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When Mighty Institutions are Shaken

An institution or Institute as defined by the online dictionary is :

"an organization founded for a religious, educational, professional, or social purpose"


"an organization having a particular purpose, especially one that is involved with science, education, or a specific profession."

The key word here is "profession". Institutions are formed or created to provide certain service or group of services which have at their core to promote the concerns of their members and also to create value for those members and the society at large. It goes without saying that the strength of any institution is derived from the conviction of her members, the perception of the society and the actual value they create.


The recent issues that have been at the fore in the governance of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) are not uncommon in most institutions where those who are expected to keep the trust of their members begin to see their role as managers or executives without or forgetting that they are first of all responsible to the members whose interest they are meant to protect.

Institutions often establish procedures for accomplishing tasks by creating sets of instructions for tasks, which presents some semblance of a working system. The drawback of this arrangement is that it also relies on bureaucracies to function, In many organizations, particularly mature ones, most tasks are handled by automated systems, such systems can persist, and even fulfill their function, while the core institution itself is failing; could this be the case with the RICS?

The caption above is what you will see when you visit the RICS website, it is interesting to note that this caption boasts of the number of professionals enforcing standards but yet the matter at hand was more of an unprofessional conduct. Is it at all possible that those that are meant to train, certify and regulate professionals have failed to act in a professional manner, which is one of the key ethics of the said institution, this anti-correlation is so outstanding that the silence of the answer to this question is deafening.


The major concern is that when leaders choose what information to make available or accessible to her members, there are bound to be consequences, which could vary from outright loss of respect of the institution to a change in perception of the value of the institution.

"...“Gender and Corruption,” a 2000 report conducted by four economists, shows that women are less involved in bribery and less likely to condone bribe-taking....Furthermore, the report’s authors found, corruption is less severe in governments in which women hold a larger share of parliamentary seats and senior positions in government bureaucracy. Meanwhile, a World Bank study showed that “one standard deviation increase in [female participation in government] will result in a decline in corruption…of 20 percent of a standard deviation.”..."

While this is not meant to be a consolation, it is a good development that the current RICS president is a woman, probably that is why the issue is being treated or given the attention it deserves. However, I would have loved to see an unbiased person appointed to oversee the future purpose review, this in my opinion gives a level playing ground for reason and assessment of the contributions of the members without the rationalization of the inputs by the knowledge or information available to the management. After all, the reason we are here is because some management thought it best to cover up an audit rather than face it headlong based on what they may consider their "superior" knowledge of the workings of the Institution.


Finally, we believe that one of the issues that need to be looked into is the high fees that are being charged for membership, presently, it is the highest of all my professional fees and more-so that I operate in one of the economic developing countries. If we must learn from history, it is that there are no immortal institutions, how long they survive is dependent on their perception in the eyes of the society and the value they offer their members.


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