Institute for Business in the Global Context

Where the World of Business Meets the World

Month: March 2016 (page 1 of 2)

10 Questions: Can’t I just Tweet the Change I Want to See in the World? #InsertCatchyCallToArmsHere

TahrirSquareSocial media-driven revolutions have transformed the branding and mobilization of social movements. It would seem these leaderless revolutions have displaced the Gandhis, Mandelas, and Kings of movements past. Yet the reality is that even this new breed of political revolution requires a Mandela—something we’ve forgotten in our eagerness to celebrate the power of a decentralized, digital generation. It turns out that #ACatchyCalltoArms isn’t enough to make changes stick, and without a clear leader so many recent revolutions have devolved into chaos.
Learn more about our thinking on this question:


As part of our “10 Questions” Series, we delve into hard questions of international business not easily answered by a single book, class, discipline, or school of thought. They herald a future where the world and the world of business are ever more interconnected, where decisions can’t be made in a bubble, where real expertise demands deep ‘contextual intelligence.’ This series reflects that contextual intelligence we cultivate in our students in the MIB program.

Can China’s Companies Conquer the World?

Despite China’s recent economic struggles, many economists and analysts argue that the country remains on course to overtake the United States and become the world’s leading economic power someday soon. Indeed, this has become a mainstream view—if not quite a consensus belief—on both sides of the Pacific. But proponents of this position often neglect to take into account an important truth: economic power is closely related to business power, an area in which China still lags far behind the United States.

Read the full piece from Prof. Thomas Hout and Pankaj Ghemawat in the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs

Student Research: Tech for Social Change: How social impact organizations are pushing the boundaries of Salesforce.com

by Aditi Patel (MALD 2016) and Gaspar Rodriguez (MA 2016)

Over the last 15 years, Salesforce has grown from a simple customer relationship management (CRM) tool to a suite of cloud-based business applications, analytics and mobile products with over 100,000 customers. Force.com is Salesforce’s Platform-as-a-Service (Paas) offering that allows users to build custom applications and data models within the existing Salesforce infrastructure. Around the world, social impact organizations (SIOs) are leveraging Salesforce and Force.com to build customized solutions around their programming activities.

During the last few months, we’ve been conducting a global survey and interviews directly with decision makers and users at SIOs to better understand the internal implementation process and identify key areas that have led to successful, and failed, systems. With almost 50 respondents and 10 in-depth interviews from Kenya, India, and the US, we’ve been tracking the specific uses that are pushing the boundaries of Salesforce platform use in the developing world.

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10 Questions: Are Cheeseburgers the Key to Peace in the Middle East?

Amid the scars of continued sectarian violence in Iraq there is a new player emerging in the streets of Baghdad: western-style fast food chains. American businesses have a unique role to play in stabilizing post-conflict zones. Faced with an immense untapped market but the very real threats of security and corruption, can investors see the risks as opportunities?

Learn more about Fletcher’s discussions on this topic:


As part of our “10 Questions” Series, we delve into hard questions of international business not easily answered by a single book, class, discipline, or school of thought. They herald a future where the world and the world of business are ever more interconnected, where decisions can’t be made in a bubble, where real expertise demands deep ‘contextual intelligence.’ This series reflects that contextual intelligence we cultivate in our students in the MIB program.

Transcending Boundaries through Contextual Intelligence

Disruption, innovation, inclusion. These days, there is a multitude of business school jargon used to discuss development, both in the realm of the public and private sector. But here is another one for you: contextual intelligence, achieved through innovation and inclusion.

Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in the Huffington Post

Student Research: Grandeur & Marvels: Expositions as a Vehicle to Brand a Nation

by Jeremy Blaney (MIB 2016)

When London’s Great Exhibition opened in 1851, it was met with anticipation and excitement not only by attendees but also by Queen Victoria herself. Indeed, the grandeur of the Crystal Palace, which housed much of the exhibition, combined with the technological marvels showcased within it communicated a message to the world: Britain was the most powerful and advanced nation on Earth.

Exhibit at the Expo Milano 2015

Exhibit at the Expo Milano 2015

Since then, nations have vied to host a world exposition (sometimes referred to as a world’s fair), viewing it as a global platform to advertise prowess, ambitions, and identity. In other words, expositions are seen as a vehicle by which host nations – and those nations that have a pavilion on site – can introduce or advance a self-defined narrative to visitors from around the world.

In September 2015, I went to Milan as an alumni of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations Fellowship Programme. There, I visited Expo 2015 Milan, which features pavilions from more than 140 countries around the world. Though all pavilions include exhibits that are central to the Expo’s theme (Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life), side-narratives (an olive tree, sacred to all three Abrahamic faiths and associated with the concept of peace, is central to the Palestinian pavilion), and architectural magnificence (a 30-meter-long mirrored cantilever welcomes visitors to the Russian pavilion) suggest an intent to communicate much more than problems of nutrition and information about the resources of our planet. Indeed, each nation appears to be affecting a carefully crafted place branding campaign.

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Why economic philosophy matters: Capitalism and the wealth of nations

Capitalism is not just an economic system, in the sense that investment in, and ownership of how we produce, distribute and exchange wealth is vested in the hands of private individuals and companies, and that prices are determined in the marketplace. Capitalism is also an economic philosophy because it is based, at least in its purest form, on individual rights. This economic system and its markets have faced many criticisms, several of them valid. But, it is beyond dispute, and is supported by empirical evidence, that capitalism remains the greatest creator of wealth and progress the world has seen. It has lifted billions out of poverty around the world, including some 600 million people in China, as well in India, Brazil and South Korea.

Read the full piece from Prof. Moghalu in The Nation

10 Questions: Can Phones Fight Poverty?

empeaThere are twice as many mobile phone subscribers as bank accounts in Indonesia. Last year, smartphone audience growth in India was almost 80% – the largest in the world. In Kenya, cellular phones have long been a hub for banking transactions. Cell phones as banking access points offer an unparalleled opportunity to improve the livelihood of millions through mobile financial services. Can mobile phones lead the un-banked out of poverty?

Learn more about Fletcher perspectives on mobile banking:


As part of our “10 Questions” Series, we delve into hard questions of international business not easily answered by a single book, class, discipline, or school of thought. They herald a future where the world and the world of business are ever more interconnected, where decisions can’t be made in a bubble, where real expertise demands deep ‘contextual intelligence.’ This series reflects that contextual intelligence we cultivate in our students in the MIB program.

Can entrepreneurship bridge the Israeli-Palestinian gap?
by Scott Kirsner

Everyone acknowledges that there are some who don’t want to see the program [collaborative business incubator  Our Generation Speaks] exist — people who oppose any kind of normal interactions between Israelis and Palestinians. But Bhaskar Chakravorti, an associate dean at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, has studied entrepreneurship in emerging markets, and says that everywhere, “most people would like to have a decent livelihood, raise their kids, and live in peace.”

Read the full article with quotes from Dean Chakravorti in The Boston Globe

How Benchmarking Can Help Countries Become More Digital

When it comes to understanding the pace of global digital evolution, the digital growth of developed countries usually has little to tell us about the digital future of developing ones. This has big implications for businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators seeking growth beyond their home markets: there just isn’t a one-size-fits-all app or approach to building scale in the global digital economy. But if a country wants to become attractive to new investors, what it can do is learn from its better-connected peers and play some “digital catch-up.”

Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti and Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi in Harvard Business Review

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