What I Do
I study, publish and act as a consultant about leadership skills in business and government.
One of the greatest challenges organizations face is coping with the interdependence between competition and cooperation. This includes also the relation between leaders inside the organizations at different levels:
- Between companies and inside companies between divisions and headquarters
- Between governments and inside governments between departments. Also between politically appointed leaders and senior civil servants, And lastly within the cabinet and within departments
- Between governments and businesses, nationally and globally
The balance of power between organizations and people constantly change. The leader is responsible to maintain the right balance- a major challenge.
This is nothing new. These challenges have been dealt with since the 1880s. In practice it has however drastically changed by the increase in the number of sovereign countries from around 80 to 190 with radical changes in relative power and the escalation in power of transnational companies (TNC's) with their supply chains.
The interdependence between the sovereign states has grown rapidly with many benefits and also with increases in risks and still with many unsolved problems like financial stability.
We can't find solutions in the past. We can find methods and skills that are useful to day. The right way is more cooperation and healthy competition.
Transnational Companies and Continental Regionalization
Transnational Companies (TNCs) have grown very rapidly by investing facilities outside their home countries and making huge acquisitions at home and abroad. These companies with their role at the top of pyramids of global supply chains accounted in 2012 for a remarkable 80% of global trade (UNCTAD report 2013). For example, on average 76% of sales and employment is outside their home countries for IBM, Proctor and Gamble, Coca Cola, Siemens, Bosch, Allianz, Linde, Vodafone, Unilever and Astra Zeneca.
This development increases the intensity of competition and fortunately also creates many more opportunities for cooperation between businesses in the supply chains and between businesses and governments.
An example of a method to make cooperation more efficient is "Continental Regionalism”. Regionalism refers to a group of sovereign countries, a regional group, to act as one unit. UNCTAD reported that in 2012 eight agreements (IIA) were concluded with a regional group and that 10 countries are currently involved in 22 regional negotiations.
Many Transnational Companies already have regional headquarters in for example Singapore to cover the Asia Pacific region. These companies are far ahead of the countries.
I consider continental regionalism of the utmost importance, as regionalism is one of the most effective ways to increase the benefits of cooperation and maintaining healthy competition. It is also one of the tasks requiring new leadership skills about working with the interdependence between cooperation and competition. It is a way to balance power.