Business diplomacy: the compass rose of foreign markets
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With transnational corporations (TNCs) around the world today numbering over 60,000 and more than 800,000 affiliates working abroad, it is easy to understand how modern day international business could have transformed into a major global player serving at the axis of politics, social and environmental responsibility. Additionally, with accountability to a large variety of both public and private stakeholders, all exerting significant power and influence, today’s global corporate structure is reinventing modern international relations, and in some cases, dominating it. (Muldoon 2005) This transformative nature of globalization today can also serve as a source of friction among this growing chorus of players and is bringing irreversible change to these relationships and how they impact and influence business around the world. (Muldoon 2005) From the largest to the smallest international corporation seeking to expand into new international markets, the challenges that come with corporate ambition can mean the difference between success and failure and they find a home at the intersection of international relations, diplomacy and economics. To successfully navigate these challenges, especially in emerging economies, a company must now factor in more than just the 'bottom line' and address complex issues that include human rights differences, environmental regulations, labor rights and values of each country. (Henisz, 2014) Combined with modern-day mobility achieved through technology and the Internet, corporations today have a great capacity to reach targeted audiences and establish a presence, but it is this same technology that also allows for immediate response to any corporate action. This constant, 24-hour news cycle, where everyone is made to be a real-time reporter through social media, has created a situation that demonstrably necessitates the ability to not only 3 respond immediately, but also to have real-time understanding of the challenges faced by a corporation as it looks toward global expansion. International Business Diplomacy, or simply Business Diplomacy as it will be referred to in this paper, combines all of these nuanced factors into a relatively new discipline that offers companies looking to expand into new markets, guidelines and directives so that they can more strategically map corporate direction, limit risk and achieve their objectives. This paper will examine the history of diplomacy and how the concept of statecraft became intertwined with the increasing globalization of business. Following a scholarly examination of how modern Business Diplomacy came into being, and the unique challenges that come with its application, particularly the liabilities needed to be overcome, this paper will apply the concept to the Brazilian aerospace manufacturer Embraer, tracking its strategic emergence from a small, regionally focused aircraft producer to global leader in the regional and executive jet market platforms. It will then examine Embraer’s entrance into the Chinese market, where the company suffered from several missteps and eventually had to refocus its business model from commercial to executive jets. Finally, as globalization continues to 'emancipate international business from its institutional and social constraints,' (Muldoon 2005) this paper will address how the relatively new and emerging discipline of Business Diplomacy is continuing to mature and grow in stature and influence through the proposition of a new challenge or 'liability' that corporations must also overcome as they expand into new markets. Through the analysis of Embraer in China, this paper will introduce the Liability of Governance to the lexicon of Business Diplomacy and propose specific steps that a company can undertake to avoid it.