Introduction of Laos-Japan Institute

In May 2001, the Lao-Japan Human Resource Cooperation Center was created in the Dongdok Campus of the National University of Laos with the help of the Japanese Government Development Aid. It is a project under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) which is administered through the collaborative efforts of the Lao and Japanese people. 
As of May 2010, the name Lao-Japan Human Resource Cooperation Center (LJC) was changed to the Laos-Japan Human Resource Development Institute (LJI). The latter institute continues to be in action today as it contributes in the development of human resources in Laos to “graduate” out of the classification as a Least Developed Country (LDC) by 2020. With the support and help of people from both nations, LJI seeks to establish itself as an institute of excellence in building friendly relationships through the exchange of culture, business management skills and Japanese language for socio-economic development. It plays the role of promoting mutual understanding so that the cooperation between both countries may be sustained.


LJI Objectives/Goals 

1. To contribute to human resource development in support of market-oriented economic reform of Lao PDR, as well as supporting private sector in Laos in accepting ASEAN integration
2. To strengthen friendly relationships between Lao and Japanese people

Toward Establishing Laos-Japan Human Resource Development Institute


Under the Socialist Regime, the Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic had a planned socialist economy with state enterprises and cooperatives until 1986 when the New Economic Mechanisms (NEM) were introduced. Since then, the market economy is growing but it has become an increasingly urgent task to train human resources to compete in the ASEAN market with skills in modern industrial technology and practical management for the market economy. In January 2000, for the first time in 33 years Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi made an official visit to Laos to support their transition period to a market economy. Japan promised to help advance human resource development through the exchange of persons from and to both nations. Thereafter, the Laos-Japan Human Resource Development Center was proposed as a base for this relationship.

The development of Laos-Japan Institute can be seen in four different phases with specific characteristics as follows:

First phase (May 2001 – August 2006): The activities were limited in scope including business management training, Japanese language training, cultural exchange programs and library services. This phase was characterized by a boom and decline in the business management training course. Lao PDR started rapid transformation from the centralized economy towards the market-oriented economic development since the early 1990s. However, during those years, many business persons and managers in the public sectors did not have sufficient modern management knowledge and skills. They managed their works based on trial and error. The launch of modern business management training programs attracted a large number of participants. However, after several years of program operation, the number of participants declined, urging top management of Laos-Japan Institute to adjust the programs for meeting the demand in society.  

Second phase (September 2006 – August 2010): In this phase, the programs at Laos-Japan Institute were modified greatly to meet the society’s needs. The master degree of business administration (MBA) program was established in 2008, Study in Japan Fair was initiated in 2007, Honda Award for Young Engineers and Scientist program was commenced in 2009, the on-site consultation on management program was initiated in 2007, business forums were also added. Due to such activity expansions, Lao-Japan Center was upgraded to Laos-Japan Institute on May 11, 2010. Such expansion in activities of Laos-Japan Institute was a very crucial condition for JICA to extend its support to Laos-Japan Institute in the third phase.

Third phase (September 2010 – August 2014): This phase was an extension of the second phase for improving the existing activities as well as adding action research and supporting Japanese investments in Laos. During this phase, Japan Foundation also established Japan Foundation Language Center in LJI, making Japanese course activities become more intensified. Japanese language proficiency test was also initiated in this phase.

Fourth phase (September 2014 – August 2019): In this phase, supports to Japanese companies in Laos are enhanced through organizing job fairs, business seminars, business matching and capacity building. In this phase, LJI activities are not confined only in Vientiane Capital, but some activities are extended to other provinces particularly Savannakhet. More research activities are also added along with case study development in this phase aiming to establish LJI as a think tank of business and investment environments in Laos for Japanese and Lao companies. Case studies will also enhance practical aspects of the education programs at LJI so that the participants will gain practical knowledge and experiences from LJI. Recent development in this phase includes the launches of keiei-juku program, Start-Up program and LJI Business Café.

1. Long-term orientation

Laos-Japan Institute has developed its management philosophy consisting of vision, mission and credo which is shared among all staff. The philosophy is displayed in the lobby and presented to staff in internal meetings. The content of the philosophy is as follows:

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LJI enhances the sustainable growth of society through developing highly competent human resources 

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LJI contributes to high quality human resources development and offers a dynamic platform to enhance networking in academia and business for Lao and international society 

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Passion, teamwork, cooperation, continues improvement, self-development and growth

2. Complete management structure

Management structure 
Laos-Japan Institute has an effective management system as shown in Figure 1. Laos-Japan Institute receives close supervision from President and Vice President of the National University of Laos, as well as receiving close supervision from JICA. NUOL and JICA have provided suitable personnel to Laos-Japan Institute. This means that Laos-Japan Institute is equipped with appropriate management team and staff. Laos-Japan Institute consists of 4 divisions such as Personnel and Administration Division, Business Course Division, Japanese Course Division and Exchange Activity-Library Division. All divisions and units have clear mandates and action plans. All staff are assigned clear job descriptions and allowed to interact constantly with one another.
Head and deputy head of each division and Japanese expert in the division are responsible to steering daily activities of the division. Documents are circulated for information sharing. Recently, information sharing through social media such as facebook, whatsapps and line is increased.

3. Coordination and meeting schedules

Laos-Japan Institute carries out PDCA cycle on a constant basis. Meetings are used as venue for PDCA to operate. That is, Laos-Japan Institute has the following meetings: 
- Six monthly meeting for the supervision level (joint coordination committee meeting) 
- Monthly meetings 
- Report meeting: Lao Director and Vice President of NUOL 
- Report meeting: Lao top management personnel, Project Chief Advisor, project coordinator and JICA assistant representative Institute meeting among all Lao staff (all Lao personnel from the Director to assistant participate in this meting) 
- Joint management meeting: Lao top management personnel, Japanese director, coordinator, head of division and Japanese experts - Weekly meeting between Lao top management personnel and division heads

4. Spiral development based on small-world networks phonetic leadership

Laos-Japan Institute works on the value of cooperation and phonetic leaderships. It organizes all its training programs in close collaboration with other organizations and individuals under strong leaderships of both Japanese and Lao directors. Up to now, Laos-Japan Institute has signed about 10 memorandums of understanding with outside organizations both domestically and internationally. Apart from such forma networks, Laos-Japan Institute also has various informal networks.