Global Literacies by Robert Rosen, Patricia Digh, Marshall Singer, and Carl Phillips. Simon & Schuster, 2000, 409 pages, $27.
Through interviews with CEOs, a survey completed by top executives, and extensive background research, the authors of Global Literacies identify four global literacies and five business strategy questions that are imperative for doing business in the new century.
"Global literacy" is defined as a state of seeing, thinking, acting, and mobilizing in culturally mindful ways. To be successful in the 21st century, the authors say leaders must acquire four interrelated and interconnected global literacies: personal, social, business, and cultural. They illustrate each literacy by focusing on the companies and CEOs who personify the trait.
Samsung's Lee Kun-Hee was among those featured under the personal competency section. A firm believer of the credo "Change begins with me," Kun-Hee took a 90% cut in salary during the Asian financial crisis to show his commitment to his company and country.
The authors also discuss how to use the four literacies to answer the five universal business strategy questions: Where are we going? How do we get there? How do we work together? What resources do we need? And how do we measure success?
Under "How do we get there?" for example, Singapore Airlines (SIA) CEO Cheong Choong Kong explains how SIA has become successful by choosing the right people with the right spirit, building a multicultural community with a common purpose, and getting the fundamentals right.
A Plethora of Information
Featuring a plethora of information, the text occasionally becomes overwhelming to read. For example, the authors use well-organized boxes to summarize information on every featured company and country. However, crowding in a number of additional boxes that focus on more specific information -- a blurb on foreign advertising blunders, for example, or a listing of the countries with the most international boards -- can take away from the readability of this otherwise highly valuable and illuminating text. Besides these concerns, Global Literacies offers companies a potent framework for effective global leadership.