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. 

Case Study: Starting an Import/Export Business

This is a case study contributed by Mike Kim, graduate student of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University.  It was originally published in the book International Marketing by Professor Michael R. Czinkota and Professor Ilkka A. Ronkainen in Georgetown University 2010.


Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 12.53.13 (1)

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 12.53.34

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 12.53.53

Birmingham Insights on Asia – (6) Implications and Recommendations for Malaysian E-Commerce


This comment is based on Anson Lim’s Dissertation, Export Intermediaries within The Modernized Structure of E-Commerce and The Prevalence of Internet Based Distribution Channels,written under the supervision of Prof. Michael Czinkota at the University of Birmingham, UK.


Given the broad spectrum of online capabilities, assuming the combined roles of distributor and intermediary within the scope of a developing marketplace will enhance the exposure of intermediaries as well as ensure that profitability is aligned with long term exporter objectives. Motivational structures have offered incentives to intermediaries for their successes in foreign market though an increased capitalization and opportunity for contract preservation. The reality is that within the broadening online marketplace, these once outside participants may now integrate their services with distribution channels at a much lower cost incidence than setting up a brick and mortar establishment. As export intermediaries are active participants in the social and economic structure of Malaysia, their understanding of market operations gives them an inside advantage, one which enables rapid transitioning from middle-man to purveyor. The manufacturing relationship is contractually established; however, through integration of broader spectrum distribution channels, the intermediary firm will be protecting their investment and ensuring that products reach the consumers in a profitable manner.

In terms of technical service diversification as well as the incorporation of resource management techniques, the knowledge capital boasted by intermediary firms remains a leveragable asset, one which should be intimately integrated into operations offerings in the future. Such capabilities include consolidation services which reduce the overall cost of transport and distribution across Malaysia’s borders.

Secondly, research demonstrates that in spite of the emphasis which manufacturing firms place on technical expertise and knowledge capacities of intermediaries, practical application of such skill sets falls short of expectation. the expectation o f authority, and thereby, the transitioning skills which enhance the perception of intermediary value continue to challenge and evolution of skill and capacity in order to  accurately integrate the broad spectrum of changes which continues to alter Malaysia’s market. knowledge of tariff changes, pricing decisions a=, and technical support all fell within the lowest ratings among respondent intermediaries, and given the ease of transition from brick and mortar distribution to electronic online channels. these knowledge schemes offer opportunities to remain extremely competitive.


Stay tuned for more recommendations.

Birmingham Insights on Asia – (5) Implications and Recommendations for Malaysian E-Commerce


This comment is based on Anson Lim’s Dissertation, Export Intermediaries within The Modernized Structure of E-Commerce and The Prevalence of Internet Based Distribution Channels,written under the supervision of Prof. Michael Czinkota at the University of Birmingham, UK.

Literary analysis has demonstrated that researchers have adapted to include both internet and conventional operations within the scope of intermediary responsibilities. From this perspective, the nature of intermediary functions within the scope of international relationships continues to evolve to match the evolution of manufacturer initiatives.

Given the prevalence of internet users throughout the globe, the remarkable nature of internet use increases in Malaysia over the past decades, internet resources are essential to ensuring competitive marketplace expansion through foreign exports.

Summarily, Malaysian intermediaries highlight the improved performance that internet services have enacted within their organizations; therefore, the support structure continuous to be implemented, the future of commerce hinging on its effective manipulation.

One method of competition with the coming Malaysian internet boon is to establish marketing footholds within popular social networking sites and online forums in order to further the distribution of manufacturer products. Online distribution channels are one mode of enhancing usability, and in addition, the communicative nature of such resources will enhance the manufacturer offering among consumers.

Allowing niche marketing to function within a participative capacity, consumers should be encouraged to review products, retrieve cost savings via promotions, and explore options for customization. As the online community continues to dictate what is a successful product in the scope of Malaysian commerce, the evolution of manufacturer offerings will come as a direct result of intermediary communication.

Similarly, the role of the intermediary must adjust to met the demands of these participants, ensuring that long term brand recognition and loyalty schemes are effectively integrated along the most popular channels. The method behind this strategy is one which dramatically alters the responsibilities of intermediary operation; however, the leveraged knowledge capital and foundation of foreign business networks remains stable and necessitated.

Stay tuned for more implications and recommendations.

Birmingham Insights on Asia – (4) International Strategic Alliance Performance (High Technology Industry in Taiwan)


This comment is based on Jo-Chun Chieh’s Dissertation written under the supervision of Prof. Michael Czinkota at the University of Birmingham, UK.

3, Organizational culture differences have more influence than national culture differences on International Strategic Alliance (ISA) performance, from the Taiwanese managers’ perspective. Two of the organizational cultural dimensions, professional and pragmatic orientation, ranked as the first two elements of importance when cooperating with a foreign partner, while two of the national cultural dimensions, uncertainty avoidance, long-term orientation, was ranked subsequently. Pothukuchi et al. (2002) addressed a similar concept with differences in organizational culture, compared to differences in national culture, considerably facilitating conflict and impeding cooperation between alliance partners.

4, The study justifies  that ISA practice indeed significantly interferes with the relationship between culture differences and iSA performance. John (1984) indicates that long and sticky partnership between cooperative enterprises reduces that potential for opportunistic behavior while the dissolution of a partnership often leads to poor decision-marketing, interaction and management of inter-organizational relationships. Complementary resources, absorptive capacity, commitment, and trust are important willingness to work together (Day & Klein, 1987). This partnership can evolve positive or negative consequences, depending on how Taiwanese managers implement their managerial practices with foreign partners.

Related Article: Birmingham Insights on Asia – (3) International Strategic Alliance Performance (High Technology Industry in Taiwan)