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Accueil > Publications > Ouvrages > La géopolitique: un outil > Geopolitics, A Tool To...
Geopolitics, A Tool To Serve The Firm Imprimer Envoyer

La géopolitique, Un outil au service de l’entreprise

Carole André-Dessornes, EMS (Editions Management & Société), 2006, 198 pp, €15

 

 

Geopolitics for the corporation? Why not? Geopolitical influence on the company has existed since at least the early commerce of Phoenicia, India and China, but it is only during the past half-century that forward-looking managers have begun to take the politics of geography systematically into cognizance. Using applied cultural strategy is exactly what the author of this admirably compact manual explains in clear language; her approach will apply increasingly to a fast-globalizing world of industry, trade, and their intelligent management.

 

Ms André-Dessornes, a specialist in diplomatic strategy, teaches at the Graduate Management School of Marne-la-Vallée, near Paris. Her book is divided into three major sections. First, some definitions and historical interpretations of these (beginning with the creation of the term geopolitics in 1901 ny a Swedish specialist). Then secondly, a close examination of the risks run by the enterprise that wants to venture beyond its usual market area. And thirdly, some proposed solutions to just how a firm might go about dealing with the pressures and risks in the geopolitical category.

 

The author’s approach is tailored, in other words, to the executive needing to understand the environment in which she or he is prepared to venture—far from the home office, in places with contrasting climate, cultures (piracy and terrorism included), and vested business methods and habits.

 

Some readers may recall that in the 1930s California orange growers learned that their products (the fruit itself, and its tinned or frozen juice) had to be shipped sweet to the American East, semi sweet to the Midwest, and least sweet for the West Coast. But that was in-country. Ms André-Dessornes tells us that in 2005 the French company Danone opened a research laboratory in Shanghai to concentrate on product-marketing distinctions of this kind in China: more sugared items are sought by consumers in the South of that enormous market, whereas somewhat acidic tastes meet the North’s expectations. The firm has stocked its products accordingly in French supermarkets operating in China.

 

 

Another form of adaptation has gained much ground in recent decades: the risks attending civil commotion or insurgency in territories where multinationals work far from home. A major petroleum firm, based on its experience in Africa, has developed a four-level scale of risk-reaction—levels of alert measuring risk v. security of operations and staff (p. 139):

 

• White, conditions of minimal risk

• Yellow, a mid-level of risk

• Orange, a fairly high level of menace (expatriate families should leave the zone), and finally,

• Red, very high risks entailing reduction of foreign personnel to the minimum, possibly even total evacuation.

 

Ms André-Dessornes covers, as well, the relationships that firms can anticipate with rules and regulations set by intergovernmental bodies (the World Trade Organization, the European Union, MERCOSUR in Latin America, and ASEAN, for instance) and interfacing with non-governmental entities. The last—the NGOs—may prove to be (depending on circumstances) clients, roadblocks or even competitors.

 

La géopolitique has an index of almost 120 keywords, but as a handbook it lacks a general index. The main criticism of this publication, however, is that the author has concentrated on the strategies and problems of French companies. That notwithstanding, the examples she cites are applicable almost anywhere as do-this-but-don’t-do-that guidelines, making her compendium invaluable for anyone developing future business strategies on an ever-compressing global scale.

 

Jacques Richardson

The reviewer is a member

of Foresight’s editorial board.

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