Initiatives Focus

In carrying out its mandate, the GW-CIBER focuses on research, teaching, and outreach in six substantive areas under the unifying theme of Institutions, Inclusive Globalization and U.S. Competitiveness, which leverages GW’s campus-wide faculty expertise in these topics and its location in Washington, D.C. Institutions are the rules and norms that govern and shape the interactions of individuals around the globe. Inclusive globalization is the process in which government policies that facilitate globalization, such as the opening of markets, are paired with policies mitigating any resulting inequality in incomes, opportunities, and environmental impact. A country’s competitiveness reflects the skills and productivity of its national workforce and the innovativeness of resident individuals and organizations. The outcome of strong competitiveness should be seen in the wealth and living standards of the country’s population, including such quality-of-life factors as social inclusivity and environmental sustainability. The interplay among institutions, inclusive globalization, and competitiveness needs to be fully understood by current and future U.S. managers and businesses if they are to compete successfully in the global marketplace and secure scarce resources.

Areas of Focus

Trade, Capital and Investment Flows

Since the early 1980s, an explosion in cross-border flows of goods, services, capital, labor and know-how — important globalization markers — have been considered crucial factors for economic growth and country competitiveness. By 2008, the global flow of trade had more than doubled, with more countries pursuing export-led growth as well as trade liberalization.

The 2008 global financial crisis and the following recession, however, marked a significant turn in the sentiment towards globalization. The public expressed growing concerns that it does not benefit all and that market openness and economic interdependence create redistribution effects, leaving some worse off. Increased trade with labor-abundant countries, unfair trade practices, migration, and government failure to create social safety nets are associated with manufacturing job losses and income inequality in both developed and developing countries. The resulting backlash against globalization has led to rising protectionism and economic nationalism, and negative attitudes towards migrant labor.

This focal area will explore the challenges of markets and movements of goods, services, capital, and labor and the implications of the fast-evolving protectionist policies. The emphasis will be on answering questions about how U.S. companies can navigate these hurdles and remain competitive and how various formal and informal institutions can mitigate the negative effects of globalization while promoting growth.

Coordinators: Maggie Chen & Stephan Kaplan

Other faculty experts: Michael O. Moore, Jay C. Shambaugh, Tara Sinclair, Emmanuel Teitelbaum

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Leveraging Diaspora Populations

Diasporans — migrants and their descendants living outside their home countries of origin — are prevalent in the U.S., and these groups are able to connect with their home countries in ways not achievable in the past. As a result, diasporans have emerged as important change-makers, influencing both institutions and policies, in both their home and host countries, and improving both civil society and the commercial environment. Diaspora communities and their trans-national networks facilitate commerce by encouraging U.S. exports and investment by improved information flows and contract enforcement in international transactions with their home countries; diaspora entrepreneurs often enjoy preferential access to their country-of-origin markets. Thus, they can play key roles in opening and expanding U.S. business opportunities in those countries through entrepreneurship and playing leading roles in U.S. MNC operations there.

Coordinators: Liesl Riddle & Jennifer Brinkerhoff

Other faculty experts: Elizabeth Chacko, Stephen Lubkemann, Anupama Phene

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Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship

Innovation and entrepreneurial actions are perhaps the single greatest determinant of a firm’s competitiveness, as well as the driving force behind national economic growth. Globally, innovation and entrepreneurship can potentially improve living standards dramatically; e.g., the innovations that spurred “mobile money” are contributing to financial inclusion in countries that lack a broad and deep financial infrastructure. At the same time, technological advances may be a major driver of increases in income inequality. Some issues that are examined within this focal area include knowledge transfer by nations and multinationals, sustainable innovation, entrepreneurial ecosystems, property rights protection, and institutional environment.

Coordinators: Anupama Phene & Robert Orttung

Other faculty experts: Meghana Ayyagari, Heather Berry, Jennifer Spencer

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Natural Resource Management and Environmental Sustainability

The petroleum industry is the world’s largest, and one wherein the USA has become a major exporter thanks to the shale revolution. It has also been a major source of job creation. Petroleum continues to be the global economy’s most highly traded commodity, and U.S. competitiveness in the global economy will depend on deep understanding of these issues. As the largest sector in international trade, hydrocarbons (oil, gas, and coal) have substantial potential for connecting areas of natural resource discovery to the world economy. This is of particular benefit to landlocked regions that have been left behind by globalization, whether U.S. states such as West Virginia, or sub-Saharan African countries such as Uganda. Other issues included in this focal area are sustainability and environmental regulations and protection.

Coordinators: Robert Weiner & Robert Orttung

Other faculty experts: Noel Maurer, Sanjay Patnaik, Jorge E. Rivera

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The Intersection of Business, Government and Civil Society

Relationships between business and government have become complicated in recent years, as the role of national governments in the business environment has changed in a myriad of ways. The intersection of business and civil society has changed throughout the world, as social movements have become more globalized and NGOs have, at times, taken on partnership roles with businesses, in addition to their more traditional roles. Also, civil society has become more vocal in its efforts to influence government policy toward the business and economic environment. Some topics of interest within this focal area include public-private partnerships; multi-party partnerships of government, civil society, and business; influence of institutional environments on firms' strategies; impact of social movements on the emergence of new industries; and political risk.   

Coordinators: Jennifer Spencer & Jennifer Brinkerhoff

Other faculty experts: Noel Maurer, Gastón de los Reyes Jr, Stephen Smith, Robert Weiner

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Poverty, Income Inequality and Economic Development

Development is of key interest to U.S. stakeholders. Issues related to developing and emerging economies, such as poverty, inequality, corruption, and civil strife, have enormous implications for U.S. businesses, which may be unequipped to operate in these markets. Emerging markets are characterized by non-existent or weak institutions, but at the same time offer enormous potential in consumer base and natural and labor resources. U.S. companies will benefit only if the economies of developing and emerging markets, as potential trade partners, are stable and strong enough to participate in the global marketplace. Further, some emerging markets (e.g., China and India) have been transforming themselves into new global economic powers, and their companies are becoming more and more competitive on the global arena, challenging their Western peers. Understanding how to navigate these emerging and developing markets of the emerging and developing world and cope with the challenges presented by this economic environment is vital for U.S. companies.

Coordinators: Jennifer Spencer & Stephan Kaplan

Other faculty experts: James Foster, Danny Leipziger, Roberto Samaniego, Stephen Smith

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