Just after the American elections I had the privilege of lecturing our students in the Global Executive MBA on Geo-Politics and Global Strategy. The strategy frameworks were developed by my colleague Pankaj Ghemawat and can be found in his 2007 book, “Redefining Global Strategy“.
The Geo-political framework is the one I am currently working on in a new book that will come out with Emerald in the fall. I also asked these students for a 3 minute video blog but instead of environmental sustainability which was the topic of a different class and last week’s post, these students spoke about globalization.
The students in the program come from all over the world and are significantly older than out full time MBA students. Their average age is 39 and what sets them apart is that many work in a country which is not their home country and all of them are deeply interested in the world and in international business.
The videos were due just before Christmas and what characterized them most was a certain sense of perspective about the U.S. Election and surprisingly a tremendous amount of optimism about the world and its future. The following key themes came out in the videos:
- As can be expected after two weeks in China, a major theme in the videos was continued optimism about the future of the Chinese economy and some concern about its place in the world.
- On the issue of the expansion of Chinese companies around the world there were two, very different views expressed by the students. One view was that China, like other countries before it, was smart in using its home market as a spring board to launch international companies such as Huwawei. The other is that China is playing by its own set of rules and is engaged in all out competition with the West.
- On the election of Donald Trump, Brexit, and the rise of both right wing and left wing radical parties across Europe, the students very clearly felt that the benefits of globalization had not been felt by enormous parts of the population and thus understood that these people had voted against it. Others suggested that the problem lay in the failure to properly explain the benefits of globalization which is not only economic.
On the future of Africa, students were again tremendously optimistic. One student made the point that we tend to look at the evolution of developing countries though extremely biased eyes and that progress in an african context will be essentially different than it has been in the West.
- Finally several students took the conversation back to environmental sustainability even though it was not part of the course. For them, globalization will only be succesful if a mechanism is found to make in environmentally sustainable and we as a planet manage to avoid the worst scenarios of climate change and mitigate the effects of whatever does happen.
The downside of being a Business School professor is having to spend a few days every now again grading the work of your students. The upside is being able to listen to them speak about the things they find important.