Saturday, 19 April 2008

Preference changes, which happened in Mongolia


Preference changes, which happened in Mongolia

Hey guys and everyone who reads my blog!

I would like to draw you attention to the coming parliament election in 2008 and what happened in Mongolia over 17 years ago. I was trying to understand what was happened in Mongolia and its preferences change in 2004. Please have a look what I was thinking at that time. Some of raised issues are still important for us and young people, like you and like me should be active and creative since we have been becoming the main engine of this society.

Introduction This paper analyses some of the main preference changes that occurred in Mongolia during the decade of economic reform that has taken place since the beginning of the 1990s, with the country shifting from a planned economy to a market economy. This work will determine Mongolia’s preferences, some principles of communication and try to justify each of those preferences.

The reasons for change Almost everything has changed in Mongolia due to changes to a market economy, which involves aspects concerning the economic system, the political system, and even people’s attitude. Change was situational: it involved a new leader, a new president, a new parliament, new policy, and a new system.

By the end of 1990 change occurred. The reasons for such changes were:

  1. The Soviet Union collapsed which was Mongolia’s only one ally.
  2. People started to understand that something was wrong and it was not the perfect system. People wanted private capital and to have uncensored information, including the right to express their opinion.
  3. People started to become sick of an “unchangeable” dogmatic ideology.

Some young people resisted the social system and tried to meet the government officers. Those young people still pursued their goals and started to go on a hunger strike in front of the government house. Whilst this was happening, some army members of the government put forward their idea, which was to use military force against the public. Fortunately, Mongolia had a good leader and he made a decision to force the whole government to resign and announced a national election of parliament and president to the public. Thus, there was no bloodshed like a Tiananmen Square in China. With the shock of this change, the end of communism could occur more easily if people can take a bit of the past with them because most old Mongolian people often talk about “the good old days” and it is easy to imagine that they are describing the stable and peaceful time during socialism. People did not like endings and they did not want to let go of something (Bridges, 1994).

What was Mongolia? Firstly, before 1990, Mongolia was fairly closed but nonetheless much more open than today’s North Korea. There was no chance to know what was going on there and all national TV and radio stations had worked for this government before 1990. Communications media were directed by overlapping and interlocking government commissions (U.S. Library Congress, 2004). However, radio and television were available through Ulaanbaatar, both of which were supervised by the State Committee (Allrefer, 1989). That government never talked thoughts out and people saw government members very seldom. Once Steven (cited in Argenti & Foreman 2002, p. 37), vice president of communications at General Motors, said: “If leaders are successful, they will spend an incresing amount of time on communicaiton issues”. Moreover, this government focused in depth on their interests first. Bayarmonkh (cited in Lawless 2000) argued that politicians were afraid of a free press and he could reveal corruption and scandals.

Secondly, at that time, the government paid much attention to gathering information. They were concerned with the present orientations, facts and they required from the public that everything must be clear and detailed. Lawless (2000) complained that the papers would print whole speeches of the major players involved, which often spilled over two or more pages. It seemed that there were no events organized without the government censor. It was good in some cases because people seldom made errors but the worst thing was the government sometimes ignored people’s inspirations. They tended present orientation more than future possibilities.

Thirdly, the socialist government had a major objective that followed the main principles of socialism such as private capital should not be allowed in this society and there should not be rich people. This government usually made impersonal decisions but sometimes paid insufficient attention to people’s wishes. It is widely accepted that the lack of consideration of people’s wishes was one reason for the collapse of the socialist system in Mongolia. If they thought they made a correct decision, which was not acceptable to the public, they usually forced the public to follow their decisions. It seemed that this government used a mass media very “nicely” for their purpose. Lawless (2000, p. 115) stated “Truth – for decades the country’s only daily newspaper-was in there, but no one ever bought it”.

Finally, that government liked using experience and standard ways and restrictive regulations to solve problems and make decisions. Actually, they tried to standardize everything instead of encouraging people’s inspirations. Ron (Cited in Argenti & Foreman 2002, p. 219) stated “Ignorance is always a turnoff”. The government worked their plan. They were organized and tried to finish their task before the deadline.

That government was the stablest of governments because there was only the Communist party and no competitors. That government changed rather slowly, deliberately and seldom entered and acknowledged a new situation. They created long-term visions and missions and divided them into short-term plans.

Where did they go wrong? Their potential pitfalls were; they did not see the need for changing things that they believed were already working and overtook their emotions when they ignored their own feelings and values for too long. They were dogmatic. That was why they were clear about what they believed and preached to public. Absolutely, they controlled and censored all kind of media one hundred percent.

How has Mongolia been changed? The Mongolian social and economic reform, which started in 1990, has been focused on an developing open country, an open economic policy, the protection of the right of private property, privatization of social and economic sectors, and encouragement of competition aimed at building and developing a market economy (Dr. Prof. Davaadorj, 2002). Therefore, the most cadres were prepared in Russia. They had to study computing, an international accounting system, and English. The one regrettable thing happened in relation to Mongolian foreign affairs policy when the country was changing its system. Both the North Korean and the South Korean embassies were working in Mongolia. It was a very important chance to connect the two Koreas. Then the South Korean president visited Mongolia in 1999. At that time, the Mongolian president said that the government supports the South Korean “Sunshine” policy, which was passed to unite two Koreas. After this speech, North Korea withdrew their ambassador from Mongolia and closed their Embassy. Thus, the Mongolian president’s brief sentence resulted in a terrible clash of the Koreas. What we have become is too extravert and we offended North Korea however it is hard to know what wouldn’t ‘offend’ North Korea! The Mongolian foreign affair policy was implemented too quickly without careful thinking.

The important things for the new government to consider are enough information, alternatives, options, and possibilities. Toffler (1990, p. 413) stated, “The appearance of the computer and new communications media in the mid-20th century smashed Moscow’s control of the mind in the countries it ruled or held captive”. It worked for Mongolians too and the new government started all major reforms by following their inspirations; however, some reforms had not brought good results. They have changed their preceding communication style, which was passive; they were isolated from the public, using an exclusive language and a “transmitter” (Hansen, 2004). They were always looking for possibilities and ready to test their new ways and methods to solve social problems. Sometimes they did so too quickly. For example, when they started the privatization, Mongolians had not enough savings, which was equal to only 3% of the value of the capitals that were going to be privatized (Nyamzagd, 2002). Ganbold (cited in Lawless 2000) mentioned that after several decades of being strangled by strict laws and regulations, you were suddenly entitled to do whatever you want.

Now Mongolia is a democratic country, which is about the ways decisions are made especially with respect to personal values. The main difference between the new and old government is the new government works best in harmony with others and uses an inclusive language. A huge bureaucracy with communication procedures slows down decision-making (Argenti & Foreman, 2002). Their decisions are influenced by their own and other people’s likes and dislikes, which very easily creates an unstable situation. For instance, the governments were changed three times during four years and a few years ago, the government passed the Casino law in order to organize gambling games and their environments. The law was passed by 70% of parliament members’ votes. The funny thing is the parliament cancelled this law with about 80% of votes just after a couple of months (Vanchig, 2003).

The new government thinks that humans are the engine of the development and always tries to encourage them. As a result, the adoption of Law on press freedom on 28 August 1998 by the Parliament was the first action in Mongolian history of 20th century taken by the State to release mass media from its control (Gantug, 2000). Williams (1995) stated that the most dramatic indication of an open press was the appearance of pornography and the tabloid, which was called “Hot Blanket”, featured frontal nudity of occidental women. That was how people understood freedom of the press. In 1997, Undarya stated that there was only one TV and radio station until 1990 but after seven years there were over 600 newspapers nation-wide and overwhelming 70% of them are private, there were four independent TV stations and five independent radio stations in Mongolia. Moreover, in 2000, Lawless counted that there were more than 800 registered newspapers in Mongolia.

The new government is definitely innovative and not afraid to experiment, so new things are always happening. Everyone is allowed to express their opinion and put forward their ideas. Maybe sometimes it could lead to anarchy, when people, who have some bad behavior, dominate in the society. For example, in the beginning of the transformation period, some people thought that democracy meant unlimited freedom. That is why Enkhtuya (cited in Lawless 2000, p. 125) said, “We [Mongolians] have a very low level of journalism”. After a while, they had to understand that one’s freedom is limited by other’s freedom. The new government is indeed much more sensitive to subtle signals in their external and internal environments than previous governments.

Where might they go wrong? It seems that the main fault of the new government might be they move on to new ideas or projects without completing those already started and it creates a big load for the society. Thus, they may need to pay attention to and focus on key details.


The socialist government

The democratic government


It was the stablest government of Mongolia

Well-organized and well informed

They use values and can feel a little signal and ready to be changed



They were dogmatic

Sometimes they developed polarity

Maybe they are not stable and a discussion takes a long time to reach a conclusion

Summing up the changes that have occurred:

  • Democracy instead of Communism
  • Inspirations instead of the Ideology
  • Value system and Harmony instead of the Dogma
  • Opening up instead of Closing off


Allrefer (1989) Mongolia: Major Channels, Retrieved March 20, 2004, from:

Argenti, P.A., Forman, J (2002) The Power of Corporate Communication, Crafting the Voice and Image of Your Business, McGraw-Hill, USA

Bridges, W (2000) Managing Transition, p19-33

Davaadorj, Ts., Sunjidmaa, J (2002) The Life Cycle Theory or Sealed Circle? BizMongolia, #29

Gantug (2000) Press Freedom, Retrieved: March 10, 2004, from:

Hansen, N (2004) Management Communication – Handout1, Definitions & Stakeholder Management

Lawless, J (2000) Wild East: Travels in the New Mongolia, Published by ECW press, Canada

Nyamzagd, S (2000) Strategic Management of National Economy, Chapter 1, vol2, p114-129

Toffler, A (1990) Power Shift: Knowledge, Wealth and Violence at the edge of the 21st century, Published by Bantam Books, USA

Undarya, T (1995) Gender and Media in Mongolia, Retrieved March 20, 2004, from:

U.S. Library Congress (2004) The Media, Retrieved March 22, 2004, from:

Vanchig, G (2003) The Casino Issue in Mongolia, Retrieved: March 08, 2004, from: or S:\Workspaces\20026674\Business Ethics

Williams, J.W (1995) Mass Media in Post – Revolution Mongolia, Retrieved March 20, 2004, from:


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