CIPS grows in China – good news?

David Noble, CIPS Chief Executive, is not exactly a prolific blogger but he writes a monthly piece on the CIPS website which is worth reading. This month he’s talking about China, which has been the boom area for CIPS in recent years. Here he is on recent developments:

"I was delighted to welcome a delegation from NEEA (National Education Examinations Authority) to renew our tripartite agreement with NEEA and CCTA this month. The agreement will run for five years to develop, deliver and promote procurement and supply management education in the region. If the last five years is anything to go by, where 110,000 students registered through ten exam series, it will continue to be an amazingly successful partnership".

He also says that there are now “over 33,000 individuals studying CIPS qualifications in China”. So does that mean half of the 60,000 CIPS membership are students in China? if that’s true, it’s an amazing statistic.

My period of heavy involvement with CIPS was around 1997-2004. China was just coming onto the radar then for the Institute, and we embraced the idea of offering the qualification in what we then thought of as the “developing world”.  I don’t think any of us would have dreamt of how that has grown.

It is very positive in some ways, including spreading the gospel of good procurement and of course the Institute’s financial situation. However, I can’t help thinking that if we’d known where this would get to ten years on, we would have had a different debate back in 2002. CIPS then was a fundamentally UK based Institute, with some strength in what we might call the Commonwealth countries. But now...

CIPS Students Prepare for Level 4 Foundation Diploma L4-03 Examination

So should we be helping “our” (with my UK hat on) economic rivals? You can believe in free trade and yet still have some doubts about Chinese practices in terms of currency manipulation, tariffs and so on. Here’s a minor example – banning officials from buying foreign cars.

What about theft of intellectual property, the relaxed attitude to counterfeiting of western goods? And let’s not get onto human rights....  But a key role of CIPS is to help instil good procurement around the world.  So might CIPS have a good effect on Chinese business practices? And there’s another bit of me thinks, well, there’s plenty of things that aren’t perfect about the UK, the US, etc. Who are we to set ourselves up as being superior ?

But anyway, it’s a bit late now frankly – CIPS is now thoroughly committed. And just to stress, there are positive aspects to the links that have been built as the CIPS relationship with China grew and grew. It’s just that it feels a bit like the frog in the pan analogy... one day, we might look around, and realise that China owns CIPS*, and probably most of the UK as well.

* Chinese Institute of Purchasing and Supply

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