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Why business leaders should be looking to Asia for inspiration

Published 18 June 2021 in Leadership • 3 min read

From trade to transport, finance to pharmaceuticals, we should look East for inspiration, says Phil Rosenzweig. 

The G-7 Summit, held on the shores of Cornwall this past week, may have seemed reassuring to many Western viewers:  the leaders of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Canada, and Japan, augmented by representatives of the EU, coming together to discuss topics that included taxation, security, and the environment.   

Yet for anyone who has just read The Future is Asian: Global Order in the Twenty-First Century, by Parag Khanna, the idea that these seven countries constitute any kind of summit seems incongruous, if not delusional.  To be sure, the G20 – which includes major countries in Asia, Africa, and the Americas – offers a better representation, but even then, such assemblies miss the most important reality of the world today.  Greater Asia, that landmass that is home to five billion humans, is not only by far the most populous region of the world, but in terms of economic and political might is already the center of gravity in the world today – and with an importance that is only growing.  While news stories in Europe ask whether sausage from Great Britain will be allowed to make its way to store shelves in Northern Ireland, far more important stories are being played out from Iran and Pakistan, to Myanmar and Thailand, to China and Korea.  These stories, about trade and transportation, finance and pharmaceuticals, education and environment, are shaping our world in profound ways – and are too often overlooked by Westerners.   

The Future is Asian is our June book for Phil’s Book Club, the latest in a series of books that let us delve deeply into important topics.  Khanna is well-placed as our tour guide:  of Indian ancestry, raised in part in the UAE, and now on Singapore, he embraces his Asian identity — dedicating his book to his Five Billion Neighbors, and noting that he and his wife are raising their two children in and “building our Asian future.”  Yet he has also lived in the US and UK and can see many sides of today’s developments. Khanna takes us on a brisk tour of economics, demographics, politics, and more, and makes the case that Greater Asia is a system that no longer relies on the West but has reached a point where its capacity to supply, and its levels of demand, have moved it beyond dependence to self-sufficiency.  As prominent as China may be in this equation – notably with its Belt and Road Initiative – Khanna makes the case that the scale and scope of Asia means that no one country can ever hope to dominate, leading to a system of interdependence and mutual reliance. 


We invite you to join us next Thursday for a webinar, where I’ll give my review of the book – its many strengths and the questions that it raised in my mind.  For the three days before that – from Monday to Wednesday – we’d like to hear from you.  We will open our discussion forum, where you can offer your thoughts on Asia and its importance for you and your business.  Whether or not you have read the book, your comments will be most welcome. 

A strength of our readership is its broad distribution, from our base in Switzerland and Europe, through our strong presence in the Gulf, to our campus in Singapore – and with alumni and students on all continents.  Hearing your views – whether a perspective from inside Asia looking out, or outside Asia watching its growth and rising prominence – will lead to an enriching discussion.    


Phil Rosenzweig - IMD Professor

Philip Rosenzweig

Professor of Strategy and international Management

Emeritus Professor Phil Rosenzweig has been Professor of Strategy and International Management at IMD since 1996. He directed IMD’s Executive MBA program for six years. He is the author of The Halo Effect and Eight Other Business Delusions that Deceive Managers.


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