The United States is only just beginning to experience globalization, despite the economic power shift toward Asia, the current economic development in emerging markets, the overall digitalization of life, and the growing mobility of people and products. For example, the Zukunftsinstitut reports that almost 99 percent of American companies still only do domestic business, merely 2 percent of students worldwide study outside their home countries, and foreign investments only account for about 9 percent of all investments.
Currently, the United States has one of the least globalized major economies, exports account for only 14 percent of America’s gross national product, compared with 52 percent for Germany and 27 percent for China. Arguably, the relatively low American export activity has in the past helped shelter the economy from the effects of economic developments in other regions of the world.
So how should the United States go about globalizing its economy? If current economic growth is to be maintained, the country will need 26 million additional well-qualified employees by 2030. Who will fill this talent gap? If the available domestic resources are insufficient, companies can either hire talent from other countries, or turn to the growing group of workers aged 50 and older, the so-called silver tsunami.
In order to thrive in the globalized world of the future, and not just suffer from its potential disadvantages, American businesses, and in particular their HR departments, will have improve their ability to:
- Foster and support cross-cultural business ventures (even in a domestic market).
- Develop leaders who are passionate about communicating and managing across cultures, and interested in unleashing the creativity and innovation potential of a culturally diverse workforce.
- Integrate and develop a diverse workforce, particularly in terms of culture and age differences.