Is The World’s Superpower Also It’s Franchisor?

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is The World's Superpower Also it's Franchisor?



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Take a cursory look at about half of the front pages  of the Economist magazine during only the last year and you’ll find China and it’s people, economy, and sustained emergence/imminent dominance imprinted all over them.  Similarly, scholarly magazines such as the Harvard Business Review and McKinsey Quarterly seem to be increasingly using Chinese economic metrics as a new global standard, serving also to define what an “emerging economy” looks like.  Maybe standard is too strong a word, but it’s not impossible to see how China has become such a strong economic player (population of 1.35 Billion, strong work ethic, etc.)

Understandably, China has a marathon to run before it’s able to justify claims of full compliance with global concerns and requisite 1st world criteria such as human rights, workplace conditions, compensation, and religious freedom.  This article doesn’t address these important issues, but the fact that such issues remain relevant and outstanding in the conversation suggests that China’s placement as a prevailing economic powerhouse has yet to achieve full consensus among its global peers.

Yet here we are reading almost daily about China’s strengths, the rising negotiating, entrepreneurial and political acumen of its subjects, and its (albeit speculative) future intentions regarding space travel and economic superiority in the East Asia region and beyond.

As China gains influence in such international bodies as the UN Security Council, the way incumbent Superpower America responds to China’s growing global influence may very well  (probably will) serve to set precedence for how it interacts and facilitates with emerging countries.  Such responses may have to be considered against the delicate motivations of emerging players who themselves are keen to exercise their respective strengths, yet simultaneously feel disenfranchised upon finding the omnipresent America asserting its own national interest in their back yards.

With such a strong economy threatening to overturn its position in the world,  I think it’s best that America respond as good business leaders respond.  Good business leaders recognize the assets that other people bring to the table, and try to create mutually beneficial situations by working with those people.  The same should apply between China and America.  Many researchers have written that China is not fixated on global dominance -  China doesn’t seem to want to upend the international order.

So how does America retain global dominance with a formidable China?  By becoming its ally.  Good business leaders recognize talent and ambition, and find ways for those abilities to flourish so as to benefit the individual as well as the corporation.  By doing this, all parties at the negotiating table win.

Contrastingly, a stubborn and proud America, bent on restraining China, has no apparent positive end results, but will most certainly end in the political equivalent of a strong talent jettisoning the corporation to engage in direct competition.  Strong business leaders recognize superior ability and create opportunities for everyone involved to benefit long-term.



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America may do well to make room for China at the leadership table.  The same goes for CEO’s who have a champion member of their organization.  These top players should be given a chance to spread their corporate wings and develop.  In the process, they may take the organization to greater levels than what the leaders thought imaginable.  This is perhaps the greatest pay-off to decentralizing leadership to the right people - that they recognize and respect your hands-off approach, reciprocating the gesture with an enforced effort to contribute to the betterment of the organization.

As corporations grow and the mandate of CEOs are weighted more to developing relationships and overseeing strategy and mission, they become almost like franchisors providing a template to facilitate advancement and success to their champion franchisees (staff).  Could America be in the same situation, where it’s better for it to refrain from frustrating China and other emerging economies, and instead become their allies (assuming consistency in macro-level  domestic and foreign policy areas) to together continue to implement policies that can facilitate mutual success.

Like good talent or hard-working franchisees, as long as China gets what it wants (whatever that is, and from an economic context), and as long as it doesn’t encroach upon the rights of other countries, why should America try to exercise control over it?

In summary, leaders of growing businesses are positioned there because they know how to get the best out of their most important assets – their people.  Case study after case study shows that this is now done by decentralizing decision-making and authority so that the right people can flourish and take ownership for their respective jobs and efforts.  Possibly the high-stakes world of international relations is slightly more complex than this, but in the realm of global Geopolitics, maybe it would be beneficial for America to take its’ strategic direction from the corporate playbook?


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Nicholas Kilpatrick is a partner at the accounting firm of Burgess Kilpatrick.  He leads the firm’s consulting and strategy practice and works with companies to enhance their Analytics, Forecasting, and Data Optimization functions.  The practice’s focus includes quantitative forecasting, corporate and unit strategy and planning.

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