In a globalized society, it is essential to know what is happening in the world and understand the different scenarios we must confront. The management of relations between states is a very complex issue, made even more complex when players involved are culturally different and politically distant.  In this dense network of global interests, in this dense network of global interests, I try to offer a look on this topic answering to the most common questions I receive from business students.

  1. What is geopolitics for you, and why is it so important for business?

Geopolitics allows us to understand the complexity of the relationships that exist among states in the modern era. Swedish scientist Rudolf Kjellén was the first to use the term in the early 20th century. The same term was later taken up all over the world during the two world wars. The etymology of the expression allows us to understand the deep meaning: GEO + POLITICS, where GEO means “Earth”, recalling a global idea that today must necessarily be read in a contemporary way, that is “international”. POLITICS comes from “Polis”, referring to “city affairs” according to Aristotle’s idea, and defines the set of activities associated with the government of a country, or an area. Geopolitics can therefore be described as the discipline that deals with investigating the relationship between international political power and different geographical structures.

  1. How do you think international relations affect the economy?

There is certainly a direct link between the two areas. Let’s look at some examples in the recent past. The sanctions imposed until 2015 cost Iran about 20% of its GDP, while removing them freed at least $100 billion available for new investments. Instead, the sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union after the Ukraine crisis immediately cost Italy about 1 billion euros in terms of contracts already signed. Finally, see what happened between the USA and Venezuela, one of the world’s leading oil producers, when in February 2019, following the sanctions imposed by the United States, the South American country’s oil production dropped to 1.1 million barrels a day, compared to 1.34 million at the end of 2018 (and from 2.4 mbd in 2015). As you can see, international relations and economics are closely related.

  1. How does business diplomacy fit into all this?

Business diplomacy is primarily a relationship. But it is also knowing the world around us. How can we move in this complex and global geopolitical scenario without trying to understand the perspective of others and without different cultural aspects? From this perspective, business diplomacy is an indispensable tool for negotiating in the global arena, bringing together business perspectives with countries’ needs. In particular, by building long-term relationships with representatives of foreign governments and non-governmental (economic and non-economic) stakeholders with the aim of gaining legitimacy in a foreign business environment.

  1. In your opinion, what skills are needed to seize the opportunities offered by the current globalized world?

Building experience in the field of business diplomacy is certainly useful to fully understand the dynamics of relations among states and international strategies. It is an experience that I always recommend to students of business. However, to access this type of profession it is necessary to possess analytical abilities and a set of personal skills, especially in the fields of communications and relationships. It is important, in fact, to be able to understand the other’s point of view with an intercultural perspective to build long-lasting relationships.

  1. What is the real value of geopolitics for business diplomacy?

Understanding geopolitical balances allows us to grasp in advance new emerging needs in the various countries and to be able to provide them with adequate answers, thus creating new business opportunities. However, what opens the door to multinational companies in countries around the world is the ability to build trust with rulers, decision makers, entrepreneurs and local institutions, also overcoming complex challenges and barriers to entry. An objective for which an excellent reputation and great diplomatic skills are fundamental.