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Managing in a Global Economy

February 11, 2017

Have you thought about the unique skills necessary for managing a business in a global economy? The days of a company’s operations happening in one geographic space are dying quickly. While teaching an introductory management course at Prairie Colleges, we discussed the dceo-boardifferent skills required for managing a global economy than managing in a one-site, same country, location.

Along with the basic skills of planning, organizing, leading and controlling, in a global economy, managers will need to be skilled in understanding:

  • Inclusiveness – along with demonstrating equality among male and female employees, managers will also need to understand cultural differences and certain unique religious customs in various contexts. Violating these cultural norms, even inadvertently, could be highly offensive.
  • Cross-cultural communication – related to the above skill, managers in a global economy also need to understand cross-cultural communication. This is more than just speaking another language, though that may be part of the communication challenges. Non-verbal communication is also different in various cultures, even different within the same country. Part of this communication difference is related to whether you are operating in an honor or shame culture.Other cultural differences that will matter significantly in cross-cultural communication relates to questions of patriarchal vs matriarchal cultures or elder-respect vs youth celebrating cultures. A young manager who does not appreciate the deference shown to older (and wiser) leaders simply because it is cultural appropriate will be frustrated.
  • Technology – one of the main reasons multi-national corporations can maintain quality control over the products and services they offer in a global economy is because of technology. Communication that required face-to-face meetings can now happen because of the technological advancement of our times. A manager needs learn the technical skills, though they are increasingly user-friendly. (If you got to this blog, you probably have the necessary technology skills!)
  • Freelancing – in many industries, the prevalence of freelancing is almost making permanent, full-time jobs obsolete. While freelance work is not without its negative effects for both the employer and employee, it is a reality of the new global economy that managers need to negotiate. Many large global corporations use local suppliers and distributors. Freelance is really an extension of this concept.
  • Global citizenship – Good corporate citizenship has historically been measured by an organizations’s impact in its backyard – community, state/province, or country. In the 21st century, good corporate citizenship considers the global impact. The recognized brands go beyond geo-political borders to be universally recognized. The spokesperson’s are not just popular stars in a given sport, but  individuals recognized worldwide.
  • Sustainability – Partially because of the technology and global citizenship responsibilities, managers increasingly need to be keenly aware of various ethical issues that affect the sustainability of the company and its operations. Any hint of “sweat shop,” underpaid labour, misuse of natural resources, or other practices that enable products to be made cheaply in one part of the world is judged as unethical. Managers not only have to oversee production or human resources, they have a responsibility to make sure their production model is functional and sustainable for various environments in which they operate. If the organization relies primarily on “western” money or models of efficiency, it is unsustainable and thus unacceptable.

My experience with multi-national NGO’s is limited. What do you believe are some other necessary skills or areas of understanding needed by managers for the global economy?

 

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