Today's leaders are the global generation

Feb 22 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Once the boundary of your village was your world, then it was your county or state, then your nation or your continent.

Now, in a world of instant, 24/7, global communication, business leaders find themselves working in an environment where they are unfettered by limitations of geography, culture or communication. But do they have the right business education and tools to make the most of this freedom?

Professor Boris Porkovich, associate dean of graduate programmes at the International University of Monaco, has argued that business schools around the world are facing a new challenge: how to maximise the potential of what he calls "the global generation" of business leaders.

His article, which is due to be published in next month's Italian edition of the Harvard Business Review, has suggested that geography, culture and communication are now so interwoven into the very life fabric of today's business leaders that they are, in effect, a "global generation".

"Freed from the shackles of an outdated internationalist view, this generation's members are inextricably linked to each other and the new reality of a universal non-comfort zone," he argued.

There is also an "unprecedented" emphasis on the search for revolutionary design, products, and business practices; forcing firms constantly to make imaginative leaps rather than simply respond to events or innovations.

"Actors in this milieu now confront a borderless business environment defined by radically improved technology, virtually zero time to market, and fundamental departures from accepted product design and delivery," said Porkovich.

"Fierce competition exists in this context and firms are required to succeed in an access-friendly but culturally sensitive marketplace where resourcefulness is a prized asset," he added.

"Well-educated, relevant leadership that can react and collaborate to realise potential is crucial in this swiftly altering landscape," he continued.

But the question, then, for business schools was what in this context did we mean by "well-educated", he suggested.

"What does this mean for educators? How can business schools respond rapidly to a world where the idea of change has become an integral part of students' thought processes – not a 'problem' to solve, address, or ignore? How will these institutions teach innovation – literally?"

People, products and designs would need to become much more "innovation-friendly", Porkovich argued.

"A sponge that soaks up inspiration from a worldwide reservoir or a lightning rod for ingenious pioneers from every country, or a safe haven that woos inventiveness – unable to resist – with a siren call," he enthused.

What this all meant in practice for business schools was a clear need to change their mindset, moving from local thinking to national and then to international and pan-global.

"Culturally, business schools must embrace a wider stage and realise that any future international projects will impact and challenge institutional resources. Potential international partners need to embrace the same educational philosophy and academic culture then express it differently," he said.

"It is time for business schools to accept that globalism is dead, and to embrace and celebrate the global generation," he concluded.