International Data Need to Add Up

A useful analysis requires the understanding of data and a belief both in the data and their issuer. Companies, organizations, and scholars wary widely in their interpretation and use. International comparisons often differ substantially in data collection and quality control. This commentary eases comparisons of research across national borders. Here is an international perspective on research numbers, going beyond quantitative data aspects and embedding human warmth and insights. 

In an era of lengthy and diverse supply chains, investors need to transparently identify corporate action and its effect on the market place. Clear rules of origin are just like license plates. They identify ownership and assign responsibility. Labels cannot simply state “manufactured in the European Union.”

Information needs to be compatible across domains. For example, to compare medical information across nations, one has to segment patient differences by age, country, health patterns, variations in the access to medical care, prophylactic treatment, and pharmaceuticals.

Culture affects personal behavior. For example, research identified the wearing of face masks helpful to viral containment. In Asia, there was ongoing and rapid use of breathing masks. Particularly in wintertime, masks were encouraged both to protect oneself and others from contamination. No negative connotation is associated with the use of a mask. By contrast, in the United States, a mask reflects for many the existence of a medical problem by the wearer. In consequence, masks are not seen as protective but rather as an announcer of risk, which in turn negates their use. 

Social structure matters, particularly as it reflects differences in infrastructure and trust. Not all countries have the capability to fund and collect data within short time spans. The need to save face can then lead to the furnishing of poor data, delivered with elan. In consequence, ‘current’ information may really be old and may not even begin to alert users to important changes in one’s society or social conditions. 

Data work needs to recognize the emotional component of information. How will people feel about their direct exposure to hard and cold numbers alone? How can one systematically but honestly include emotions into one’s analysis? How to cope with self-fulfilling prophecies? What are the short –and long-term effects of optimism with data – particularly when insights can cover the entire range of a scale. For most people numbers are mere indicators of opportunities for action and change. 

Analyses and forecasts need to consider change. An evaluation based on the next quarter may reflect the next 25 years. Insufficient or incorrect reflection of change and innovation may lead to precariously wrong decisions. Imagine the decision-making process for countertrade, where the outcome and conclusion of an agreement may take decades.

Synchronicity is another important dimension. I am reminded of Ludwig Erhard, the second chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany who was credited with Germany’s postwar “Wirtschaftswunder” or economic miracle. When Erhard concentrated expenditures on some sectors and called for a ‘tightening of belts’ for others, these steps were rapidly and fully implemented by government, firms, and society, leading to a powerful impact. The players actually cared.

On this dimension, President Trump will find his largest risk and opportunity. The coordinated development of a restructured economy accompanied by a synchronous response of all participants with their resources can turn into a wonderful economy that shakes off the problems of post coronavirus rebuilding like a duck shakes off water.   

Apart from human emotions, economic re-emergence requires measurement scales benefiting from recalibration and new benchmarks. For example, a scale measuring export controls which ranges from “no controls” to “tight controls” is only in part complete since it omits policy resulting from subsidies and voluntary restraints. Numbers are only snapshots of a current condition. These conditions are not frozen in salt, but they will change and with them their impact. In a dynamic and complex environment, even the efficacy of Aspirin benefits from review. 

Professor Michael Czinkota teaches International Marketing and Trade at the McDonough School of Business of Georgetown University. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Information and Analysis in the U.S. Department of Commerce in the Reagan and Bush Administrations. 

Empty Lecture Halls

For the past ten years, the Hariri building was the MBA factory on campus – reaching out far beyond narrow business topics alone but helping many audiences to evaluate and understand the context and impact of change. 

And here we are, in spite of learning much, we now realize how woefully underprepared we are in the light of mega-shifts such as the Coronavirus. The learning truly never stops, but we surely also become jointly more capable of alerting and communicating with our audiences. 

New conditions make our thinking, researching and teaching more important now than even a few head-shaking moments ago. We shall deliver.

Battling the Virus Strengthens Education

The coronavirus is the firing pin for major innovations.  In many educational institutions, less than half of the customary study time is invested in this year’s academic spring semester. There is some distance learning, but in many instances, the faculty is very much dependent on technology which they learn from students rather than the traditional reverse flow. 

We give you here an article written by two Michael Czinkotas dealing with the same issue: one is Professor in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, the other is the nephew, a student with most experience gathered in Germany. Here we go: 

The virus brings rapid innovation to the education industry. Just consider that traditionally, the entire sector has not distinguished itself with high-speed change. A debate on the cost of tuition was strongly buttressed by the biblical anecdote of the young Jesus Christ ejecting the money changers from the temple. That event was two thousand years ago.

In the university sector, if one could implement time travel for professors and their students, they could be safely delivered to a university town and be rapidly functional in their work. There still remains the amphitheater seating of chairs. There is the black or white board to communicate information. There is the professor upfront moving from one room side to the other, while students take notes or raise their hand indicating readiness for comment. 

Any changes to this model require approval by at least four faculty committees, each one of which needs substantial time to investigate the potential repercussions of alterations. Then there are reviews by board members, insights from administrators, and the “Fingerspitzengefuehl” of financial liaison. Woe the planner of change who is likely to encounter a lead time of lead. The bottom line: change for education is very difficult and hard to achieve. 

How has the education system performed under virus conditions? We can attribute to its very high degrees of rapidity, focus, transparency, and adaptation which lead to significant changes. Students, by the tens of thousands, are shifting their main residence within a week. Faculty members have at the same time solidified new course materials and given major thought to content delivery under entirely new conditions. Administrators had to rapidly find ways to work with complaining and even incensed students and parents. 

How to conduct an international program under conditions of severely inhibited travel? How to interact with high mobility groups? How to adjust the delivery of an excellent classroom joke which now has no classroom audience? 

Long-term contemplations must now be considered and decided on with a new kind of time framework – we suggest 10 days for adaption of innovation. A textbook which was developed over 40 years now need a revision time measured in weeks. The virus has given us a way to cope with complexity using extraordinary speed. There are now innovations which are finally accepted and which pump new energy and strength into the body politic. The best infusion is yet to come. 

In Germany, educational changes have been seen as the end of the world. Even students at an airport on a school day were seen as a threat to society for missing out on their classes. Now, due to the virus, students must stay at home. Schools whose mission had gradually shifted from being institutions for learning to offering pressure against drugs, against cigarettes, for democracy, and for diversity. It appears that teachers are now beginning to teach again, and students can ask questions which actually are answered. Although in past events of national need, the ability to adapt resources appeared not to exist, this time, the resources, and the teachers are all here, all in support of insights and service of German youth. 

Also, remember, that once for whatever reason, the toothpaste has left the tube, it won’t go back in, which leads to totally different uses and expectations. Earlier societies and time periods had their own changes, some without much benefit such as bubonic plague and the great influenza epidemic. Other changes triggered much displacement but lead also to eventual improvement to society. Examples are the printing press of Gutenberg, electricity by Edison and planes by the Wright brothers. 

The coronavirus leads to adjustments which result in new approaches, unexpected adaptations and a much wider field of options. We will have new playing fields, new players and new rules. The post-viral times will not necessarily be convenient or tranquil, but there will be many more opportunities for innovation and creativity. Sometimes it takes a large hurdle to overcome obstacles but focus and collaboration achieve much progress. This may be a time for a new jointness of purpose. 

Professor Michael R. Czinkota teaches international marketing and business at Georgetown University. His most recent book is In Search for the Soul of International Business, 2019. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Commerce in the Reagan and Bush Administrations. 

Michael L. Czinkota is a 9th grade student at the Bischof-Neumann-Schule of Germany. 

On-Campus Member of Georgetown Community Confirmed with COVID-19

Dr. Vince WinklerPrins, Chief Public Health Officer at Georgetown University, provides us here with the latest information on COVID-19. For your information:

Dear Members of the Georgetown Community,

I write today to share the news that a member of the Georgetown community who teaches on the Main Campus has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual has not been on our campus since March 2 and presented symptoms after our transition to a virtual learning environment. The individual is now at their permanent residence and is receiving needed care and treatment.

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services is working with this individual and will reach out to anyone they identify as being at risk due to their exposure. Out of an abundance of caution, we are informing all Georgetown community members. In addition, this individual’s classroom and nearby areas are being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. 

In line with the national trajectory, we anticipate there will be other members of the Georgetown community who are diagnosed with COVID-19 in the days ahead. Georgetown has convened regular leadership meetings since the emergence of COVID-19, activated an Emergency Response Team and has coordinated closely with local health departments and higher education partners. 

Georgetown’s Health Information site is available as a resource if you are feeling sick, have been in contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, or need best practices for self-quarantine and social distancing.

Moving forward, all subsequent confirmed cases will be posted on Georgetown’s COVID-19 Resource Center, which is updated daily. If you would like to receive a daily update listing all new COVID-19 communications sent by Georgetown, subscribe to our daily digest. Should you have additional questions, please contact our university call center at (202) 784-3510, Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

We remind our community to take the necessary precautions and practice social distancing, ideally maintaining at least six feet between you and others at all times. By remaining calm, following procedures and working together, the spread of illness should be significantly reduced.

The health and well-being of our community is our paramount concern. We thank you for your patience and ongoing support as we respond to this rapidly changing public health emergency.

Sincerely,

Vince WinklerPrins, MD, FAAFP

Chief Public Health Officer

COVID-19 Update: Public Health Alert Regarding Travel from Europe

To help clarify misunderstandings, here is a new policy position paper dealing with Covid-19 from our chief public health officer.  Yes, there have been significant losses attributable to this health care threat, but it pays off in understanding when one compares the losses in lives, property, and steadiness of soul from, say, the bubonic plague or the great influenza epidemic.

We must reorient ourselves and our outlooks and let us pray that we do so in a spirit of future prosperity, which links us together under new conditions of social distancing. There will be changes, new playbooks, playing fields and even new games and rules, but we can expect to help us and others in achieving renewed success. May God bless you and all of our partners.

Please check this message below from Dr. Vince WinklerPrins, Georgetown University Chief Public Health Officer:

Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community,

I am writing today to provide an update regarding the coronavirus outbreak.

Following the release of new federal guidance for those who have recently traveled to the United States from Europe,“Travelers returning from the specified countries in Europe must stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing.” No one returning from any of these countries—including student, faculty, staff or visitor —should come to campus before completing at least a 14-day self quarantine in an off-campus residence.

This guidance applies to all countries designated as Level 3 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention due to COVID-19. Newly designated countries now include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.

As a reminder, all university-sponsored travel has been suspended for faculty, staff and students until further notice, and beginning Monday, March 16, the university is moving to a virtual learning environment and, as a consequence, is also moving to an operating status of a telework flexible environment. 

Please refer to Georgetown’s travel guidance on our website

We know that we have many members of our community with friends and family members who may be impacted by the virus. We encourage anyone who might need support to reach out to university resources, including the Office of Campus Ministry, Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) and Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP).

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we work through this evolving public health emergency. You can find all university updates, answers to frequently asked questions and other resources related to coronavirus on the Georgetown University website.

Sincerely,

Vince WinklerPrins, MD, FAAFP

Chief Public Health Officer