24 April 1974
It was the time of rapid changes in the world, a time of decolonization and a vision of economic progress. In 1961, the Non-Aligned Movement was formally launched in Belgrade (Yugoslavia) as an alternative to the existing networks of the super-powers. It was a time of enthusiasm, emerging new states in the wake of decolonization and an orientation towards the “New International Economic Order” which strived to reach fair and economically balanced relations between the “developed” and the “developing” worlds. Strong and efficient public enterprises proved to be one of the key pillars of good governance and building of the economies in the relatively fragile and weak countries of the global “South”. ICPE, then the International Center for Public Enterprises in Developing Countries, grew on these ideas. In March 1976, 30 countries and 9 observers participated in an international conference in Ljubljana where it was decided that ICPE would transform into an intergovernmental organization of its member states.
From the very first years, ICPE's story was one that promised success. Its initial programs, seminars and trainings had a high participation rate. Already in 1974, representatives of 32 countries were present at the seminar on Planning in public enterprises, urging ICPE to become an intergovernmental organization. There was an obvious need for knowledge sharing among the developing countries, in the field of public enterprises in particular.
1974: “Planning in Public Enterprises”
1975: “Education in Public Enterprises”
1975: “Financing and Management in Public Enterprises”
1976: “Self-management and Participation of Workers in Public Enterprises«(comparatively in 14 countries)
1977: “The Role of Public Sector in Developing Countries”
1977: “Women as a Factor of Development in Public Enterprises” (comparatively in 12 countries)
1978: “Management of Development and Transfer of Technologies”
ICPE has been publishing the quarterly journal Public Enterprise for over 30 years. Research results, conference proceedings and thematic issues were regularly printed and distributed among the member states, international organizations and wider. ICPE has produced over 50 other publications, several of them in cooperation with other organizations, e.g. International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the World Bank.
In fact, the publishing activities were recognized as so important by the member states and the public enterprises, which made most use of them in an applied manner, that a special division within ICPE was focusing on ICPE's deliverables and dissemination of research and project results. Furthermore, the member states urged ICPE to translate its findings and for a period of time, the Public Enterprise was published in all four official languages of ICPE at the time (Arabic, English, French, and Spanish).
COOPERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
Strong cooperation with other international organizations helped ICPE to maintain the high level of expertise, gain additional trust from its member states and widen the scope of its influence.
Especially during the first 10 years, considerable support was provided to ICPE by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). In 1982, ICPE received the status of UNDP executive agency.
In 1978, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between ICPE and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and cooperation thrived throughout the 1980s (trainings, seminars, workshops).
ICPE established strong links with other agencies, inter alia with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), International Trade Center (ITC), jointly organizing a high-profile conference on State Trading Organizations in 1982, which led to the establishment of the International Association of State Trading Organizations of Developing Countries (ASTRO).
Continuously, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) extended its support to the work of ICPE, mentioning it explicitly in the NAM Summits and encouraging the NAM members to join ICPE.
Most of the projects from the initial period of operation were continuedor even expanded. The number of funding sources also increased in the early 1980s. Until then, the operation of the Center was mostly financed by the Government of SFR Yugoslavia and the Government of the SR Slovenia with the support of UNDP. After 1980, in addition to membership fees, funds were still available from UNDP and UNIDO, while additional grants were received from supporting countries such as the Netherlands, Canada and Sweden.
The OPTIMA Program was launched in 1981 as a series of activities for improvement of public enterprises and was delivered in 14 countries in Africa, Asia and South America. OPTIMA was the ICPE’s flagship program in the 1980s.
Public Enterprise Management and Development Planning programs (6—18 months duration) were conducted by ICPE in the framework of the Nationhood Program of the UN Council for Namibia, and between 1980 and 1984 over 200 Namibian students attended training at ICPE.
Since 1986, a series of seminars was organized in cooperation with the Economic Development Institute (EDI) of the World Bank(now World Bank Institute).
In 1990, ICPE ran a UNDP management development program for high representatives of Mongolia.
1989/90 ICPE MBA
During the academic year 1989—1990, the ICPE MBA program was launched in partnership with the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana (FELU). In the 21 years that followed, more than 650 candidates from 45 countries attended the program. It was the first international program of this kind in the wider region of South-Eastern Europe and succeeded in bringing together promising cadres from Asia, Africa and Latin America, many of whom later took important posts within their own countries or in international organizations. In 2010 the existing MBA program was discontinued and a new, Green Industry MBA programme in cooperation with the Jozef Stefan International Postgraduate School was conducted in the academic year 2010/11. In the academic year 2013/14 the ICPE-FELU MBA program was re-established and was executed in the 2014/15 academic year also. In view of lack of response from countries other than India, the ICPE Council decided that programme is unsustainable and was discontinued. It was decided to launch another MBA programme in partnership with FELU and Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), Hyderabad in 2015. The programme has since been postponed by ASCI and is scheduled to begin in September 2016.