Closing Statement from Daniel Raven-Ellison

Thank you everyone who has taken the time to contribute to this important question. Reading all of the comments, it's impossible not to think deeply about how relationships between global businesses and local communities are developed.

It's easy to think of global business and local community as two different things. This question is perhaps guilty of leading the conversation into such an easy binary. Of course, "global businesses" are made by multiple and interconnected local communities and many local communities are created by large businesses. Neither local or global are innately better than each other, they are so inextricably linked through uncountable or quantifiable relationships that one cannot exist without the other.

Aju made this point well by saying "global business creates a community of beneficiaries such as employees, contractors, vendors and even customers in the local geography. Except for a thin “live wire” of control that runs to the global headquarters, global business in each region have a very local existence."

Issues of supply and demand are woven through the whole of this conversation. What do people want, what is available and what is on offer are all vital questions, but interlaced through all the comments are issues of power. Who controls what is available to people and what decisions do those people make when consuming an idea, product or place? Mitchell started to address this by asking us to turn the conversation's question on its head by asking "How does a community create a fulfilling relationship with a global business?"

Candy shared a way forward by suggesting "Every community requires collaborative partnerships among business owners/operators engaged in facilitated discussion for the good of the community. This requires a common goal. Whether it is education, social culture...". A practical note that is all about a relationship of working together.

The conversation continues at Please join us.

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    May 30 2013: I think we also benefit from discussions around considering LOCAL - and how we define what LOCAL means -- as a function of ownership, rather than solely as a function of geography.

    Global businesses can truly be part of the destination and the local community when they adopt innovative new models of ownership, which include more than just hiring a percentage of employees locally or donating to local charities. That thought may not sit well with many corporate boards or shareholder groups, but that must be part of the discussion.

    Global brands can be active members of the community when they have a stake in the future of the community. There are proven processes corporations can work through to thoughtfully develop meaningful policies and implement social responsibility into organizational culture. Making meaningful connections requires a long-term view and commitment to more than just the bottom line.
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      May 30 2013: So you are proposing more shared-ownership brands?
    • May 31 2013: Hey Billy, I hear what you're saying. Although many large hotels these days are locally owned; they're just flagged with global marques such as InterContinental who operate, distribute, sell and market the properties. Sometimes the brands will have an equity stake, sometimes not. But from what I'm hearing in the industry, that is becoming even less so moving forward. Hotel brands are more and more divesting themselves of ownership due to the volatility of real estate in the last 10 years across so many different global markets.

      It would be cool if someone from IHG wants to refute/confirm/adjust that.

      Billy, curious to hear more about: "There are proven processes corporations can work through to thoughtfully develop meaningful policies and implement social responsibility into organizational culture."
  • May 18 2013: First, a company needs to understand that they are making profit by providing a service or good to a customer base. Instead of just assuming that a certain community needs, wants or will use whatever good or service they already have in production, they must research a prospective community to find out the needs. If the company wants to be part of the local experience, they may need to adjust their good or service to meet these needs. In addition, for this relationship to be a long-lasting one, the company must take into consideration the social, economic, political and environmental capacity to produce, sell, consume and dispose of the product. In addition, the company must become an active contributor, beyond a market, in the community. When we all work for the greater good of each other, we are more successful and profitable.
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      May 20 2013: Thanks for your comment Trista. If I understand you correctly, are you saying that businesses should not only supply what is demanded, but also work to create demand for what a community may want to supply?
      • May 20 2013: Yes, that is exactly what I´m saying! For example, if a community can sustainably supply certain input materials over others, companies wishing to setup factories in this community should take advantage of those particular materials in accordance with public participation instead of simply taking what they want from that community without regard for the communities desire to provide them.
  • Jun 1 2013: In my hometown, Lenoir, NC, we have a bumper sticker. It says S.L.O.B. That is, Support Locally Owned Businesses. A global brand is really no different than a mom and pop shop downtown. The only difference is the scale in which they are working with. Brands like Band-Aid, Windex, Apple, etc. all have earned something that keeps us coming back for more: trust. For the campaign on local businesses to continue to thrive, small companies need to take the first step in getting their name out there. Using social media, word of mouth, advertising, and other means of spreading the word, their businesses will grow. Upon growing, consumer trust will strengthen the backbone of the business. Larger companies have found that being local can really help consumer confidence. Hiring great employees to work as advisors for the company's products can help tie the global Fortune 500 companies to a small town, USA.
  • May 31 2013: Hi Daniel,
    Two questions:
    1) What will happen to the data that you collect in this conversational thread? There are some great ideas emerging and I am wondering if there will be a repository that people can continue to access after the conversation closes in 6 days, 22 hours and 30 minutes.
    2) Are you in San Francisco, or plan to be anytime soon? I'd love to meet up, take you out for coffee at one of my favorite local spots, and catch up in person.
    Zak (at)
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      Jun 2 2013: Hi Zak. Many thanks for asking. We are bringing many of the themes together on the Future of Local website (, but are waiting to see what comes out of the conversations before we plan anything further. I may be in SFO at some point, if so I'll drop you a line - what are your thoughts on the conversation so far?
  • May 27 2013: The Future of Local is a shift in the traditional roles of hotels within their local communities. Wherein the past, a hotel or resort was typically a refuge or escape, with a selected array of major attractions promoted to the guests. More and more, the next generation hotel is becoming a kind of "community accelerator" that brings together visitors with local artisans and small businesses. That has always been the case, more or less, with small independent hotels, but large global chains such as IHG are now placing a priority on this with new initiatives and programming.

    Globalization has created a uniformity of travel experiences in major, and not so major, tourism destinations. Not sure if that point is even worth discussing because it's so prevalent and ingrained in the world's economies. But how global hospitality brands challenge that homogenization is incredibly interesting. I don't think this discussion is about macro/micro economics and labor practices. It seems to me to be about integrating the local destination into the hotel and minimizing a hotel's impact on a destination's character, so the local population can share its cultural experience with the traveler in an undiluted and as authentic manner as possible. How large hotels move forward in that direction is the purpose of The Future of Local.

    Would love to hear from IHG about their plans for that.
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      May 28 2013: A very interesting summary of a handful of big underlying issues, Greg. How would you propose to go about integrating the local destination into a hotel? Where would you start?

      I think the constant balance that has to be found by global businesses between homogenisation and localisation is the key issue, and you'r every right in underlining it. Where should global brands place the needle, knowing that on one hand travellers cherish having their own standards in terms of comfort, whilst on the other hand they are keen on experiencing the true nature of a destination's character?

      Another interesting question could be, still focusing on the hospitality industry, is there such a thing as an ideal size for a hotel so as to minimise its cultural footprint whilst having the resources to bring local culture to like in a meaningful way?
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        May 28 2013: Being a "community accelerator" is an interesting idea... an accelerator to what? I love the idea of hotels not just being somewhere to sleep, but as a gateway to places... a "community gateway" of some kind.
        • May 30 2013: The boutique hotel, PhraNaKorn-Nornlen,, in Bangkok has done a fantastic job of being a local 'community accelerator', making it easy for travelers to connect with local authorities on topics such as food, shopping and cultural sites/activities/traditions. Services include a variety of workshops and walking tours.
          I've had the fortune of visiting 29 countries. I rarely stay at global hotels because they seem disconnected from the local culture; in striving to provide consistency and quality, they more often than not lose authenticity and charm. Hotels that are truly committed to local communities, families, and local values tend to treat their employees with more respect than hotels that are not connected to 'place'. I believe the idea of placemaking is key. So, what makes a place, a place?
      • May 30 2013: One way to integrate the local community into a hotel is to invite them. The Space Program at the New Majestic Hotel in Singapore is an example. Here is the link:

        It's basically a small museum installation/retail outlet located in the lobby, which includes edgy art, books, music and furniture by the city's up and coming cultural trendsetters. It shows guests a new side of the city that's typically not easy to access in one place. It provides funds/exposure to local community members; it attracts locals to patronize the hotel; and it provides opportunities for lots of special events where the authors/artists/designers can talk about their work and the future of their city.

        Also, most large hotels could do a much better job communicating their region's local, authentic travel experiences through in-house storytelling and their website blogs. Some do but it's often minimal surface info about the most well known/generic guidebook experiences. By detailing specific small businesses that are truly local and attract locals, the large hotels are engaging with their community. And more importantly, they're engaging their guests with their local community. A lot of small hotel groups are doing this and building a loyal guest network. It requires a fair amount of work to update on a continual basis, but that's The Future of Local.
  • May 23 2013: Local and global are not mutually exclusive concepts or terms. Rather, they are two distinct concepts each of which is dependent on the other. Much like the parallel paths of train tracks, or the parallel existence of physical and spiritual, local and global help to define each other yet exist independently of one another. Finding out the balance between or the relationship of one to another by looking at only one OR the other will not help understand the current or future relationship between the two. Only by looking at local and global as being symbiotic can we fully appreciate the challenge that lies in answering the question about their future.
  • May 22 2013: The Future of Local has more than just a macro discussion which seems to be the focus of most of the shared comments. We are experimenting with some business concepts that bring local tastes and community experiences that would be nearly impossible for a traveler on the move, or someone planning an intimate experience, or someone adventurous who just loves to explore unique opportunities that are organically imbedded in local communities all over the world. They are working to discover and share those hidden "uniquely local" businesses and and connect the traveler, the adventurer, the special experience planner through technology. This fills a gap and brings more of a micro element to the Future of Local that is exciting!

    In my personal research I have also discovered a very large global company in advertising & media who is very successful and becoming local:
    The large company with over a hundred years of media and marketing solutions, has experience in driving growth through traditional channels. As consumers and technology rapidly evolved, the larger company delivered a solution by creating a smaller boutique division that focused on local and organic digital solutions.

    Since their start, they have strengthened their relationships with an existing portfolio of clients and forged new relationships with companies seeking to accelerate their local business. They bring digital solutions to the large media company's portfolio of products.

    They have built a team of talented, digital industry leaders dedicated to delivering best-in-class local outcomes and results. At the core, they understand how to connect the local business, to a more demanding, fast moving, and ever-changing, consumer.

    So in the micro review of this question...What is the Future of Local? There are many exciting applications that are already shaping and changing the world in a good way and creating "wins" on all fronts!
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      May 26 2013: Sounds like a sales pitch... sorry.
      Where is the first place you should go before you make almost any purchase..? And most of the time the first place you go if you've been ripped off..? You search it and see if anybody else got ripped off.
      How does that fit your model unless one of your solutions is making your own good reviews no matter what.

      Digital solutions..? Is there a web page for almost every company out there..?
      Are people paid to covertly gather information about who they want to sell to..?
      When people feel like they have been ripped off do they freely give this information, and will you see it on these web pages..?
      Would an honest company have nothing to fear by having a forum linked to that web page, and would a consumer have all the information about that company they were willing to give up.
      Would the same be true for any local government... and why you will only see one way web pages... for now.

      If you don't make them, we will.
  • May 20 2013: Fair competition combined with opportunity is a part of the solution.

    Presume there is more that needs to be done than there are people to do it.

    People then choose, "I'll do that. Or, I'll do this." ... Based on 1) how much existing suppliers are inviting competition by: charging so much as to exclude services from those who could benefit, or poor quality, or poor delivery.

    And 2) recognizing unmet needs.

    People need choices and the freedom to make them without fear of retribution.

    The OP talked about, "How can businesses balance these needs?"

    If the cost of starting a business approaches zero, needs will be met...

    So, I guess low barriers to entry is the solution.
  • May 20 2013: It cant, in fact it destroys local culture local community and customs.

    Dont believe me? Go somewhere remote(ish). Then visit the same place 20 years on.
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      May 20 2013: Your position is that global businesses will always destroy local community and customs? Is it not possible for sensitive business practices to conserve local communities and customs?
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        May 20 2013: If you start a business with that intention and value it is possible! But pretty much impossible to change an existing global business.
      • May 21 2013: No it's not possible for sensitive business practices to conserve local communities and customs, inherently the corp has other goals that it must legally follow for the shareholders.

        I'm honestly sorry to disillusion you with such facts, but they are facts.

        An example if it were not in the corp interest to have a 'green policy' do you think any would? The reality is they all have because it's now seen in their best interests to have one.. even shell oil has one, and one has to see the irony there. And while the employes of such green departments do go, it's really a pr exercise. You can pollute one country and in another say look we build 4 schools, are we good. The whole has to be measured, not the parts.

        DL states it correctly, but I add only small locally owned business can sustain the goals you define. Too often we forget that small business IS the lifeblood, they employ more people, they pay more taxes (by sheer numbers) the deliver what the local communities need every day.

        Global business do none of those things, yet people keep believing that they are important. I'd suggest that you look at the top 50 global business's and realize that 50% of them could be wiped out and we'd suffer no loss. There is no way 50% of small business's could be wiped out and the community not suffer a loss.

        I fortunately, and simultaneously have lived in some of those places, I'd suggested that you visit, many now I wont go back to, I know it wont be the same, I know culture and traditions will have been lost. I know the diversity that the planet once had with every country being a unique and wonderful experience, is and has been diluted by corp, not only selling their wares, but changing the populations mindset to value and want what they offer. I suggest that in part this is responsible for the Arab Spring, the loss of culture some feel and are fighting tooth and nail to retain, through what ever means they perceive will achieve that goal. Ironically, so are the corps.
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          May 25 2013: I really enjoyed reading your point of view Tify, and I believe you outline really important issues. The disconnection between shareholders and local realities for instance is something that could be a whole conversation in itself.
          However, and although I do share some of your reserve about green policies, isn't it somehow possible, in specific industries at least, to place the preservation of the idea of "local" at the centre of what companies do?

          I'm thinking about companies such as VEJA shoes or Hard Graft which are, admittedly on a rather small scale at the moment, making the most of local know-hows to make their products. Luxury companies such as Hermès are keeping alive artisan jobs and savoir-faire that would have in some cases disappeared were it not for their existence.

          I do feel like there is an opportunity for global businesses to have their parts in preserving local cultures, especially through integrating local techniques & specialities in their products, which is very much the case in the hospitality industry, especially in the higher-end segment which I know best. However, it is more difficult to implement in industries where revenues are driven by cost-cutting rather than by value-adding schemes.

          I concur with you in saying that there is a case to be made in the sense of protecting small, locally-owned businesses. Your example of the Arab Spring is very revealing, for it can be interpreted as a reaction to the cultural loss you underline very justly. This feels me with optimism though: if citizens, hence consumers, are conscious of their own cultural exception, they will be likely to have a preference for businesses rooted in these values, whether that be for buying, working, or partnering. Maybe that's one way for local to "get back" at companies that do not care enough about their specific needs. What do you think?
  • Jun 2 2013: Maybe the question should be, "How does a community create a fulfilling relationship with a global business?".
  • Jun 1 2013: The key word is "relationship." Every community requires collaborative partnerships among business owners/operators engaged in facilitated discussion for the good of the community. This requires a common goal. Whether it is education, social culture, or economic health, all businesses must believe in the methods utilized to reach the desired goal. Global business should require the leader of each location to collaborate with an existing group; if one does not exist, then he/she should be strong enough to take the initiative and reach out to other leaders in their community to form one. It is often said we should not underestimate the power of one, we should equally endorse the power of many "ones" working together.
    Some may be hesitant to collaborate with members of the community deemed their "competition" but when we stop working against one another for the bottom line and begin to work together for the common good, everyone in the community prospers.
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      Jun 3 2013: I agree that this is a powerful way to focus efforts. Do you have any good examples of where this has worked?
  • May 31 2013: InterContinental Hotel Group opened its 200th hotel in Greater China this week: InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin.

    It's being promoted as IHG's first heritage hotel, restored inside a state guest house built in 1917. There was care taken into preserving the local vernacular and an important historical venue. Is this "fulfilling a relationship with a local community" and providing a more authentic travel experience? It is, to a degree, versus erecting a newbuild. Architectural adaptive reuse is one way large hotel brands can minimize their environmental impact and preserve/enhance local cultural value and integrity.

    More about IC Shanghai Ruijin: :
  • May 31 2013: Nice!. makes me realise I never thought of this!
    Global business do construct and contribute to the local community without any conscious and voluntary effort. Unlike colonial invasions, global business creates a community of beneficiaries such as employees, contractors, vendors and even customers in the local geography. Except for a thin “live wire” of control that runs to the global headquarters, global business in each region have a very local existence. The wealth earned by this community obviously adds to the wealth of the locality and the entire local community brews the welfares.
    So it is best left to its self-attained equilibrium. When we get conscious about this, we do try to contribute something to support it and will eventually break the natural balance. Like the wild life. All that we need to do to preserve wild life is to be absent there – not present!
  • May 31 2013: A very interesting question considering that this thread is being sponsored by Intercontinental Hotels Group, currently preparing to open a massive luxury hotel in occupied Tibet. This is a country where people are not free to follow their religious or cultural traditions - a photograph of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, can land them in jail, for instance - and where the local community faces jail, torture or worse for opposing the Chinese authorities.

    Interestingly, Intercontinental is naming their hotel the "Resort Lhasa Paradise". Anyone with any awareness of Tibet knows it is no paradise - a French TV reporter secretly filmed there earlier this month and described Lhasa as an "Orwellian" place. The chair of the US Senate's foreign relations committee recently described it as "among the most repressed and closed societies in the world". IHG's marketing, in contrast, helps promote the messaging favoured by the regime repressing freedom in TIbet. They want the world to think that Tibet is a happy place, where the local culture is preserved and respected. Intercontinental will trade on a local culture which is preserved only where it brings in tourist dollars. Right now, ancient parts of Lhasa are being bulldozed to make way for a shopping mall for tourists. In Tibet, local doesn't have much of a future.

    One of the many challenges Tibet faces is the vast influx of Han Chinese immigrants, who now make Tibetans a minority in their own capital. More than 90% of visitors to Tibet are Chinese - uninvited guests who will expect those who serve them in their luxury hotel to do so in Mandarin. IHG may decorate it with Tibetan crafts and employ some Tibetans to park the cars but this building entrenches Chinese occupation and Chinese culture in Tibet.

    Tibetans are not free to express their opinions about the building of this hotel, its employment practices, or the deceptive marketing it employs. Those who are, see
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    May 27 2013: Global businesses will go where there is a willingness to adopt a work ethic that maximises production and profits.

    "Willingness" in this context, stems either from the notion that the work ethic is endemic in that locality, or from a desperation to alleviate unemployment. It rarely happens that a global business can find a locality where such a work ethic is endemic, and at the same time where labour is cheap enough to maximise profits.

    What then remains, is a kind of predation on the desperation of local communities to create employment at all costs. In every one of those cases, it is the community that has to change to accommodate the incoming business - almost never vice versa. This is not respectful.

    There have been exceptions. Examples include the creation of the village of Saltaire in Yorkshire by businessman/philanthropist Titus Salt, and the creation of the community of Port Sunlight near Liverpool by the Lever Brothers - both in the UK and from the Victorian era. In both cases, the business ethic went hand-in-hand with a deep respect for human sensibilities on the local scale. Both Titus Salt and the Lever Brothers recognised that a happy, healthy workforce is synonymous with high volume, high quality production.

    Respect between the global and the local has to be mutual in order for the relationship to be fulfilling. At the moment, it seems to be exclusively one-way.
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      May 28 2013: Your comments have some synergy with what Trista Brophy has said below. The difference between the supply and demand side of relationships. The theme keeps coming up within the Future of Local conversation... the need find new ways to manage both supply and demand in more positive ways.
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    May 20 2013: I am starting a global business with a major focus on helping local. There are many others doing the same thing because there are many business needs unique to local businesses. However the global business must have a major strategic focus on local to make a difference. Don't bother trying to convert a global business that does not have local as a major focus. If that is not their focus, they will only make a token, good will effort as much for marketing value as anything else.
  • May 20 2013: Isn't local just a perception? A perception of what your destination will and should be as prescribed by media, or hopefully more so byword of mouth, a photo or just the hope of escaping your local reality?

    If the brand is smart they will ingrain themselves in what is local. They will be an integral part of what is local. They will be able to provide insight and knowledge on what is local - like a great concierge. The brand should be responsible to the local community and care for it like it's their child. Help it to grow and flourish whilst the brand does in this foreign place.

    If travellers are smart they should be responsible as they travel, do not spoil it for those who come behind you. Take care to leave it better then how it was found. Upon their return they can spread the word or hold that place scared, for it will always be just their perception of what that place should be...
    • May 21 2013: So McDonalds is just a perception ... I wish.
  • May 20 2013: Let's first understand the concept of globalisation:

    Globalization involves the diffusion of ideas, practices and technologies. It is something more than internationalization and universalization. It isn’t simply modernization or westernization. It is certainly isn’t just the liberalization of markets. I would have described globalization as ‘the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa’. This involves a change in the way we understand geography and experience localness. As well as offering opportunity it brings with considerable risks linked, for example, to technological change.
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      May 20 2013: That sounds like an Anthony Giddens quote to me! In your opinion, what does this mean for 'global businesses' that are trying to work with 'local communities'?
  • May 18 2013: I'm in favor of a new kind of journalism that can not be underpinned by commercialism. That means no advertising at all bearing influence on content and content having new priorities which the intrusion of commercialism had previously excluded. But--BUT--that does not mean that commercialism should cease to exist. It means that there must be a successor concept in which businesses become a "living history" in and of themselves where integration can exist to relate business to geographic and economic regionalism. Why should corporate annual reports be esoteric, exist only on glossy paper and sit in the in-boxes or file cabinets of share-holders. Are they not part of the same history on the same planet we share? It's just a matter of blazing trails to new models which bridge old gaps and replace wasteful dysfunction with powerful new function. There's not enough room for me to be more illustrative here, but I welcome messages if anyone would like to shave a decade off the future and stop going sideways or moving in tiny increments. What has been missing from the digital revolution is idealism. There is out-dated "conventional wisdom that idealism is unrealistic utopianism. That used to be true quite often. But the technology now exists, it is the culture that lags. And thus, idealism reverses in fortune to be the most precious commodity if one sticks to engineering, ergonomics, practicalities and doesn't jump any rails into belief systems. Human development ideals--not towers of Babble. What you want is a sustainable progress engine that has a place for people and a place or companies that have fair and healthy relationships that benefit all. That's not impossible. At least not any more.
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      May 20 2013: Thanks James. Can you share a little more about what you mean by a "sustainable progress engine"? What is this and how would it work?
      • May 20 2013: Yes. We are well into the information age but most effort has been spent strictly on one technology beating another for it's investors and progenitors to reap some relatively short term gain--some financial success that validates that they have done the right thing. But few if any have departed that short term profit motive, to instead of designing the next "ap" or way to manipulate photos or w/e, designing a culture in which technology is used to facilitate achievable ideals--many of which could provide circumvention routes around existing politics, permissions and corruption. The digital revolution is no revolution--it has just been an evolution--until it is led with new design to set precedents that illuminate new directions people see the value in.

        Even though we're almost 30 years into the PC revolution, individuals, companies, even governments have poor or non-existent information policies. They have technology policies to get the next thing that seems to give them an edge, but the information they produce still fragments into a morass that creates an impediment to momentum if they were to want or need to make rapid progress. A sustainable progress engine would start with the realization that any "movement" can facilitate it own advancement quicker if it ceases creating its own informational impediments to momentum by using today's informational output as fuel for tomorrow's new achievement. Nothing would ever bog down because one person in the chain has moved on or died or w/e. No one has yet interpreted how empowering a thing liberation from linearity and alpha numeric constraints is. If companies used SPE modality I invented, they would actually "own their information and knowledge" which remains dynamically useful regardless of the departure of anyone from the group.. Journalism can be used to actually create "economy" with a change in model, focus and vision. I'm out of characters. Send me a message and I'll give you my e-mail addy. Think info ergnmcs
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    May 18 2013: I would say think Local and act Global
    Before any action is taken. one has to arm himself with the detailed knowledge about the local conditions, like habits ,customs,economics, geography structure, mobility etc etc.

    Than apply this knowledge to act maintaining global standards and aspirations in a way which is beneficial to all.
  • May 18 2013: Let's think a little about what "local" means.

    England has local. New York has local. New Delhi has local.

    I think in a lot of countries there is corruption (perhaps the opposite of freedom of choice).

    ... When there is corruption distribution channels are not efficient.

    I don't know the answer... To fall back to basics, the goal of every business is to efficiently serve society. The less efficient servers go out of business.

    Efficient, sustainable delivery of product with a persistent effort to reduce corruption.
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      May 20 2013: This is such an important point. When talking about corruption as a problem, do you see transparency and openness as the solution?
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    Jun 5 2013: You mean like McDonald's? They're everywhere. Not sure I fully understand your question. What is the benefit of having said relationship? Increase profit? I think if you want a global brand to be part of a local experience, then you would need a local PR office for the company in every major city and a volunteered liason for the company in smaller communities. However, in order to have such a relationship requires money. A fulfilling relationship is one in which one party has something to offer the other and vice versa. By giving the local customer something, in turn you hope they buy your product or service. For example, bread and circus events in Rome acquired votes for the politicians. These offices and liasons would be responsible for providing services and products for the local community on behalf of and sponsored by the company. Nike Fun Run this Saturday in the downtown district, offering free shoes to children 6 and under! Come see the opening of the Jared Smith Microsoft Memorial Park in Chesterfield tomorrow! Companies already do this to an extent, but it would have to be on a larger scale/more involvement.
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      Jun 6 2013: Something deeper than PR, that's for sure. There are lots of different marketing and PR gimmicks to drive sales, but what can global businesses do to create lasting and meaningful positive relationships that make sure local communities and places properly benefit from them being present? This question is about going deeper than sponsorship or fun events.
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    Jun 4 2013: There is some really good commentary above about how physical presence businesses can be local and some of the problems that global businesses can cause. The local question is much broader than this. Many services, like insurance are global and not all products are on a shelf. I am thinking about this very broadly from a structured business model perspective as to how businesses and community can think global:

    First global businesses should identify who they consider to be local non-principal stakeholders. By these I mean employees, suppliers, distributors, local and national governments, advisers, the public at large and etc., (but not owners) -since each of these may have local (to them) interests in business conduct.

    Next they should have stakeholder analysis or discussions (directly or by proxy) about what would benefit each and set some goals that can be tracked. A hidden element to this is building the trust that Colby Ford refers to. To be local to those who consider themselves a locality, stakeholders need to feel safe in that you are listening and trying to avoid doing them harm.

    Third there are some higher level principles loosely under social responsibility, but also enlightened self interest that should be followed. This might include sustainability, fostering local diversity (even among competitors?), reinvestment and etc.

    Finally, transparency in reporting to your local communities on who they are, how you have listened and what you are aiming to do, would go a long long way in going local = being trusted locally and a positive contributor to the locality.

    Localities can do similar thinking to ensure they are properly engaged with “outsiders” and to not forget themselves as whole, not just individual interests.
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      Jun 6 2013: So would you agree with Mitchell that the question should be "How does a community create a fulfilling relationship with a global business?" and a discussion about empowering 'local' communities would be more useful?
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        Jun 6 2013: I started out thinking 50/50, but the reality as I reason below is that local push may be more pragmatic in most cases.

        Global can claim ignorance or bias in local demands if they are not well crafted.Who gets held to task for not being imaginative? There are benefits that may come to business from thinking local down the risky line, but based on some straw polls of mine, only 10-15% of the time business really seeks innovation. More often they react to problems or rules. So it can be a long wait if local does not push matters.

        Thus, The locality has responsibility to think about what would be positive from/with global business and do what it can to make it work through positive or negative incentives and to make itself be seen as sufficiently distinct and important. For local to make their side work optimally, they need a holistic understanding of how their locality works. This tool of understanding can help guide their end of the relationship.

        Once fair expectations are set (on both sides) disclosure and transparency ideally would build trust and lead to "correction" and beneficial feedback.
  • MR T

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    Jun 3 2013: Start paying their taxes would be a great start.
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    Jun 1 2013: This is a fantasy, but I think it starts with self examination - is their mission to make money balanced with doing the right things because they are right and not because it helps the bottom line?.
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      Jun 2 2013: Interesting observation ~ but I still think you've been reading too much Nitschke! ;-)
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    Jun 1 2013: Get rid of the brand. Open each outlet under a unique name and style that fits the local community and blends with the local environment. Employ local people. Open hours to suit the local people. Plough profits back into the local community.
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      Jun 2 2013: What about at the backend? How do you feel about standards, systems and processes being more uniform - such as global accepting of bookings, access to marketing etc?
  • May 30 2013: Question: How can a global business create a fulfilling relationship with a local community?

    Conversation: A great question. Thank you. First of all before your question can be answered, we need to examine some "success models" that exists. I am looking at my own community here in Fairfax VA. I see that most global organization tends to sponsor "flashy" large scale struff like "beast cancer" or "heart disease" . These are important but there are awful lot of high quality non-profits, often uniquely created by a small group that never gets any atention from such "gloabl organization" due to their focus on "mass thinking and mass method" mostly.

    Oh, yea, they advertise heavily at the local PBS station and again reach out with their "message' to 5 million++ all at once , as an example, of how "global organizations" like to spend their money. For "community level" activiites, a foundation grant taylored or a local "angel" are probably the best option forgeting thse "globals" as we must. Oh, the new Crowdfunding tools may hold promise as I am hoping to harnace for communit vitality via arts and science.

    For deeper thinking on this have a look at my internet published topic : Community Vitality Boosters__Web and Rock
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    May 30 2013: Thank you to everyone who has contributed thoughts and opinions so far. What advice would you give to communities that are new to working with 'global' businesses.... and what advice would you give to business leaders who are working with new communities?
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  • May 26 2013: Remi, I cant hit reply the system wont let me, so I'll answer your comments here.

    "Luxury companies such as Hermès are keeping alive artisan jobs and savoir-faire that would have in some cases disappeared were it not for their existence."

    This is true, particularly in Haute couture, yet it also is one of the changes that i've seen, the loss of "apprentices", nearly at one time every industry had programs today - significantly less. They expect people - pre-skilled. It would be beneficial to local communities to adopt them again. Yet even if the person leaves the employ, it's been show that those skills are either utilized or transferred, into a small company. Which again brings about more employment and more diversity. But now it's seen as an "economic loss".

    "The disconnection between shareholders and local realities for instance is something that could be a whole conversation in itself. "

    True, the paper form of the connection is not see as valuable or as a part of the business, but a degree of separation, that allows and somewhat encourages, speculation, short term gains & thinking, a shift in perception and duty. Nicely talked about on here at Ted by Dan Ariely.

    "which is very much the case in the hospitality industry, especially in the higher-end segment which I know best."

    I don't know about that being the case, the Intercontinental was in Budapest, and the Hyatt in moved. For the locals and their family life it was not a better time, as the employment practices, typically meant (directly or indirectly) longer hours. Where someone may well have had time for their family and their community before, it came down to a choice of either or.

    I will concede if things are managed properly. If the goal is cost minimization & is the root & sole reason for being there & employment practice then no. Again i can only see that not apply in 5 star, due to expectations, not for mid to lower star. So much is dependent on mindset on the initial goal and ideology.
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      May 28 2013: Thanks for the answer Tify, full of interesting insights once more.

      The apprenticeship issue notably is one that is started to be rekindled in a handful of countries, where governments now realise how useful of a method it can be. I've seen this focus in France and the UK recently, but Germany has been putting the emphasis on apprentices for some time. However, results are scarce for the moment and there is certainly a lot of work to be done on educating not only students but also their parents about the benefits of this option.

      Agreed that the main goal needs to be on value creation, and furthermore on creating value through raising standards of services rather than on cutting costs. I do believe this is something that can be achieved in the higher-end segments of many industries, where the mindset is more easily inclined towards such an end, than in midscale segments.

      That said, I wonder if the problem doesn't lay with the imbalance of many an industry in terms of power of stakeholders. In the travel industry, one could argue that there are many different actors, and that travellers themselves hold a lot of power through online reviews: they can influence travel providers such as hotels, restaurants or online travel agents this way. Maybe this is idealistic and a bit of a professional bias given that I work with them on a daily basis, but couldn't we envision a world where social media could help customers gain more influence over their providers?

      Hopefully, as we are headed towards a more and more transparent world where information is, by and large, easily shared and found, what's important to customers should become more and more preponderant in the eyes of business. First because it's easier for them to know what's important, and second because not acting on this information would mean risking redundancy in face of competitors that would.

      Wishful thinking or real trend? I'm not absolutely sure, to be honest.
      • May 30 2013: Wishful thinking or real trend?

        Both, no doubt people are getting more informed.

        But as said, so much is dependent on mindset on the initial goal and ideology, I'll expand on that, in that, it's the companies philosophy. IE how does it treat the local people who work there? Does it source local materials? Or does it just import? Does it offer value in being there not only (take the hotel industry) to the visitors, but to the local community? Now how can a hotel offer local services, well I mentioned a few above, and a few more above that, and with some real creative thinking it could offer a whole lot more.

        Company philosophy, ideology, and goals are the real keys to success, and in today's market the creative application of them, in as many ways as possible (as mentioned, and there are lots more), is simply put... good business, in what ever country one operates in.
  • May 21 2013: - What is globalization for local?
    - How can we shape the future?
    - How can local shape the future not the globalization nor the global companies?
    - Do we feel that global & globalization consume the local environment?
    - Will this trend will continue Or there will be a flap point to reverse this actions?
    - how long would the mother earth could be consumed?
    - How can we enjoy the local and support the local ?
    - does is it need to be a war between Global Vs Local ?
    - How the future would look like with / without both Global & Local?
    - Can we be all united under one Global shape/s ?
  • May 21 2013: Intercontinental, 1986, Danube, Buda, a good example of acting locally. Now I really doubt it, what with the Hyatt's etc all changing the perception - wants - needs - thru advertising, imports, shiny new things, etc. And they with others too started that back program in '86, trying to make the Intercontinental perceived as old, a dying brand, a dinosaur. I wonder who won. Was it the locals?
  • May 18 2013: The future of business is the mesh go to and sign up the choice is yours
    be well.
  • May 18 2013: The world is moving towards an inevitable homogenization sprinkled with pockets of "Disneyfication". The future will happen before we figure out how to manage it.
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      May 20 2013: Surely we can predict possible futures - and try our best to avoid the less favourable ones?
      • May 20 2013: We can attempt to predict but prior attempts to do so have been notably inaccurate. We're also highly unlikely to account for the unintended consequences of our planning. "Try our best" - absolutely, but with a realistic view of where current market pressures are driving us. I suggest acknowledging current realities, identifying likely tipping points, and then maintaining a wide ranging flexibility as conditions dictate. We can use global warming as a point of reference. There is a general agreement that this is a significant life and death issue, however, very little of consequence has been implemented to combat it due to significant countervailing economic forces. I'm not suggesting that we should give up and go home, but rather that we should consider economic realities as well as idealistic goals.
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          May 21 2013: Climate change is an interesting one. We can predict possible consequences and there is some will, but arguably not enough. I think there needs to be more incentives for sensitive practices, may they be environmental or social - not that these are entirely separate.
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    May 18 2013: "Think Global Acting Local" is the idea on which global brands are working for sometime. However it depends on the industry , how it can achieve that considering life style , taste , desire , regulatory framework of different local markets with in same global village.
    Say if it is global food brand it has to be strike a balance between its global recipe , while adopting some local flavor in its product. If it is cosmetic brand , living standard of different local markets becomes more important and so on ...