J.A. Wheeler’s one particle, the eve of 2013

Through the looking glass.
Text and Photo © JE Nilsson and CM Cordeiro 2013

One of my favourite lectures of 2012 comes from the field of quantum physics, entitled The End of Space and Time?, delivered by Robbert Dijkgraaf on 20 March 2012 at Gresham College in the United Kingdom. Dijkgraaf was President of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and is currently Director and Leon Levy Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, USA. Continue reading “J.A. Wheeler’s one particle, the eve of 2013”

A multifractal system perspective of culture in international business

A plot of a multifractal wavefunction at the Anderson transition in 3D can be found as Fig. 1 of Vasquez, Rodriguez, and Roemer’s (2008), “Multifractal analysis of the metal-insulator transition in the 3D Anderson model I: Symmetry relation under typical averaging”. arXiv:0807.2217v1 [cond-mat.dis-nn]:

Coming from a social sciences background and continuing in the line of transformative theories, I could liken the wave particle duality to researcher’s interference, where the act of observing would in itself render a certain bias to the data collected and observed phenomenon simply because the observer becomes an entity to be considered in that which is being investigated and studied. Related then to this uncertainty principle is how in the field of international business, the concept of culture which is one of the most sensitive of concepts to be influenced by researcher perspective, where each researcher embodies his/her own values and belief systems, continues to be dominated by the western cultural dimensions construct in an era of increasing globalization and of advancing information communication technologies that render a blurring to traditional geographical boundaries. Social media platforms for example create an entirely new type of virtual landscape, bringing together people from different parts of the world, with different languages, values and beliefs.

Jason Padgett’s wave particle duality.

It is to this extent that culture, that has thus far been studied as national averages and have had differences as a measurement of complementarity in the success or failure of a foreign enterprise entries, should perhaps be re-conceptualized in terms of a fuzzing of boundaries to include a multi-levelled perspective that works across groups of individuals that share a common motivation system, regardless of nationality for example.

It is in this light that the multifractal system to the study of culture in international business might cast light beyond the Yin Yang concept of culture, where the latter eastern perspective of culture, if not taken in its original sense from the book of I-Ching (Book of Changes), of being an infinite system of duality, but reduced to simply duality of properties, would further contribute to a dichotomous point of view of the theory of culture i.e. if not west then east.

Social Network Visualisation: e-mail between the members of a project. Every square depicts a participant. Its colour indicates which departments he/she belongs to. Grey lines indicate that there’s at least a weekly frequency between the two linked participants. Source: Orgnet.com; Infovis.net.

Groups of social networks for example, regardless of national boundaries, may exhibit similar values and belief systems in a complex spatial structure much like those found in social networking theories, where individuals are characterized by not just a single (i.e. nationality or race for example) independent characteristic value but rather a set of values that belong to different contextual “multifractal” backgrounds through a space-time dimension.

Transformative theories – when international business can benefit from quantum mechanics

Jason Padgett and Q.A.T

Pictures from Jason Padgett and Q.A.T.
Text and Photo © CM Cordeiro 2012

An evening thesis:

Beyond the eastern Yin Yang perspective of culture, visually represented above in a metaphoric nomogram, is the concept of a pluralistic, aperspectival view of the concept of Multiculturalism, that to some extent, I would liken to the “most favoured nation” (MFN) clause following bilateral trade agreements in the norms of GATT and WTO, which is that of reciprocity and non-discrimination. What I find interesting in these visual representation from quantum mechanics is how the aperspectival fallacy often referred to as “aperspectival madness” is negated / neutralized via a heterarchial construct – an organizational construct deemed most advanced and most difficult to achieve, that I would to some extent, liken to multilateral trade agreements in international trade and a true understanding of Multiculturalism that encompasses the reductionistic view of the Yin Yang concept, though not vice versa.

Van Den Bossche, P. 2008. The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organization, Text, Cases and Material, 2nd edition. Cambridge.

Gödel’s theorem and executive education: reflections from the Chinese automobile industry’s strategy in talent management

Part of what makes being in academia so exciting for me is the very incompleteness of each project as expressed in Gödel’s theorem [1], here not referring strictly to its origins in mathematical logic of incomplete axiomatic systems, but rather used in a general linguistic sense of how research by definition, lies in a perpetual state of unfinish, the completion of which would warrant it redundant.

It is this continuous dialogic and dialectic process of thought, creativity and innovation of ideas, a journey that continuously reveals and uncovers what was previously obscure or even unknown that I find oddly comforting – finding familiarity in the unfamiliar, a constant in the flux of things.

As part of a collaborative publishing effort with friends from the IESE Business School in Barcelona from the International Faculty Program (IFP) of 2011, where colleague Peter Zackariasson was an editor, I contributed a chapter to the book entitled, New Perspectives in Management Education (Amann et al. eds, 2012) entitled “Chinese Wisdom. World Quality” Looking East for brand innovation and change management: reflections from a study on Geely automobile 2007-2011. It was a paper that reflected upon brand innovation and change managment in China’s Geely automobile from the years of 2007 to 2011.

It was also during this time that Geely acquired Volvo Cars from American Ford in 2010, landing China the single largest foreign acquisition, at the same time (McDonald 2010, Wang 2011) setting up several technological and knowledge platforms for China that lent support to the country’s efforts in the aggressive acquisition of knowledge in general.

Although American owned, Volvo Cars continued to carry a strong Swedish heritage in quality and branding where many of their engineers continue to sit in Sweden today. This meant that the acquisition of Volvo Cars by Geely was under sharp and curious observation both East and West, not in the least by Swedish academics and researchers from the disciplines of management science and international business (IB).

Having previously studied the Swedish management style in comparison to the Singapore Chinese management style (Cordeiro-Nilsson 2009), a hypothesis of mine with regard to Geely’s acquisition of Volvo Cars was that the strict vertical hierarchy and authoritarian leadership style of the Chinese might end up severely clashing with the more lateral, egalitarian and consensus seeking leadership style of top level Swedish management, even if under the steering of American Ford. It made interesting observation to see how these differences in management ideology of which one had its roots in centuries of authoritarian dynastic rule, compared to the more individualistic developments of the occidental cultures, might be construed and subsequently manoeuvred in a cross-cultural setting.

But two collectives of events took place with Geely’s acquisition of Volvo Cars that made the hypothesis redundant, the first was a change of Volvo Cars’ core executive management to a more global oriented team and the second, a juxtaposed strategy of old (going back to its scholastic roots) and new (a fairly hands-free approach to the acquisition) strategic concepts applied to the management of the enterprise taken by China with regards to its acquisition of Volvo Cars:

“I want to emphasize that Volvo is Volvo and Geely is Geely — Volvo will be run by Volvo management. We are determined to preserve the distinct identity of the Volvo brand.”
~ Li Shufu, Chairman of Geely (Bradsher, New York Times 2010)

That China realized its authoritarian rule over its western acquisition was not optimal led to it taking what could seem a radical move – autonomy to Volvo Cars to continue being, Volvo. It then turned towards its scholastic roots, to become ‘student’ in this aspect, observing business and management practices whilst at the same time, educating itself on various technological and knowledge platforms with the purpose of going beyond replication, of becoming forefront innovators themselves.

Where the theme of executive management education comes in is, with the support of the Chinese government, Geely had in 2000 set up Geely University with a mission to train individuals in the practical skills needed to build the company to its full potential of being a global player. By 2010, the company had an extensive talent management education program, offering in-house training and education opportunities in collaboration with Beijing University at all human resource levels from frontline factory workers to its top executive management teams that included doctors in research and development for Geely technology.

Today, the Beijing Geely University is one of China’s top ranked, largest private universities (Forbes 2010) that offers a range of subjects across disciplines from Humanities to Science and Engineering.

From the talent management strategies of multinational corporations then comes the question of the role of Business Schools in executive education – what lies ahead for business schools and executive management of the future? Where do Business Schools see themselves fit in and what / how can they meaningfully contribute to this changing demographics of the education of a workforce in a trend where business acumen is necessary but not a sufficient variable in the required range of skills of a workforce that needs to be trained across different levels of expertise?

Since management and organization is an applied science with theory and practice ideally combined in such a manner as to be practically applicable in the corporate world, such realities of executive education in multinational corporations could be argued to have put pressure on business schools in realization for a need to evolve with current corporate happenings and trends.

In the field of IB for example, while the call for a more interdisciplinary approach to the field has been going on for the past two decades, it is more so today that scholars are beginning to take that call seriously, seeding as it were, the beginnings of a review of the role of business schools and what perspectives they can offer for corporate practicalities in future that includes executive education. Continue reading “Gödel’s theorem and executive education: reflections from the Chinese automobile industry’s strategy in talent management”