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Eva Sihombing: The implementation of Mutual Recognition Arrangements is challenged by the implementing environment

Tampere University
LocationKanslerinrinne 1, Tampere
City centre campus, Pinni A building, Paavo Koli -auditorium and remote connection.
Date28.6.2024 9.00–13.00
Entrance feeFree of charge
A person in a green-yellow flowered shirt. Tree with pink flowers in the background.
In her doctoral dissertation, MA, MPA Eva Sihombing examines the hurdles challenging the implementation of ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangements on professional service suppliers from politico – administrative perspective. The dissertation introduced a novel conceptual framework for scrutinizing the difficulties in implementing regional agreements in member states, as exemplified by the ASEAN MRAs on professional service suppliers in Indonesia.

Mutual Recognition  Arrangements (MRAs) – agreements between two or more countries to recognize one another’s conformity assessments – play a crucial role in facilitating mobility of goods, services, and persons. In ASEAN countries, the implementation of MRAs on professional service suppliers have begun in eight professions to bolster their closer economic cooperation through ASEAN Economic Community.

Applying ambiguity – conflict model of policy implementation, institution-network, and governance views, MA, MAP Eva Sihombing uncovered high level of ambiguity and conflict as well as hierarchical and fragmented implementing institutions challenging the facilitation of professional mobility. 

Expected positive contributions of ASEAN MRAs, among others, are enhanced competitiveness of ASEAN professionals in the global market, bridged surplus and shortages of professionals among the countries, and bridged information gaps between potential domestic employers and foreign employees. 

Despite the implementation, tangible results remain limited. Constraints in implementation in member states include the absence of instruments to enforce member states to comply with the agreements, the inclination of the member states to prioritize national interests, and various national policies and regulations constraining implementation in member states.

Despite the recognition of varied impediments in member states, studies put emphasis on technical aspects in examining the challenges, and hence, they lack conceptual application. Eva Sihombing aimed to examine the constraints by a novel framework to better understand the challenges.

Awareness of positive effects must be promoted

In her dissertation, Sihombing showed that the extent of ambiguity and conflict is high. The ambiguity is identified in several points: the asymmetry of what to achieve and how to achieve it; the unspecified dimensions of goal components of time, target, and evaluation; the unclear role of the implementing units for mobility facilitation.

Moreover, conflict is identified in the incongruence between the mobility facilitation goal and the governing statutes and regulations for foreign workforce. With this symbolic mode of implementation, the suggested contributing factor for effective implementation is micro-implementers. However, their influencing role is impeded by the hierarchical and fragmented institutions, resulting in difficulties for the implementers to make necessary adjustments in order to bring about better results. 

“Facilitated mobility of ASEAN professional service suppliers occurs when acceptability of ASEAN MRAs is high. High acceptance or low conflict signifies experimental mode of implementation that enables continuous adjustments of implementing institutions and a learning process of implementers for an enhanced equivalence of national systems of professional standards, accreditation, and licensing," says Sihombing.  

"Enhanced equivalence leads to enhanced automaticity and enlarged scope of practices. To this end, awareness of positive effects of ASEAN MRAs and ASEAN Economic Community among ASEAN public must be promoted”, she emphasises. 

Eva Metika Sihombing is currently working as a civil servant at Investment and Integrated Licensing Service Board of Batam Municipality, Republic of Indonesia.

Public defence on Friday 28 June

The doctoral dissertation of MA, MAP Eva Sihombing in the field of administrative sciences titled Conceptualizing the Challenges in Implementation of Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) on Professional Service Suppliers of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), A Case Study of Indonesia will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Management and Business at Tampere University. The public defence takes place at 12 o’clock on Friday 28 June 2024 in the Paavo Koli auditorium of the Pinni A building (address: Kanslerinrinne 1, Tampere). The Opponent will be Professor Eko Prasojo from Universitas Indonesia. The Custos will be Dr Elias Pekkola, Faculty of Management and Business, Tampere University

The doctoral dissertation is available online

The public defence can be followed via a remote connection (Zoom).

Photograph: Harris