Recreating Government: Entrepreneurship and Folktales in Public Administration


Event Date/Time: Nov 01, 2009 End Date/Time: Nov 04, 2009
Registration Date: Aug 31, 2009
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Name: Dr. Forje Lema Catherine
Address: University of Buea, Faculty of Social and Management Sciences Department of Economic and Management, P.O.Box 63, Buea South – West Region Cameroon
Mobile: +237/ 74633907 E-mail:
Place of Birth: Bali Nyonga-Mezam Division – Cameroon
Civil Status: Married with 3 Children


1. Doctor of Philosophy, Business Administration (2006), University of Reading, Reading, UK.
2. MPhil Degree, Business Administration, (1996), London City, University, London –England
3. Master Degree, Business Economics, (1984). Essex University, Essex-England
4. Civil Ekonom (B.A Business Administration), (1979), University of Lund-Sweden


• Coordinator of Management Programme
• 2000 -2002, Acting Head of Department of Economics and Management, University of Buea, Cameroon Republic
• 2000-, Lecturer, University of Buea, Cameroon Republic.
• 1996-1999, Assistant Lecturer, University of Buea Cameroon Republic
1. Small Businesses in Cameroon: Key Factors Impeding their Growth. Tropical Focus. The International Journal Series on Tropical Issues Volume 9 Number 3 September 2008 Pacificam Douala: Printed on behalf of Tropical Focus.
2. Domestic saving mobilisation and small business creation. South African Journal of Economics and Management Sciences. Article 7, April 2006. South Africa.
3. Empowering the youth through Entrepreneurship: The Case of Cameroon. The Proceedings of the Institute for Small business Development. Belfast, N. Ireland

Selected Conferences Attended

• The Conference on Political culture, Governance and the State in Africa, 23 – 24 February 2009. Nairobi, Kenya.
• The 2nd International Conference on Sustainable Business Development, August 28-29 2008, Boardwalk Centre Pot Elizabeth. South Africa.
• The 31st Conference on Promoting Excellence in Entrepreneurship Development: 5-7th November 2008, Institute for Small business, Belfast, N. Ireland.
• Entrepreneurship Teaching at all School Levels: Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 31 October -2 November, Cardiff-Caerdydd –Wales


(1) Dr. (Mrs.) Tumnde (
Dean of Faculty of Social and Management Sciences University of Buea, South-West,Cameroon Republic
P.O Box 63
Fax. +237 – 332 2272
Tel. +237 – 332 21 34

Recreating Government: Entrepreneurship and Idioms in Public Administration


Lecturer, University of Buea,
Department of Economics and Management,
Faculty of Social and Management Sciences,
Cameroon Republic
Email address:
Phone: +00237 - 74633907


Poor public administration in Cameroon breeds corruption, making socioeconomic development difficult. Corruption in the Cameroon public service is beyond any language to describe. As people gasp for speech, they only use idioms to express the level of corruption and disorganisation in the country. Civil servants stroll in and out their offices as they like. Work time is set by government from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm. The people set their own time as they think fit. It was observed that half the working population start work at 9:00 am and leave offices at 2:30 pm instead of 3:30 pm. There is need for a change of work attitudes. People need to be taught to be duty conscious. Entrepreneurship, though intimately associated with the business world, goes beyond profit-motivated activities, cutting across all walks of life and provides knowledge/skills that can assist in ameliorating the shortcomings in public administration. Equally, idioms are observed to play an important role in transmitting or disseminating information, and stimulating creative thinking. It is observed to be an input factor for socioeconomic transformation. Our forefathers used them to extend, expand knowledge and foster understanding of issues. Idioms when explained are loaded with meanings that go beyond the world of activities. We can draw knowledge, wisdom and inspirations from idioms and entrepreneurship to improve public administration. The aim of this study is to investigate how entrepreneurship and idioms can be used to improve public administration and add values to it. Prior studies suggest that entrepreneurship cuts across all disciplines and not only limited to the world of profit making businesses (Burns, 2007; Kirby 2003; Osborne David and Gaebler, 1992). Data was gathered through face to face interviews conducted with elders in selected areas in Cameroon where the use of idioms are common and from books and journals on entrepreneurship. A qualitative analysis is used, since it presents a clear and simple understanding of the connectedness of entrepreneurship, and idioms to public administration. The result suggests that the use and interpretation of cultural idioms and entrepreneurship can assist in the improvement of public administration. The implication of this approach cuts across cultural, social and economic development. Entrepreneurship is a social as well as an economic activity. The motivation of entrepreneurs is varied and goes beyond a desire to make money. Its knowledge and skills can assist in enhancing the knowledge of policy makers and public administration, thereby empowering them to be duty conscious.

Key Words: Entrepreneurship; Idioms, Improvement; Public Administration.


The state of public administration in Cameroon breeds corruption, inhibiting socioeconomic development. Corruption in the Cameroon public administration is hard to describe. Worker’s speech is dominated by expressions depicting corruption and its impact the economy. Civil servants stroll in and out of their offices, and do not respect the work time set by government from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm (General Rules and Regulations of the Public Service 1974). It was observed that half the working population start work at 9:00 am and leave offices at 2:30 pm instead of the 3:30 pm. Civil servants leave other regions of the country with some even dying in road accidents - to follow up their files in offices in the nation’s capital only to find empty offices. The justice system is polluted with injustices, making people feel frustrated with the operational system of government machinery. The justice system functions on the principle of the highest bidder. Justice no longer exists on the principle of equality before the law. Many people feel disappointed with the existing government system. The following was said by a frustrated and disgusted father:

‘A child is sent out of school, goes home there is no food and the father says my journey to get paid was not successful. The child asks, papa, why can’t you report the poor treatment to the police? The father says my child, “Water is dirty right from the source.” The child further asks the father, “What are you going to do?” The father answers, fools are food for clever ones’

The idiom above expresses the disappointment of the majority of the population. Idioms are used to express frustration, disappointment as well as hatred for a system. It is a loaded statement made out of disdain. It usually points a torch to where to start investigation when there is a misfit in a system. The simple explanation of the presentation above is that the misfit in the Cameroon system should be searched within the top hierarchy. Interpreting the idiom mentioned, when water is dirty from the source, the whole river will be dirty as there will be no clean water coming from the source to cleanse the dirt. Purification, thus, requires a complete renovation and refurbishment. There is therefore the need to employ all wisdom left us by our ancestors for the improvement of our situation. The problem is that we often disregard our historical development. Cameroon, for example, keeps no data bank from which to draw ancient knowledge. How can a society progress with a weak statistical background? For example, the only statistical figures available in the country today are the 1987 statistics.

The problem is, how can ‘innovation to improve the public administration be done’, what type of elements will be needed for the refurbish the system? Machiavelli, in Caude (2008), defines three concepts that illuminate the basics in managing public affairs: uncertainty, alliance of civic virtue and the necessary strength to sustain and enforce a political system. Uncertainty avoidance requires serious decision making, and historical analysis. Sustainability requires good resource allocation, and corruption reduction needs good control mechanism. This has implications for the hierarchy leadership and organisation which entrepreneurship skills can handle.

Private-sector market mechanisms can serve the same function in public administration as they serve in the private sector, sending signals about good and bad practice; rewarding success; penalising failure; guaranteeing the sovereignty of the citizen and providing continuous obligations and responsibility. Entrepreneurship knowledge is said to cut across all walks of life and disciplines. How then can it be applied effectively in public administration? Whenever the word ‘entrepreneurship’ is mentioned, people think of business administration.

An investigation of the properties of entrepreneurship is important. Governments need to know the properties of private organisation to benchmark their innovative strategies as it provides a strategic departure for planning. This would enable the search for an appropriate means of using entrepreneurship knowledge to recreate government and its organisations. Diagram 1 presents the properties of entrepreneurship knowledge.

Diagram 1: The properties of entrepreneurship

Looking at Diagram 1, we find all major organs of business administration present in public administration structural set-up. Public administrators work in public organisations or departments and perform a wide range of tasks: operate and monitor budgets, draft legislation, develop policies, execute and are managers and executives of government branches and agencies. Good leadership and governance are their watch phrase. Government recruits workers and organises training to ensure good performance (see also Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). Their activities are organised in departments, divisions, regions and provinces. Business organisations are structured in the same way, but following their nature of products. Business executives operate budgets, and perform all the functions of public administrators. Good leadership is needed both in private and public organisation to prop management to success. Such leadership recruit, and carryout internal training to ensure good performance.

Following Diagram 1, the four main competent areas of entrepreneurship can be seen to cover the basic areas of government activities as well. The difference between performance in the private sector (corporate world), is that profit (or loss) is viewed as a reward for (or cost) of risk taking and accrues to the risk takers, shareholders. This, however, does not mean that profits (or reward) cannot occur in non-market sectors such as public administration. The only missing part in public administration is the profit criterion usually replaced by various proxies, from ‘shadow pricing’ to ‘value for money’ concept. There is a link between strategic organisation and good leadership. Good organisation facilitates the control process which can be a major problem in public administration since profitability is difficult to measure.

According to Diagram 1, business management requires special skills. The problem is, has the public administration the required skil