The MIB program is characterized by students, faculty, and research fellows who delve into the hard questions of international business with relish. These are questions that are not easily answered by a single book, class, discipline, or school of thought. They herald a future where the world and the world of business are ever more interconnected, where decisions can't be made in a bubble, where real expertise demands deep contextual intelligence.
This series of ten questions reflects the contextual intelligence we cultivate in our students in the MIB program. Click on a question below to read more about each topic and how we delve into this topic at Fletcher.
From technology start-ups addressing Nairobi’s traffic jams to a regime change in Nigeria predicated on a platform of anti-corruption, Africa is a continent emerging as 55 distinct and dynamic nations. Its potential for broad-based growth is catching the eyes of entrepreneurial and private sector actors looking to expand. But where are the most viable areas of growth, and where will they fall short?
Learn more about how Fletcher thinks about Africa's role in the global economy:
- Commentary from Dean of Global Business Bhaskar Chakravorti on Quartz
- Research from MIB student Anisha Baghudana on the role of start-ups in mitigating Nairobi's traffic problems
- Report from our recent conference, "Africa's Turn?: The Promise and Reality of the Global Economy's 'Final Frontier'"
- Op-Ed from Fletcher alumnus and professor Kingsley Moghalu on his hopes for Nigeria
Before becoming consumers of digital marketplaces, the current three billion Internet users started with surfing and emailing. But the next billion will be different. They will start not as mere users, but rather as e-consumers – and this has profound implications for the future of global commerce and digital marketplaces. Who are the next billion e-consumers? So, who are the standouts of the future?
Which countries will race to the front, and which will be left behind? Hint: It's not the usual suspects. Learn more:
- Fletcher's 2017 Digital Evolution Index (DEI), which analyzes the systemic forces driving digital change across the world
- Video from IBGC and MasterCard building on the DEI to examine digital trust around the globe
- "60 Countries Digital Competitiveness, Indexed", an article in Harvard Business Review by Dean of Global Business Bhaskar Chakravorti, MIB Alumnus and IBGC Research Director Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi
Does urban innovation get its start from governmental institutions and mandates, or through social movements and mass advocacy? Whereas city hall may plan for the greatest number of possible futures, local community structures are often the backbone of a household's decision-making. The road to innovation is paved in action, and neither city hall nor the communities it serves can afford to sit back and wait. Fletcher research has focused on this question through our Financial Inclusion research group within the Institute for Business in the Global Context.
- Our report on the Inclusive City: Triumph, Reflection, Innovation
- Interviews on Inclusive Growth in Cities with Dean Bhaskar Chakravorti, Weiping Wu, Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, and Caroline Wanjiku Kihato, a Senior Research in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Witwatersand in Johannesburg
- An article by Dean of Global Business Bhaskar Chakravorti and Fletcher alumnus Gaurav Tiwari on tomorrow's city, built on ideas from today's slums
There are twice as many mobile phone subscribers as bank accounts in Indonesia. Last year, smartphone audience growth in India was almost 80% - the largest in the world. In Kenya, cellular phones have long been a hub for banking transactions. Cell phones as banking access points offer an unparalleled opportunity to improve the livelihood of millions through mobile financial services. Can mobile phones lead the un-banked out of poverty?
Learn more about Fletcher perspectives on mobile banking:
- A student research report on mobile banking in Indonesia, funded by Fletcher's Global Research Fellowship
- A conversation between Fletcher Dean Emeritus Jim Stavridis and Professor Jenny Aker on the use of mobile technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa
- The Financial Inclusion research area of the Institute for Business in the Global Context
Amid the scars of continued sectarian violence in Iraq there is a new player emerging in the streets of Baghdad: western-style fast food chains. American businesses have a unique role to play in stabilizing post-conflict zones. Faced with an immense untapped market but the very real threats of security and corruption, can investors see the risks as opportunities?
Learn more about Fletcher's discussions on this topic:
- "The Entrepreneur and the Intifada," a discussion with faculty and Fletcher Nobel Laureate in Residence, Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei
- Fletcher Dean Emeritus James Stavridis comments on security issues in the region
Social media-driven revolutions have transformed the branding and mobilization of social movements. It would seem these leaderless revolutions have displaced the Gandhis, Mandelas, and Kings of movements past. Yet the reality is that even this new breed of political revolution requires a Mandela—something we've forgotten in our eagerness to celebrate the power of a decentralized, digital generation. It turns out that #ACatchyCalltoArms isn't enough to make changes stick, and without a clear leader so many recent revolutions have devolved into chaos.
Learn more about our thinking on this question:
Companies often view the social challenges that surround business opportunities - poverty, poor sanitation, loose governance structures - through the lens of corporate social responsibility (CSR) or philanthropy. But today, as economic growth in emerging markets has begun to outpace the growth of supporting institutions and infrastructure, many of these “contextual gaps” have begun to pose real threats to long-term business success. To reframe how business is done in these contexts, companies must consider how sustainable and inclusive business activities are becoming what’s good for business.
Learn more about our research on this topic:
- An op-ed by Dean of Global Business Bhaskar Chakravorti in Forbes on getting businesses to work towards the sustainable development goals
- Our recent forum, Inclusion Inc.
- A Stanford Social Innovation Review article by Dean of Global Business Chakravorti, Business Growth for Good: Why Context Matters"
There is a burgeoning gap between global infrastructure needs and funding sources. Sovereign wealth funds, government pension funds, and other institutional investors could help bridge that gap. But how resistant are these funds to the highs and lows of oil prices? Can they withstand the volatility of the energy market and underwrite the major infrastructure projects so desperately needed in so many corners of the globe?
Read more about Fletcher's programming in this area:
After more than 2,000 years as king, cash is facing competition. From credit cards to the myriad new payment technologies available today, there are now safer, cheaper, and more accessible payment options for both consumers and businesses. Yet cash continues to hold on. Why? What are the intrinsic benefits of cash that no alternative can provide?
Read more about Fletcher's original research on the topic:
- Cost of Cash research
- New York Times Room for Debate column with Dean of Global Business Bhaskar Chakravorti
Leadership of global organizations involves an understanding of complex phenomena. Sometimes metaphors and cultural references are key to finding parallels, deriving insights, and communicating complicated ideas to a wide audience. Metaphors can be powerful in moving entire organizations to take action with a common vision.
Learn more about how Fletcher faculty tackle complex leadership challenges by making unexpected connections:
- Dean of Global Business Bhaskar Chakravorti discusses which is a better indicator for innovation: flying cars or ... toilets
- Professor Dan Drezner posits why Zombies in pop culture are a metaphor for the political and social challenges of today
- Dean Emeritus James Stavridis talks about what Russian literature tells us about Putin's world
- Listen to these faculty discuss these big ideas and surprising metaphors: Professor Drezner on zombies, Professor Mankad on Bollywood and social change, and Dean Chakravorti on flying toilets.