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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Business Times, March 12, 2015
 

As Asian firms search for “global” managers to expand operations overseas, they should consider those who grew up abroad who surely are well attuned to cross-culture ventures.

Can innovators become transnational managers? Obviously the answer is yes – we have only to look at the examples: Bill Gates (Microsoft), Jack Ma (Alibaba) or Wang Jianlin (Dalian Wanda). They have developed from small beginnings to be global forces. Or the many automotive managers who have transformed local into global operations. Yet these guys are few in number if one considers all the highly innovative, often backyard, firms in the world. Their owners, with their friends, often work hard on an idea only to find eventually that it will not sell. Most innovations fail (many rightly so), but there are others that deserve to succeed locally and, perhaps, transnationally. How can we achieve a higher effective transition rate from backyard to commercial success?

The answers lie in several directions. Some would say that we need more venture or angel capitalists to provide seeding finance to bring the young product to commercial success. But even a vibrant capitalist marketplace such as the US has failed in recent years due to the economic slowdown after 2008, and not all nations have such a liquid capital market.

There is also a global lowering of trust. Innovators worry about intellectual property theft, capitalists worry about payback, and potential customers reject the weasel-words of marketing gurus. Research by Deborah Dougherty as long ago as 1992 showed that the styles used by people in organising their thinking and actions about innovation, which she called “interpretive schema”, are major barriers to linking and collaboration. Overcoming these barriers requires cultural solutions, not just structural ones.

Some would suggest an answer should come from business schools that re-educate specialists into business generalists able to see the big picture and, thus, able to aid highly focused innovators. This may be so in a few cases, but many MBA are employed within larger firms to make them more efficient: initially these guys don’t meet the innovators lost in the mire of commerce. By the time they might be deemed competent by their employer, they may have been converted to their firm’s own “interpretive schema” and so cannot discern the worth of a new invention. It is a tautological world sometimes.

Another answer, much more fundamental and probably more worthwhile, involves altering the mindset of children as they learn. This is given a new impetus as we become concerned about TCKs (third culture kids) who have grown up with parents moving around the globe. Their children have suffered or benefited from frequent changes in their learning environments as they grow up. They fashion relationships within the cultures, but don’t have full ownership in any. In effect, we return to the ideas of MsDougherty . . . the successful children have created a uniquely personal ability to absorb their surroundings, merging historical differences with new learning situations. Many of them flew before they could walk; or if asked a question, absentmindedly respond in a different language! Researchers are now questioning if older cohorts will be the new source of expatriate managers. These are the ATCKs – adult third culture kids – now grown up.

NEED FOR WELL-EDUCATED TEACHERS
Developing nations should not have the millstone of legacy education methods, but many do not ensure their children benefit from their school years. Too often, poorly educated educators use old teaching technologies. All children should be guided by well-educated teachers able to present exciting learning so they learn to the best of their abilities. I am not saying all children will become brilliant, but good teachers will ensure the brightest of kids will not be hindered. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD), through its education testing Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), presents comparative global results that indicate Asian children outperforming the rest. But looking more carefully at the sampling process, we find populous nations represented by few data points – one school here or there. We ought to see widespread testing, the results of which will reassure policymakers that their pressure to provide good teachers has paid off. From a platform of increased ability, we ought then to find that innovators become more numerous across all sectors and they ought to attract better financing to develop their novelty into a commercial product to benefit society.

I am sure that better teaching – the sort that is desired by expatriates to educate their TCKs – will stimulate relatively immobile local children to accept other viewpoints: certainly Singapore’s educationalists think so. The OECD/PISA educators hope that students are taught to “think about their thinking”: to improve their understanding of know-what (the theorems) and the know-how (the procedures to solve different types of problems).

PROBLEM-SOLVING
They should ask four types of questions when solving a problem – comprehension questions (What is the problem about?); connection questions (How does this problem relate to problems I have already solved?); strategic questions (What kinds of strategies are appropriate for solving the problem, and why?); and reflection questions (Does the solution make sense? Can the problem be solved in a different way?). These questions and their related cognitive processes gradually become a habit of mind, and perhaps, have become the routines subconsciously used by TCKs to stabilize their own learning platforms as they move between different cultures.

Chinese planners say most young children will be in pre-school education by 2020. But it will take a further 20 to 30 years before these kids are ready for international management positions. This is the stance across Asia as all firms search for “global” managers to expand operations abroad. Maybe the human resources departments or the heads of family businesses should be more willing to accept the ATCKs who surely are well attuned to cross-culture ventures?

There is no instant solution that will assure a rapid transition of innovator to manager. We need a new managerial culture that will embrace cultural differences that may be organisational, as well as national. Perhaps we ought to allow innovators to do more of the work they are good at rather than suggesting they must become managers – there are others, such as the ATCKs, who might be more fitting for this task – if we learn to trust them.

 

The writer is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global visions community.


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