Developing a Global Awareness

Opportunities in global business abound for those who are prepared to confront myriad obstacles with optimism and a willingness to continue learning new ways. The successful business person in the 21st century will have global awareness and a frame of reference that goes beyond a region or even a country and encompasses the world. To be globally aware is to leave (1) tolerance of cultural differences and (2) knowledge of cultures, history, world market potential, and economic, social and political trends.

To be globally aware is to have tolerance for cultural differences. Tolerance is understanding cultural differences and accepting and working with others whose behaviors may be different from yours. You do not have to accept as your own the cultural ways of another, but you must allow others to be different and equal. For example, the fact that punctuality is less important in some cultures does not make them less productive, only different. The tolerant person understands the differences that may exist between cultures and uses that knowledge to relate effectively.

A globally aware person is knowledge about culture and history. Knowledge of cultures is important in understanding behavior in the marketplace or in the boardroom. Knowledge of history is important because the way people think and act is influenced by their history. Some Latin Americans’ reluctance about foreign investment or Chinese reluctance to open completely to outsiders can be understood better if you have a historical perspective.

Global awareness also involves knowledge of world market potentials and global economic, social, and political trends. Over the next few decades enormous changes will take place in market potentials in almost every region of the world, all of which a globally aware person must continuously monitor. Finally, a globally aware person will keep abreast of the global economic, social, and political trends because a country’s prospects can change as these trends shift direction or accelerate. The former republics of the Soviet Union, along with Russia, Eastern Europe, China, India, Africa and Latin America, are undergoing economic, social, and political changes that have already altered the course of trade and defined new economic powers. The knowledgeable marketer will identify opportunity long before it becomes evident to others. It is the authors’ goal in this text to guide the reader toward acquiring a global awareness.

Global awareness can and should be built in organizations using approaches. The obvious strategy is to select individual managers specifically for their demonstrated global awareness. Global awareness can also be obtained through personal relationships in other countries. Indeed, market entry is very often facilitated through previously established social ties. Certainly, successful long term business relationships with foreign customers often result in an organizational global awareness based on the series of interactions required by commerce. Foreign agents and partners can also help directly in this regard. But perhaps the most effective approach is to have a culturally diverse senior executive staff or Board of Directors. Unfortunately, American managers seem to see relatively less value in this last approach than managers in most other countries.

Intellectual Property Rights rages on Worldwide:

Perhaps the worst loan ever made was the $ 50 million Thomas Middlehoff, charismatic fired CEO of Germany’s Bertelsmann (BMG Entertainment is their music division) made to Shawn fanning and Napster in 2000. Three years Bertelsmann was being sued for $ 17 billion by recording artists and BMG’s competitors, arguing that the loan allowed Napster to continue ripping them off. Of course, Napster first went bankrupt then went to legitimate file sharing for a fee globally.

In 2003 Rock ‘n’ rap band Linkin Park and their Meteora album brought a new weapon into the war. Super new prerelease security measures worked, and so did interviews disguised as songs from the album promulgated over the Net designed to inoculate the Net against the likes of Kazaa and the other second generation Napster. Some have argued that the innovative intellectual property protection strategies lead to sales of 810,000 copies in the first week of release easily yielding Linkin Park a number 1 spot on the pop charts and aft wallets as well. We assume the music was excellent, too, Kazaa and Grokster may be dead, but the battle goes on with the latest forms of Internet piracy such as Lime Wire and the abuse of Bittorrent.

Similar battles are being fought in China and sub Sahara Africa. The intellectual property is more likely to be computer software in the former and pharmaceutical products in the latter. But the war involves the same institutions – multinational companies trying to protect their ideas from the piracy of the public. China’s entry into the world trade Organization means more enforcement of copyright laws in that country. But it be at least a decade before the Chinese begin to develop enough of their own proprietary technology to make the standard transition from pirates to policemen.

Finally, AIDS / HIV epidemic in Africa is forcing the American and European pharmaceuticals companies to relent on their high prices for drugs they’ve developed to fight the diseases. Protests, shareholder lobbying, and social responsibility have all started a general relaxation of an intellectual property rights regime that many said was killing millions of people.

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