Middle-sized countries create the best global CEOs

Why do the best global managers come from middle-ranking nations such as Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, Singapore, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Australia and Finland?

by Conference Board
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

These countries share a number of common characteristics that might explain why they have been so successful in creating global managers and global companies. They all have more dominant neighbours and therefore don’t have cultures in which they assume their way is the best one. They also have to learn to live with two cultures at least, their own one and the one of their dominant neighbour.

Most Canadians, for instance, grow up watching as much American news as their own. Further, English Canadians must also know what French Canadians are thinking. The Dutch learn three languages (German, English and French) to trade with their neighbours and Singaporeans grow up listening to Chinese and English side by side. Nokia in Finland (a country that cannot depend on its own remote region to survive) is a great example of global thinking. Three out of four of its employees work outside Finland.

Managers in medium-sized countries must by nature run with two views of the world at least. This helps them to cope with the need to understand different cultures and languages in different markets. Whilst the UK and US are starting to become more open to different cultures, Japan still lags far behind. Its own corporate structure and culture have not opened up the top tiers of management to outsiders and it will have to start to change its thinking if it is to produce enough global managers in the future. 

Source: Great Global Managers
Karl Moore
www.conference-board.org/worldwide
Review by Morice Mendoza

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