There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 10)

Part 10: Universities and Internationalization.

30 years ago, the essentials of communication were one of the main problems that CEOs had to face in their efforts with internationalization. New information technologies have brought progress leading to a substantial reduction in the transaction costs in international business. These changes in technology have been further helped by the establishment of English as the lingua franca in business and science in nearly every country in the world. This greater ease of communication already supports processes within universities through greater access to and transparency of findings.

Just like with cable television, however, it’s not just availability but content which is of major importance to the creation of value. In developing content, universities should concentrate on specific aspects in which to become multidisciplinary experts. Specialization has worked for firms, and will also provide benefits to higher education by allowing universities to provide more value added to society. It will also be important to provide the connectivity between business, research and policy. In the longer term, economic considerations or even profits by themselves are not sufficiently enticing for society to prosper.  Religion, family, culture, security and many other concerns are taken into account by voters and governments. Universities are the ones who can incorporate these multiple concerns into a systemic perspective, and thus set their thinking apart from others. They can also serve as the foundation for multilateral approaches. By doing so, universities can become the transmission belt for the internationalization of their economy.

Universities can also track international developments of knowledge, and attract or repatriate scientists from abroad as resources. Just as a soccer club attracts top level players to move into the higher league, universities can bring in international researchers to develop or fortify a strategically isolated position.

Others need to assist universities to achieve a more prominent role in international business. Firms and government need to recognize their stakeholder positions and be supportive with information, network development and funding. It will be helpful, for example, for governments to facilitate the granting of visas, the recognition of qualifications, and the issuance of residency and work permits.

Most important for all players, once they have recognized the urgent need to collaborate, will be the formation of a university memory. It would be a terrible waste to have to re-learn internationalization for every new generation of faculty members. Considering the universe is the core mission of universities. Their work on the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge about the world will let them play the societal role they deserve.

This post is the last in a series by Michael Czinkota of Georgetown University and Andreas Pinkwart of Handelshochschule Leipzig on international business research and the new role of universities. Find Part 9 here.

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 9)

Part 9: Increasing University Appeal.

Universities have a special role to play in the development of new methods and measuring instruments. The focus on providing students and society with a special tool kit which allows others to better evaluate, understand and cope with similarities and differences will be crucial. Important is also the selection of information that firms need to know. In an era where information overload replaces information scarcity, it must become the task of universities to enable others to maximize their learning with a paucity of materials.

Universities need to demonstrate the benefits they can offer. When one considers the expansion and influence of the Roman Empire, it turns out that force played only a small role. Rather, by offering market places, roads, language, laws, and linkages, the Romans provided efficiency, safety, consistency, communication and insights within their realm.  Outsiders then were not forced to join, but did so because affiliation offered the opportunity to live a better life. Universities need to achieve such voluntary interest as well. Given their knowledge base, their human talent and their cross-disciplinary capabilities, universities need to make the cost of non-collaboration unreasonably high to firms, so that they become a sought after source and partner.

This post is part of a series by Michael Czinkota of Georgetown University and Andreas Pinkwart of Handelshochschule Leipzig on international business research and the new role of universities. Find Part 8 here.

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 8)

Part 8: Making Universities Visibly Relevant To Business.

Simon Marginson, in his article “Dynamics of national and global competition in higher education,” stated that parallel to the organizational internationalization, university competitiveness is defined internationally by research capacity, output and quality. Hugo Horta concurs, claiming in his article “Global and national prominent universities: internationalization, competitiveness and the role of the State” that local rankings are strongly based on research and exposition of institutional insights about international issues. As such, according to Anne Chapman and Davis Pyvis in their article “Quality, identity and practice in offshore university programmes: issues in the internationalization of Australian higher education,” internationalization remains often an instrument of status for both students and faculty.

Nelly P Stromquist wrote in “Internationalization as a response to globalization: Radical shifts in university environments” that given the rising competition emanating from globalization, there is also a growing emphasis on market forces in the process of educational decision-making. It therefore becomes imperative that universities offer content in their research and teaching which provides the kind of knowledge that is attractive to and supported by corporate activity. The work needs to consider the ‘problem hot spots’ of firms and society mentioned earlier, and by explicitly accepting firms as stakeholders who need and deserve the benefit of international networks and multidisciplinarity.

The authors of The Necessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations Are Working Together to Create a Sustainable World contend that businesses and universities jointly need to consider the overlaps of system interests and the need to collaborate with the goal of long-term security for their future. Their time horizons differ substantially, where companies are focused on the short term while faculty tends to look far more down the road, according to Ben Schiller’s article “Academia strives for relevance” in the Financial Times, yet there could be a compromise with an emphasis at eventual relevance. Might someday a business executive even participate in the ‘peer review’ of an academic business article?

This post is part of a series by Michael Czinkota of Georgetown University and Andreas Pinkwart of Handelshochschule Leipzig on international business research and the new role of universities. Find Part 7 here.

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 3)

Part 3: New Challenges for the Global Economy.

In addition to the ever-increasing sums spent on education and innovation by the established and emerging nations, there are also new sources of funding from very wealthy patrons, who, with their substantial assets and, often with the use of a professional foundation, can decisively address pressing human issues.

The following reasons convert what used to be strictly local issues into cross-border challenges:

(i) Today, many concerns either transcend borders quite quickly (consider the eruption and subsequent disruption by the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajoekull) or can only be addressed by large cross-national efforts which are needed to effectively track large scale problems (think of global warming or pollution control).

(ii) Dominant issues often have in common that they cannot be solved effectively by a single nation or even a single region. Real progress requires sufficient reach and resources which can only be achieved by strategic alliances across national boundaries.

(iii) Changes and challenges are increasingly discontinuous and non-linear. Rather than experiencing a  gradual evolution of issues, a key characteristic of new concerns is their sudden discovery due to system shocks and structural breaks. Therefore, just as in the Nicene creed, we need to be attentive both to things seen and unseen.

(iv) The major global challenges cannot be solved by simple continuation of existing patterns of thinking. Solutions to the challenges of the 21st Century require aggressive cross sectional best research and innovation practices.

These approaches apply to issues of such great variety as the depletion of resources, the threats of pandemics, pollution and climate change, the need for sustainability, and the overcoming of terrorism. Prerequisite are effective innovations that are understood and supported because they are useful and compatible with individual values.

In consequence, universities are not only challenged to keep their approaches to science, technology, legal, and socioeconomics up-to-date. Research and development efforts in universities also need to react to the emergence of new growth areas and great challenges of our time concerning the environment, health, safety and demography.

Furthermore, globalization and the information revolution also result in considerable pressure for change, both for the people in the workplace as well as those in the lecture halls and laboratories.

Networking and flexible organizational forms have taken on a growing importance in the development and communication of best knowledge and practices. The outsourcing of sub-processes to low cost locations offers new activities and previously unimagined division of labor. At the same time, projects such as research on fusion, supercomputing, or on artificial matter require so much know-how and investment that they can only be brought to fruition through the collaboration of multiple universities and nations.

This post is part of a series by Michael Czinkota of Georgetown University and Andreas Pinkwart of Handelshochschule Leipzig on international business research and the new role of universities. Find Part 2 here

There Is Sunshine Above the Clouds (Part 2)

Part 2: The Grand Challenges of a Global World.

If in the future International Business research receives more attention from business leaders who aspire greater international growth for their company than from other CEOs, both firms and universities will win. Managers will be more aware of the systemic challenges they are about to face in a world of increasing uncertainty. They will also receive more advice on their implementation of expansion and competitive strategies.

Instead of one big and divisive risk, a number of new smaller risks have emerged, which can result in considerable problems for the global stability of markets. The simultaneous occurrence of risks can magnify their impact, and poor management can then further exacerbate their danger.

New risk conditions increase the pressures on strategic planning and management capabilities. To identify opportunities and to react to crises earlier, a deeper knowledge of the local conditions is necessary. Also needed is open, dynamic corporate leadership, which responds sensitively and flexibly to changing or new conditions. It is significant that the most pressing future issues rated by CEOs are international capabilities that are outside of traditional academic subjects and disciplines.

CEOs are looking for help in coping with emerging problem areas, such as trade barriers (tariffs / quotas / standards), cultural shifts,  governmental bureaucracy, and corruption and political uncertainty. They require solutions by scientists with a multidisciplinary orientation, who can bridge various fields of business with innovative approaches incorporating policy, law and language, culture and religion, geography, and geology.

This post is part of a series by Michael Czinkota of Georgetown University and Andreas Pinkwart of Handelshochschule Leipzig on international business research and the new role of universities. Find Part 1 here