Strategy and Geopolitics is the title I use to explore the impact that geo-political issues and events has on business strategy and the affect that international companies have on the global geo-political landscape. These issues are explored in a book on the topic published by Emerald in 2017 as well as courses in IESE’s full time MBA program as well as its Global Executive MBA.

The basic premise of Strategy and Geo-politics is that Senior Executives do not know as much as they could about many of the political and geo-political issues at play in countries that they are currently or planning to do business in and that faced with overwhelming global complexity they rely on oversimplified frameworks to make decisions and complex matrix organizations to make things happen.

To make matters more complicated, modern matrix organizations no longer have Sr. Managers in place at the country level who can reliably inform Sr. Management at headquarters and also act as corporate ambassador at the national level. Even when companies do have a local representative, many of these people are on rotational international assignments and sometimes do not find the time to learn the local languages or dig deeply into the country’s history and political situation.

For Sr. Executives and Board Members of firms pursuing international expansion, Strategy and Geo-politics provides a framework with which they can approach global complexity at a deeper level.

As the world gradually shifts to a multi-polar and potentially less stable geo-political structure, only those firms which acquire a better capability to foresee and prepare for change will prevail over the long term. Firms with such capabilities, moreover, will be in a position to make a positive impact on the world as it develops.

  • Course in the Full Time MBA

In the full time MBA program, the course is offered as a 22 session elective that covers the basic principles of geopolitics and then look at different parts of the world including Europe and Latin America, China, India and East Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In addition to looking at such issues from a regional or country level, the course also explores the implication for specific businesses in order to draw out a sector level view for the students.

The course methodology consists mainly of double class sessions in which the first session focuses on the region or country and the second drills down to the reality of a specific company in that country or region.

Students are expected to read extensive preparation material for each double session as well as follow up on links provided and perform their own analysis at both the country/regional level and the company level for every session.

  • Course in the Global Executive MBA

Global Strategy is a 6 session course taught in the Global Executive MBA. It builds on the courses on competitive and corporate strategy in the program and focuses on the strategic issues that arise when firms operate across national borders. The first part of the course draws on material developed by my colleague Pankaj Ghemawat which can be found in his book Redefining Global Strategy.  The second part of the course goes deeper into the geo-political aspects of doing business around the world.