Global Values. Do (should) they Exist?

I’ve read a few books lately that debate the existence of universal global core values. Okay, debate is the wrong word, because I might be the only readers of these books, but it is an interesting issue to think about as our world continues to globalize, especially as a Christian. As we globalize our cultures, what will be the common denominator or glue that holds us together. What happens when you mix a culture of Canadian-Chinese-Indonesian-South African-(insert 200 other country names here) people together? What emerges on the other side?

As a Christian, I believe that core values exist in who God is, but I doubt our human ability to ever interpret or articulate those values in a succinct way. I wonder if the debate over those universal values will lead to a divergence of opinion and possible disputes, maybe even wars, over them. It seems human society is historically consistent in its ability to disagree. Will our 21st Century attempt at global harmony be any different?

We seem to take the evolution towards a global society as being inevitable. Is it inevitable? Is it a good thing for our world? Is it a good thing for us? Most writers on globalization avoid these questions and imply an acceptance of the inevitable. They write from the perspective of “now that we are globalizing, here’s how to become a global leader that can lead anywhere in the globe.”

I’m not saying globalization is not going to happen, but I do wonder if it will change our lives for better or for worse. We hear so much about globalization but I hear very few voices wondering aloud if it going to be good for us as humans. I also wonder if we will inevitably splinter apart one day, and be right back where we started from. Our fallible human race doesn’t give me much faith. I also wonder what God’s got in mind for us over the next few decades / centuries.

HR & Teams in Global Organizations

Toby is in HR, which technically means he works for Corporate. So he’s really not a part of our family.
– Michael Scott (“The Office”)

Teams are complicated in domestic environments, and are even more complicated in global organizations when multiple languages and cultures are involved, spread across large distances. Jay Galbraith writes that “the long-term human resources role is to build social capital by creating richly connected interpersonal networks across the organization” (2000, p.119). Is this asking too much? Perhaps. HR often sees itself as the enforcers of the organization; the unbendable glue that protects it from litigation and unscrupulous employees. But shouldn’t HR be a strategic partner in everything the organization does? Galbraith also argues that HR needs to see their role as one of building and valuing personal networks. Galbraith is probably correct, but how does the average employee go about doing this? I have previously written about the “cocktail party” design of organizations that values and incorporates social networking into its design, but an intentional social networking structure still requires training. How do organizations train their employees to navigate this complex web? This is where HR has an open-ended opportunity to provide essential strategic training to employees on how to work and network cross-culturally, and how to work effectively on cross-cultural teams.

HR is a necessary aspect of any large organization, especially global ones. Understanding labour laws and protecting management from management decisions is important, but only if HR is fully integrated into the organization’s strategy. A “silo” methodology of HR will hinder global growth for organizations. An intentionally integrated methodology, that finds and prepares the current and future workforces, will help bolster growth and provide substantial contributions to the organization. This methodology should include a strategic focus on increasing global leadership competencies through travel, teams, training and transfers. HR departments that do this will be perfectly situated to become that strategic global partner in the 21st Century. This focus will also help make HR more a part of the family, and limit the number of “Toby’s” in global organizations.

Galbraith, J.R. (2000). Designing the global corporation. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Vanderpyl, T.H. (2010, December). Cocktail parties and organizational design in the 21st century. WeLEAD Online Magazine. Download here.