top gradient

Managing in an International Context

One of the most important trends in today's business environment is internationalization or, as some people prefer to call it, globalization.  As you will see, this is not only a feature of large multinational organizations; even small organizations and individuals are able to globalize because of convergence of information and communications technologies, cheap travel and high quality suppliers in emerging economies.  However, the problems of 'going global' are difficult due to the liability of 'foreigness' - the problems of doing business overseas involves overcoming distance and time zones, cultural and business system differences, and resistance by other countries to incomers.  This chapter deals with the problems of going global and managing abroad, as well as managing foreign nationals in your own country.

The questions addressed are:

  • to what extent do countries differ in their business environments and how does this influence the practice of management?
  • what is the impact of internationalization on the growth of firms? and
  • what lessons can we learn from research and practice about managing people in an international environment, whether this is about managing abroad or managing at home in an international environment?

Probably the best place to begin before you read the chapter is to watch the video featuring Tom Freidman talk about his international best-seller 'The World is Flat'.  This is a highly informed and influential account of global development, technology and other forms of convergence, and how these are combining to create a more level playing field in business.

Listen to the Gurus

Listen to the MIT video featuring the updated 2007 Version 3.0 of Tom Friedman and his book on the Flat World thesis.  To what extent do you agree with his analysis and what criticisms could be levelled at his ideas.

Listen to British guru, Charles Handy, talk about Trompennars and Hampden-Turner's ideas on cultural differences and business

Listen to Key Issues

For those of you who skipped chapter four, probably one of the best recent book written by an economist on organizations, growth and firm performance in an international context is by John Roberts (2004).  He describes his core arguments in this lecture from Stanford Business School.  Read the brief summary and then scroll down to the one-hour long video file at the bottom of the page.

Listen to a radio programme made about working and living abroad

Additional Reading

Hofestede, G. (2003) Culture's consequences: competing values, behaviours,institutions and organizations across nations. 2nd edition, London: Sage

Roberts, J. (2004) The modern firm:organizational design for performance and growth. Oxford: Oxford UNiversity Press.

Ideas on Customising the Material

In addition to the IBM business of government site and others already mentioned, you can also access good articles on the International Journal of Public Sector Management site.  However, you will need a library subscription or Athens login.


The GLOBE project is one of the best academic sites on international management.

Another excellent site that covers the work of Hofestede, probably the most influential figure in cross-cultural management research, can be found here.

An excellent resource site for international management is Global Edge