Should Global Business Initiatives Be Devalued?
Are executives who ask this question overreacting to current events? Or, if the current geopolitical events are merely symptoms of a greater and longer struggle, should we begin to think about devaluing, discounting, or postponing global initiatives in favor of more predictable business investments "closer to home"?
Krishnamurthy suggested that a return of mercantilism is not a threat, and that "the present dilemma is probably an aberration that will taper off in due course." Alejandro Ocana stated bluntly, "Global initiatives must grow more than ever before."
Respondents raised an interesting concept of the importance of a "national brand."
Others, while agreeing with this thesis, were not so sanguine about whether this will happen without greater efforts to influence foreign policy by leaders responsible for global business initiatives. Michael Butler states, "Now is the time to face the facts. Our brand" (apparently referring to the U.S.) "is in decline in parts of the world." Stating that " ... 'manifest destiny' is a dead concept," Bob Nemens suggested that "those companies that are respectful and aware that in the global village the villagers drive the economy should be more successful." Flavius Chircu said that "... business leaders should get together with political leaders and figure out where and how to compete."
Amadeo Isart was even more direct in commenting that "It is the responsibility of business leaders (in both the U.S. and E.U.) to take charge of the situation. We cannot allow politicians to act alone in their never-ending quest for votes and popularity." C. J. Cullinane, without being specific, provided what may be an appropriate "tag line" to these comments when he said, "Global initiatives should not be devalued but should be re-evaluated with some new criteria."
Respondents raised an interesting concept of the importance of a "national brand." This suggests another set of questions. What is it that comprises a national brand? Who's responsible for a country's national brand? To what extent is it an important factor in determining the general success of global business initiatives? If it plays a critical role, to what degree should the world's business leaders be involved in brand building processes? To what extent should they take responsibility for building the brands of several countries in which they do substantial amounts of business? And just how is this done most effectively? What do you think?
Recently we've been witnessing a public debate about concerns ranging from what some perceive to be a fundamental shift in U.S. foreign policy to appropriate worldwide responses to such things as terrorism and twenty-first-century plagues. Based on an unscientific sample, is it my imagination or is it possible that a more muted but related conversation is taking place among executives of firms with global interests—one that centers around the impact that these phenomena may have on such things as the potential benefits and costs of doing business abroad?
Specifically, will questions increasingly be asked about whether strategies for foreign investments should be altered to reflect what some perceive to be a narrowing between the rewards and risks of such ventures?
Whether because of reduced market expectations or increased transactional costs resulting from deteriorating international relations, tighter regulation and security restrictions, the outbreak of tariff skirmishes, expected reductions in productivity gains, or simply a decline in trust among some North Atlantic trading partners, the discussion seems to be occurring with increasing frequency. Boiled down to its simplest level, the underlying question appears to be whether or not global business initiatives should be devalued.
On the one hand, one might argue that such discussions are an overreaction to current events, that nations have become so interdependent and multinational business organizations so vital to the world's economy that there is no turning back from generally freer trade policies, and that with a return to a more normal world order, global business initiatives will become even more valuable.
If, however, current geopolitical events are merely symptoms of a greater and longer struggle with forces seeking to disrupt the world order, will we begin to consider a concept that, until recently, has been unthinkable: that global initiatives in many cases should be devalued, discounted, or postponed in relation to more predictable business investments "closer to home?" What do you think?