“Business has long been identified as a moral agent in creating, managing, and resolving the moral challenges of globalization, raising awareness and expectations among stakeholders of business as an integral partner in creating the future for humanity.” [i]
The world is changing at record speed (as cliché as that may sound), and with that change is coming unprecedented disruption. One thing is certain, though, never before in the economic history of the world have we seen the confluence of businesses positioned as political powerhouses—whether intentional or not. Consider, for example, Benzinga’s comparison of how three US technology giants stack up against countries worldwide, comparing Market Cap against GDP:
- Apple’s market cap is current just north of $796 billion, which would put it as the 17th most valuable country in the world, just ahead of the Netherlands, when compared to current World Bank data on global GDP.
- Google would rank as the 19th most valuable country in the world, ahead of international finance hub Switzerland, at a $672 billion valuation.
- Amazon.com, Inc. would rank as the 25th biggest country in the world, just behind Poland, with a $467 billion market cap. (Hershman, 2017, para. 4) [ii]
The Magnitude of Worldwide Change
The number of globalization challenges has increased, and so has the complexity of the challenges presented. The words abounding in headlines, news stories, and articles in reference to the complications faced by global leaders include: disruption, friction, forces, fragmenting, tension, winners and losers (Rawlinson, 2018). [iii] One of the more confounding matters is the simultaneous process of integration and disintegration (or fragmentation) seen through recent dichotomous statistics:
- Improved world economy / China’s 6% GDP growth
- Continued disparity of wealth distribution
- UK’s economic growth / UK’s falling wages
- Awareness of the role of women in the workplace / unequal economic empowerment (Rawlinson, 2018, para. 8) [iv]
Today’s business leaders are increasingly contending with quite complex globalization issues that are not just isolated to “someplace else” around the world. Within their own communities as well as abroad, business leaders have a heightened sensitivity to the social/economical/political/technological/ecological issues that abound. Multi-variant stakeholders have placed increasing responsibility for social ills, the environment and such on the shoulders of business leaders, and bringing with them their competing values. Sometimes the decisions that are required to be made come at times when an organization and leader are under heightened duress because the level of moral urgency is perceived to be raised due to danger, risk, or uncertainty. “Amidst these challenges, [business leaders] still have to do what they’ve always had to do: produce growth, deliver results, develop their people, and innovate to meet marketplace needs and counter their competitors.” [v]
Business Leaders as First Global Citizens
World business leaders have emerged as first global citizens. Engaged in commerce, business leaders understand the interdependence of nations, and that the health of society and the preservation of our earth are important to the future prosperity of the business enterprise. Business fosters economic and cultural interdependence and has helped to create the awareness of one humanity, on one planet, all sharing a common fate. And, as the dominant institution on the planet, business holds the key to the transformation of our global society, away from intractable problems, and toward a world that works for everyone. [vi]
Business leaders have a unique capacity to engage with the world and to shape the future by taking on the responsibility of the whole, to address not only areas of trade and commerce, but of humanity and all creation. Key to that future shaping (for all of us), however, will be the worldview with which those leaders take on an “Atlas” view of the world.
Key Questions to Ask
- Who leads the business leader(s) (God, self, the world, other)?
- To what degree will common theories of ethics and/or Christian ethics have any influence on global business decision making?
- What are the political agendas and economic power zeal of the companies (and their business leaders) whose products or services you purchase?
- What power in the world do those leaders wield?
[i] Thompson, L. J. (2010). The global moral compass for business leaders. Journal of Business Ethics, 93, 15-
- doi 10.1007/s10551-010-0624-9
[ii] Hershman, B. (2017, May 28). Where would Apple and Google rank in terms of world’s richest countries?
Retrieved from https://www.benzinga.com/news/17/05/9515019/where-would-
[iii] Rawlinson, A. (2018, January 22). A prediction for globalization in 2018. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from
[iv] Rawlinson, A. (2018, January 22). A prediction for globalization in 2018. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from
[v] Mirvis, P. H., DeJongh, D., Googins, B., Quinn, L., & Van Velsor, E. (n.d.). Responsible leadership emerging:
Individual, organizational, and collective frontiers. Retrieved from http://www.up.ac.za/media/shared/Legacy/ems.zp11798./Documents/2013-alcrl-position-per.zp36923.pdf
[vi] Sikula, Sr., A. (1996). Applied management ethics. Chicago, IL: William H. School. (p. 81)