What is being international – Business perspective
A Good Leader
Every Nation for Itself: What Happens When No One Leads the World. Portfolio.
Greetings from Alina, Emilia and Annika from the Team of International relations. This essay will include our personal reflection of last fall and goals for this spring as team members of International relations at Proakatemia. In addition to that we have taken a deeper look at the international business and cultural differences by using source literature and by recording a podcast episode related to leadership and international relations.
The international team at Proakatemia is basically responsible for developing and building Proakatemia´s global network links. How exciting, but at the same time challenging in many ways; since we are not allowed to welcome any international visitors at Proakatemia due to the covid-19, we need to be even more creative and use alternative ways to keep up on our continuous work. We do not want the current situation to cripple our operations and for that reasons we have discussed about what we could do despite of the covid-19 restrictions. One of our mission for this semester is to create a permanent platform and tool for the upcoming international relations teams. We want to create something that is useful for others and make the international team more visible. One of our projects is an international podcast called Wings of Academy. Our podcast series includes couple of episodes including the following topics
- what is the international relations team at Proakatemia
- how to get the most of working remotely
- international business
Here is a link (Wings of Academy) to the podcast for everyone to listen our first episode about International team at Proakatemia. We believe that it would be interesting for all of you to listen, what our team has lately been up to.
One of the topics at this episode was a leadership and through the podcast we wanted to share our experience of being the head of international team at Proakatemia and what does the position has required from us. As Sougou, B. 2017. mentioned in his book – anyone could become a leader, but how to become a good leader is more complicated. According to Sougou, B. a good leadership is not based on fame, but is all about mentoring, impacting, motivating, and challenging others to multiply their good deeds and to mobilize the qualities of others to fulfil and uncommon goal. As we discussed on the podcast, there have been several different international projects during the past years. The head of the international team would need to be able to lead the others efficiently by challenging and convincing the team members to move into a certain direction. A good leadership is our ability to make others dream, and to bring out the best in the life of others and to make the team members to realize that they can achieve something greater, beyond their limits.
In short International Business in any kind of business transaction that crosses borders of at least one country. The beginning of International Business can be traced all the way back to the beginning of trade culture. Trading was a thing before the beginning of civilization which is seen to start around 3000 BCE – 2000 BCE, so the roots of our modern International Business run quite deep.
As an entrepreneur who has her eyes set for the global markets the concept of International Business is very close at home. If one wants to do business across countries, I think it’s very important to understand what it actually means to do business internationally and what are the roots for it. I have to say I had not really thought about where the roots of International Business are. I thought, as probably many others too, that International Business is fairly new concept, but found myself mistaken on this thought. The term International Business is quite new if compared to the beginning of trade which started way before the beginning of our calendar. For a topic so timely there was not much to find about what International Business actually is. I found no book that would’ve dived into it really and articles I found were very surface level. Luckily, we have something called YouTube and there I found a lecture recording called “Introduction to International Business” by Rachelle Chaykin.
HISTORY OF INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS
In the beginning of trade culture people were exchanging items with each other to other items. Let’s say one had milk and another had wheat, they would exchange these items with each other and be happy without knowing they had just done business. It was a must in order to survive because not everyone had everything. It made much more sense to change something you had to something you needed. When civilization started this exchange was first between families and slowly these settlements grew into bigger groups of people forming villages, towns, cities and eventually countries. When this exchange happened between two different regions it can already be considered as international trade.
What made this small exchange of items between neighbors grow, was the building of caravan routes. It was easier to go and trade items in other regions when you had proper routes. These routes could really reach long distance civilizations with each other, for example the famous silk route was all the way from Asia to the Mediterranean. Sounds pretty international to trade things between China and Greece for example. Another thing that speeded up the progress of trade culture was the mining of precious metals that eventually led to the development of money. Now you didn’t just trade items with each other, but you could get items with X amount of money.
The building of ships was something that opened a new way of doing trade with new regions, because now you could go to places you couldn’t before. In the 17th century the Dutch developed trade routes via shipping. These routes went from Europe to Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The International Business as we know it today started to really take off in the 20th century when airplanes, large ships, trucks and trains became the method for trading goods.
Many of these things that I’ve talked about above are something that I already knew and had heard about in the history class, but somehow could not connect to the modern concept of International Business. It was not shocking to hear that the Silk Route was an important trade route or that in the beginning we traded items for items, but shocking was to realize how all of this was connected and that connection is the reason why we have our modern International Business now. Without these turns of events, we might not have it or at least not the same way we do now. I find it interesting to think about would we be able to do things so freely now, if humans in the beginning of time would not have been so curious people that have an endless desire to explore. What would be if the concept of money would not have been invented? Would things be better, worse or the same? Would we have something similar with money or would we have stayed on exchanging items? All these thoughts fascinate me and were evoked by that lecture. I don’t really have answers to any of those questions, but just thinking of them gives new perspectives for things. How our history affects our future.
I think the lecture was partly cut down to keep it at a decent length, because sometimes she was saying something, but that word was cut to something else and at one point she was talking over herself. I wish that would not have been done because what she was talking about really interested me and I felt like there was something to learn from it. Even when it was cut, I still learned new business vocabulary and as I mentioned above realized how everything is connected.
Why trade is important for our survival is because no national economy has the resources to produce all goods or services by themselves. All the items you want but can’t be found in your country are being imported to your country by exporting them from another. International Business enables us to, among many things, reduce labor costs, get natural resources that are not found in our nation and share know-how around the world.
International Business has some double-sided coins, like offshoring actually decreases the number of jobs in domestic markets, but on the other hand it enables the decrease of costs. So, the production of goods will be transferred to another country which means that the jobs that production would offer are given to someone outside the country. At the same time this allows the company to produce the good at a cheaper price and thus sell them to its customers at a lower price.
On the video she talked about how many US companies have their technical support in India and when you get an answer from Joe form Microsoft it’s actually someone from India. They give the worker a name that feels more at home for Americans. The reason for changing these services to India is that for a software developer there the salary is approximately 7dollar per hour versus in the US it’s 34dollars per hour, so the save the company makes it huge.
Many countries around the world are facing challenges such as a piling up debt and an ageing population, not to mention climate change. These are problems that in one way or another affect each-and-every nation especially on a leadership level. The real problem behind these challenges seems to be, that an international leadership to tackle the difficulties does not exist. Global problems arise at an accelerating speed, but at this moment, it seems every nation is “on their own”.
Why does today’s world hold a mindset, where each country competes and struggles in the end of the day by themselves against the others? Instead of a global cooperation, be the talk of greenhouse emissions or demobilization of refugees, excuses why some countries do not need to be involved in these collaborations are been made up. These excuses often are some sort of blames towards the others, for example causing the trouble in the first place.
So how will the world cope without international leadership towards a more functioning, cooperative and developing world? Some countries will adjust better than others. But, where an adjusting country is more likely to be one of the only countries to enjoy this situation, a country which will suffer and not overcome the difficulties affects poorly, one way or another, the whole world.
The development of a global mindset is both, a corporate and a personal responsibility. On the 20th century, this mindset (which concludes the whole of a cognitive, psychological, behavioral and interactional dimension of global leadership) is a prerequisite for leading a corporation towards a more global operation. A big part of building this mindset is networking internationally, to understand better what one is dealing with. So how can you build your international network? Here are a few tips:
- Be specific; like applying to a new job, rather than sending a generic email to everyone you connect, make a more individual and bespoke message with good background information why it would be beneficial for the both of you to connect
- Use social media; it’s cheap and time efficient because you can contact and connect with people around the world without the stress to travel to a mutual location
- Start regionally; work around one topic at a time rather than multitask, this way you build a strong foundation rather than give an impression that you aren’t all in
- Attend international events of your own field; people have their e-mails, whatsapp’s and all such platforms full of communication, so what better way to make a lasting and distinct impression than doing it face to face
- Have one good question; whether you network via email, LInkedin or f2f, think of a question that a) you wish to have an answer for and b) will awake the other part’s interest
- Understand and act towards other cultures, do your homework; it is not easy always to support or even understand the habits and characteristics another culture holds, still it is a huge expressions of wanting to build trust and cooperation when you really show that you respect the other person and their culture with its diverse traits
- Follow up; we all live in a hectic world, other’s busier and more absentminded than others, so it is only humane that an answer is forgotten or lost in the way every now and then. What you can do is not speculate if they are not interested but rather take the initiation and contact them again
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to International Business. Cultural misunderstandings might happen when something you say is taken the wrong way or maybe there are cultural customs, you’re not familiar with and end up handling not the best way possible. Do you shake hands, or do you bow? Do you small talk or go straight into business? Is it offensive to the other person to see the bottom of your shoe? While I think it’s very important to understand different cultures and respect our differences, I think sometimes people are overthinking this. I’m countering different cultures every day and even when there sometimes is problems, misunderstandings and I do things in a way that is not custom to the other party, we all survive from it. There is nothing that an honest apology and willingness to understand the other side would not fix and if there is, I think the problem would have appeared one way or another. It’s not only that you need to do your homework on another culture, that culture needs to also do its homework of yours and be able to understand you as well. It is called mutual respect that should be rule for everyone doing business with anyone.
Language can be a difficulty when doing International Business. I find it a richness to know as many languages as possible and I think it’s very good base of any meeting to learn the way to say hello in the language of the other side. I don’t speak as many languages as I’d like but have not felt like it’d be stopping me from meeting with people. In my opinion a body language tells more than we think, and you can always find a way to communicate if you want to.
It might be a cliché, but I feel like I learned a lot during this whole making the podcast episode and researching on this topic and now writing this essay. While we were making the podcast, we faced some true difficulties and overcoming them helped me grow and develop myself further. As the difficulties took place and corona put on some restrictions for us, I felt defeated at first. Honestly, I felt stupid for not knowing how to use the podcast equipment in the first place, but now I see that without those difficulties I wouldn’t have the experience of turning my problems into solutions and being able to say that I’ve grown and learned from it.
In the beginning of my research, I had a feeling I know everything about what International Business is, but now I know I knew nothing. It is so much more than just trading goods nowadays. It is all the transactions happening between two countries. It can be workforce from another country, it can be foreign investments, or making purchases online. The invention of internet and bringing that to the business really boosted the growth of International Business and just took it to a whole new level. The free trade agreements are making it easier for certain nations to do business with each other, like the EU countries have their own agreements on free trade and US has NAFTA agreement with Canada and Mexico to make their business easier with each other. What I hadn’t really thought about before is that even though these agreements make business easier between certain countries, it does make it harder for those countries left outside the agreements. As a customer this can be seen, at least in my experience, on custom fees when ordering outside of EU for example.
I have to say we’ve come a long way from the beginning of trade culture in 3000 BCE to our modern-day International Business in 2021. It all began with a man simply changing milk to wheat and now by a few clicks online you can get anything from the other side of the world delivered to your doorstep.
Sougou, B. 2017. A good leader. Bruno Sanon.
Bremmer, I. 2013. Every Nation for Itself: What Happens When No One Leads the World. Portfolio.
Girard, S. 2015. How to Become a Master Networker at Any Country in the World? Business Insider. Read 15.1.2021 https://www.businessinsider.com/4-ways-to-network-internationally-2015-6?r=US&IR=T
Racovolis, K. 2016. How To Create A Global Professional Network From Your Desk. Forbes. Read 15.1.2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kateracovolis/2016/06/23/how-to-create-a-global-professional-network-from-your-desk/?sh=17638e5f5a41