Today, we live in a more complex, more plural world. The US is now the world’s largest debtor nation, and the biggest sources of capital are the large Sovereign Wealth Funds of the Middle East, Russia and China. Leadership in advanced manufacturing is spread across such countries as Japan, Korea, Germany and the US. Technological innovation is dispersed across the world, in countries like India, China, Singapore, Israel, Sweden and the UK, as well as North America. Top-quality business schools exist in every major market. In short, the rest of the world has caught up. North America no longer holds a clear advantage in any of these fields of accomplishment it used to lead. The most credible argument for American decline has to do with US society’s profligacy and dysfunctional governance and the nation’s ever mounting debt. With the economic dislocation in the West, the emergence of a consumerist middleclass society in nations like China, India and Brazil has created a more stable world for trade and finance. Today the new champions of globalization are yesterday’s poor developing countries especially Asia – led by China and India. ‘Made in China’ products fill the supermarket shelves of the West, reminding the world that China is the world’s second largest exporter, the second biggest economy and the top creditor. The rise of Asia as the new globalizer is nothing short of spectacular.
Look to Asia
We now look to Asia as a source of finance, for advanced manufacturing, for technological innovation and for well-educated workers. Therefore, it is very likely that we will in the future look to Asia as a source for management ideology and cultural dominance. Up to now, most Asian companies have been happy to play catch-up, by incorporating the best of the American model of management into their working environment. But once they are competitive, there is no reason for them to stop there. India and China have highly-distinctive cultures and rich traditions on which their own distinctive management ideologies are getting built. Already, there is some evidence of a distinctive Indian model of management emerging. Professor Peter Cappelli and his colleagues recently published a book, The India Way. They focus on holistic engagement with employees, improvisation and adaptability and broad mission and purpose as the defining features that make the Indian model different to the American model. These features, they claim, are inspired partly from ancient writings, such as the Bhagavad Gita, and partly from the experience Indian executives had growing up in the chaotic post-war years. With China ostensibly the next big thing it is just a matter of time before a “China Way” emerges. Chinese companies now have a level of self-assurance and success on the world stage that is allowing them to experiment with their own ways of working, and they are well placed to bring together the best of the American model with the best of their own unique cultural heritage. With Brand America losing its nimbleness and adaptability and the country supposedly stretched to its limits, Asian companies with Asian values will certainly influence the way business is done in the next decade.
( The writer is
a Company Director)