The above caption of this article has become one of the common vocabularies of Liberia’s colloquialism associated with workplace appointment, position, employment and also used in other social networking environments.
As a universal practice that may not be part of the colloquial of other societies though accepted, the manner in which it is practiced in Liberia through observation has claimed the concern of the author that led to the conceptualization of the caption intended for enlightenment.
Due to the lack of clear definition of the caption by any precise reference material, it is essential that “Da ma interest” be conceptualized in the context of how it is commonly practice in the Liberian society. As a common practice, “Da ma interest” is a twofold phenomenon. First, it describes a reason for securing a desire for some kind of benefits; a payback or compensation that may have influenced a promotion or election victory. Secondly, it describes a situation that inadvertently circumvents regulation or standards. To clarify any doubts that may arise, it is also important to elucidate the conceptualization.
As it relates to workplace relation, a competent authority appoints or promotes individuals to positions to secure his/her desire or intent which of course suggests special interest. As used in this article, competent authority suggests the one that clothed with power or legitimacy to appoint or promote people into positions. The desire or intent can be personal or for the common good of the organization. When it is personal, it indicates what is expected or supposed to benefit the competent authority.
It includes the protection of his job, the fear of the new appointee reaction toward the common practice alien to best practices, the risk of exposing such practices. For these reasons introduced the common Liberian saying “It is better to deal with the devil you know, than to deal with the angle you have not seen”. Possibly, the devil could be the person to be appointed or promoted.When it is for the common good of the organization, the interest of the competent authority is solely influenced by the kind of competence the appointee brings to the job that has the implication for performance.
As it relates to payback, reward or compensation, let’s look at it from electoral standpoint. Usually the interest of competent authority is influenced by how the appointees significantly contributed to the victory of the election. Or the appointments can be influenced through recommendation by other persons that significantly contributed to the victory but don’t have interest in occupying positions. In this kind situation, merit or competence may matter or not.
As a common global practice part of the western culture, it can be argued that interests have always influenced appointments and promotions. It is believed that before the President of the United States of America appoints people into positions, the issues of interest cannot be rooted out. This also applies to appointments and promotions in corporate organizations. In Western, Asian and some African cultures, it can also be argued that competent authorities take into consideration the overriding interest of the state or organizations before making appointments. When this happens, interest is good.
On the contrary, interest takes a negative or bad posture when the personal desire of competent authority override the general interest of the state or organization. In other words, it becomes bad when it fails to consider the competence of the appointees that has negative implications on job performance.
In the case of Liberia workplace environment, it can be argued that whenever you hear “Da ma interest involve” don’t be surprised to sooner or later on find out that the competence of the person is aloof from the job description or don’t match the job description. It is rather driven by personal desires. Please do not get the author wrong because it is not all of the appointments or promotions are influenced by personal benefits. There are dozen upon dozen of appointments or promotions that took into consideration the overriding interest of the state or organizations. You can attest to this fact backed by evidence.
What this article frowns upon are those appointments or promotions induced or influenced by the personal benefits of competent authorities. Here are some of the reasons for frowning on “Da ma interest is good but….
The first reason reflects on the competent authority. This is how it happens. If somebody is appointed or promoted into a position influenced by personal benefits instead of requisite competence, the likelihood for poor performance that also impedes the strategic objectives of the organization comes back as negative reflection on the competent authority as the leader or head of the organization. This is explained by the omnipotent view of management that asserts that managers are directly responsible for the organization’s success or failure. Robbins and Coulter (2014)
Secondly it risks the position of the competent authority. Premised on the same omnipotent view of management, it is like coaches who lose more games than they win are usually fired and replaced by new coaches who are expected to correct the poor performance. Instead of the players, it is the coaches affected. This illustration also applies to competent authority who is also accountable to his/her boss in a corporate environment. In other words, if competent authority appoints people based on personal interest that overrides the organization’s interest and they screwed up, they will not be fired but either replaced while the leader is fired or replaced. This is how it risks the position of the competent authority.
Thirdly it has the potential to cause morale problem for the organization. It can be argued that when people are appointed or promoted into positions due to the personal interest of the leader instead of the interest of the organization that may have accounted for poor performance, it may be difficult for such person to command respect from colleagues under his/her supervision. In this kind of situation, imagine the workplace interaction and the implication on motivation.
In summation, since the issues of interest will always surfaced, the society will have less to worry about if those to be appointed or promoted are suited for the job. Should there be any personal interest behind the promotion or appointment, the competence of the appointees will hide the personal interest. This is probably how it happens in western and other African societies.
About the Author
Mr. Ambrues M. Nebo holds MSc in the top 5 % of the graduating Class in Peace and Conflict form University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Post Graduate Certificate with distinction in Public Administration from Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration Ghana, BA Hon (Magna Cum Laude) in Sociology from African Methodist Episcopal Zion University College in Liberia and various International Certificates in peacekeeping operations from the Kofi Anna International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana.
Besides this article, he has authored a dozen of articles dealing with contemporary issues in Africa and Liberia in which some of his articles (Stop Pointing Fingers at the West for Political Problems in Africa, Is Prolonged Regime, a Recipe for Potential Problems in Africa? and Instead of the International Criminal Court, blame our Leaders, the dark side of Majority rule in Africa) can be accessed online at google search and www.academia.edu.