administration) as creator of the appropriate environment and provider of the necessary resources (enabling conditions) positively influences promotion of Diaspora-Motherland partnership.

The increasing potential of various forms of Diaspora capital (intellectual, social and financial) provides fertile ground for research studies on different aspects of Diaspora. On the other hand, policy makers need to acknowledge that Diaspora is not only an unexploited national resource, but Diaspora communities are also marginalized constituencies. For the future research, I recommend additional theoretical and empirically-based exploratory research on leadership for quality in complex organizations with a focus on determining its applicability on experts in Diaspora. This new conceptualized leadership model for complex organizations, based on the existing complex leadership theory, would be developed and used for the improvement of the survey instrument used in the empirical portion of this study. In addition, the model will add to the literature, a proposed method of building a coherent interface between experts in Diaspora and administration. Also, a study should be devoted to development of a set of quality indicators of intellectual, social and financial capital of Expert Diaspora and specifically Serbian Diaspora.

Jovan Filipovic is a Professor of Quality Management at the Faculty of Organizational Sciences, University of Belgrade and the Vice-Dean for the last three years. Prior to this, as Vice-President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in charge of Quality Management, SME and Diaspora. His PhD thesis entitled "Management of the Serbian Diaspora Virtual University as a Complex Organization", that he defended in Dec. 2011, at the Faculty of Administration, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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