Dear AIB Members,
We often hear that international business has not before been as important to our world as it is now, to our economies and to our wellbeing in those economies. It is likely that each successive generation of IB scholars observes the ever-growing importance of international business with the world more so interconnected, closing in on us while also expanding our horizons, with all of the attendant consequences that brings. It was Harvey, the Marxist geographer, who elaborated this notion of time-space compression, originally deemed a consequence of the more fluid circulation of capital, alongside the hastening of our social lives with a declining significance of place. But place has not declined in significance.
For me, the so-called compression of time and space came to life very pointedly when we watched on television the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. With IB colleagues writing on international terrorism soon after, the compression of time and space presented real meaning. Watching that devastation happening in real time gave the events an almost overwhelming sense of closeness and immediacy, and their reverberations were felt instantly around the world. Much earlier, as a teenager, after watching on television Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin land on the moon in July 1969, we came to the realization that our world was but one of many. And much, much earlier, as a 1950s boy listening to the BBC World Service broadcasts late in the evening, I began to appreciate that my world in rural Australia was a very different one to those I was hearing about among the larger populations of the Northern Hemisphere.
This is all to say that yes, other places do seem closer to one another these days, time passes quickly and the pace of our lives is hastening, but curiously, during the recent COVID lockdowns, we were likely thinking otherwise, at least to some extent. What was the reason for thinking otherwise? The days in COVID lockdown seemed long, places elsewhere that are close seemed further away, and lives were on hold. While we lived in the one world inflicted with COVID, we also lived in many worlds that appeared very different, and were experienced differently. What was going on?
Our ability to associate was withdrawn, our ability to associate in-person was removed. We humans thrive through association, through community (Wright, 1920).
There are likely many ways to describe this human association—this community—but in all, the basis of community is communication. We flocked to Zoom during COVID because our in-person association was withdrawn—we took second best.
But what about our community? Team sport can be a metaphor for what we do in academe. Each member of the team has an understanding of what is needed to win the game, and a game plan is developed through discussion. Each team member then, through cooperation, adjusts their particular understanding of what is needed to win the game so that “the” game plan is arrived at. On the big day, the game is played, and won, and each team member feels celebratory satisfaction because that celebration has its source in a common personal achievement. This is concordant emotion, as advanced by Henry Wright in 1920. It all began with communication, and successful communication results in discussion, cooperation, and possibly concordant emotion.
In our world of academe, language is our medium of communication, an IB language. The content communicated is composed of ideas which consist of some universals we all buy into. The result is that in this world of private, individual meanings, some common meanings—a social sphere—is created. Over time, a community of purpose may emerge—our charter of association—which binds us to advance a common purpose. Within this common purpose there is incentive and room for rivalry and originality, as might be expected from a diverse population. Concordant emotion flourishes from progress towards a “kingdom of ends” (Wright, 1920:425), realizing common goals in the search to understand the quandaries of our scholarly domain as best we can.
Our AIB seeks to contribute to a more prosperous, just, and sustainable world. We value internationalization, excellence, intellectual freedom, integrity and inclusiveness, and we seek impact. We are a diverse community, connected across geographies, disciplines, social and cultural boundaries. Ours is one of many scholarly disciplines and fields, and each strives for contemporaneity. The inevitable challenges from within and from outside happen.
Working with your Executive Board, the AIB Secretariat, and our membership, we will progress the interests of the Academy and its membership, maintaining and celebrating the legacies we have inherited. We will champion our scholarly domain and attempt to strengthen our representation with cognate scholarly fields and disciplines. Membership is vital to maintaining our place in academe, as is demonstrable impact. With the support of our international business community and its representation worldwide, our Board, our Secretariat, the AIB regional chapters and our Shared Interest Groups, our publication outlets and the Fellows, we will endeavor to ensure the future of our scholarly domain is guaranteed and strengthened for the next generation of international business scholars.
We in IB have many local communities, local in geography and in intellectual pursuit, each of which delivers emotional concord, but we also have larger and grander social and scientific ends to which we aspire, which elevate that emotional concord. Through discussion and cooperation, through association and community in our AIB, let’s all aspire to emotional concord, albeit a spirited association of the many and diverse “selves participating in the realization of common ends” (Wright, 1920:425).
Let’s all tog up as IB scholars, turn up for the game, run on and kick goals, and in doing so, let’s enjoy ourselves.
Thank you, Team IB.
Reference: Wright, H.W. (1920). The basis of human association. The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods, 17(16): 421-430.