The International Dream

This article is based on the contributions of Georgetown University’s McDonough Business School graduating class of 2019.

As the largest importer in the world, the United States obtains about 13% of global goods and services from other countries – diverse as China, Canada and Mexico. The United States tends to buy more than it sells. Americans have access to worldwide products and none has to go overseas to get it. But does this mean they have access to everything? And if not, what new inventions and innovations is the United States missing out on?

While everyone talks about exports, we focus on the so often maligned imports.  Exports make imports possible, which enhances selection, competition, and competitiveness. With already a shining city on the hill, how can things get even better?

Our team of hands-on experts, exposed to products from around the globe. They are a group of seniors the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. We asked them to give us a closer look into what the US should import more of. Students explore new motivations for US imports to include goods and services from a wide array of industries ranging from fine foods to health and technology.

Technology has effectively become the center of our lives. Students believe that the US should dedicate its import efforts on innovative products that will enhance tech performance and connectivity. The United States currently can only support 4G services to telephones. Korea, on the other hand, has been using 5G recently, which has provided them the opportunity to grow faster and be more flexible than the U.S. There now is a lucrative market for portable chargers. As they are cheaper to import than to produce, the US is more likely better off importing battery pack rentals from China.

The need for tech innovation is not limited to mobile phones, but includes automobiles and health. With rising auto tariffs, the United States will have decreasing access to advanced automotive engineering technologies. Specifically, foreign markets sell sleek pickup trucks, which are not available in the United States and penetrate Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Access to such advanced forms of auto engineering will benefit US consumers.

Innovation will also support health sector advances. There was demand for robotic goods. Japan was credited with very advanced medical robotics. The Kibo Experiment Module allowed fixing problems on the International Space Station without having to send a human into space. Similarly, robots are used in Japan right now in order to have a more precise and efficient way of significantly treating cancer patients. There are also bionic arms for upper-limb amputees, customizable for each wearer. Children can update their arms as their bodies grow. Such technologies should be brought to the US, where many individuals have received damage to their limbs.

There also is demand for simple technologies and ideas that effectively improve the wellness and wellbeing of individuals. Asian facemasks mitigate pollution-related health risks. The Water-Leech – a tank that absorbs and retains water runoff from a shower, bath or sink – was found to be a product worth importing from Australia. This tank allows consumers to save water instead of wasting it down the drain.

Other ideas included public spaces where communities can be given the chance to exercise and socialize in order to become more active and engage with others. Colombia’s Ciclovias, where some of the main roads in Bogota are closed off for cars and open to pedestrians who want to bike, walk or simply chill, inspired such leisure spaces well worth importing.

Discussed was leisure time at work: 2 – 3 hours for a mid-day nap, otherwise known as siestas. The Spanish’s rendition of the traditional American lunch break could potentially attract more millennials into the workplace, and add massive value for employees, particularly those who work in innovative, creative industries.

Cultural innovation was not limited to the workplace. In this increasingly globalized world, it was important to understand different cultures. How do different backgrounds and upbringings result in contrasting approaches to the same situation? Students observed a need for educational exchange programs that remove students from their comfort zones in order to truly experience a variety of different cultures. New exchange programs will completely immerse students into the culture. Most relevant is the opportunity to explore underdeveloped and remote areas of the world, which will eventually be part of all’s underbelly.

While the US has access to a range of premium goods and services, imports can be crucial in providing the finer things in life. Students called on the need for luxury, fine foods to task Americans’ taste buds. There was strong appeal of wines from France, Italy and Spain, particularly when paired with refined, imported cheese. Australian marinated goat cheese for $12 per 11oz jar will perhaps be the next luxurious brand of food.

Perceptions of luxury was not limited to goods, but extended also to services. Specifically, in Switzerland, the world-renowned Paracelsus Clinic offers unparalleled medical services that, in a perfect world, would be available in the United States as well. Paracelsus Recovery, founded in 2012, offers a unique “luxury treatment program” for clients struggling with addiction, including substance abuse and mental disorders. Patients live in a luxury residence with a team of international doctors that specialize in their condition. Attention of approximately 15 doctors is solely focused on the patient and their needs. Yet, the cost structure is expensive. At present, the recovery group charges $80,000 Swiss Francs a week, or the equivalent of USD $81,300.80.

Imports are good, but need to be fair. Our students understand and support such restraints, yet know that selection and diverseness is a strong pivot enriching lives.

Professor Czinkota ( teaches international marketing and trade at the University of Kent in Canterbury and Georgetown University. His latest book is “In Search For The Soul of International Business”, ( 2019.

Dina El-Saharty ( is a second-year Communication, Culture, and Technology (CCT) graduate student at Georgetown University, specializing in visual communication design and persuasive communication. 

Bridges Built Through Trust

Why does a Georgetown University professor write about the soul and international business? Because they’re closely interlinked! An analysis of a new world, terrorism, the future of trade, and the search for the soul are what you find in this book. “In Search for the Soul of International Business”, by Michael Czinkota hits the shelves just when needed most, given new environments, new approaches, new emotions and new commitments. “I consider the soul the center of our aspirations and inspirations. Loss of soul typically connotes death. Maintaining a soul offers a reference point and stability. For one’s progress in thinking I aim to supply both content and context.”Author Bio: Professor Michael R. Czinkota teaches international marketing and business at the McDonough School of Business of Georgetown University and the University of Kent in Canterbury. He served in the U.S. government as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce, as head of the U.S. Delegation to the OECD Industry Committee in Paris and as senior trade advisor for Export Controls. Over the past 30 years he is consistently listed in every international marketing and business ranking as a top 20 author. He is a distinguished fellow of the Academy of Marketing Science and of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. He received the AMA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. The Universidad Ricardo Palma of Lima. Peru named its new International Marketing School after Czinkota. Book Info: Trade and globalization inundate us with constant information, new concepts, and endless data. Individuals are caught in the whirl-wind of a fast-paced world, often without the ability to stop and think, particularly when it comes to issues of the soul. With a foreword by Ambassador Dr. László Szabó ,a preface by the Rev. Horkan, and the humorous yet pensive illustrations by award-winning cartoonist David Clark, this book jumpstarts the reader’s ability for a comprehensive understanding of pressing international business and trade issues and their linkage to the soul. “In Search for the Soul of International Business”, by Michael Czinkota hits the shelves just when needed most, given new environments, new approaches, new emotions and new commitments.

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International Food Trucks in Kent

Many are chosen, but few are selected. Like many other universities, Kent highlights its international orientation. For me, Kent is one of very few universities where international food trucks lure students for breaks and meals. Well done!

International Managers Have Choices

Many areas politics and law are not immutable. Viewpoints can be modified or even reversed, and new laws can supersede old ones. To achieve change, however, some impetus for it – such as the clamors of a constituency – must occur.

The international manager has various options if rules are disliked.

One high-risk option is to simply ignore prevailing rules and expect to get away with doing so. A second option is to provide input to trade negotiators and expect any problem areas to be resolved in multilateral negotiations. Drawbacks are that this is a time-consuming process, and issues remain outside the control of the firm.

A third option involves the development of coalitions and constituencies that can motivate legislators and politicians to implement change. Even simple changes, such as the way key terms are defined, can positively influence the business environment. Consider, for example, the change in terminology used in the United States to describe trade relations between two nations. For years, attempts to normalize relations with China by granting “most – favored nation” (MFN) status drew the ire of objectors who questioned why China deserved to be treated in a “most favored” way. Lost in the debate was the fact that the term “most favored nation” was taken from WTO terminology and indicated only that China would be treated like any other nation for the purpose of trade. When the term was changed to “normal trade relations,” tension eased.

Beyond the recasting of definitions, firms can effect change in other ways. A manager may, for example, explain the employment and economic effects of certain laws and regulations and demonstrates the benefits of change. The firm might also enlist the supporting help of local suppliers, customers, and distributors to influence decision makers. The public at large can even be involved through public statements or advertisements calling for action. Developing coalitions is not easy task. Companies often turn to lobbyists for help, particularly when addressing narrow economic objective or single-issue campaigns. Lobbyists are usually well-connected individuals and firms who can provide access to policymakers and legislators in order to communicate new and pertinent information. Brazilian citrus exporters and computer manufacturers, for example, use U.S. legal and public relations firms to provide them with information about relevant U.S. legislative activity. The Banco do Brasil has used lobbyists to successfully restructure Brazilian debt and establish U.S. banking regulations favorable to Brazil.

Although representation of the firm’s interests to government decision makers and legislators is entirely appropriate, the international manager must also consider any potential side effects. Major questions can be raised if such representation becomes very impactful and overt. Short-term gains may be far outweighed by longer-term negative repercussions if the international firm is perceived as bullying or exerting too much political influence.

Based on Fundamentals of International Business, 3rd. by Michael R. Czinkota, Ilkka A. Ronkainen, and Michael H. Moffett.

Michael Czinkota ( teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Kent. His latest book, forthcoming in October 2018, is “In Search for the Soul of International Business”.

The Unspoken Truth about International Business

Language has been described as the mirror of culture. Language itself is multidimensional. This is true not only of the spoken word but also of the nonverbal language of international business.

Messages are conveyed not just by the words used, but also by how those words are spoken and through such nonverbal means as gestures, body position, and eye contact. These nonverbal actions and behaviors reveal hidden clues to culture.

Five key topics – time, space, body language, friendship patterns and business agreements – offer a starting point from which managers can begin to acquire the understanding necessary to do business in foreign countries.

Understanding national and cultural differences in the concept of time is critical for an international business manager. In many parts of the world, time is flexible and is not seen as a limited commodity; people come late to appointments or may not come at all.

In Mexico for instance, it is not unusual to show up at 1:45PM for a 1:00PM appointment. Although a late afternoon siesta cuts apart the business day, businesspeople will often be at their desks until 10 o’clock at night.

In Hong Kong, too, it is futile to set exact meeting times because getting from one place to another may take minutes or hours, depending on traffic.

Showing indignation or impatience at such behavior would astonish an Arab, Latin American, or Asian.

Perception of time also affects business negotiations. Asians and Europeans tend to be more interested in long-term partnerships, while Americans are eager for deals that will be profitable in the short term, meaning less than a year.

Individuals vary in their preferences for personal space. Arabs and Latin Americans like to stand close to people when they talk. If an American who may not be comfortable at such close range, backs away from an Arab, this might incorrectly be perceived as a negative reaction.

An interesting exercise is to compare and contrast the conversation styles of different nationalities. Northern Europeans are quite reserved in using their hands and maintain a good amount of personal space, whereas Southern Europeans involved their bodies to a far greater degree in making a point.

International body language, too, can befuddle international business relations.

For example, an American manager may after successful completion of negotiations, impulsively give a finger-and-thumb “okay” sign. In southern France, this would signify the deal was worthless, and in Japan, it would mean that a little bribe had been requested. The gesture would be grossly insulting to Brazilians.

Misunderstanding nonverbal cues can undermine international negotiations. While Eastern and Chinese negotiators usually lean back and make frequent eye contact while projecting negativity, Western negotiators usually avert their gaze for the same purpose.

In some countries, extended social acquaintance and the establishment of appropriate personal rapport are essential to conducting business. The feeling is that one should know one’s business partner on a personal level before transactions can occur.

Therefore, rushing straight to business will not be rewarded because deals are made on the basis of not only the best product or price, but also the entity or person deemed most trustworthy. Contract may be bound on handshakes, not lengthy and complex agreements – a fact that makes some, especially Western, businesspeople uneasy.


Excerpt from Fundamentals of International Business, 3rdby Michael R. Czinkota, Ilkka A. Ronkainen, and Michael H. Moffett

Michael Czinkota ( teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Kent. His latest book, forthcoming in October 2018, is “In Search for the Soul of International Business”.