International Business: Themes and Issues in the Modern Global Economy
Book by Routledge, 2003
What makes international business distinctive is the additional layer of complexity that arises from conducting commercial transactions on a cross-border basis. This feature creates unique challenges in terms of governance of the business environment and the managing of diversity in culture and business practices and can have a fundamental impact on the decisions made by firms about whether and how to internationalize. The above became increasingly clear to us in writing a previous volume on European business. It also became clear that many of the challenges facing business at the European level, where barriers to cross-border transactions had been falling dramatically and deliberately, were being repeated on a broader international stage, only in a more diffuse, more spontaneous and more complex manner than at European level. For example, just as the European Union (EU) deemed it necessary to develop its own merger policy to keep up with the market reality of the Single European Market (SEM), so the issue of regulation of the growing number of megamergers resulting from the globalization process is increasingly appearing on the international agenda. Similarly, concerns about social dumping and labour standards, currently exercising many in the international arena, had also been expressed and received a policy response within the EU. Indeed, parallels with the EU experience can be drawn in relation to many of the issues and chapters within this volume.
The above explains how the idea for this book arose, and to a certain extent, explains our approach to international business that, as with all authors, is deeply rooted in our own specific academic background and preferences. Although, there are certain core aspects of the international business curriculum (such as an emphasis on the multinational firm), there is also a great variation in the range of the curriculum and how the subject is dealt with in international business texts. Some of these texts are re-badged economics books, others are essentially strategy books, whereas others adopt a regional or functional approach. We have deliberately done none of these. Many books also reflect their own particular cultural context in terms of content, presentation or both. Although conscious of the fact that we are all creatures of our own cultures, we have tried to be as culturally neutral as possible and, despite what is written above about Europe, have tried not to adopt an overly Eurocentric approach. For example, we have attempted to use examples and case studies from across the world.
Our approach is also rooted in the fundamental belief that business students need an education that, as well as enabling them to develop functional knowledge, skills and understanding, also broadens their outlook in terms of understanding the political, economic and social context of business. In the contemporary world, their horizons needed to broaden to take into account international issues. All too often, the business curriculum is only internationalized in a desultory way, perhaps by the addition of a couple of 'international' sessions at the end of a finance or marketing module. In our view, this is not enough. We wanted to develop an integrated text in which, although individual chapters can stand alone, there is a common theme underpinning the volume. Our chosen theme is globalization. Although there are opposing views about the degree to which globalization exists or whether the world is globalizing or inter-nationalizing, there is at least some consensus that there has been an increase in the degree of economic interdependence during recent decades. This is a useful starting point for debate and study. It is the extent and implications of such interdependence for business that permeates each of the chapters.
In the process of writing the book, it also quickly became clear that other themes were recurring and making their appearance in more than one chapter. Issues surrounding development and business, the use of information and knowledge as a resource, corporate responsibility and pressure for an expanded policy agenda for international institutions all fall into this category. Indeed, given the concerns about corporate behaviour contributing to the world-wide downturn in shares in the summer of 2002, issues of corporate responsibility could well justify an even more central role in the discussion of international business in the future.