CEOs as Statesmen? Author Offers New Plan on ‘How To Run The World’
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His vision is none other than coming up with a new way to run the world; a world he claims is, "entering a perfect storm of calamities: a great game for scarce natural resources, financial instability, environmental stress, and failing states. In some respects, it isn’t far off from that medieval landscape of almost a millennium ago."
Welcome to the new Middle Ages!
In his new book,"HOW TO RUN THE WORLD Charting a Course to the Next Renaissance,"Khanna takes a look at the current global chaos and offers up a road-map out of the "Dark Ages" into a new world where everyone, not just government leaders, serves as a diplomat.
"Diplomacy is the world's second oldest profession-but it comes as naturally to human beings as the first," Khanna writes and asks, "Why is that when it comes to running the world, we leave governments to do all the work?"
Governments can and do offer temporary help, Khanna says. But when it comes to building a strong, sustaining economy — governments can not act alone.
In his book and in this Guest Author Blog for Bullish, Khanna explains how "Mega Diplomacy" led by government officials and CEO-Statesmen like Bill Gates, George Soros and others is now in the works and how this can tackle some of the greatest challenges of the 21st century.
CEOs AS STATESMEN
Guest Author Blog: CEO and Statesmen of the World, Unite! by Parag Khanna author of "HOW TO RUN THE WORLD"
Every year prominent magazines flash studies and showing that of the top one hundred economic entities in the world, half are companies rather than countries, while other surveys underscore how the most powerful and influential people in the world are political and business figures in equal number.
So why is that when it comes to running the world, we leave governments to do all the work?
The question is especially relevant as we move into a world that resembles the pre-Westphalian era, that is, before the 17th century when states came to dominate politics. In the Middle Ages, thousands of autonomous players competed for influence over territory, resources and wealth—very much including the earliest corporations based in Bruges and Venice. Florence’s Medici family was the archetypical hybrid of public and private power, producing three popes, building opulent palaces, commissioning art to shape values, and intermarrying with royal families across Europe.
Today we see the Medici-like blurring of boundaries in spades: Gazprom oligarchs control the Kremlin; the billionaires Berlusconi in Italyand Thaksin in Thailandhave also been heads of state; Persian Gulf royalty oversee semi-official ministries and investment funds simultaneously. Detroit’s new mass-transit rail system is being funded largely by the CEO of Penske Corporationand the owner of the Red Wings. Today the main businesses of France, Turkey, Korea, Jordan, and other countries remain in the hands of big families and a clutch of businessmen. Furthermore, family businesses and small enterprises are asserting themselves as the backbone of the world’s real economy. As investment banking shrinks, private banking and wealth management firms are growing.
From clans to corporations, all of the players active in diplomacy a millennium ago are back.
The word “diplomacy” stems from the Greek diploun, meaning “to fold,” and refers to the folded diplomas authorizing entry into foreign territories that emissaries carried inside sealed metal plates.
Today, the right business card will do. Remember that companies have always been part of “governance”: Governments alter their investment laws and other policies to become more attractive to business.
CEOs should get used to being seen as statesmen. In a world where people care as much about their cash balance as their citizenship, multinational banks are vital lifelines of dependable service. From Africa to India, the crucial infrastructure investments societies need to cross the threshold to modernity are coming from the private sector or through public-private partnerships. Indeed, the willingness to build an airport or develop a medicine comes as much or more from companies who view these as necessary for their markets and consumers as from governments. “Corporate citizenship,” once an oxymoron, is now a cliché.
What all CEO-statesmen I have researched for this book – whether Bill Gates, George Soros, Richard Branson, or Mark Moody-Stuart – have in common is a genuine level of comfort on both sides of the public-private divide. Better yet: they bridge the divide and authentically assume “public” roles they have crafted themselves. Bill Gates has pioneered a philanthropic approach to combating deadly diseases, George Soros has been a human rights crusader for decades, Richard Branson has launched a “War Room” to tackle climate change, and Mark Moody-Stuart has become the lead champion of triple-bottom-line reporting. The arc of their careers makes them so much more than just “private sector” figures—and the world is better off for it.
What I believe we will —and must— achieve is a new mega diplomacy among the world’s leading authorities, whether from the dot.gov, dot.com, dot.org, or dot.edu worlds. There must be a division of labor among them. Can any country —even the United States— afford interminable public-private hostility when its overall competitiveness is at risk from rising powers? Rather than speaking of boundaries between public and private, with both sides accusing the other of short-term thinking, we should assume the need for a hybrid middle ground.
Even though governments can temporarily bail out their economies, much of what the economy does —create jobs and innovate — cannot be done by governments. All emergent sectors of the twenty-first century manufacturing and services economy — clean technology, health care, education — require sensible public and private synergy to spur job creation and growth. Business and government can’t forever point to each other’s leaks.
If the boat sinks, everyone is a victim.