The European Union has faced cultural hurdles in getting member countries such as Poland to agree to a proposed population-based EU voting system, due to historical bitterness over Germany’s Nazi past. With a population of 82 million, Germany has the largest population of any EU member country. At the 2007 EU summit, the Polish Prime Minister stunned other EU leaders by claiming that Poland (with a current population of 38 million) has 28 million fewer people today as a result of World War II (1939-45). He accused the Germans of “incomprehensible crimes” against his country, as it was Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 that triggered the outbreak of war. While his views might not necessarily reflect the general feelings of the Polish population, his comments indicate that such attitudes still exist seven decades after the event.
In Asia, one of the challenges in achieving economic integration is a sense of resentment and suspicion felt to a certain degree towards the Japanese, due to Japan’s military occupation of such countries as China (in the 1930s) and Korea (1910-45). The Japanese called their attempt to dominate the Asia-Pacific the “Co-Prosperity Sphere”. Despite modern-day relationship-building efforts, there are considerable historical obstacles to overcome.
Is the past just the past? How should world leaders look beyond culturally engrained historical antagonisms to cooperate on modern-day issues? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
In Qatar’s Education City, Audis and Range Rovers fill the student parking lots leaving any reminders of the vast desert far behind. Unlike the schools of India and China, the common areas of Education City look as though they have been plucked from U.S. campuses with a large complex that spans over 5 square miles and houses 8 Western Universities, one of them for Georgetown. Education City was founded in 2001 by the government of Qatar. Some analysts say that the universities which are serving student bodies that are dominated by foreigners, seem like bubbles cut off from Gulf culture and society.” Many professors are worried that such a type of education “will create generations of Emiratis or Qataris who are very well educated but are disconnected from their country’s history, culture and language.”
The high cost of education usually associated with such name brand schools as the ones found in Education City are not an issue for local citizens. The government of Qatar grants the majority of its citizens full scholarships regardless of financial need while foreign students pay costs similar to the corresponding U.S. schools. “We do realize that the whole operation in Education City is funded by Qatar, so we want to maintain our standards without dropping to a low percentage of Qataris or having no link to society,” said Gerd Nonneman, dean of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar. The objective is clear: More Qataris in Qatari Schools ! Hopefully, though, there will also be a continued influx of international students so that any discussion and debate on campus will be global rather than local.
We debate new approaches to teaching and communication, but don’t stop to think what effect Gutenberg’s printing press, wireless telegraphy, or the introduction of radio had on business and society. We highlight the disruptions from terrorism but neglect that already the crusaders wrote home about their fear of terror. We complain about the new phenomenon of pirates in Somalia – though such profession was riding high in the Caribbean or during Roman times in Sicily (which is where Pompeius earned his early reputation when he brought about their demise). We deplore the differentiation of groups based on religion, but conveniently forget the impact of Torquemada and the inquisition, or the reactions to Luther’s theses on the church doors of Wittenberg.
Corporate governance, responsibility, intellectual property rights, and corruption all fall under the ethical obligations experienced by multinational enteprises today. Whether following the most ethical route in business dealings matters in the long run is, in many ways, a difficult question. Historically, the answer has depended on the environment and outcomes. Nineteenth century textile mills in the United States, for instance, flagrantly violated today’s standards for workers’ rights (including living wages, maximum weekly working hours, and safe working conditions). However, they did much to move U.S. industrialization forward.
Today, one issue concerning corporate ethics is the divide between “first world” and less developed countries. Should emerging economies follow the same course experienced by the United States and Europe in their industrial history? Or should they be aided and, on occasion, forced by developed nations to skip the mishaps of the Western experience, and industrialize under more stringent modern-day standards?
Taken from the 9th Edition of International Marketing by Michael R. Czinkota and Ilkka A. Ronkainen.