ENVIRONMENT, STRUCTURE AND CHALLENGES
In my more than thirty years of academic experience, I have collected hundreds of books on international business, but also on philosophy, history, sociology, and so on. It fascinates me that most of the international (or global) business concepts we perceive as brand-new were thoroughly discussed ten, twenty, thirty years ago-even more. In writing, therefore, this book I aimed to present the environment and structure of today's global business, but also to address challenges that the globalization of business has brought. I welcome your comments, especially whether or not I was daring enough to outline global business challenges and their repercussions for the future of our societal fabric.
From the outset, allow me to clarify a few definitional elements. This book deals with business. We use interchangeably all related nouns, such as enterprise, corporation, organization, or firm. In a parallel sense and although most business has a profit motive, to a great extent, the presented material applies also to non-for-profit enterprises, as well as to any type of organization, including the governmental and the non-governmental ones. Business is perceived as the societal player that now takes new roles and is responsible for economic growth and social betterment, and operates within a practically borderless global environment.
National identities, symbols and human icons are milestones of the passage of civilizations: The Roman Empire, the British Empire, the Pyramids, the China Wall, Alexander the Great, Napoleon the Great, all were indicative of past eras, motivated by economic ambitions and personal glory.
The 21st century, though again it is motivated by economic ambitions and personal glory, will be established as the era of corporate identities and, to some extent, by personal icons. The geopolitical dynamics of the past are giving way to a new societal order rapidly changing to a corporate-driven status quo. Already we witness corporations with annual sales (as well as wealth portfolios of individuals) that are larger than the Gross National Products of whole nations. We witness corporate executives, that are routinely rewarded a hundred times more than their average employee, and athletes and music stars and politicians that maybe define, through their lifestyles, the modus vivendi of the future. Alas! Their ways are very-very far away from those of the average individual. They are the Pharaohs of a new era. Benchmarking should be realistically achievable to be meaningful. Material motivation should be questioned.
This is the one side of the 21st century coin. The other?
Prudent people, like Mahatma Gandhi, taught us that one must become as humble as dust before he can discover truth; human icons, better, humans, should have simple desires and self actualization objectives... we will come back to where this book starts, at its epilogue.
Until then, this book will travel the reader from topographical issues to culture development to philosophy and ethics to national and corporate cultures to the environment of the global business village and the functions of the contemporary enterprises. The business world has one constant: Change! Everywhere there are realities, risks, trends, and challenges. This book points to these business challenges, which are often opportunities for the daring and reasons for demise for others. There are dozens of business challenges presented in this book. Here are some examples: Geopolitical and business dynamics; cultural adaptation; cultural imperialism; behavioral protocols; civilization clashes; perceptions of philosophy and truth; ethical concerns; corporate cultures; 21st century realities and societal changes; effect of technology, information technology and the media; different political, legal and economic systems, and so on.
Business has to deal with these challenges as potential opportunities, not only in order to achieve its business objectives but also in order to perform its defining societal role as the factor for sustainable economic growth, for responsible production, for equitable development, for research, education, social balance and human happiness. In the opinion of the author of this book, as a minimum, today's enterprise must be creative, consumer-based, human resource-centered, ethical, and capitalizing on the available information technologies.