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Globalization of Business Enterprise

Globalization of Business Enterprise

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Globalization of Business Enterprise

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The majority of businesses say they want to become more global. And business leaders say that the lack of people with global intelligence is the key constraint holding them back. This course will address both gaps — at the business and the personal level, it will focus on practical strategies for dealing with the real consequences of globalization.


About The Course

The GLOBE course was developed and refined during the term of Professor Ghemawat’s membership of the AACSB taskforce on the globalization of business education. 

This course begins by debunking some of the many myths that surround globalization—what Professor Ghemawat refers to as "globaloney".

After discussing what globalization isn’t, this course devotes several sessions to understanding what globalization is. It will focus on the differences between countries that underlie observed levels of globalization and their implications for business. These differences will be summarized in terms of a framework for thinking about distances developed by Professor Ghemawat that is widely used at leading business schools around the world.

The final part of the course will synthesize the implications of globalization for business strategies—and for your personal development and career trajectories.  


"Pankaj Ghemawat is one of those rare individuals who combines world class scholarship with a deep knowledge of business practice." 

Michael E. Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University Professor, Harvard Business School

“Pankaj Ghemawat’s framework is both visionary and pragmatic—aware of the broad historic trajectories of globalization, but grounded in the real kinds of decisions business leaders have to make now.”
Samuel J. Palmisano, Former Chairman and CEO, IBM

“Pankaj Ghemawat has provided an impressive and comprehensive analysis of the world’s situation in times of globalization and strong economic and social imbalances."
Mohammed Yunus, Winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace


The course is broken up into eight sessions.

Session 1: Globalization and Globaloney 

This session will focus on how globalized the world is, how the data in that regard compare with people’s intuitions on the subject, possible reasons for the discrepancies observed, and their implications.

Session 2: The CAGE Distance Framework

This session will focus on understanding the cross-country differences that underlie observed levels of globalization, summarized in terms of the CAGE distance framework, where “CAGE” is an acronym for Cultural, Administrative (institutional and political), Geographic and Economic distances among countries.

The four sessions that follow will look in greater depth at each of the components of the CAGE framework and their implications for business.

Session 3: Cultural Distance

This session will focus on cultural distance, which encompasses differences in religious beliefs, race/ethnicity, language, and social norms and values.

Session 4: Administrative Distance

This session will focus on administrative differences, by looking at how international differences in capital and labor systems affect the ways in which business enterprises are structured and governed around the world.

Session 5: Geographic Distance

This session will look at how cross-border interactions are influenced by physical distance and by other geographic considerations, such as whether contiguity, within-country distances to borders, access to the ocean, topography, and even time zones. Attention will also be paid to the degree to which cross-border interactions are regionalized.

Session 6: Economic Distance

Consumer wealth and income and the cost of labor are the most obvious (and related) determinants of economic distance between countries. This module will focus on these and others differences such as availability (or lack) of resources, inputs, infrastructure and complements, and organizational capabilities.

Session 7: The Implications of Distances for Business Strategy

This session will review three broad strategies for dealing with differences:  Adaptation to adjust to differences across countries to achieve some local responsiveness; Aggregation, to overcome some of the differences across countries and thereby unlock  cross-border economies of scale/scope; and Arbitrage to exploit some of  the differences across countries in order to achieve absolute efficiency.

Session 8: The Implications of Distances for Personal Strategy

This session will focus on the individual rather than the company level and will discuss, in particular, some of the implications for personal development. It will also provide a course summary.

Suggested Readings

All of the required course readings will be listed in the course syllabus, and will be provided for free. Actually, what will often be required is one of two or more readings covering the same topic but of different lengths and complexity, so that you can customize preparation to your background and interests as well as the amount of time that you have available.

Optional readings that you might find helpful for the course include:

Redefining Global Strategy: Crossing Borders in a World Where Differences Still Matter, Pankaj Ghemawat, Harvard Business School Press, 2007

World 3.0: Global Prosperity and How to Achieve it, Pankaj Ghemawat, Harvard Business Review Press, 2011

These books are not required for completion of the course. However, they are recommended for those wanting more depth and examples related to the course topics, as a way to enhance the learning. The books can be purchased online and doing so is the responsibility of each student. At the start of the course, you will receive instructions for how to purchase the books.

Course Format

The course is divided into eight sessions. These sessions include a number of elements, described below. For each session, you can expect to spend a minimum of three hours to complete the assigned materials and tasks. As noted above, additional materials will also be suggested that will allow you to go deeper into the issues discussed, but that will require more time.

Each session will be introduced with a video of approximately 10 to 20 minutes each.  Some of the sessions will require you to complete online surveys before you view the videos. Quizzes will be embedded within the lectures to help you evaluate your understanding of course concepts.

For each session, readings will be assigned that discuss course concepts in more detail and present intuition and applications. 

In some sessions, discussion forums will be used to discuss case studies. These case studies are meant to serve as vehicles for applying course concepts to particular businesses. Your active participation in these discussions is strongly encouraged.

Finally, a peer-assessed assignment will be an important part of the course and will require you to analyze your country—or one of particular interest to you—in relation to others.

Recommended Background

While no particular background is required for this course, some interest in globalization and knowledge of basic business concepts will be helpful.


  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

  • What resources will I need for this class?

In addition to the readings, you will be given free access to a cutting-edge, web-based tool: the CAGE ComparatorTM ( This online tool can be used to undertake quantitative analysis based on the CAGE framework. 

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3-7 hours/week