This spring break, 24 top government officials from the Republic of Kazakhstan visited Yale for a leadership training program organized exclusively for them by the School of Management.

The program, which SOM also held last year for Kazakhstani officials, featured workshops and lectures that focused primarily on building managerial skills with a focus on social change. Kazakhstani participants included members of the president’s office and the prime minister’s chancellery, as well as the governors of 10 of Kazakhstan’s 14 oblasts, or provinces. SOM Senior Associate Dean Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, who lectured on leadership and governance as part of this year’s program, said the event is part of a larger University effort to build stronger contacts with the Republic of Kazakhstan.

“They’re the fourth-largest energy-producing nation in the world with a land mass larger than Western Europe and a population three-quarters the size of Canada’s,” Sonnenfeld said. “They have no affiliation with any other world university, so this is a tremendous model of a program.”

Manjula Shyam, SOM director of international executive programs, said the University’s contact with the Kazakhstani government is largely unprecedented.

“Continuance of programs directed towards influential policy makers of Kazakhstan means that Yale will have visibility and perhaps even some impact in Central Asia, a vitally important area that is largely unfamiliar to the West,” Shyam said in a statement.

SOM Senior Administrative Assistant for Executive Education Susan Silva, who planned both last year’s and this year’s training programs, said the two curricula are virtually identical.

“Program participants were briefed at the Brookings Institution and the World Bank last year,” Silva said. “This year we added a visit to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.”

Most workshops held in conjunction with the program focused on contemporary theories of leadership, empowerment and decision-making. SOM professor Victor Vroom said the lectures he gave for the program were similar to those he does for American corporate executives.

“The field of leadership is a very important determinant of effectiveness within an organization,” Vroom said. “Understanding one’s own leadership style and cultural differences in leadership is critical for people who need to work with and motivate others.”

Vroom also lectured on a model he developed during his time at Yale, which he described as a means of determining how to share decision-making powers with others. Kazakhstani officials seemed particularly interested in this “normative model,” he said.

Sonnenfeld said he expects that this leadership and management training program will become an annual event for SOM.

“Our goal is to enhance the role of the campus and the scope of the individuals it serves,” Sonnenfeld said. “This program is a very important part of [Yale] President [Richard] Levin’s global initiatives and the University’s attempt to make us become a little less New Haven-centric.”