Course objective: to understand the world of international business, cultural and social influences, and international communications.
Course description: course provides the basic process and concepts of management; It includes the study of legal, social, political environment with specific emphasis on the behavioral perspective in international organizations.
Introduction should include the discussion of the essence of International Management in contemporary world . The last paragraph of the introduction should state clearly the points being discussed in the essay. It is an essay not a paper; do not need to write a summary. Citations should be integrated in the text, instead of just mentioning them, For example, an integrated citation, as per Fritjof Capra (2004), instead of the entanglement concept interconnect life (Fritjof Capra, 2004). Citations of publications over 10 years old are note considered. Please do not mention an author out of reference list. It is paramount to cite the work of the suggested authors, not just list them, but need to cite them on the text.
The concept of international management continues to be of utmost importance in today’s world. One of the main reasons for this phenomenon is the fact that the position of the state as the primary actor in international relations is increasingly being challenged by the simultaneous trends towards globalism on the one hand and the pursuit of sub-national interests on the other. This phenomenon creates a duality of sorts. In this duality, international governmental organizations continue to seek new ways of engaging in traditional business practices. In this pursuit, they are confronted by new issues such as international finance, and interdependence among various countries in the world of trade.
Today, international management is primarily founded on a number of international institutions. These institutions provide a platform through which relations among states are conducted. According to Jordan & Feld (2012), the extent to which various states interact through these institutions tends to change depending on necessity, desire, design, or a combination of these three factors. This process tends to yield indistinct outcomes largely because international management practices are conducted in an unplanned manner. This has led to lack of clarity regarding the nature of international management.
The thesis of this essay is that there is a lack of clarity in the practice of international management. This clarity occurs because the international institutions that act as a platform for international management have been designed in such a way as to meet the goals of certain actors at the expense of others. In some cases, the necessity for these organizations is not felt by all international actors. This means that they are approved in some quarters and dismissed in others. Therefore, this thesis ties together the elements of necessity, desire and design demonstrating the lack of clarity in the practice of international management in the contemporary world.
This paper discusses five main points relating to international management. The first point is on aspects of cultural and social influences. Secondly, the paper discusses the concept of international communication. Thirdly, basic processes and concepts of management are explored. Fourthly, a discussion is presented on legal, social, and political environment and its influence on international management. Lastly, the essay emphasizes on behavioral perspective in international organizations. In this regard, focus is on the tendency by these organizations to entrench bureaucratic behavior in order to promote clarity of operations, to achieve authority, and to operate in an environment of autonomy.
In today’s world of international business, numerous challenges are being encountered. Some of the challenges highlighted by McFarlin (2003) include motivation, communication, and leadership. McFarlin (2003) argues that there is a cultural dimension to each of these challenges. For example, businesspersons from one country may sometimes find it difficult to communicate effectively with their suppliers who hail from diverse cultural environments.
The challenges of motivation and leadership manifest themselves in many aspects of human resource management, including recruitment, training, and employee development. Multinational corporations are faced with the need to hire employees from the target country in order to adapt their organizational cultures to the cultural environment of the target country. Moreover, today, even small and medium enterprises are increasingly being influenced by dynamics of the international market. For this reason, leaders of these business enterprises are compelled to put into consideration factors relating to the international business environment in the process of formulating their strategy.
Cultural and social influences greatly contribute to the lack of clarity in the world of international business. According to Leung & Bhagat (2005), this ambiguity continues to exist despite numerous innovative advances in cultural aspects of international business. Leung & Bhagat (2005) argue that this ambiguity manifests itself through the dual forces of cultural convergence and divergence. It is also demonstrated through the various processes that underlie cultural changes in the world of international business.
In today’s business environment of the twenty first century, business executives feel the need to explore various global business opportunities. For example, chief executives of Japanese automobile corporations are keen to venture into the Chinese automobile market. The same case applies for Korean and European competitors. This is largely because of the rapid rise of China as a global economic power during the last decade.
The same thing may be said about the entertainment industry in the US, where leading movie production companies cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the opportunities available in Europe and Asia. This interest in foreign markets motivates these companies to produce films that are of specific cultural interest to people in these international markets. This undertaking greatly contributes to cultural integration. In other words, the recent wave of globalization has had a broadening effect on the mindsets of many business executives keen to extend the geographical reach of their companies. In the scholarly world, this trend has triggered renewed interest in international business research, thereby leading to the emergence of many trajectories.
One of the newest trajectories addresses concerns with national culture. In traditional international business research, most concerns have revolved around legal and economic issues as well as organizational structures and forms in relation to the critical role of national culture. National culture is broadly defined as the beliefs, values, and behavioral patterns, and norms of a national group. National culture is assumed to have a far-reaching impact on business activities at the international level, particularly aspects of capital structure and group performance.
However, as the world becomes increasingly borderless, the line between national culture and the so-called “international culture” becomes very thin. This greatly contributes to the lack of clarity between national culture and international culture. This ambiguity surfaces whenever efforts are made to promote and entrench sustainable international management practices. Cultural change continues to occur even in the contemporary environment of convergence and divergence.
As cultural transformations continue to take place in today’s globalized world, patterns of convergence become increasingly evident. This is particularly the case whenever one assesses various culture-specific attitudes and beliefs. Whenever people from different cultures come together to work for a multinational company, they seem to develop similar work-related behaviors, attitudes, consumption patterns.
One of the signs that indicate that cultures of different locales of the world are converging is the tendency for practices relating to international business to become increasingly similar. This creates the impression that culture-free, standard, business practices will ultimately emerge. When this finally happens, the international business environment will have overcome the complexities and inefficiencies associated with divergence in practices and beliefs of the past. However, according to Johnson (2006), such a conception of convergence of practices relating to the international business environment is overly optimistic. Instead, Johnson (2006) promotes the concept of partial globalization.
Globalization entails growth of a trend towards economic interdependence among many countries, culminating in an increase in the flow of goods, services, knowhow, and capital across national borders. Three decades ago, few people were talking about the concept of “the world economy”. Instead, the term “international trade” was predominantly being used to refer to trading activities involving the exchange of goods and services across national borders. However, in today’s business environment, international trade has led to the emergence of the so-called global economy. This economy is characterized by international flows of currencies, information, technology, and people. These flows are facilitated through various international organizations such as the European Union, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), multinational companies, cross-border alliances such as joint ventures, and global organizations such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Through these relationships, participation in the context of the world economy has been enhanced. This trend has even become a critical factor for the success of economic growth at the domestic level. However, various misgivings have emerged, thereby creating the impression that globalization is not as good a phenomenon as many people may have imagined. According to Johnson (2006), these misgivings are partly responsible for the emergence of the concept of partial globalization. This concept is of great relevance in this essay because it is one of the indicators of the lack of clarity in the practice of international management today.
Protests against globalization tend to be staged many times particularly when various conferences are held by various international organizations such as the WTO. This strong opposition to the contemporary tide of globalization tends to emanate from the developing world. Many developing countries feel that the destabilizing impact of globalization is hurting their economies. However, even developed countries have not been spared by these effects. Many citizens in these countries have in the recent past lost their professional jobs simply because the companies they were working for simply decided to outsource them to low-wage countries.
According to Ika (2012), international development projects in Africa have fallen into deep project management problems mainly because of the negative impact of globalization. Ika (2012) adds that to start with, globalization reinforces the perpetuation of a technical trap characterized by a one-size-fits-all mentality. It also contributes to the tendency by project managers in the continent to rely on accountability to obtain results. Another major challenge that makes globalization seem undesirable is the lack of capacity for project management. Since globalization is characterized by a high degree of dynamism, it becomes difficult for project management for international development to be refocused in such a way as to derive long-term development results.
In developing countries, one of the best alternatives is to rely on aid agencies. Unfortunately, foreign aid also portrays aspects of being unreliable. To address cultural issues, African leaders have demonstrated the willingness to tailor project management practices to African cultures. This demonstrates a trend of divergence that is greatly influenced by globalization. Johnson (2006) uses the term “cross-cultural competence” in reference to the phenomenon whereby African project development managers adapt their practices to local cultural contexts.
If globalization was driving the world towards full-fledged convergence, the need for cross-cultural competence would not arise. Business practitioners would not need to acquire specific knowledge, skills, as well as attributes in order to succeed in doing business in foreign contexts. Similarly, international business management specialists working in Africa would not bother to adapt international project management practices to African cultures. Instead, they would put in place measures aimed at hastening the process of full-fledged convergence of globalization-related practices.
The issue of cultural intelligence has also become dominant in literature on globalization. The need for cultural intelligence continues to arise in international business management despite the fact that the world is becoming increasingly globalized. Johnson (2006) even indicates the need for the creation of a model on how to nurture a cultural intelligence in individuals. According to Johnson (2006), contextual and environmental factors that impede the effective adoption of the appropriate knowledge, skills, and attributes should be addressed in such a model. Failure to address these factors leads to the creation of a gap between what the international management specialists know and what they do.
Discourse on social differences also demonstrates the extent to which developments have occurred with regard to international management. Although the world is experiencing a rapid wave of globalization and subsequent integration of societies into a global village, a phenomenon of duality is also emerging. Social inequality continues to be a major feature of the globalized society. The gap between affluent and impoverished societies continues to widen. In most cases, impoverished societies readily oppose globalization because they view it as a threat to their cultural heritage. On the other hand, many affluent societies associate globalization with a rapid increase in opportunities for trade, interaction, and integration. This duality of integration and social inequality has in recent years turned into a major debate in international management.
It is also worthwhile to understand social context of international business management in the context of a chaotic international system. The international system operates in a state of anarchy. This explains why efforts are always being made towards the search for symmetry and order mainly through various international organizations. These organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, are a critical component of management at the international level.
One of the methods used in the search for international order is the historical approach. It entails the analysis of international organizations from a historical perspective. Political institutions are shaped as much by historical aspects. According to Jordan & Feld (2012), the history of the past is ineradicable while that of the future is unpredictable. Jordan & Feld (2012) argue that both histories play a critical part in efforts to shape political institutions. In these efforts, efforts are normally made to understand the contemporary world better as well as to perceive and assess the future in a clearer manner. Some familiarity of the past is always thought to constitute a critical factor in efforts to have a better perception of an unpredictable future.
Different societies hold different perceptions of international order. This manifests one of the greatest difficulties for international management. Social scientists simply assume that rational elements of the decision-making process are going to predominate over the non-rational elements. According to Jordan & Feld (2012), this creates the need for quantitative and empirical data for purposes of testing this assertion. Moreover, various social influences must be put into consideration during the decision-making process. Other factors relating to social aspects include personal traits of decision makers, their interests, their personal goals, and prior commitments.
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From a social perspective, every international action tends to be an outcome of a continuum of many decisions, some of which may be contradictory. In this regard, the contribution of international governmental and non-governmental organizations tends to take center stage. Other critical contributions come from private enterprises and national institutions. This diversity of contributions creates many opportunities for contradictions based on varying social convictions. In today’s era of globalization, antagonism mostly pities proponents of convergence against those who support divergence. Supporters of convergence tend to perceive the possibility of forging a common global voice in a social context with the aim of achieving certain national and international objectives. On the contrary, those who support an environment of divergence think that different societies should be allowed to chart their own destinies depending on their peculiar needs and circumstances.
International communication plays a critical role in the management of businesses that operate across national borders. It contributes significantly to the phenomenon of international management. Today, it is being facilitated by developments in information technology. Wireless communication has led to the emergence of a networked society. In this society, it is possible for people from different parts of the world to engage in discussions about issues of management. One would expect this networked society to come together in one accord and agree on the way forward in matters of international management. On the contrary, it has led to the emergence of many fragmented associations and groups, each with a unique set of beliefs regarding international management. Each of these groups takes pride in being able to present unique ideas and a unique philosophy to the world, thereby asserting its identity.
One of the main positive aspects of international communication is that it creates numerous opportunities for multinational corporations to coordinate matters relating to innovation as well as research and development (R&D). Teams working from different parts of the world are able to share information, exchange ideas, and contribute towards a common project. However, the teams may also be overwhelmed with too much information from case studies of different multinational companies. For this reason, the emergence of the networked global society creates the need for people to acquire skills for selecting the most relevant information and ignoring everything else. Professionals who fail to master this skill are likely to be distracted too often, thereby making it extremely difficult for them to achieve their organizational goals.
The need to filter out the most relevant information is worth emphasizing on given the fact that multinational corporations are increasingly relying on far-flung R&D operations. In many cases, constraints arising from host-country culture may act as a disincentive for R&D. This may act as an inhibiting factor as far as the move towards global innovation efforts is concerned. In other cases, the researchers may be unwilling to share information because of concerns relating to confidentiality and privacy of data.
In essence, the emergence of tools of international communication has increased the need for greater management of channels of communication. Today, public relations managers of companies have too many things to worry about regarding information that is communicated via the internet. They are concerned about the emergence of cyber crime, hacking, as well as malware and spyware. Loss of crucial personal information may easily lead to massive financial losses for international organizations and multinational corporations.
According to Houben (2005), improvements in information technology have led to the emergence of the concept of the “virtual state”. This concept is best understood as a metaphor that draws attention to a trend in which various processes and structures of the contemporary state are increasingly becoming designed in the context of digital information systems. When information and communication systems are digitized, institutions operating at the state level are compelled to rethink their strategies for decision making, location of data, as well as processes and services with a view to include private firms and non-profit organizations. Houben (2005) refers to states that use information technologies as virtual states in order to highlight what seem to be far-reaching changes in the structure of the contemporary state in the information age.
However, one of the main problems is that aspects of interdependence between information systems and organizations have been neglected. This situation has occurred primarily because in most cases focus has been on information systems and technological capacity. Instead, there is a need for states to adopt an institutional and structural approach that begins with processes governing cultural and organizational change. This change should be conceptualized in such a way that the experiences of decision makers are put into consideration. This way, success can be achieved in embedding information technology in all work locations.
Today, failure to adopt a structural and institutional framework for the adoption of technology has created a scenario in which it is impossible to trace the path of technology usage in governance. According to Oviatt (2005), the complexities of bringing about institutional change are evident in various accounts of user resistance, bureaucratic resistance, and the reluctance by many civil servants to engage in the innovative practices. Oviatt (2005) argues that these challenges make experts to express the need to rethink the role of information technology in international management.
In this regard, lack of clarity manifests itself in the difficulty in determining whether developments in information technology have brought about any meaningful change in efforts to promote international management. Managers who use smartphones to share company information across jurisdictions are concerned that authorities, hackers, and stalkers may be tracking this information discretely. Whereas such communication allows hassle-free sharing of information globally, it also makes the global communications system more volatile and more vulnerable than ever before.
In today’s globalized world, the debate on the basic process and concepts of management is ongoing. In international management, one of the most commonly used concepts is international adjustment. International adjustment comes with numerous challenges, not to mention the costs associated with it. According to Carroll (2012), a lot of attention is being directed towards the subject of international adjustment. Before multinational corporations may claim to have established an international foothold, they must have adjusted to the culture of the host countries. In many cases, this entails hiring professionals from the host-country environment.
In today’s era of globalization, many companies, including small and medium enterprises feel the need to venture outside national borders. This creates a situation where processes and concepts of international management are increasingly becoming an integral component of day-to-day business operations at the domestic level. The main problem is the lack of theoretical grounding on issues of domestic and international alignment. More empirical and theoretical research is required in order to create a better understanding of the role of international adjustment in international management. Furthermore, such research can contribute greatly towards efforts to address the lack of clarity in the creation of a multidimensional framework for the management of businesses and organizations at the global level.
The concept of structural transformation has also become an integral part of literature on international management. During the last two decades, this multidimensional concept has been associated with the emergence of a new paradigm in the realm of technology. In this new realm, information and communication technologies have been hailed for ushering in the information age. This new paradigm has reignited the “ages-old” debate on whether technology determines society or it is vice versa. Today, management thinking at the international seems to be driven largely by the belief that society shapes technology on the basis of values, needs, and interests of technology users.
Technology plays a critical role in contemporary management. The management issues that arise in today’s information society are different from those of the bygone industrial society. In today’s information society, managers operating in the international environment cannot ignore aspects of networking and its influence on global interactions. Digital communication networks are the drivers of organizational forms in the information society just in the same way electrical engine and electricity acted as the drivers of organizational forms in the industrial society.
The rapidity with which technological changes are occurring in the information society creates the impression that we live in confusing times. Confusion arises whenever technological changes occur, leaving institutions that depended on technology vulnerable. In this way, technology seems to be derailing the process of establishing stable institutions for global governance. This vulnerability has been compounded by the major crises that have hit the world in the twenty first century. Some of these crises include the global economic recession, upheavals in labor and business markets, cultural and social exclusion of a large proportion of the world’s population, and an explosion of the global criminal economy.
For a concept of international management to be acceptable, it must address the issue of social and cultural exclusion. Emphasis on this issue greatly contributes to better understanding of the paradox of globalization and the related tenet of integration. Through global networks, people with access to various opportunities have numerous opportunities for accumulating wealth, knowledge, and power. In most cases, these benefits are accumulated at the expense of segments of the global population that have not access to such opportunities. For such marginalized societies, the best thing is normally to maintain a stranglehold of their cultural values as a way of asserting their identity. This reinforces the phenomenon of duality characterized by convergence and divergence.
One may argue that the generation of knowledge, wealth, and power depends largely on the ability to organize today’s society and derive the benefits that come with the new technology system. Yet this approach seems unsustainable in the global context because of its tendency to marginalize impoverished societies particularly in parts of Africa and South America, and Latin America. However, with proper social organization at the domestic level, developing countries may succeed in adapting emerging technologies to local needs.
Technological developments have also led to the emergence of the so-called knowledge society or information society. International management efforts should be conceptualized from the perspective of this concept. However, this term is somewhat problematic because it creates the impression that knowledge and information are more important today that they were in traditional societies. On the contrary, they have always been important. The main difference is that today’s networking technologies that are based on microelectronics have created new capabilities, thereby revolutionizing the traditional framework of social organization. Unfortunately, international management practices are not being transformed to reflect this change. One of the greatest challenges entails the creation of a clear evolutionary path through which human social arrangements form the basis for the establishment of sound international management practices that reflect the ongoing technological changes. The extent to which sound international management practices have been entrenched can be determined through an in-depth analysis of the international legal, social, and political environment.
The international legal environment is best appreciated through the analysis of transnational and sub-national entities. Sovereign states remain at the heart of this legal environment since they are the primary actors in international relations. However, in the twenty first century, the role of the state is under threat from international organizations, regional blocs, multinational corporations, and non-governmental organizations.
Territorial boundaries of states are governed by international law. For this reason, the state has succeeded in maintaining its position as a primary actor in international relations. In other words, the continued relevance of states seems to be anchored on legal aspects as opposed to social and economic aspects. Today, most of the issues being addressed by transnational and sub-national entities are increasingly irrelevant for purposes of state sovereignty. In one way, the impression created is that the proliferation of social systems is a threat to global governance. In another way, one may argue that social systems at the sub-national and supranational levels will eventually triumph over state sovereignty.
The debate has in many ways been on the nature of legal, social, and economic aspects of interdependence. Although many people around the world hope that integration will increase harmony in the contemporary world, many events taking place in today’s world cast a shadow of doubt on this vision. On the one hand, major achievements have been made through communications, globalizing capital, and culture. On the other hand, the significance of ethnicity has not subsided. Managers of multinational corporations (MNCs) encounter many situations where many people in host countries are keen to assert their ethnic identities. Such MNCs are compelled to manufacture products that reinforce the image of a unique ethnic identity. Nevertheless, the greatest problem occurs whenever ethnic identities are used as a basis for inter-communal conflicts. Such conflicts contradict the expectation of a globalized, interdependent global society.
In essence, the greatest political fault lines in the contemporary world have been established on the basis of ethnicity. This makes state boundaries seem like a mere legality imposed by colonial powers and international law. This paradox remains one of the greatest challenges encountered in the practice of international management today. This is contrary to the Marxists’ prediction that today’s political divisions would be based primarily on class consciousness. It is also contrary to the prediction by liberal internationalists that the divisions would be first and foremost be governed by tenets of global citizenship.
In a world characterized by numerous economic, social, and security problems, ethnicity emerges as a driving force for animosity and confrontational competition for resources. It is imperative for the practice of international management to be understood in the context of this harsh reality. Class differences in themselves do not drive social groups apart; rather they act as catalysts for reigniting ethnic animosity that may have previously been subdued or absent. This reality was demonstrated in post-independence societies and at the end of Cold War.
Today, the United Nations has been established as the organizations legally mandated under international law to bring sovereign states together in the pursuit of international cooperation, peace, and stability. In many ways, the UN is a clear testimony to the interdependence of legal, social, and economic aspects in international management practice. It is unfortunate that a state or anarchy has continued to prevail in the conduct of international relations. In many ways, it is evident that this anarchy prevails because many sovereign states refuse to abide by international law. For example, some sovereign states have refused to ratify the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court.
To continue promoting legal aspects of international management, coordination on legal, social, and economic levels is critical. Various organizations need to establish synergies for them to succeed in promoting a culture of cooperation. This culture of cooperating tends to be lacking among private and public international agencies. In many cases, these organizations only focus on resolving crises while at the same time enhancing their stature in the global environment. The situation becomes complicated when national governmental agencies add their input. In some cases, international and sub-national NGOs may also seek to contribute to crisis management. It is therefore easy to understand why it is extremely difficult for leadership to be established and maintained in this vast array of organizational contexts.
One of the levels of coordination brings together international governmental organizations (IGOs). In most cases, this cooperation is governed by international laws, regulations, and treaties. These organizations undertake their mandates in an environment of cooperation with the aim of resolving various social and economic problems. They also contribute to the wellbeing of the affected populations whenever disasters strike. Cooperation may also occur between IGOs and international non-governmental organizations. Another way of viewing this cooperation is by assessing cooperation at the civil-military level.
According to Houben (2005), it is important for these relationships between international organizations to be directed towards not just the resolution of international crises but also crises forecasting. Houben (2005) argues that to forecast crises accurately, it is imperative for a historical view of contemporary international crises to be adopted. Houben’s (2005) represents just one of the instances in which a lot of focus is increasingly being directed towards in-depth analyses of crisis management (CM) systems. However, a unique policy is yet to be identified in literature, such that crisis management systems vary from one country to the other. Even in the context of European Union member states, country differences sometimes occur in terms of adoption of CM systems.
According to Sahin (2008), many countries consider crisis management a critical factor in the achievement and maintenance of national security. To demonstrate this point, many scholars, including Sahin (2008) and Houben (2005) use a comparative approach. Sahin (2008) explores the constraints and preconditions placed by nine European countries on their involvement in international crisis management activities as well as the outcomes of such decisions. According to Sahin (2008), the objective of this study is to enable readers understand the complexity of this decision-making process.
The complexity of the decision-making process relating to international crisis management may be one of the reasons why this area is still developing in terms of scholarly analysis. International management scholars have had to address the twin aspects of emergency management and administration techniques. No consensus has been reached regarding the adoption of a single policy for emergency planning in the EU region as well as other parts of the world. This is unfortunate given that the public tends to have high expectations regarding emergency response policies. Whenever crises emerge, the public expect the level of performance by government agencies to be high.
As a way of bringing about progress in crisis management at the international level, it is imperative for analysis to be done on the characteristics of some of the most successful crisis management undertakings. Moreover, focus should also be directed towards the relationship between emergency management efforts and public administration policies. In many cases emergencies tend to be characterized by spatially limited events where a need arises for sufficient resources to be available to address various issues relating to specific accidents, incidents, and disasters. Without proper crisis management policies, it is impossible to claim that significant progress has been made with regard to international management.
With today’s technological advancements, the some dangers have increased dramatically. Many technological disasters have occurred in the world many times in recent years, mainly in the form of terrorist explosions, wars, transportation accidents, and arsons. These disasters turn out to be high-profile events because of the high number of lives that they claim, the property that they destroy, and the havoc they wreck in entire communities. To protect themselves from these impacts, many European countries have developed unique, sovereignty-driven, national policies which in most cases are under the control of a government agency.
In the post-September 11 era, these countries have drastically overhauled their crisis management systems. The objective is to ensure that these systems are a reflection of the changing realities of international management. Therefore, the behavior of various actors in international relations greatly influences international management practices. One of the responses made in the EU as well as in other parts of the world entails the enactment of anti-terrorism legislation. For example, the EU introduced the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) soon after the September 11 terrorist attack in the US. This policy contains a clause that emphasizes the need for solidarity in the fight against terrorist incidents.
The impression created in the way countries have responded to the threat of terrorism is that states are always keen to adapt their behavior in response to emerging threats. They do so by positioning themselves in such a way that chances of establishing a successful counteractive program are dramatically increased.
To appreciate the functioning of international organizations, it is imperative them to be analyzed from a behavioral perspective. One of the most dominant traits of international organizations is that they operate as bureaucracies. In this regard, the most effective bureaucracies are those that facilitate active participation in world affairs. This bureaucratic character greatly influences the behavior of these organizations.
As bureaucracies, international organizations (IOs) tend to possess rational-legal authority. However, it is also common for them to derive authority from various delegation processes, expertise, and moral claims. These sources together give these organizations the authority to act as well as become sources of foundation for autonomy. The issue of sources of authority is critical in this debate because it contributes greatly to the development of a theory of IO behavior. In fact, a theory of IO behavior may be unnecessary in situations where IOs are not understood as being autonomous.
The tendency by IOs to behave as bureaucracies no doubt arises from the complexity of the tasks they address. Unfortunately, many people have decidedly ambivalent attitudes towards bureaucracies because of the fact that they trigger connotations of inefficiency and incompetence. Yet bureaucracies are necessary in the process of organizing today’s increasingly complex world. One of the enduring features of modern bureaucracies is hierarchy. Other characteristics include continuity, impersonality, and expertise. In bureaucracies, all problems are broken down into repetitive, manageable tasks that are assigned to different offices. They are then coordinated within a hierarchical command.
Bureaucratic rules tend to have different impacts on the operations of IOs. They prescribe courses of action both within and outside the organization. Internally, they provide standard operating procedures through which organization can succeed in responding more efficiently to environmental demands. At the same time, some of these rules may prescribe the behavior of people outside the organizations, for example indebted countries, parties in conflict, and refugee host countries. These rules are therefore recognized as an integral component of the behavior of these international organizations. Externally, bureaucratic rules can shape the way bureaucrats perceive the world as well as the problems they encounter. The rules these bureaucrats are subjected to play a critical role in categorizing and classifying their world. For example, a bureaucrat’s perception of the difference between genocide and civil war may be based on the rules provided to him by the international organization. Other concepts whose definitions may change from one international organization to the other include economic migrant, chronic disequilibrium, and shortfalls in balance of payments.
From this ongoing discussion, it is evident that the behavior of IOs as bureaucracies greatly contributes to the way they define the social world in which they operate. In most cases, they define this world in such a way as to make it amenable to intervention by the bureaucrats themselves. For example, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) tends to establish rules governing ways of solving deficits in balance of payments through economic restructuring. In turn, these rules create the need for a greater level of intervention by this organization. Another example is that of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees), which creates rules governing ways of resolving and preventing refugee flows. These rules, in turn, legitimate intervention by this organization in both refugee-producing and host countries.
The rules that IOs establish can also be a reflection of the identity of the organization. For example, the United Nations (UN) has incorporated the aspect of consent in all its rules. The objective of incorporating this concept is partly to differentiate the organization from other IOs that rely on coercive means in resolving disputes. By so doing, the UN succeeds in highlighting its special role in contemporary world politics, that of promoting international peace, stability, and security. In some cases, this behavior brings about lack of clarity on whether the organizations are only keen on promoting their self interests or they genuinely feel the need to address various challenges relating to international management.
In essence, bureaucratic rules shape the understandings, activities, as well as identity in a manner that facilitates the establishment of a bureaucratic culture. In this context, the term “bureaucratic culture” is used to refer to the solutions that different groups of people produce with the aim of addressing the specific problems they face. With time, these solutions are institutionalized and passed on to newer employees as values, rules, and rituals of the organization.
International organizations that are established as bureaucracies are normally established with the aim of achieving specific objectives. To achieve these goals, they always need to establish consensus relating to the way their core mission is understood both internally and externally. They also tend to define the basic means through which these goals are to be pursued as well as a way of measuring results. In this way, a shared discourse is created for all staff members. Various group identities are also established with these organizations, just like in the case of typical business organizations. Similarly, social and cultural influences constitute a critical component of interactions both internally and externally.
One of the most critical aspects of IOs in terms of their contribution to international management is their authority and autonomy. For them to succeed in their mission, some degree of authority and autonomy is necessary. Through bureaucratic behavior, managers of these organizations create hierarchies through which various rules are established and procedures implemented.
Effective managers of IOs understand that authority means much more than the ability by the leader to get people to do perform tasks that they otherwise would rather not perform. It also entails the ability to inform people about the right things to do. However, it is not always obvious that the directions provided by those in authority will automatically be complied with. It is common for actors to recognize the judgment of the authority as being legitimate, yet they still go ahead and choose an alternative option for various reasons. For example, different authoritative voices may be providing different judgments. This is a common phenomenon in international organizations. In many cases, it is normally an indicator of a crisis of authority. For these reasons, it is wrong to assume that authority is singular, fixed and that it is always obeyed.
As social actors, IOs are greatly formed by the presence of voices of authority. With time, these voices of authority provide a behavioral vocabulary that defines all the actions of the people working in the organization. They also act as sources of crucial information relating to the goals and objectives of the international organization.
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In today’s globalized world, the social purposes or cultural imperatives that different IOs pursue tend to vary from one organization to the other. This tends to be the case even when they endeavor to appear to be promoting the image of value-neutral technocracy and impartiality. To this extent, these organizations seem to be engaging in doublespeak. Moreover, in most of the issues that IOs confront, it is normally the case that the decision to adopt a neutral stance would not be a plausible one. Therefore, by endeavoring to appear as if they are operating in an apolitical manner, these organizations promote a notion of vagueness and lack of a strong drive to resolve some of the serious problems confronting the confronting the contemporary world. It would be better if these organizations started operating in an environment of absolute clarity. This way, they can demonstrate their commitment to the goal of ensuring that better international management practices are adopted in the contemporary world.
In efforts to achieve autonomy, IOs engage behavior aimed at enabling them overcome fierce opposition from powerful states. State interests are a major impediment to the success of these organizations. The tendency to oppose certain international organizations may vary from one state to the other depending on the goals that these IOs are perceived to represent. Paradoxically, the subject of autonomy tends to be ignored by many scholars of international relations.
In today’s era of improvements in international communications, the relevance of international organizations has increased tremendous. They provide a relatively middle ground in issues in which sovereign states are discouraged from providing leadership because of vested interests. In such situations, IOs take the opportunity to convince sovereign states that it is in their best interests to enable them expand their zone.
Barnett (2004) argues that there are many situations where international organizations have been contributing to better global governance and international management by furthering state interests in an environment of autonomy. Given the fact that the landscape of international politics is characterized by disorder and anarchy, it would be appropriate if these organizations were accorded autonomy in order to place them at a better place to contribute to better global governance.
Whenever states are indifferent about various challenges facing the contemporary world, international organizations have a responsibility to come in and set the stage for a heated debate on different policy issues. In some cases, the silence on the part of some states may be triggered by a knowledge gap or lack of capacity. Nevertheless, the direction adopted in these issues ends up affecting all states. Therefore, all states must always be encouraged to participate in debates in order to be part of the solutions provided. In such situations, international organizations may have wider latitude for undertaking measures that reinforce their autonomy.
The debate on international management in the contemporary world touches on many issues ranging from technology and culture to politics and legal environment. In today’s increasingly globalized world, a networked, highly dynamic society has emerged. One may have expected that this environment of interdependence enhances the process of improving global governance through the establishment of better practices relating to international management. On the contrary, it seems to bring about new challenges. This is the reason why the thesis of this paper emphasized on the issue of lack of clarity in practice of international management.
To highlight this lack of clarity, the essay explored aspects of cultural and social influences, international communication, and basic concepts of management. It also explored the legal, social, and political environment and its influence on international management. In this discussion, special emphasis was on the behavioral perspective in international organizations.
In conclusion, this paper confirms the thesis that a lack of clarity exists as far as the practice of international management is concerned. Moreover, more empirical and theoretical research is required in order to create a better understanding of the role of international adjustment in international management. Such research can contribute greatly towards efforts to address the lack of clarity in the creation of a multidimensional framework for the management of businesses and organizations at the global level.
Moreover, many international organizations promote bureaucratic behavior in order to increase clarity of function, to increase their authority, and to promote autonomy in an environment of stiff competition from sovereign states. However, these efforts are yet to yield the intended benefits. International organizations have not yet succeeded in promoting a culture of impartiality in addressing issues relating to good governance. There is a need for further research on ways of clarifying the role of international organizations in an increasingly dynamic, chaotic, and globalized world.
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