I watch the news every day and can only conclude that the world is experiencing an era of economic, social, political and sometimes existential turbulence. During periods of crisis and disruption, world politicians and institutional leaders spend a fair amount of time trying to identify their causes and promoting alternative roadmaps and policies. There is a lot of finger-pointing as a consequence of these introspections. This time around, globalization has generally been identified as a major cause of the world’s pains. The financial crisis, the increase in inequities, the polarization of the political parties, the strengthening of extremism, the damage to the environment and other pains of our time have been related one way or another to the globalization developments of the recent couple of decades.
For some, globalization is evil and works against the interest of the human species. While I agree that globalization has brought some pains and challenges to some categories of people and to some countries, in general the world and its inhabitants have benefited greatly from globalization and its implications. I am not saying that it’s a perfect system or that it’s not without its share of abuse, waste, and inequities.
A mindful and pragmatic approach is to embrace what has become inevitable in our lifetime: internationalization and globalization are not going to disappear. The globalization phenomenon will evolve and reinvent itself as cultures and people change, countries grow and evolve, institutions become more efficient, the system improves, and technology creates new possibilities.
Despite the current economic challenges and the state of misery described by many, there are strong indicators suggesting that globalization is permanently engrained in our way of life, is irreversible and can only grow in speed and intensity. This will create tremendous opportunities for regional businesses as global networks expand their webs. Look for the following indicators as opportunities to get involved.
- There will be continued penetration of the already globalized sectors and industry: many industries, sectors, technologies have not yet fully penetrated the world scene as cultural and economical barriers are removed.
- Look to start building your global network and projecting your products and service in the global arena. Join the regional international bodies and get involved in international activities.
- Keep an eye out for incremental diversification from corporations seeking pockets of demand growth in emerging and developing markets. Growth opportunities will be pursued by accelerating geographical expansion and internationalization of marketing offerings.
- You should study emerging market phenomenon, evaluate and select attractive targets and design unique strategies to internationalize your business offerings. The creation of new democracies on the world map will contribute to world growth and the internalization trend and will offer unique and rapid opportunities to these new economies.
- Research economic treaties and investment opportunities post stabilization. Join regional economic delegation and representation on overseas trips and gain first-mover advantage.
- Stay aware of the innovation power of the emerging countries and the movement from east to west, accelerating the penetration rate of new products and services. Emerging markets will play a stronger role over the coming decades in the field of innovation. You have to identify technical and innovation partnership opportunities with companies in emerging markets. Anticipate fast track emerging technologies that could threaten your business and join regional technology-related organizations to benchmark what others are learning.
- Watch for the institutional development of countries and an increasing global stock of knowledge that is available to developing countries: tens of thousands of students from around the world are getting trained at Western universities every year and returning to their homeland to join institutions and businesses, create ventures and spread knowledge. The next generation of global leaders will be much more internationally focused and will more easily adopt the principles of globalization.
- Hire local international students for internships and promote international exchanges with foreign subsidiaries. You also have to be willing to create an open and international culture.
Globalization is here to stay, is irreversible and will continue to evolve. It might take different forms and have different dynamics at each of its stages of mutation. How do you capture the tremendous potential the next wave of globalization will offer? How ready are you to develop your business model on the global scene?
Stephan Liozu is President & CEO of Ardex America Inc (www.ardex.com), an innovative and high-performance building-materials company located in Pittsburgh, Pa. He is also a PhD candidate in Management at Case Western Reserve University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.