A Workplace Without Borders
Over time, people across the world have self-organized themselves in a variety of ways. There are tribes, villages, towns and cities. Then there are city-states, nation-states and even empires.
All have cultures, even subcultures that make them distinctive and give them an identity. They have borders that create separation and avenues of commerce that promote their economies.
Emerging now is a global village. A complex interdependent society, comprised of nations and ethnicities that span the world, draws upon a global intercultural workplace for organizational operations and social well-being, and intertwines national economies ultimately forming a single system. People with their cultural worldviews and personal and professional dreams and aspirations routinely interface—meet—and interact. It is in this context that modern business organizations take shape and function.
The contemporary corporate business enterprise is a strategic network of international organizations that has a global workforce. Besides having foreign suppliers and venders many have international business partnerships as well.
On a regular basis, business professionals work across national borders and with individuals and team members from various cultures. As work becomes more international and business operations more deeply intertwined with global economics, it is becoming more cosmopolitan in nature.
Professionals engage with, and at times even befriend, colleagues and clients from many nations. They now live and work “in the world,” not “in just one nation.” Practically speaking, because of how organizations are networked, they do not work “just for one company” either, but for many. Increasingly, inter-organizational teams are becoming common occurrences.
Thus, today’s organizational professional is a cosmopolitan individual, a citizen of the world who routinely interacts with people with differing cultural world views, leadership perspectives and work styles. Further, because of the interdependent nature of the distributed organization’s structure, one’s work affects business enterprises and civic communities worldwide. One’s work activities contribute to the prosperity and stability of many countries, not just one’s home country. One’s work shapes world economies and significantly affects daily lives globally.
It can then be said that in today’s global marketplace, organizational leaders are challenged to re-envision themselves, to understand themselves not merely as business professionals but as global civic members. The same holds for the business enterprises that employ them. They are to be culturally sensitive, socially-minded global corporate citizens, acting in a responsible manner that is in the best interest of the people of the world, not just their own company or country.
Organizations and their leaders, then, are challenged to be successful and profitable while acting with a sense of integrity that entails working for the common good. They are to have a social entrepreneurial perspective, value set and spirit that promotes an equitable, interdependent world and a sustainable future. Professionals are being called to sincerely:
• Lead and manage with a sense of integrity that tempers self-interest with social responsibility;
• Seek the mutual benefit of world-wide organizational stakeholders;
• Be social entrepreneurs who envision and work to foster an equitable and interdependent world;
• Lead organizations so they enhance the communities in which they exist—local, regional, national and global; and
• Develop and maintain business practices and organizational values rooted in transparency and sustainability, thus managing in a fashion that creates a viable and healthy future.
Not only does the above situation require a re-envisioning of the professional as global citizen, and of international organizations as global civic community members, it requires a radical rethinking of business success and business partnership dynamics. From a systems and sustainability perspective, individual organizations are successful if they enable the effective operation and prosperity of the entire network in which they belong. They are successful if they actively contribute to the advancement of the economies of their home country plus the economies of the countries in which their business partners and vendors exist and in which their distributed workforce and customers live.
Corporate social responsibility, then, is not an added component to management styles and business operations, but a way of being an organizational leader and a manner in which business is conducted. It is about professional identity and purpose and organizational integrity and mission. It is about a business model and economic strategy rooted in global interdependence and worldwide flourishing.
While this perspective may seem altruistic, interestingly, with the national economies being so intertwined, and with business operations and profitability being so dependent upon both distributed organizational structures and a global workforce, any business approach that is not founded in a “prosperity for the global common good” viewpoint seems to not be very business savvy.
Challenging, but a vantage point to consider.