International Business Management in Today’s Economy
As more businesses expand their focus to include foreign markets, the demand for competent international management professionals increases. If you’re interested in taking advantage of opportunities to contribute to a firm’s international business goals, you’ll need a deep level of knowledge in finance and currency, global strategy, and foreign legal and accounting practices, along with sharp cross-cultural skills.
What International Business Managers Need to Know
What is international business? In its simplest terms, international business consists of business transactions that cross national borders. This can happen at any time of the transaction, from placing an order for vehicle parts made in Japan, to preparing a shipment for overseas delivery.
While some firms conduct foreign business through export/import agents, others have adapted their entire sales, finance, marketing and management strategy to actively market and sell products and services to clients around the world.
Making real connections and developing lasting relationships is important to international business – perhaps even more so than in domestic markets. To conduct business profitably in an increasingly borderless world, managers need to learn how to understand and adapt their business to their international clients and navigate through foreign cultures with ease.
Specialized Skills Every International Business Manager Needs
The qualities that may work well when managing domestic business could possibly lead to failure when applied across cultures. Today’s international business manager will utilize a skill set that draws upon his or her grasp of industry and standard best practices, outstanding cultural awareness and diplomacy, and sharp communication and negotiation skills.
Even business managers based in their home countries will sometimes need to manage teams, partners or suppliers and others. Learning the skills that multicultural business leaders need is a valuable asset for any manager working for an international concern. These skills can be obtained or honed by participating in professional business courses. Among them are:
- Cultural sensitivity. International business managers know that adapting to different cultures enhances personal and business growth. It’s important to appreciate and respect other cultures, and to understand how culture impacts business relationships. Learning how others interpret cues like tone of voice and body language, as well as how to appropriately use one’s negotiation skills, is vital to moving and dealing successfully within a culture.
- Multilingual. Successful international business managers are able to converse in more than one language, especially that of their firm’s largest client or trading partner. It’s also important when communicating in English to speak so that non-native speakers can understand and comprehend clearly. Avoiding unfamiliar words and phrases, using shorter sentences and explaining concepts more thoroughly will help individuals of different cultures more quickly grasp the context of your communication.
- Global management philosophy. Successful international business managers have the ability to formulate strategies and management systems to take advantage of international opportunities, as well as to respond to changes in a sometimes-volatile international marketplace.
Three Approaches to International Management
While no one approach to international management is perfect, each of the following have distinct advantages and disadvantages:
- Ethnocentric Approach: Ethnocentrism refers to a conviction that one’s own cultural group is superior to others. When applied to international commerce, it describes a tendency to use the same management style as is practiced in the business’s home country. This approach is risky, with results that can vary from simply losing face to losing millions in sales or profits. Failing to adapt to a native culture by practicing the ethnocentric approach could potentially harm a well-established brand or lead to a serious business failure.
- Polycentric Management Approach: This management approach features a focus on building a workforce of locals, based on the belief that locals best know the region’s culture, language and work style. Integrating qualified locals into the management team can be a successful strategy, depending on the company’s industry, product or service, and other factors.
- Geocentric Approach: In the geocentric approach, business challenges are viewed as universal, no matter where in the world business is being conducted. The most highly qualified individuals, regardless of country of origin, are placed in management positions, where they apply common sense and business knowledge to solve problems, without regard to cultural differences. Managers using the geocentric style must still consider the local and global consequences of their business decisions, which can make it a tricky approach to international management.
The Right International Management Training Can Lead to Success
If you are interested in moving into a career in international management, take the time to learn the strategies and develop the cultural sensitivity that lead to success. Navigating the more complex international business market takes specialized communication, diplomatic and negotiation skills.
When you begin to focus on your international management career, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to learn these skills. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what is expected of business professionals, how to proceed in conversation and negotiations, and how to leverage relationships to achieve business goals. Consider online business courses geared toward professionals seeking to learn how different cultures around the globe conduct business.
As the business world becomes smaller, and more firms enter the global arena, opportunities in international business management will continue to increase. Take advantage of these opportunities by enrolling in business courses that can help you expand your career to distant horizons.