Technology and globalization have opened up many business opportunities for both large and small businesses. Organizations continue to prepare their employees for success in a global business environment. In a recent Forbes School of Business ”think tank” presentation, Dr. Irina Weisblat, Forbes School of Business assistant professor and scholar, shared her research on international business stating “We all must face the demands of a global economy and be ready for higher levels of competition.”

We believe organizations competing on a global scale will continue to operate in continuous change cycles. These organizations will succeed as they are resilient, highly adaptive, and effective when it comes to dealing with change. They will scan their marketing environments, recognize trends, and forecast the future (White, 2012) by gathering performance data and analyzing it to understand international business. Combined with these analytics, they understand the dynamics and cultures involved, and most importantly, they know their organization, brand identity, and customers.

Overall, successful organizations are proactive and are constantly making developmental (fine tuning), transitional (larger scale) and transformational (acquisitions) change (Weiss, 2012). It is clear that we operate in a dynamic global marketplace filled with change. How can we be ready to face the demands of a global economy? What can we do to prepare to succeed in a global economy? To gain real world advice on the global economy, we posed five questions to faculty at the Forbes School of Business at Ashford University.

Question & Answer

How does one develop a global mindset to prepare for entering a global marketplace?

Dr. Maja Zelihic (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “Global mindset, a very much needed concept in today’s world of business, cannot be developed overnight. It takes years of learning and experience for one to reflect truly and appreciate all that global framework has to offer. To get employees started on the path to developing global awareness, I would suggest exposing them to some opportunities for international travel or interaction with their overseas counterparts.”

Dr. Ray Powers (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “There are three main drivers in our business environment today—technology, convergence, and globalization.  All are important and individuals interested in international business should be aware of each and how they integrate.  The leadership concept of strategic vision cannot be overstated—one should understand current market conditions, of course, but sustainable success is based on anticipating evolution and application.”

Dr. Marvee Marr (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “Interesting question. My mindset, when working abroad, is to be open to new ideas and not to compare the culture to the U.S. (at least not verbally). I try to remind myself that each culture, country, region, etc. has its way of doing things, and while in that country, I should respect their norms. I put aside my U.S. ethnocentric ways, and try to respect the people and place I am working or visiting.”

Dr. Jonathan Wilson (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “Developing a global mindset is only possible through close research and application of that information. We have to realize that most people only live and learn within the constraints of their immediate lives. Thus, one must work hard to identify and understand cultural warrants and values from each perspective, national market and realize that those elements can and will overlap, complement, or contradict each other at times.”

Does globally oriented college coursework help one prepare to work in the global marketplace?

Dr. Maja Zelihic (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “It depends. I don’t think that any coursework can replace the ‘real’ experience one gains through travel or international work. However, coursework may set the tone or establish a good foundation for one to build upon when it comes to developing a global mindset or preparing to work in the global marketplace.”

Dr. Ray Powers (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “Having some experience in international business, I’ve found the most important attributes to convey initially are associated with your understanding of ‘leadership’ (e.g. emphasize the value proposition of leadership (strategic) vs. approaching opportunities only from a management (tactical) perspective).  You can do this by demonstrating an understanding of cultural, socio-economic, environmental, political, and other traditional business drivers specific to an industry or market.”

Dr. Marvee Marr (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “Yes, for people who are not familiar with various cultures, coursework can help them open their eyes and minds to new ideas and concepts. Introduction to theories, such as Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions and the Globe Study, are the first step to cross-cultural understanding. Learning such theories and sharing cultural ideas in a classroom setting are a good start in preparing to work in the global workforce.”

Dr. Jonathan Wilson (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “Absolutely! The critical works of Edward Said and Homi Bhabha have influenced global market negotiations for decades. Orientalism, Narration of Nation, and Location of Culture are iconic because they address how the Western world understands or misunderstands the East, which is now not only one of the largest national markets in the world but also supplies the United States with a telecommunications based workforce.   Therefore, I would argue that all coursework can and should apply to understanding and appealing to global markets. For instance, literature that focuses on international voices can teach learners the values of differing nations, regions, or even communities. All such information can be useful when attempting to create and articulate a proposal or recommendation in the business world.”

Does studying a foreign language help? If so, which one?

Dr. Maja Zelihic (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “It depends where you work or go. I would say that in the U.S., there is a great benefit in learning Spanish. In Europe, one may observe how German has become a very prominent business language, especially due to Germany’s leadership and dominance within the EU. If one references Asian markets, I would say knowing Chinese would prove to be a great advantage.”

Dr. Marvee Marr (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “I would suggest Spanish, or if you have a specific region of the world where you wish to work, than select that language. Yes, knowing a second language will enhance your global work resume.”

Dr. Jonathan Wilson (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “Various companies and corporations rank Spanish as the best foreign language to study for an excellent reason. Spanish is a romance language—i.e. the root stems of Spanish are fundamentally related to French, Portuguese, Italian, etc. Thus, learning Spanish is a crucial stepping stone to moving fluidly into other languages that are derived from Latin, and because of the similarities of the languages, the basics of Spanish can help one appeal to the largest market populations in the world.”

How should one convince potential employers they have a global mindset?

Dr. Maja Zelihic (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “Provide one’s background by highlighting travel, working internationally, or with international partners. Even if one hasn’t traveled much, there are exposure opportunities when it comes to global business. Perhaps one’s company participated in an international merger or partial outsourcing venture. Perhaps one interacted or trained international partners. Those experiences contribute toward developing one’s global mindset.”

Dr. Marvee Marr (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “Global knowledge, open mindset, willingness to go abroad.”

Dr. Jonathan Wilson (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “I would focus on learning the customs, mores, and codes of your audience. Then, tailor your communications and delivery to their expectations and needs.”

How should one communicate a global mindset on social media sites?

Dr. Maja Zelihic (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “One’s life and professional experiences–has one presented or worked internationally? Lived overseas? Studied abroad? Worked with international partners? Studied or attended an international conference, even if it was held within the United States? Does one speak a foreign language?“

Dr. Ray Powers (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “CV’s and social media exposure are important, but I would also suggest individuals prepare a value proposition model as a unique calling card.  The proposition should be both personal and enterprise oriented, and it’s critical to demonstrate differentiation—what do you bring to the table that is anomalous and desirable; how does that translate to enterprise value?”

Dr. Marvee Marr (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “I would include cultural understanding activities, such as international travel or living, membership in culturally diverse organizations, or language skills.”

Dr. Jonathan Wilson (personal communications, July 21, 2016): “This is probably one of the most difficult questions to answer because a majority of employers in the United States are subject to Western biases. However, they are also the ones that are hiring. Thus, the material included on a social media site should concentrate on two angles: 1) provide traditional content that outlines one’s education, experience, and major accomplishments. Remove or do not include vague or basic information, such as ‘I am a team player’ or ‘I am familiar with Microsoft Office.’ Such attributes and skills are expected; 2) emphasize how one’s education, experience, and major accomplishments are connected or interact with global markets or brands.”

As you can see, success in a global economy takes preparation. The answers to the above questions provide a starting point for you to begin your quest. Our hope is that we provided you with some new insights and knowledge that you can use and apply to your career. A special thank you is extended to the Ashford faculty who collaborated with us to provide insights for this article. Through collaboration, we are paying it forward and furthering student and employee success. Plus, we have included a link to an insightful article on embracing global diversity from the Ashford University Forward Thinking site.

References:

Marr, M. (July 21, 2016). Personal conversation. Forbes School of Business at Ashford University

Powers, R. (July 21, 2016). Personal conversation. Forbes School of Business at Ashford University

Weisblat, I. (November 20, 2015). International business programs: teaching for the future. Think Tank. Forbes School of Business at Ashford University.

Weiss, J. W. (2012). Organizational Change. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

White, S. (2012). Principles of Marketing (1st ed). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

Wilson, J. (July 21, 2016). Personal conversation. Forbes School of Business at Ashford University

Zelihic, M. (July 21, 2016). Personal conversation. Forbes School of Business at Ashford University