Global Vision: A book review by Bob

Global VisionGlobal Vision: How Companies Can Overcome the Pitfalls of Globalization
Robert Salomon
Palgrave Macmillan (2016)

Here is “a lens through which to view globalization in a new and compelling way”

Robert Salomon provides an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel for leaders of companies that now struggle to meet the challenges of a global marketplace that seems to become even more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous each day. He explores the concept of “Institutional Distance”; that is, the institutional differences between and among countries (be they cultural, political, and/or economic differences) that often determine how best to approach and then manage conditions in a company’s home market. Obviously, globalization involves risks. Salomon shares his thoughts about how to avoid them or minimize them.

The best business books tend to be research-driven and that is certainly true of Global Vision, what with Salomon’s ten pages of “Notes” and another six pages o0f resources in the “Bibliography.” I commend Salomon on his skill full use of various reader-friendly devices that include “Keeping It Real” boxed mini-commentaries throughout the narrative; “101” briefings on “What Managers Should Know” about political, economic, and cultural institutions; more than a dozen “Tables” (e.g. three data sources), and five “Figures” (e.g. “Institutional Distance Illustration”); and “Binging It All Together” sections at the conclusion of Chapters 2-10. These devices help to facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review of key material later.

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Salomon’s coverage:

o Four Examples of Flawed Expansion (Pages 3-8)
o Reimagining the Globalization Landscape (10-11)
o Institutional Distance: A Key Factor (12-14)
o Globalization and Profits (18-21)
o Real-World Complexity (26-32)
o Why National Institutions Matter (36-40)
o The Danger of “Seeing” Successful Globalization Everywhere (40-47)
o Political Institutions 101: What Managers Should Know (49-52)
o Navigating Political Institutions: The Broader Managerial Challenge (53-56)
o Analyzing a Country’s Regulatory Institutions (57-60)
o Measuring a Country’s Political Institutions (63-66)
o Anticipating Economic Shocks (73-77)
o Defining Economic Institutions (78-85)
o Direct and Indirect Measures of Institutions (85-91)
o What We Mean by Cultural Institutions and Culture (102-111)
o What Managers Are Missing (120)
o The Nuts and Bolts of Institutional Distance (121-0125)
o Global Acumen: Complement Instead of Substitute? (147-148)
o Dealing with Uncertainty: When Institutional Data Are Scarce (152-154)
o A Summary of Lessons Learned (184-185)
o Finally Bringing It All Together (192-193)

Global Acumen is one of the most important concepts that Salomon examines is this book. It generates globalization risk values between almost any pair of countries over a range that extends from 0-to 30; uses mathematical distances to account for differences in cultural and political institutions across countries; and also uses mathematical differences to account for differences in economical differences across countries. “To make this procedure more concrete and easier to envision,” Salomon provides Figure 7.2 (Page 134) which presents “the overarching architecture for Global Acumen version 2.0” as well as “the three overarching institutional factors — political, economic, and cultural — described in chapters 4, 5, and 6.” Salomon fully understands that tackling globalization is no easy task. “It takes a bit of creativity and effort to convert raw measures of institutions into useful measures of risk using mathematical distance and distance formulas.” Knowing the institutional risk spread between two countries “is only half the battle. The real value is knowing how to use risk spreads to improve decision making.”

As I read and then re-read Salomon’s discussion of how and why to develop Global Acumen, it occurred to me that failing to do so suggests a metaphor: flying a Boeing 787 or Airbus A380 into a foreign country while blindfolded, entirely alone, and out of contact with anyone.

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can possibly do mukluk justice to the scope and depth of material to be found in Global Vision. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think so highly of it. I agree with Robert Salomon: “Global Acumen can help managers do much more than avoid catastrophic globalization mistakes — it is a tool to help managers win at the globalization game.”

I presume to add one other point: All management teams must not only share but embrace the same global vision and collaborate fully on making it a reality. Just about everything they need to know about HOW to achieve that strategic objective can be found in this book. Bravo!

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