[This is a tweaked version of an earlier post of mine at Greater IBM Connections]
Imagine there are no countries, it isn’t hard to do. The Médecins Sans Frontières or the doctors without borders have already dared to do so. To be one of them is to make a statement. Are there other such entities quietly in the making? Where membership doesn’t need you to make a stand? Not yet anyway?
There was once a time when the sun did not set on the British Empire. In modern times that very sun always shines on some regional head quarter of most multinational corporations. As corporations continue on their evolution from multinational corporations to global enterprises I cannot but wonder whether the process of challenging the concept of the nation state to that of an “enterprise state” has irreversibly begun.
The current tide is rushing towards globalization. What is a global corporation? Let me quote Sam Palmisano of IBM here:
“Simply put, the emerging globally integrated enterprise is a company that fashions its strategy, its management, and its operations in pursuit of a new goal: the integration of production and value delivery worldwide. State borders define less and less the boundaries of corporate thinking or practice.”
Concepts of the Nation and the Corporation
Nation states sharing mutually acceptable borders is fairly a new concept in human history. There still are nations that have not been able to agree on the exact demarcation of “sovereign” rights. There are also cultures that are still struggling to establish their nation states.
Experiments with the modus operandi to running these nation states are far from over. The operating model of some version of governance by the people, for the people, of the people seems to have caught the imagination of a significant number of these nation states.
So the belief in the infallibility of the concept of the nation state is just to give ourselves a frame of reference. It allows us to build a lot of operating models. Quirks remain. Dual citizenship is a debated concept, but is not unheard of. Now, what about the corporation?
If we look back at history, the corporation achieved the status of an individual or “legal entity” only when the owners were allowed “limited liability”. International or trans-national corporations, the East-India Company for example, arrived next. They relied on the muscle power and military might of the home nation to conduct their trade and commerce.
The MNC, or the multi national corporation, arrived as a solution to post war protectionism. They set up shop in multiple countries and followed the law of the land. This wasn’t a logical state of affairs and built in redundancies that were bottlenecks wealth generation.
Hence the strategic alliances; and now the global enterprise. Elsewhere, on the canvass of nation states came alliances. Along with political alliances came the economic ones. The European Union, for example, is something that was inconceivable during the World War days.
Imagine the possibilities
Now. It is at this point I would like you to imagine; it’s easy if you try. Imagine that humanity has come to terms with its biological and genetic limitations. We have learnt that we need to live as tribes and super tribes. Aggression is addressed by football, boxing, WWF and other such means. Every one believes and needs peace, prosperity, wisdom and health. Imagine there are no countries; only corporations. Oh, the possibilities….