Because the world is not flat.

Category: Studying

What lies ahead for International Business professionals?

“Que será, será
Whatever will be, will be
The future’s not ours to see
Que será, será
What will be, will be”

This popular award winning song by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans was introduced in 1956 in the Alfred Hitchcock film ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ but its message seems very true still today. Even with all the big data collected on us humans, with more information than ever just a few clicks away, and with all the accumulated scientific knowledge published in numerous books and journals, it seems that we certainly don’t know too much, not even enough, about the future.

Indeed, as a Nobel Prize winner physicist Niels Bohr (1885-1962) once said, ‘Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future’. This holds true also for the future of International Business (IB). For instance, at the turn of the millennium, Sheth and Parvatiyar (2001) predicted the end of international and its reincarnation into global, along the emergence of a borderless world characterized by regional integration, ideology free world, technology advances and borderless enterprises. In this borderless world, differences between cultures, countries and regions were considered diminishing, suggesting that the global markets could be served by standardized marketing mix tools with less and less need for international adaptations.

For more than a decade, this prediction seemed to hold true. We even started to take the globalization development for granted. We do have technology advances and borderless enterprises, but otherwise, the course of history has taken unanticipated turns: instead of ideology free world, we got the rise of strong nationalistic and religious fundamentalist movements, instead of increasing regional integration we got Brexit, and instead of the triumph of globalization and free trade, we got Trump and increasing protectionism.

So, what kind of future is there for those studying to become International Business professionals? This question was dealt with our master’s level students on a new foresight course ‘TULEVA’ launched this autumn. With the future research methods they had learned during the course, teams of students were asked to create different future scenarios on what their professional field might look like in 2050. The scenarios were presented to audience with posters, videos or other types of presentations on computer screens at the course closing fare at Mercatori in October.

The future scenarios of teams with IB students recognized a number of possible development paths and their likely effects on international business. For instance, digitalization and the development of artificial intelligence are likely to effect also the work of international marketers as routine tasks will be automated; increasing world population and climate change might cause drastic changes on our consumption patterns and international logistics and trade; and the political tensions and conflicts between countries may lead to new sanctions and protectionist measures that eventually would slow down world trade. At the first glance, this latter scenario certainly doesn’t seem as a positive one for IB professionals. If this is to happen, will we be needed in the future?

Even in the scenario of diminishing world trade and shrinking global markets, the students didn’t see the future for IB professional overly gloomy. Instead, they envisioned that in such a world, global trade requires strong competences of people specialized in international business.

Hence, whatever will be, will be, but even in the darkest future scenarios, international contacts between people and global trade will remain, and therefore, the skills of IB professionals will still be needed. And let’s remember that future is not entirely given, it is also what we make of it!


Happy New Year 2019!


D.Sc. Elina Pelto

Nordic Taste of International Business

The interplay of economics and politics has shaped our modern world for as long as we know it. Historically, international business has gone through many nationalization and liberalization cycles. Lately, in the face of recent global political changes such as Brexit and conservative governments around the world, debate around international business and policy matters has been initiated again.  This is one of the few examples where Nordic Research School of International Business (#NORD-IB) comes into play. Continue reading