When the morning newspaper arrives, one of the first sections that many of us prefer to check with our cup of coffee is the ‘International’ page. The improvements in connectivity and information sharing networks today means that whatever happens a thousand miles away can be reported within the span of few hours. This development is not confined to news networks. In fact, the connectivity between various regions has improved so drastically that the world is becoming a ‘global village’, wherein every individual is connected to each other in one way or the other. An average Indian today knows what it means when Trump says, ‘the media is biased’ or when China becomes more provocative with Japan. We watch ‘House of Cards’ and wonder whether all politicians are like Frank Underwood; we know the story of Pablo Escobar through ‘Narcos’; we cry when lovers get separated in ‘typical’ Korean movies. Indeed, globalization has birthed a situation where all of us care for each other, irrespective of the barriers posed by cultural, geographic and political differences.
Global mindedness refers to the emerging skills used to absorb, assimilate and process the information available to them in the global context, amidst all the differences. It is that situation where the individual achieves the ability to understand any phenomenon or process, by adjusting his or her mindset accordingly. With a global mindset, an individual would be in a position to understand the exogenous issues with the required sensitivities. This, in turn, requires intra-personal connections, communication skills and above all, the ability to empathize.
The idea of global mindedness emerged post 1980s, following the huge shift in the world political-economy. Trade became largely in favor of flows across the nations. It was also a time when protectionism was replaced with Customs Unions and Free Trade Agreements. The trend of interlinked trend also paved way for social interlinkages as well as the political integration. One of the key factors behind this trend was the improved telecommunication skills and the need for businesses to understand what it would be like to do business in a non-traditional market.
There are three prerequisites to ensure a global mindset in an organization. First, there must intellectual capital, which includes the learning processes of understanding ideas from a different sphere of social life. Many MNCs engage in market surveys before establishing their products. Essentially, they try to gain access to intellectual capital. The second important ingredient to develop global mindset is psychological capital. or the individual’s ability to acquire new things and the openness of the mind to assimilate them from the respective perspective. The third and the most important prerequisite is social capital, which largely relies on the intercultural abilities to be an accommodative individual– and by accommodative, I refer to openness to societal values and norms at a macro-level and possession of the skills of diplomacy and interpersonal impact formation. Most B-schools today have dedicated courses on cultivating global mindedness in individuals to make them adaptive to a world, that is evolving every single moment. Even school programmes in several parts of the world have holistic education classes that are aimed at developing the mindset required in a globalized world.
The unavoidable nature of global mindedness is also creating challenges. For instance, debates over climate change in the past decades are rooted in global mindedness, a common belief that the world must tackle drastic changes in the climatic conditions. It is the same reason why a landlocked country like Kirghizstan must discuss the rising sea-levels with an island nation like Madagascar; it is the global mindset that made India contribute 500 tonnes of rice to the African Kingdom of Lesotho.
Gone are the times when the nations used to create policies to protect their own national interests; today, nations act in the name of global interest. However, there have been challenges as well. Nationalist waves in the West, as well as the rise of hardcore right-wing patriotic parties in almost every country, points to the difficulties in embracing global mindedness. Medieval times experienced prolonged wars between Nation States and tribes, wherein the firmer tried to take control by bringing others under its control. In those days, the challenge was the neighboring nations. This came to an end with the Second World War when nations realized the value of combined behavior. The first step towards achieving a global mindset was the creation of United Nations, followed by the Marshall plan for the reconstruction of a war-torn Europe.
Though the trend of global mindedness is emerging even at the individual level, this must develop much further. Essentially, what the 21st century world needs is not only connectivity in terms of wireless networks, but also a global mindset that connects every individual as a global citizen.
– Contributed by Jiss
Picture Credits: eric.ed.gov