The 7th annual conference «Emerging Markets-2020» (ЕМС) at the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg State University (GSOM SPbU) has been completed. Conducting it is a major event, especially in this challenging year. We are taking stock of the conference together with the Chairman of the GSOM SPbU Scientific Commission Andrei Panibratov. During ЕМС-2020 he presented as a leader of two tracks: «Multinational companies and internationalization policy» and «Emerging markets and environmental challenges».
WHAT CAN BE CALLED A MAJOR OUTCOME OF THE CONFERENCE?
A major outcome is the very fact of holding it. Because in circumstances of pandemics we had to address fundamentally — whether the event will actually be held. As a result, we followed the example of leading universities and business schools, and chose an online format.
We believe that the conference was a success. Oddly enough, «thanks to» (if I may say so) the pandemic we managed to attract quite a number of foreign participants, including world's leading scientists. They did not have to fly and physically spend time on anything except live feed. That’s why they relatively easily accepted our invitation, made presentations and actively participated in the sessions. And they are gurus, for presence of which usually there is a serious competition, and their visits are paid by inviting parties. Now, for them, it is just a matter of a couple of hours of their valuable time.
IF TO MAKE THE TOP 3 MOST IMPRESSIVE PRESENTATIONS, WHO, FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, CAN GET INTO IT?
Of course, I will primarily tell again what was during my two tracks: they covered quite a vast area of research on international business. Within a track dedicated to environmental challenges, a presenter was Tony Fang, Professor at Stockholm Business School and a founder of the conference with a similar name at Stockholm University. In his report, he talked about the role of world culture in business development, impact of geopolitical changes on business environment, China’s relationship with USA and Russia. That was really interesting; the participants engaged in intensive discussion with Professor Fang. Among presenters in this track was Svetla Marinova, Professor at Aalborg University, Denmark. Her topic was dedicated to the impact of the current pandemic on development of international business. In addition, she presented her book «COVID-19 and international business: change of epoch». That also was extremely interesting, and the audience did not want to leave her…
Within the track, dedicated to internationalization policy, renowned scientist Gerald McDermott from the University of South Carolina presented a relevant report «Public-private institutions as a basis for innovation and renewal of organizations in countries with emerging markets». In his presentation, Professor McDermott raised the fundamental issues related to innovative technological development of companies under difficult circumstances of the institutional environment of business, pointing to pragmatic perspectives of development of economy and society.
Also, during tracks of my colleagues other prominent speakers presented, for example, the author of his own typology of cultural differences Fons Trompenaars, famous entrepreneur Stephen Young, business school professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, Snejina Michailova. Vivid, interesting, impressive reports.
Overall, indisputable advantages of our conference are quality of the reports presented, international membership of the participants, involvement of young scholars and postgraduate students, high professional level of experts, creative atmosphere and new acquaintances.
IN 2020 IT IS NOT NEEDED TO CHOOSE A MAIN TOPIC OF DISCUSSION. AND ON WHAT PRINCIPLE THE CONFERENCE TOPICS ARE CHOSEN IN OTHER YEARS?
This year, indeed, there was no choice. Definitely, it is COVID-19, which was reflected in the names of many tracks. «Under peaceful conditions», we usually look at what are the most relevant development trends, what challenges managers and firms face. Fundamental changes do not occur sharply and often. That’s why topics contained within them a lot, are formulated quite broadly.
IN THE PREAMBLE TO THE TRACK «MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES ON EMERGING MARKETS AND INTERNALIZATION POLICY» IT WAS MENTIONED ABOUT TRANSFORMATION OF GLOBAL ECONOMY TO A MORE HOSTILE AND NOT TRANSPARENT ONE. IT SEEMS LIKE THE PANDEMIC, THAT REQUIRES SELF-ISOLATION BOTH AT PRIVATE AND NATIONAL LEVELS, CAN EXACERBATE THIS TENDENCY. DO YOU AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT?
Talk of deglobalization has intensified long before COVID-19, more than five years ago. But the fact that the pandemic has led to self-isolation both at individual and national levels is clear. I'm afraid such tendencies may persist not only during the crisis, but also will remain after it is over.
This problem has two sides. Both for Russia and other governments, where the idea of national development in opposition to globalization is starting to be «promoted», where so-called «economic chauvinism» is increasing — such self-isolation is even beneficial. Since resources that before were channeled into international cooperation, into «opening up to the world», can be saved and diverted to own internal development. For the very emerging markets, that is a certain advantage.
But here it is important to make a distinction between a situation when due to resource retention, development of a country, nation and society takes place, and situation when that is not needed anymore, but government continues to be isolated, as so it is easier to live, easier to govern a country, easier to control business. It may be difficult to recognize this difference. I feel that now among emerging markets, Chins is the most oriented on internalization.
In general, switching everything and everyone to online due to isolation, in any case, frees up resources. But at the same time, it brings people, businesses, partners, companies, governments farther apart.
For example, for me as a researcher and scholar, personal contacts are of high importance. Thanks to them, a formation of research teams takes place and effectiveness increases. Impossibility of personal communication by default reduces the quality and performance of teamwork.
In the same way economic development is being undermined. Governments focus on internal perspective at all levels: human, organization, industry, society. There are some positive sides of this, but I think that there are more disadvantages than advantages.
THAT IS, OF COURSE, ONE OF THE MOST RELEVANT TOPICS NOW FOR DISCUSSION: WE HAVE DREAMT SO MUCH ABOUT DISTANT FORMAT, HOWEVER THE PANDEMIC CONVINCED US THAT WITHOUT PERSONAL COMMUNICATION WE WILL NOT LIVE — THAT IS UNPRODUCTIVE AND HAS A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON MENTAL HEALTH. WE HAVE SAID THAT THE CONFERENCE HAD BEEN SUCCESSFULLY CONDUCTED ONLINE. BUT CAN ONLINE COMMUNICATION BECOME THE ULTIMATE COMPLETE SUBSTITUTE FOR FACE-TO-FACE DISCUSSIONS?
Answer is unequivocal — it cannot. You can do, of course, everything online. But the question is not that personal communication is easier — personal communication is more interesting.
In my view, an atmosphere of lively discussion is very important. When conferences, tracks, sessions, presentations of articles, Q&A sessions are taking place, people start to heatedly advocate for their points of view, engage into discussions, turn to each other, gesticulate. By the end of sessions, the participants continue discussions during breaks, coffee breaks, get acquainted closer and arrange for new projects during lunches and dinners. All this becomes a basis of formation of not only effective research teams, but also successful implementation of scientific projects. Due to this, young (and mature) researchers acquire new experience and knowledge, grow as individuals and experts, become scholars, and are published in well-known journals.
Probably, humanity will think of ways to do without this. How to achieve success being in self-isolation. Including success in science. But I think that online, for all its effectiveness, is not able to generate outstanding scientific achievements.
The 7th International Conference «Emerging Markets-2020» (ЕМС) for the first time this year was conducted entirely online due to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) and travel limitations. Among participants there were 330 scholars and researchers from 57 universities and business schools from 24 countries. The programme of the conference consisted of 10 specialized tracks, topics of which reflected different aspects of impact of the pandemic on management, economy, business.
The conference was organized in partnership with the associations The Academy of Business in Society (ABIS), Caux Round Table, GEM&L and the leading scientific journals International Business Review и International Journal of Emerging Markets.