Geopolitics in Business Education

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Thursday, August 1, 2019
Leaders in business education and industry discuss the need for business to take a stake in politics in order for both business and society to thrive.
Leaders in business education and industry discuss the need for business to take a stake in politics in order for both business and society to thrive.


Sean West: [00:14] Politics historically has been pushed to the corner of corporate entities. It's been handled by government relations departments. It's rarely been thought of as the most strategic decision that a company makes or even one of the top five most strategic decisions that a company makes.

[00:29] I'd argue that, in today's world, the CEO actually has to be the chief political officer in that entity. That strategic choices about which markets to enter, which markets to remain, and which markets to leave. The fundamental decisions that a CEO has to make are more political now than ever before.

[00:47] Decisions that are taken, be it positive or negative, have immediate impact. There's no golden hour to respond to public relations crises like you might have had in the past. CEOs are meant to be responding to anything their company is doing anywhere in the world that has political ramifications instantly through social media.

[01:06] When they go on television to talk about how their company is doing or the things they want to talk about, they need to be ready to get tough questions about the political world. No longer is it that business shows don't talk about politics. Nowadays, the CEO is the political face of the business, yet most CEOs don't conceive themselves that way.

[01:27] From an executive education perspective or corporate education perspective, it's our job to help them build that geopolitical mindset so that even if they choose to deprioritize political decision making, or they choose to have a functional solution to it within their entity, that's an active choice, and that they're aware of the decision that they're making.

Javier Yáñez Arenas: [01:46] Politics and business certainly are interlinked. There have been a lot of critiques, let's say, in terms of how businesses, the corporate world, lobby the politicians so they have laws that benefit the corporations.

[02:10] Unfortunately, I will say that, all over the world, we have bad examples of that, of the people and corporations, organizations just looking for their own agenda and their own benefit.

[02:25] Business students have to understand how the politicians, at least the spirit of the politicians, should be for the good of the majority, for the good of everyone, for the good of society, and how those decisions for the good of society actually could become opportunities for the businesses.

West: [02:53] We're seeing a world that's integrated and globalized, but is resisting the degree to which that's happened.

[03:02] As a result, everything that's been globalized alongside that wave, including education, multi destination business school programs or programs that pride themselves on having students from 100 different countries wind up under threat because of politicians that are willing to use visas and movement of people as political tools.

[03:25] We need to consider how us, as educators and as business leaders, can make the case that only by sharing ideas across borders can we prepare for a more peaceful and productive world.


Filmed April 2019 at AACSB's International Conference and Annual Meeting (ICAM) in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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