Globalism is under siege. Here’s how to save it — and why. – JoAnne Yates and Craig N. Murphy

MIT Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management JoAnne Yates

MIT Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management JoAnne Yates

From The Washington Post

Over the past few years, world politics have been governed by a backlash against globalization. From the Brexit mess in Britain to restrictive immigration policies and tariffs in the United States and elsewhere, global economic integration is under assault.

But such integration offers many benefits: a greater variety of less expensive goods, greater opportunities for travel and cultural exchange, a more cosmopolitan world. In this climate, nongovernmental entities may be crucial to preserving them.

Thankfully, engineers have spent the past century building just such international bodies, because they believed that economic integration must remain above politics. These organizations have long set voluntary standards to ensure integration even when the political winds blow against them. This conception of global business standards will be crucial in the years to come as we struggle to preserve the benefits of cohesive systems for international trade, even as politicians battle over how interconnected they want to be.

It is ironic that the British should find themselves in the Brexit mess, because it was British engineers who created the first of the national standards bodies. Their project, a forerunner of today’s British Standards Institution (BSI), was a product of the expansive British Empire. It was founded in 1901 to ensure that industrial products and transportation networks within the United Kingdom and across its empire would be compatible with one another. Although some government representatives were included in its processes, the engineers leading the effort believed such standards should be voluntary, not government-mandated.

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It is not technology that will steal your job – Thomas Kochan

Thomas Kochan, MIT Sloan professor & co-founder, Employment Policy Research Network.

From The Irish Times 

The future of work is in hot debate all over the world. The World Economic Forum, the ILO, the International Confederation of Trade Unions, consulting firms, and universities like MIT have task forces asking what work will look like in the years ahead.

There are two problems with much of these debates. The first is an over-fixation with technology. The second is the view that technology has a trajectory all its own as if there is some iron law of physics that will determine its shape and effects. I challenge both of these premises: Technology will of course be important; it is one of the big “megatrends” that will influence work of the future. But how it, and four other megatrends I will outline below will influence the future depends on the actions we take now. So I want to re-frame discussion in forums about the future of work from one of predicting the consequences of megatrends to one of how to engage the megatrends to produce better work, more inclusive societies, and a broader sharing of future prosperity.

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How globalization sunk many Americans deeper in debt – Erik Loualiche

MIT Sloan Assistant Professor Erik Loualiche

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. Erik Loualiche

From MarketWatch

Even as U.S. policy makers continue to debate the relative advantages and drawbacks of globalization, it’s abundantly clear that international trade is not the benevolent force it was once thought.

For all its promise of boosting incomes and strengthening growth, trade has had a disproportionately damaging impact on regions of the U.S. that have long depended on manufacturing. Recent data shows that these communities have suffered a great deal of economic distress, including high rates of underemployment and joblessness.

These communities have also become much more indebted compared with the rest of the nation, according to my latest research. During the years 2000 to 2007 — also known as the run-up to the Great Recession — overall American household debt doubled. That debt peaked in 2008, at almost $13 trillion. This leverage, however, was not shared equitably. Household debt in regions of the country where manufacturing jobs had shifted overseas grew an additional 20-30% over that period. In other words, nearly a third of American household debt during that time frame can be attributed to import competition with China and other low-wage countries.

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Ebola: The dark side of globalization — Trond Undheim

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Trond Undheim

From Fortune

As upcoming goals, the United Nations should enact basic sanitation, healthcare and governance in failed or collapsing states not simply because of moral concerns, but because of our own safety concerns.

You would think we would have learned to deal with globalization by now. Goods, services, people, and money, and occasionally, diseases, flow across borders at a staggering pace. Little can stop these flows. Not walls. Not presidents. Not health authorities.

People, however, remain quite rooted in their local communities. So rooted that when a global health scare comes along, we only react when somebody we know, in our country, or somewhere we know well, is affected. Most people’s identity is local, not global, and not even international. Perhaps we should be glad. It gives focus. We attend to what is near. Perhaps, therefore, most of us underestimated Ebola. In Norway, nobody reacted when a nurse on volunteer duty in West Africa contracted the disease, but when she arrived in the nation’s capital for treatment, everyone noticed. In the U.S., nobody winked until a person died in Texas.

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Why MBAs should know a second language — Jackie Wilbur

Exec. Director for Undergraduate & Master's Programs Master's Programs

Exec. Director for Undergraduate and Master’s Programs Jackie Wilbur

‘Recruiters seek geographically flexible managers: global citizens who have an ability to adapt to new environments and who are able to build cross-cultural competence’

Recently, I had a meeting with a recruiter from a global firm about her company’s future hiring needs and how we, as a school of management, might sharpen our efforts to train students in particular areas. We covered all the usual topics. We talked about sectors, business units, and specialized skills. Interestingly, though, one of her greatest employment concerns had nothing to do with functions or industries; rather it involved geographic mobility, cultural awareness, and language skills.

She told me how her firm is rapidly opening offices around the globe, and how it’s looking for people who have experience in different regions, or who are willing and eager to relocate. “Most of the business will be conducted in English,” she told me, “but in order for someone to be successful and fulfilled they’ll need proficiency in the local language.”

In an increasingly global world, the ability to speak more than one language has clear practical advantages. More and more, though, fluency in another language is becoming a vital skill for the next generation of business leaders. At a time when American-based companies realize that their greatest potential markets are outside of the U.S., they are seeking geographically and culturally flexible managers. Those with an ability to adapt to new environments quickly and are able to build cross-cultural bridges will become the future leaders.

Language skills are paramount. As Matt Symonds, chief editor of MBA50.com, a website dedicated to the world’s outstanding business schools, wrote recently in Bloomberg Businessweek: “In a global business environment, [language] skills…make the difference between a good performance and a truly great one.”

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