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Columbia University

Kathryn Rudie Harrigan - Henry R. Kravis Professor of Business Leadership
The frequency with which business conditions change suggests there will need to be a more flexible management style to oversee a more flexible organizational form.
1. The (business) world is changing rapidly. Does globalization mean, too, that we need a new kind of "global" manager?

The frequency with which business conditions change suggests there will need to be a more flexible management style to oversee a more flexible organizational form. The fact that more industries are becoming global (and organizations must be global in their grasp of problem solving) means that leaders must cope with extreme diversity -- international differences, cultural differences, diverse skills and perspectives, et cetera -- to meld these differences in ways that give their firms strengths unknown by acting alone. At a minimum, "global" managers must understand and blend the differences of operations within the "triad" nations -- Asia, Americas, and European. In a perfect world, global managers must be adroit at forming alliances with novel partners and adjusting these alliances (or forming new ones) as business conditions change. A very special kind of cosmopolitan skill will be needed in leaders that move their firms in and out of temporary alliances without alienating partners that become superseded by more eager and powerful upstarts from new corners of the globe. This task needs a different way of looking at the international aspect of exploiting business opportunities.

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2. If so, what does he look like? Is the manager of the future a sort of global nomad, working with his laptop in hotel rooms and airport lounges, living some years at one place on the earth, some years at another?

Although worldwide travel will be an important part of what top managers must do, technology reduces the need to be a nomad. Teleconferencing, wireless Internet, email and instant messaging make it possible to liaison with partners and colleague from anywhere, but it does not follow that the leader must live out of a suitcase. Face-to-face contact is an inevitable part of building social capital with customers, partner firms, industry peers, financial analysts, and acquisition targets. Serving time in various key nations will be required as a prerequisite for promotion. The top management team will necessarily be multicultural and diverse. "He" may well be a she.

3. What are the qualifications of the Manager of Tomorrow? His talents, language skills etc.?

Manager of tomorrow should blend technical or scientific training and international operations experience with sales skills and a knowledge of world business. Educational experience should include study abroad and summer internships abroad. The more diverse the nations where future managers spend time as natives, the better. Career path should include international sales responsibilities as well as responsibility for running a facility overseas. Even internal controllers and other financial staff should serve overseas managers and be posted onsite in offshore facilities. As top management team becomes more diverse in national origin and international experience, company is capable of undertaking more challenging overseas participation in business opportunities.

4. Will we have a very tiny elite of truly "global" top managers and a more "national" middle management? In other words: Do we tend towards a two-class manager system?

The question pretends that there are not already corporate-level managers and company-level managers in diverse holding company organizations at this time. The key to exploiting global opportunity is in using the experiences of the company's employees to best advantage. It would be erroneous to pretend that all managers will be promoted to the top job. It will be important to offer all recruits an equal opportunity to apply for the career track that exposes them to international grooming. Upper level managers will be promoted from that pool of internationally-rotated middle managers. Those middle managers will be volunteers from the ranks of newly-hired personnel who have been seconded overseas when the need arose to solve a problem. Operating level personnel will have exposure to their counterparts -- wherever in the world they will be -- to solve problems and pool experience. Whether the meetings are via teleconference or face-to-face symposia, the more exposure to international viewpoints concerning operating problems, the deeper the global management potential of an organization and the more international challenges the firm can master.

5. As a business school, how do you see your role in shaping the world of tomorrow?

Columbia Business School has such a fortunate role to play in international management education. Extraordinary MBA candidates who are pre-disposed towards international sensitivities come to us. Our New York City location reinforces the importance of global diversity. Columbia business School's graduating classes have long been comprised of over 30% international MBA candidates. In addition to MBA course work, Columbia's School of International Affairs offers cross-registration accommodation in its MIA [Master of International Affairs] program, and vice versa to give an international perspective in daily class discussions. Through the Chazen Institute of Columbia Business School, MBAs learn new languages and refresh language skills. [Eight language tracks were offered this term.] Between semesters, teams of MBAs take field trips abroad to emerging opportunity nations to meet managers and see how commerce differs. Participation in special on-campus symposia exposes MBAs to global issues far beyond their course materials to prepare them for the rigors of international assignments. The friendships forged as cohorts of MBAs are posted overseas in their summer job assignments endure over a lifetime as the cohort members travel in different directions after graduation -- giving Columbia MBAs a worldwide network for a sounding board in coping with international challenges. When these international MBAs return for their reunions, they offer exciting insights that spur cross-border entrepreneurial activities with their classmates. The commitment to international education is one of the most exciting features of being at Columbia Business School in this exciting era of e-business and borderless enterprises.
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 23.02.2001