Strategic Agility in International Business: A Conceptual Framework for “Agile” Multinationals

This February, the Journal of International Management published “Strategic agility in international business: A conceptual framework for “agile” multinationals,”an article I co-authored with Dr. S. M. Riad Shams, Prof. Demetris Vrontis, Prof. Zhanna Belyaeva, and Dr. Alberto Ferraris.

In this paper, we reviewed mainstream studies on agility in the international business context, discussing its relevance and proposing main aspects of strategic agility to clarify further this indistinct concept.Moreover, we provide a novel conceptual framework based on the integration of agility in different operational areas that organizations should foster in order to remain flexible in facing new developments. Our synthesis represents an innovative strategic direction for MNEs to understand better strategic agility, which clearly extends the concept of flexibility, while managing stakeholder relationships in order to develop key dynamic capabilities.

You can read the article here:  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1075425320300351

Trump and Reagan: Whose Trade Policy Wins?

Professor Michael R. Czinkota

After signing the United States – Mexico – Canada agreement and ‘Phase 1’ of the China trade deal, President Trump has now moved his international trade focus onto some of the closest U.S. allies, the European Union. During the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he proposed tariffs on auto imports from the EU, on wines, cheese, yogurt, and handbags from France, and on whiskeys from Ireland. 

The international trade policy efforts by Trump are remindful of President Ronald Reagan. Both presidents are stars of the Republican party and very frowned upon by Democrats. Trump and Reagan were focused on reducing the U.S. trade deficit and increasing the global competitiveness of the U.S. industry.  A look onto the past will provide a better understanding on whether Trump’s bold approach to trade policy wins over Reagan’s more sedate procedures. 

The 1980s:

The U.S. trade deficit was significant and growing precipitously. In the early Reagan years, it averaged $30 billion and reached $123 billion by late 1984. 

Reagan’s preference for free trade contributed to the Administration’s initial lassitude on this deficit. Gradually, however, calls for protectionism emerged. Examples were the U.S. automotive and footwear industries. Even clothespins were considered by some worthy of protection against foreign imports. In response, Reagan signed the Trade and Tariff Act of 1984 to reduce unfair global trade practices. There were also additional efforts to increase exports. Reagan announced bilateral trade agreements with Israel, and later with Canada. New rules were implemented to ease U.S. trade with China, yet the trade deficit continued to rise and reached $148 billion in 1985. 

The final, major trade legislation of the Reagan administration was the Omnibus and Competitiveness Act of 1988, which authorized negotiations in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and required the U.S. Trade Representative to take aggressive corrective action against countries that had large trade surpluses with the U.S.

The end of the Reagan years coincided with a sharp rise in globalization forces. The emergence of new technologies in transportation, communications, and information dramatically lowered the costs of international business and marked a rise of worldwide competition.

Trade Policy After 2016

Similar to Reagan, Trump has focused on fair trade. Some consider his approach more aggressive and populist. Trump ignited a new fervor in international trade policy. His tariffs have been imposed rapidly and often with little debate. His style has managed to concentrate the focus of trade partners. The constantly hammered message says: trade is now important to the U.S. 

Trump has argued consistently that the U.S. has been ignored or treated unfairly for decades in trade-related matters. He has pushed an “America First” policy with no more ongoing global support from the U.S. He renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), eliminated the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), as well as criticized major companies such as Carrier, Ford, and Mondelez – for selecting their production location without patriotic consideration. 

Trump tariffs of 2018 covered about $304 billion of imports into the U.S. Together with other forms of protection, they have had limited effects on the U.S. trade deficit. Some countries filed formal complaints against the U.S. with the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Trump responded by threatening corrective measures against the WTO if U.S. interests were not considered.

Comparing Reagan and Trump

Reagan’s policy endeavors were initially quite modest but became more assertive over time. Efforts sought to reduce the growing U.S. trade deficit with Japan and bolster American industrial exports. Trump’s trade deficit is significantly larger both in real and relative terms. Trump’s policy uses more harsh, aggressive, and clear approaches stating his expectations and demands, as well as reflecting the consequences of nonconformity.

Efforts by both the Reagan and Trump administrations to “level the playing field” have met with insufficient success. The powers of China and emerging markets are rising. American influence around the world should not become precarious. The time is right for further enlightened action on international trade. Countries need to understand the drivers of U.S. policy, which requires embracement of new approaches, new linkages, and new leadership directions for an entirely new era. 

Professor Michael 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. 

Key Words: United States – Mexico – Canada agreement, President Trump, President Ronald Reagan, Trump tariffs, World Economic Forum, World Trade Organization (WTO), Omnibus and Competitiveness Act of 1988, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and international trade policy


34 years ago I hired George Liebensfeld  as Administrative Director of my Georgetown National Center for Export Import Import Studies (NCEIS) It was far from  clear that either he or I would stay on for all these decades. I am grateful on the occasion of George‘s retirement for his full endorsement of my decision and thank him for all his support . A truly fine gentleman, the George of Georgetown!

From a student and friend at the NIH regarding the novel Coronavirus

I write today to provide an update on our continuing response to the new coronavirus. While there have been no reported cases with any connection to Georgetown, we are monitoring the situation closely and taking a number of steps to ensure the health and safety of our community.

Some of these steps include:

  • Staying in regular contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the DC Department of Health to ensure we are acting in accord with their guidance and recommendations;
  • Proactively reaching out to members of the university community who may have traveled from China in recent weeks to ensure they are aware of university resources and symptoms of coronavirus, and urging them to seek care and contact me if they are feeling sick;
  • Launching a public awareness campaign in our dormitories and public restrooms to encourage good hygiene, wash hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and to ensure all hand sanitizers across campus are full and in good working order; and
  • Creating a university website that includes frequently asked questions and additional information about coronavirus and the university response and resources. We will continue to update this website regularly as the situation develops.

For Faculty:
As you know, we are also at the height of flu season, with an estimated 15 million cases currently in the U.S. Out of an abundance of caution, we encourage you to proactively inform your students that if they are feeling sick or have the flu or flu-like symptoms, then they should consider staying home. Instructional continuity plans may need to be considered.

Thank you for your continued support and cooperation.

Key Words: Coronavirus, NIH, Healthcare, International Travel, safety, Security, Infections, a global epidemic, Multidexterity of Protection, Safety and National Security.