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Geopolitical firms

Companies are involved in geopolitics and this has an effect on companies. In the past and in the present, and even more so in the future. It is a fact that in times of increasingly close networks, of increasingly interrelated economic and social nodes, production and business lead to constant involvement in world dynamics. This applies to all firms, even those that consider themselves to be small. Consequently the cultural system with which the company has to look beyond its boundaries also changes.

An attempt at reasoning about the links between geopolitics, companies and society has been made by Jean-Marc de Leersnyder, professor of international marketing at the HEC (l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales) in Paris in his “Cultura d’impresa e geopolitica”, [“Corporate culture and geopolitics”], an article which in a few pages succeeds in describing effectively the powerful interweaving which has linked and still links production with the major political movements, corporations with states, decisions by entrepreneurs with those of international society.

“Geopolitics”, writes de Leersnyder, “is said to represent a privileged arena for public stakeholders (states, government organisations, international organisations) or for the stakeholders representing the non-profit sector (non-governmental organisations). In this way companies would have nothing else to do apart from undergoing the consequences of the geopolitical situation without being able to react to or influence this situation. Now companies have become some of the leading writers of geopolitics in that they maintain their own rationale with respect to world problems, so that the result of the games by the players, i.e. companies, definitely has effects and a considerable influence on the geopolitical situation”. The reality, well spotlighted by de Leersnyder, is that of a sort of coming alongside between the geopolitics of states and “corporate diplomacy”. With all the related risks and opportunities.

“There is”, de Leersnyder goes on to explain, “a single international environment. The commercial sphere is not separate from the political one. Geopolitics is the outcome of the games of all the players on the international scene”. In other words corporations and states are like two actors acting on the same stage but often with different scripts. Two different cultures which must however integrate in order not to disintegrate completely.

Cultura d’impresa e geopolitica

Jean-Marc de Leersnyder

ISTEI – Istituto di Economia d’Impresa

Università degli Studi di Milano – Bicocca