A Study of Globalization
Volume 1, No. 3
Editor: Mel Ochoa
In This Issue:
I. Editor's Note
II. Featured Essay:
"Branding for Development"
III. Global Agent:
Kevin E. Hartz,
Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO
V. Global Spotlight: Holiday Traditions
Around the World
VI. Sidebar: John F. Kennedy
VII. Global Wire
VIII. Coda: Bill Clinton & AIDS
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I. EDITOR'S NOTE
I was reading the magazine Business 2.0 about seven months ago and came
across an interview with Simon Anholt, an international marketing expert.
Soon thereafter I Googled him and found that his company, Placebrands, is
focused on creating national brand strategies. One of the articles posted
on the company's Web site, "The nation as brand," submits that entire
countries exude a brand through the combination of exports, tourism,
trade, foreign policy and more (i.e. England: heritage and class, Italy:
style and sexiness, Germany: quality and reliability).
There are interesting thoughts within this article on brands as powerful
means to level the playing field for developing countries. I contacted Mr.
Anholt to expand on the notion, as the article states, of "global brands
as the ultimate distributor of wealth" in an essay for Global Degree. He
graciously accepted and his thoughts are included below.
Remittance is another big global topic on my mind. Kevin Hartz, CEO of
Xoom, provides insight to this red-hot market. Also included in this issue
is a sampling of holiday traditions from around the world and an opinion
piece on Bill Clinton's work with AIDS.
Lastly, Global Degree is starting a new annual tradition. We are asking
for nominations from readers for "G-Mavericks" -- or Global Mavericks.
These are people who are at the forefront of globalization . . . or
stopping globalization in its tracks. Read more about this special award
Due to Global Degree's journal-like nature, I recommend printing each
issue and reading it in chunks of time on the bus or while relaxing.
You'll miss a lot of interesting information that might spur ideas if you
simply skim each issue.
II. FEATURED ESSAY
"Branding for Development"
By Simon Anholt, Placebrands
Brands add value to products -- or, if you look at it another way, they
A small plastic bottle of sweet, fizzy brown fluid bearing the label
"Cola" might cost you around 50 cents; a nearly identical bottle of sweet
fluid bearing the label "Coca-Cola" will cost just over a Euro. It seems
almost criminal, doesn't it?
Well, that rather depends on who is doing it. This essay explores the
possibility that this art and science of branding could be better
distributed around the world than it has been in the past. It shows how
branding and marketing are, in fact, powerful tools for economic
development, and might make a worthwhile contribution to the fairer
distribution of global wealth.
The brand value which marketing adds to products and services is not
tangible value: unlike sales, products, factories, land, raw materials or
workforces, you can't measure it very easily, but it represents capital
because it enables producers and sellers to charge more money for their
products and services. It is a multiplier of value, and represents a
substantial advantage for its owner: it's as good as money in the bank.
You can borrow against it, buy it, sell it, invest in it, and increase or
decrease it by good or bad management.
The economic value of branding is no trivial phenomenon: according to some
estimates, it could be as much as one-third of the entire value of global
wealth. According to Interbrand's survey of the 'Most Valuable Global
Brands', the intangible assets of the top 100 global brands are together
worth $988,287,000,000: just a shade under a trillion dollars. To put this
almost unimaginably large number in context, it is roughly equal to the
combined gross national income of all the 63 countries defined by the
World Bank as "low income" (and where almost half of the world's
Like me, you may find that a slightly disturbing thought, even though
you've probably heard these kinds of statistics before. What can't be
denied is that this elusive component of commerce is of great importance
in understanding the distribution of wealth in the world today, and it is
likely to have a role to play when we are trying to work out ways of
balancing things better in the future.
--How brands create wealth--
Selling products with well-known names, rather than bulk commodities or
generic goods, has long been a smart business to be in.
Everybody knows that you pay extra for the well-known name on your food,
your clothing, your hi-fi, your running shoes, your car, and if you are
one of those rather rare but very sensible people who always choose the
supermarket-brand products, you will end up saving quite a lot of money.
But of course branding isn't just a trick for overcharging consumers for
basic goods: consumers aren't that stupid. We know that a product with a
famous name is one we can usually depend on to do what it's meant to do,
one that's carefully made by a substantial company which cares enough
about its reputation to work hard to remedy any problems the product may
give us later on. A brand is as much an open invitation to complain as it
is a promise to deliver, and companies which deal lightly with complaints
will soon squander their reputation. So a brand also represents a
considerable responsibility for its owner.
Brand names save us time, effort and worry. Even though, in the rich
countries of the northern hemisphere, it seems as if we spend rather too
much of our lives either buying things or deciding which things to buy,
few of us actually have the time, patience or expertise to research all of
the minute differences between dozens or hundreds of competing products.
To understand exactly why a BMW engine performs better or worse than a
Mercedes engine, a Nike running shoe cushions better or worse than a
Reebok, a Compaq is faster or slower than a Dell, you would need a degree
in engineering. A reputable brand enables us to shortcut this process: we
feel we can take the quality, sophistication and reliability of the
product on trust. The brand name is a promise that vast resources have
been poured into making the product perform as well as the name implies.
Brands remain economically attractive purely because most people accept
this pact, and find that the owners of brands generally live up to their
responsibilities. So the companies which are lucky and clever enough to
own powerful brands make much more money than the companies which don't,
and some of the extra money which consumers pay for extra brand appeal is
pure profit for the brand-owner.
Brands create wealth around themselves. The additional profit margin means
that the company can invest more money in research and development to
maintain the flow of innovative, high quality new products to market; in
marketing to maintain and enhance the profile and power of its brands and
keep up with the market leaders; in people and systems to improve its
customer service so that the experience of dealing with the company
doesn't renege on the promise of the brand.
Gradually, wealth spreads out from successful companies, merges with the
wealth spreading out from successful supporting and competing companies in
the same region, and it stimulates the economy of the city, the region,
and ultimately the country in which the company is based.
--The other end of the bargain--
The brand effect is one of the ways in which the countries which had
already generated great wealth through trade and empire-building in the
previous three or four centuries have managed to become richer still
during the last hundred years.
Today, many big corporations acknowledge that their real expertise is in
product design and marketing, and this is where they invest most heavily:
they only need to brand and deliver, and the money comes rolling in. The
less profitable parts of their enterprise, such as sourcing raw materials,
manufacturing and finishing, are farmed out to wherever they can get the
required quality for the lowest price: and it's almost always in the
second or third world.
Companies in poorer countries, on the whole, haven't been able to do this
trick, and still make much of the foreign income which is so crucial to
their economies through supplying companies in rich countries with the raw
materials or basic manufactured goods and labour they need. But these
supplies, since they are unbranded, are hard to distinguish from those of
their many competitors, are extremely price-sensitive, and generate very
slender profits indeed.
Companies in the richer nations then add large amounts of margin to the
goods by finishing, packaging, branding, and retailing them to the end
The margins on these transactions between rich and poor have been
compressed even further in recent decades as globalisation has advanced.
As time passes, the profits at the branding end of business grow, and
there is a tendency for the profits at the supplier end to shrink: in a
globally networked world, where brand-owning companies are free to shop
around the world for their materials, manufacturing and labour, and
instantaneously locate the best combination of sufficient quality and low
price, supplying them has become an extremely risky business.
--A new brand of justice?--
A visitor from another planet might well ask, if the governments of poor
countries want to do something to catch up, why don't they simply play the
same game, and encourage their industries to start selling finished,
branded goods direct to consumers, rather than unbranded goods and
materials to brand-owners? If one third of the entire world's wealth is
composed of this thing called brand value, why aren't poorer countries
getting into the branding business too?
There is much simple justice in this idea, and a simple formula is
-If a company in a rich country sells brands to rich consumers in the same
or other rich countries, nothing really happens: money simply circulates
within a more or less closed system, and there's little to criticize on
-If a company in a rich country sells brands to poor consumers in the same
or other rich countries, there is a risk of exploitation and a further
widening of the wealth gap.
-If a company in a rich country sells brands to consumers in a poor
country, the risk of exploitation is far higher.
-But if a company in a poor country sells brands to consumers in a rich
country, the overall balance begins to be redressed, and justice begins to
So why doesn't it happen?
Conventional wisdom gives various reasons why companies in poor countries
can't get rich by exporting branded goods and services. These are five of
the most common ones:
1. They can't produce high enough quality products or services
2. They can't afford to promote or distribute them internationally
3. They don't have the expertise to build international brands
4. Even if they did, nobody in rich countries would want to buy them
5. Even if they did, and even if people did buy them, the resulting
profits would never benefit the economy as a whole, and would simply
disappear into the pockets of a few corrupt individuals.
And yet a growing number of companies in poorer countries already do
develop and sell their own branded goods and services abroad: what's more,
many sell them back to the rich countries which until now have been their
"clients", and so control more of the commercial process -- and the
profits -- from conception through to sale. It is my belief that this
trend is set to increase rapidly in the coming years.
An essay is too short to present complete answers to these five
objections, and my latest book, "Brand New Justice", does this more fully.
But perhaps I can summarise the main counter-arguments:
1. It is now very well known amongst consumers in richer countries that
most of their Western-branded consumer goods are in fact manufactured --
to the high standards which these brand-owners require -- in developing
and poor countries.
2. Spending huge amounts of money on conventional media promotion to build
a brand is certainly the traditional model for multinational corporations.
However, there are plenty of cases which prove that big brands can be
built on public relations and cheap viral marketing, especially if they
have an interesting story to tell. And investors in rich countries are
constantly on the lookout for investment opportunities in developing
markets and are often only seeking reassurance that the manufacturer has
the ambition and the competence to build a brand. And finally, there is
plenty of aid and development funding available for skills transfer and
private-sector growth in emerging markets.
3. It is certainly true that a different kind of marketing expertise is
needed when promoting a brand in a crowded and highly sophisticated market
economy than at home in a developing country; but with adequate funding,
the necessary expertise can always be acquired. More training is needed in
the relevant skills, and this is an issue which the development agencies
need to recognise.
4. Once a country starts to export quality products, its image improves,
and this helps other exporters. It takes decades to change the 'brand' of
a country, but there are cases like Japan and Korea which show that it can
be done. There is also evidence to show that consumers in developed
countries are increasingly interested in exotic products from distant
countries with rich, cultural, ethical stories to tell.
5. This is a question for the legislators and for the international
community, but it seems clear that some degree of trickle-down effect is
almost unavoidable when businesses start to perform and create clusters of
excellence, as is now happening in the Bangalore region of India.
Companies with successful export brands provide an example and an
inspiration to other companies, they generate national pride and
prosperity in their immediate neighbourhood, and perhaps above all they
make foreign consumers and investors think again about their country: a
place which is capable of producing attractive, desirable, high-quality
exports is a place worthy of some respect.
More branded export business is most certainly a step in the right
direction for an emerging country, even if showing a few companies how to
improve their profit margins is unlikely to have any major, immediate
impact on the development of the whole country.
But branding has a far bigger role to play than this. If the development
of export brands is supported and encouraged by government, and written as
a key component into a consistent, imaginative and well-managed national
brand strategy, it can make a real difference to the country's long-term
A national brand strategy determines the most realistic, most competitive
and most compelling strategic vision for the country, and ensures that
this vision is supported, reinforced and enriched by every act of
communication between the country and the rest of the world: the brands
which the country exports; the way it promotes itself for trade, tourism,
inward investment and inward recruitment; the way it behaves in acts of
domestic and foreign policy; the way it promotes and represents and shares
its culture; the way its citizens behave when abroad and how they treat
strangers at home; the bodies and organisations it belongs to; the
countries it associates with; the way it competes with other countries in
sport and entertainment; what it gives to the world and what it takes
If done well, such a strategy can make a huge difference to both the
internal confidence and the external performance of a country. Image and
progress unfailingly go hand in hand, and although it is usually true that
image is the consequence of progress, rather than vice versa, it is
equally true that when both are carefully managed in tandem, they help
each other along and create accelerated change.
The critics of globalisation are rightly perturbed by the idea of rich
countries using their brands to create 'consumerist desires' in poorer
countries which the inhabitants of those countries can't afford to
satisfy. My proposal is that we should seek for ways to reverse the model:
let the entrepreneurs and workers in poorer countries create the desires
in the minds of consumers who can afford to satisfy them.
The fact is that we can't have it both ways. Either marketing works, and
it is a powerful tool for change, in which case it must admit
responsibility for the absolutely central role it has played in creating
the ever-widening inequality between rich and poor during the last
century; or else it is nothing, and has enriched itself over the decades
without giving any value in return, and can play no useful part in the
huge tasks which lie ahead for humanity in the next century.
Adapted by the author from "Brand New Justice -- The Upside of Global
Branding", by Simon Anholt (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2002). © 2003 All
Simon Anholt is regarded as one of the world's leading specialists in the
theory and practice of creating brand strategies for countries, cities and
regions. Simon also enjoys a high international profile as a public
speaker, author, and contributor to many branding and marketing
publications, public sector and academic journals. He sits on the UK
Government's Public Diplomacy Strategy Board and has advised several
countries on branding issues including Croatia, Scotland, New Zealand,
Latvia, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. He also works with
bodies and organisations worldwide, such as the British Tourist Authority,
the World Travel and Tourism Council, the World Bank, the United Nations,
and the World Technology Network. He is the author of the best-selling
marketing book 'Another One Bites The Grass'. He recently edited the
Special Issue of the Journal of Brand Management on the subject of 'Nation
as Brand', and his new book on the role of branding for developing
countries, 'Brand New Justice', was published in 2003.
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III. GLOBAL AGENT
Global Agent profiles a "globalist" making an impact on a global level
with an overview of some of the responsibilities, experiences and issues
involved with their job. Each profile includes a short bio and a Q&A
Kevin E. Hartz,
Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO
Kevin E. Hartz is co-founder, chairman and CEO of Xoom Corporation
(http://www.xoom.com). He began his career in technology as a product
manager at Silicon Graphics (SGI). Inspired by the company's academic
environment, he would go on to co-found Connect Group, a company which
provided high-speed Internet access capabilities to the hotel and lodging
industry, and was later acquired by Lodgenet -- currently traded on NASDAQ
Hartz went on to join Outlook Ventures, a venture capital firm that
actively invests in promising seed and early stage technology companies.
Outlook is a $140 million San Francisco based fund whose seed investments
included Overture (NASDAQ: OVER) and DotBank, acquired by Yahoo! (NASDAQ:
In 2001 Hartz would reconnect with Alan Braverman, with whom he had worked
at SGI. They began a pilot project, which would eventually evolve into
Xoom Corporation. The company launched officially in June 2001.
Mr. Hartz holds both a BA and BS from Stanford University, as well as an
Mst from Oxford University's University College. Hartz has been an active
early stage investor and advisor to startups including PayPal.
GLOBAL DEGREE: What you are doing on the remittance front?
KEVIN HARTZ: Xoom is a technology company providing a means for immigrants
to send money to their home countries. We launched in one country as an
experiment last year, the Dominican Republic, and had very successful
results. We've just received a round of financing and are in the process
of bringing the service to other countries around the world.
GD: Why is remittance important?
KH: With a continued globalization of the markets, we have seen an
increased immigrant movement of people from developing countries to
developed countries. With that has come an incredible growth in the flow
of money back to developing nations.
GD: Have you seen an impact on the stabilization of the Dominican Republic
economy due to remittance?
KH: Yes. A recent banking crisis that included internal fraud and
corruption is now causing weakness in their currency. However, the
government realizes the importance of remittance. Over US$2 billion
transfers into the country every year. That is an enormous amount of money
added to the economy, so the government certainly sees the impact of
remittance. As such, you see the trend in developing nations of the
government working to promote new mediums and new players in this market.
GD: Have you faced major obstacles?
KH: There are numerous obstacles in the space. Fraud is one. So detection
triggers need to be in place. You also have the extreme scrutiny of
government regulators, both in the recipient country and the U.S. with the
events of September 11 and the development of the Patriot Act. There is a
whole regulatory jungle that you need to wade through. When you come to
Silicon Valley you're not accustomed to having to go through some of these
sorts things. But we also see that our competitive advantage comes in how
we solve some of these problems.
GD: With the development of your remittance program over the next five to
10 years, how do you think it will improve the economy?
KH: There are two sides to this. Incumbents who charge very egregious fees
have fleeced senders. In some cases Western Union charges upwards of 15
percent when you also factor in the currency spread. Our platform allows
the sending of money at a lower cost, which we then pass to the consumer.
On the recipient side, these countries benefit from money flowing across
GD: Are there any opponents to remittance programs?
KH: You see very little opposition in terms of moving capital from
developed nations back to developing nations. These are hard working
people who send money to support their families back home. They certainly
have every right to do so. We have seen no opposition in allowing this to
GD: Moving to a more global discussion, remittance might be one pillar in
creating stronger economies throughout Latin America. What else do you
think will need to happen to make those countries major players on the
KH: It really comes down to governments building trust and reducing
corruption. The Dominican Republic has been doing very well in this area.
Just as in the United States, you need to instill confidence in investors
to attract the dollars and to show stability. Certainly there can be no
place for corruption. We are concerned that as we expand we will encounter
corrupt situations. How governments and institutions function then becomes
a very important criterion in working with them. They will not see proper
growth and development otherwise.
GD: As an investor in PayPal, you based this program on the PayPal system?
KH: That is correct. Which adds another risk: adoption. We are seeing some
nice adoption, but there will be an issue of immigrants going online and
sending money. Unlike a PayPal transfer, with one online user sending
money to another online user, an immigrant sends money online to our
partner institution in the Dominican Republic that then dispenses cash to
the recipient. The transaction happens within a few hours and doesn't
require any change of behavior on the recipient side where you see no
technology adoption. We have people sending money from many countries
because of our strong relationship with PayPal, including the United
States, Canada, England, France, Spain, Italy, the Virgin Islands and
more. It becomes geographically dispersed in comparison to the
retail-based remittance you see today. Allowing someone to consistently
send money from anywhere in the world is exciting.
GD: What do you see as some of the positive trends of globalization?
KH: I fall very much into the Libertarian camp and think that from a
general scale you need to allow businesses and people to work in a natural
way, with resources allocated freely. If you have an inexpensive and
skilled labor force in another country, then that's where things should
occur. I think people and countries need to focus on their core expertise.
I don't think that what happens in Silicon Valley can be replicated
elsewhere. We have a very specific core expertise here that can then be
exported throughout the world. I also don't think California should be a
support desk center when you can get skilled technical workers in India,
for example, who can work just as effectively at a much lower cost. I
believe in the natural flow of money, capital and human resources in a
free manner. That is going to benefit everyone overall in the long run.
GD: Do you think exporting culture is good or bad?
KH: I probably see that as more of a negative side of globalization.
Through the company, I've been exposed to Jamaica and we've spent some
time in the Dominican Republic and other areas of Latin America. I think
there are some amazing, very distinct cultures throughout the region. This
doesn't reflect the opinion of Xoom, but I certainly see a downside to
globalization in terms of blandness of culture much like the U.S. has seen
with strip malls and more.
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[Table of Contents]
This award enforces the belief that one person can make a difference.
Whether it is advancing the benefits of globalization, or stopping
globalization's harmful wake, Global Mavericks define the power of one. If
you consider someone to be at the forefront of globalization in one of the
following categories, please submit their name with a short explanation no
later than January 15, 2004 to contact(at)gdegree.com. This may include a
personal contact or someone you've never met. G-Mavericks will be
highlighted in each issue of Global Degree throughout 2004.
V. GLOBAL SPOTLIGHT
Global Spotlight usually highlights an organization that is interacting
with globalization in some way. However, this issue highlights a sampling
of traditions from around the world during this holiday season.
SPAIN: The 12 grapes of Noche Vieja, New Year's Eve
(Adapted from http://www.nerjanow.com)
The New Year, or "Noche Vieja", is the highlight of the year. The Spanish
buy new outfits and ladies go to the hairdressers. Girls are supposed to
wear red knickers for good luck! Around 11:30 p.m. it seems as is if
everyone in Nerja heads to the Balcon de Europa armed with Cava, plastic
glasses and twelve grapes. At midnight the church bells strike and you are
supposed to eat one grape with each chime. After the last chime there are
fireworks. There is a live band and the partying continues until very
BRAZIL: New Year's Eve on the beach
(Adapted from http://www.brazil.org.uk)
In Brazil, December 31 is the feast of Iemanja, the Goddess of the Sea and
one of the most important of the macumba and candomble deities. Devotees
of Iemanja start arriving on the beaches of Brazil in the thousands early
on December 31. By early afternoon Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro will
be a living sea of people and glowing candles as the macumba rituals are
played out. As the evening wears on, more and more people arrive to join
in the celebrations and by midnight close to three million people,
predominantly dressed in white, will be present on Copacabana.
The faithful offer gifts to Iemanja and at a few seconds to midnight they
lay their offerings on the seashore and, if all goes to plan, the waves
will pluck their gifts up and drag them into the depths.
The New Year is greeted by a spectacular fireworks display with the 36
floor Meridien Copacabana turning itself into a gigantic Roman Candle.
After midnight the city goes back to partying and the year's first samba
strikes up. New Year parties are held in the road, in oceanfront
apartments, in all the beachfront hotels and on boats off Copacabana. By
dawn many of the partygoers will still be on the beach to see the sun rise
before going home or on to one of the hotels for breakfast.
INDIA: Diwali, the Festival of Lights, Hindu New Year
(Adapted from http://www.bawarchi.com)
Diwali, which leads us into Truth and Light, is celebrated on a
nation-wide scale on Amavasya -- the 15th day of the dark fortnight of the
Hindu month of Ashwin (Aasho) (October / November) every year. It
symbolises that age-old culture of our country which teaches us to
vanquish ignorance that subdues humanity and to drive away darkness that
engulfs the light of knowledge.
The word "Diwali" is the corruption of the Sanskrit word "Deepavali" --
Deepa meaning light and Avali, meaning a row. It means a row of lights and
indeed illumination forms its main attraction. Every home -- lowly or
mightly -- the hut of the poor or the mansion of the rich -- is alit with
the orange glow of twinkling diyas -- small earthen lamps -- to welcome
Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity. Multi-coloured Rangoli designs,
floral decorations and fireworks lend picturesness and grandeur to this
festival which heralds joy, mirth and happiness in the ensuring year.
This festival is celebrated on a grand scale in almost all the regions of
India and is looked upon mainly as the beginning of New Year. As such the
blessings of Lakshmi, the celestial consort of Lord Vishnu are invoked
with prayers. Even countries like Gkyena, Thailand, Trinidad, Siam and
Malaya celebrate this festival but in their own ways. Diwali or more aptly
Deepavali is very enthusiastically celebrated for five continuous days and
each day has its significance with a number of myths, legends and beliefs.
MOROCCO: Eid al-Fitr, the feast of the breaking of the fast
'Eid' means recurring happiness or festivity. Eid is celebrated with much
enthusiasm and fervor and Muslims from all strata of life can be seen
adorned in beautiful new clothes, visiting the mosques to attend Salatul
Eid (Eid prayers). Greetings of "Eid-Mubarak" or "a blessed Eid" are
A very important aspect of eid is the charity which all the Muslims are
expected to extend to the needy. Earlier, this was in the form of gifts in
kind but now cash is given to the needy. The first Eid of the year is
known as "Eid Al-Fitr". Al Fitr literally means breaking of fast. Thus Eid
Al Fitr is celebrated on the first day of Shawaal, the tenth month in the
Muslim calendar, to mark the end of a month long fast during the month of
It is believed that the Koran was revealed during this month. Coming with
the full moon, Eid Al Fitr is a day of joy and thanksgiving. On this day,
Muslims show their joy for the health, strength and opportunities of life,
which Allah has given them to fulfill their obligations of fasting and
other good deeds during the month of Ramadan. It is considered unholy to
fast on this day.
It is also a day of forgetting old grudges and ill feelings towards other
fellow men. The second important Eid celebration is called "Eid Al-Adha".
VI. SIDEBAR: John F. Kennedy
Sidebar is a section devoted to an interesting -- or devastating --
outcome of globalization, a unique tidbit relevant to the global economy
or a thought-provoking quote from an individual within the audiences
served by Global Degree.
This issue of Global Degree remembers U.S. President John F. Kennedy,
assassinated 40 years ago last month, and his prescient words on a
changing world -- words that are as true today as when he said them,
especially as we discuss globalization.
"The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the
power to abolish all forms of human poverty, and all forms of human life."
--John F. Kennedy
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VII. Global Wire
Globalization news and findings from leading publications throughout the
Should your global strategy optimize scale or exploit differences? HBS
professor Pankaj Ghemawat suggests a mix-and-match strategy in this
excerpt from Harvard Business Review:
Reason -- Economist Tyler Cowen argues for the cultural benefits of
Anchorage Daily News -- Nobel prize winner hammers on the importance of
[Table of Contents]
Power is an interesting concept. Leaders are often defined by power,
specifically how they gain or wield power.
As seen over the past two years since 9/11, power is sometimes best
utilized in "coalition" and consensus building . . . and power is
sometimes best utilized in a "unilateral" manner. To be honest, I'm still
waffling over which is a better means. No current world leader has shown
to me a responsible and effective use of power either way.
What I do know, though, is that not having power can sometimes show more
Case in point is the U.S. presidency, the "most powerful position in the
world". A sitting president can have power through his words, his
decisions, his advisors or his military. We have recently seen a little of
each. I'm interested in what happens when one becomes a "former" U.S.
president. Here is someone who commands the world's largest military and
economy and then, suddenly, becomes a private citizen with laundry piling
up and a dog to walk. I cannot think of a more drastic change. Power then
becomes a matter of soft skills like the ability to persuade and build
consensus to reach goals.
Bill Clinton has impressed me in his new role as Former. The lack of
office really hasn't stopped him in accomplishing great things, perhaps
because now he doesn't have to deal with Congress. His recent work with
reducing the cost of anti-retroviral medicine is inspiring and comes at a
crucial time in the worldwide war against AIDS. Mr. Clinton has used his
power of persuasion -- not economic or military power -- to find a real
solution in a dangerous world.
What I am not impressed with is the media's lackluster coverage of such
important work. Let's step back, though, and define the issue. UNAIDS has
recently released the following numbers:
--40m people are infected with HIV
--5m were newly infected in 2003
--The AIDS death rate has risen from 2m in 1999 to 3m in 2003
--$4.7 billion was spent on AIDS in low and middle-income countries in
2003 (versus $20m in 1996)
--$10 billion a year is needed by 2005 just to keep AIDS in check
--In South Africa, it will cost $680m a year by 2007 to buy drugs, set up
clinics and train thousands of health workers
--Since 2000, the cost of medicine needed for treatment has fallen from
$10,000 per person annually to $300
--The Clinton Foundation has reduced this cost to $140 by introducing
production efficiencies at certain drug makers
(The Economist, Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2003)
Some of these numbers can damper one's spirits. As U.S. Health & Human
Services Secretary Tommy Thompson recently stated, we are losing the fight
against AIDS. That is why it is even more important to showcase "wins"
along the way to ending the war.
As soon as the news broke in October of Mr. Clinton's work, I learned the
details from an article on the front page of the BBC Web site. However,
very little -- if anything -- was posted on other major news sites: Yahoo!
News, CNN, MSNBC. I watched local broadcast news that evening to learn
more about the deal. Nothing. Local print dailies dedicated a small amount
of space to Mr. Clinton.
This is shameful. The brokering of this deal is one of the most
significant milestones in the global fight against AIDS for many reasons.
First, and foremost, infected people are going to get the medicine they
need but could not previously afford (or their countries could not
afford). Second, it sets an important trend for globalization.
Whether we like it or not, globalization is here. There is significant
progress due to globalization and, at the same time, devastating ripples.
Through Mr. Clinton's work, new production techniques -- most likely
perfected around the world -- will help Indian drug makers reduce costs in
supplying medicine to South Africa, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and the
Bahamas. Globalization, the international flow of capital, goods and
people, is obviously at work here in a good way.
Globalization is our only solution when it comes to AIDS. An international
effort to eradicate AIDS can be one of the first major wins in this Age of
Globalization. September 11 and SARS were unfortunate training periods for
a more serious and focused cooperation among nations in this effort. Here
are a few steps that can be taken from every corner of the world (some
already proposed, some my own):
--More money given from more countries, especially the United States. The
American Congress needs to approve the US$2.4 billion package currently
proposed. Other countries need to follow. The U.N. Global Fund to Fight
AIDS has been promised a mere US$3.6 billion out of the US$10 billion a
year it needs to fight AIDS.
--Create savvy marketing campaigns to encourage testing and prevention
(safe sex and the use of condoms). The best marketing minds in the world
should provide pro-bono services to build effective advertising, public
relations, branding and word-of-mouth strategies around African leaders
and international celebrities.
--Increase the manufacturing and distribution of drugs. Mr. Clinton's work
helps on the manufacturing side. However, distribution is a major hurdle.
Nurses need to be trained, data collected and an increased number of
clinics need to be managed. Global companies should provide volunteers,
best practices and resources to create a strong healthcare infrastructure
within Africa. After all, it is in the best interest of private companies
to battle AIDS since a large percentage of the workforce is dying every
second. In all of my research, I have not seen significant work done by
private companies outside of certain drug makers. Much of the burden has
been placed on governments to provide money and resources. More private
companies should come forth with a willingness to help by donating money
or allowing employees to take a few weeks of paid leave to assist in
testing or education.
--Hang a lantern on other distressed countries. Africa is by far the
epicenter of the emergency. However, countries such as India, China,
Indonesia, Cambodia, Russia and those within the Arab region need to
increase prevention and education efforts before their numbers skyrocket.
A worldwide testing strategy needs to be implemented.
--Increase participation from world leaders and celebrities. U2's Bono is
a shining example of the power of one. Governments need to speak out
against the stigma associated with AIDS. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annon
says that the leaders of the world are not engaged enough in the issue.
More discussions need to be held at international forums, much like U.S.
Ambassador to the U.N. Richard Holbrooke created in 2000 when he took over
the presidency of a Security Council session for an unprecedented
discussion of AIDS -- the first of its kind at that level within the U.N.
(China and Russia refused to participate).
--The Vatican needs to promote the use of condoms and change its policy
that chastity is the best method of prevention.
--Increase short-term economic aid, including lifting/relaxing certain
trade restrictions and providing debt relief. Money can then go toward
buying medicine and building distribution channels. Economic incentives
will encourage apathetic leaders. The Marshall Plan helped build European
economies through monetary assistance, debt cancellation and trade
incentives. The same can be done with sub-Saharan Africa and AIDS.
Mr. Clinton's ability to bring many sides to agreement is progress in the
right direction and is worthy of first-story coverage in every worldwide
media outlet. Anything less is disrespectful to his hard work, to the
concessions made by all sides including political leaders and drug makers
(by slashing profit), and to those dying of AIDS throughout Africa. This
is a significant deal with important consequences that did not receive
coverage on par with its implications.
It will be tough to stop AIDS, no doubt, but not impossible. Mr. Clinton
has started us in the right direction by showing his power of consensus
building and his ability to bring about positive global change. I'll give
credit where credit is due and give Mr. Clinton some well-deserved ink.
He's in the game, and I respect that. Congratulations, Mr. Clinton, for
making a substantial contribution to the battle against AIDS.
[Table of Contents]
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