Thursday, January 17, 2008

Global Competition in the Flat World

The cliché that the world is getting flat is dramatically true for today’s organizations. With rapid advances in technology and communications, the time it takes to exert influence around the world from even the most remote locations has been reduced from years to only seconds. Business is becoming a unified global field as trade barriers fall, communication becomes faster and cheaper, and consumer tastes in everything from clothing to cellular phones converge, Chowdhury (2004). In the twenty first century, organizations will have to feel “at home” anywhere in the world. Companies can locate different parts of the organization wherever it makes the most business sense; top leadership in one country; technical brainpower and production in other locales. Although this growing interdependence brings many advantages, it also means that the environment for companies is becoming extremely complex and extremely competitive. Organizations have to learn to cross lines of time, culture, and geography in order to survive. Every company, large and small, faces international competition on its home turf at the same time it confronts the need to be more competitive in international markets. Rising managers today need to know a second or third language and develop cross-cultural understanding. Large companies are working to globalize the management structures to remain competitive internationally, while even the smallest companies are searching for structures and processes that help them reap the advantages of global interdependence and minimize the disadvantages.

Organizational Turbulence

For much of the twentieth century, organizations operated in a relatively stable business environment, so managers could focus on designing structures and systems that kept the organization running smoothly and efficiently. There was little need to search for new ways to cope with increased competition or shifting customer demands. All that began to change in the 1980s, and today’s organizations are struggling to catch up with the changes that have proliferated since then. Advances in computers and information technology are driving many of these changes at the same time they provide ways to cope with them. We’ll see more turbulence in the days ahead. Fasten your seat belts and get ready for the ride!!

Reference: Chowdhury, S. (2002). Organization 21C: Someday all organizations will lead this way. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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