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Using PDIA to Examine Unemployment in Jordan

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Guest Blog by Iman Kharabshen LEG ’22

The main challenge facing Jordan is how to stimulate strong, real and sustainable economic growth that contributes to creating new jobs in the Jordanian national economy. The permanent advice received by all countries that suffer from high unemployment rates is to work to stimulate economic growth, as growth is the most important economic engine. We must focus on raising its rate through stimulating investment and revitalizing economic sectors and focusing on the innovative industries generated for job opportunities.

There are many things I learned over the past ten weeks:

  1. Using the PDIA approach where PDIA is about building capacity through the process of first solving critical problems and then identifying potential entry points for solutions (eg problem solving, identifying root causes, thinking about structural weaknesses).
  2. I learned through this course that using the per capita GDP indicator alone as an indicator to measure the extent of growth is not effective in some cases. We need to look at all factors such as inclusiveness and sustainability.
  3. Focusing on a long list of solutions may not be effective in some cases, and the results of which may not be satisfactory because this list is likely to not include reforming the main cause or constraint that limits growth. Therefore, we must focus on the binding constraint. We can reach the main reason behind the obstacles to economic growth.
  4. I also learned to look at the product space and how I can use it to develop other industries, especially where Jordan has a good export basket and also has a large group of educated youth who have latent energies, and these energies can be exploited to develop new industries.
  5. Investing in knowledge management and retention by providing a suitable environment for scientific research and creativity, in addition to increasing spending on scientific research, and using their expertise to issues where the necessary competencies are available locally instead of using foreign experts.
  6. The use of fishbone and the need to keep asking why I know the challenges are both complex and complex, but by breaking them down and identifying the binding constraints to break down the critical problem into small problems, there is a tunnel at the end.
  7. There is a need to promote creativity and freedom in designing economic growth strategies. There should be more letters to play with in the product space. We will need to diversify and ensure that we have sufficient resources for this process so that we can move forward.
  8. The implementation of the growth strategy requires the acceptance of authority and the use of the concept of a high-bandwidth institution with legitimacy and authority as a communication mechanism to enhance the understanding of why the country / city is not growing and work to facilitate information from the private sector to the public sector to solve the problem of growth and in coordination with stakeholders to facilitate communication among them.
  9. Dealing with growth with a longer-term view and taking social, economic and environmental justice into account must be a top priority. Inclusive growth is the path of the country’s economic development.

I’ve learned over the past 10 weeks that focusing only on the present and making quick decisions about the future is never a good idea. Solving growth problems and obstacles to economic growth requires an investment of time and energy in thinking.

Throughout this course, I started thinking about the entry points that constitute the beginning of solving the growth problem of “unemployment” through the use of the fish model. This is a new idea I have learned through this course. I have identified entry points to solve this problem, which are determining the sectors that generate investment and exports and that generate job opportunities, but there are still some questions that revolve in my mind, namely, how do I start working on identifying sectors with an economic advantage in which feasible investment opportunities are available? What are the constraints facing these sectors and limiting their contribution to investment and export? What is the mechanism that the government will provide support to these sectors to motivate them to attract investments and increase the volume of exports?

And also think about the product space, especially that the Jordanian economy enjoys a great diversity in its products and has the ability to produce new products with a highly competitive ability, and it must use its current production base and take advantage of the available opportunities and exploit this diversity to increase its export basket. Jordan has great production capabilities and its products are characterized by efficiency, quality and its ability to increase the level of complexity of the products that it currently manufactures. Especially when I made my observations to Alice’s website, I found that Jordan’s economic complexity index in 2010 was better than in 2018, so I think we have the ability to work on improving the current situation.

Finally, Implementing growth strategy requires authority, ability, acceptance, an iterative approach to problem solving and high bandwidth teams that tie to the right levels of authority to make incremental progress and show legitimacy.

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 71 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2022. These are their learning journey stories.

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