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Home > Debates Last Updated: 14:31 03/09/2007
Debate: Forum

Tokyo Forum: Women and Foreign Nationals in Information Society

Discussion Summary Part 2: The Importance of Foreign Nationals in Globalization Trends

Vinnie Mehta (Director, Manufacturers' Association for Information Technology, India)
Toyoo Gyohten (President, Institute for International Monetary Affairs)
Glen S. Fukushima (President, Cadence Design Systems, Japan)
Emiko Magoshi (Professor, Tokyo Junshin Women's College)

Takahiro Miyao (Professor, GLOCOM)

MIYAO: First, I would like to ask each of the panelists to present his or her views on this issue. Mr. Vinnie Mehta from India, please.

Tokyo Fourm Discussion 2MEHTA: I come from India, which is pretty much known for its contribution to the world of IT. I would like to bring in an Indian perspective for our discussion. It is said that Silicon Valley is a land of I.C., namely, Indians and Chinese. In fact, the growth rate of Indian Americans over the ten-year period from 1990 to 2000 was over 100 percent. It is the highest growth rate among Asian American communities, and Indians are the third largest Asian community in America. Indians are proud of what they have been able to contribute to the U.S. We have a saying in India that brain drain is better than brain in drain. You have to have opportunities. Otherwise, they would migrate. It would be a sin to keep holding on to a resource that is so intelligent and can contribute so fruitfully. But things are changing fast. Now India is steadily attracting talent. This has been accompanied by economic reforms and liberalization, and of course, growing purchasing power in India. We find more and more of the knowledge workers who left India in the early 60s or the 70s coming back, not really coming back physically, but setting up enterprises in India. There are now opportunities for young Indians coming out of engineering institutes to remain in the country and contribute. One of the reasons why India is focusing on IT or knowledge industry is that we feel that we were left out in the industrial revolution, and the IT industry is so much less capital intensive from the perspective of developing economies. I think it's a very good area to focus on, because IT is a great economic leveler. Software and services exports account for more than 10 percent of India's exports, and IT is creating some of the richest people in the world from India. The IT industry is supported by manpower, and in India we have the world's second-largest English-speaking, technically-trained workforce. But there is an extensive amount of bait from other countries. For example, last year the U.S. relaxed visa requirements to attract almost 200,000 per year in the three-year period. Germany and Japan wish to recruit quite a few Indian technicians, and the list goes on. But the fact is that in India alone we need about 2.2 million IT professionals, while our supply base is just about 75,000. So our big concern is how to manage our own setup. I think the government does need to gear up to this challenge and look at what it can do in terms of infrastructure for education. What I believe is that IT professionals are a global resource. You just cannot keep them confined. What is important is that if you want talent, you really need to create opportunities and focus on IT infrastructure. That is the key to development. Our dream for India is that a poor man in a village carrying a traditional basket would be carrying a PC.

MIYAO: Next, representing Japan, Mr. Toyoo Gyohten. Could you give us your opinion on this important issue?

GYOHTEN: If I may, I would like to address this issue of the role of foreign nationals in society against the background of globalization and particularly against the background of the new environment that was created by the horrible terrorist attacks on September 11th. There is no question that what we call "globalization" has many implications. In my view, one of the most important implications of globalization is the globalization of competition. Competition is carried on not only at the level of government and corporation but also at the level of individual. Selection of domicile and occupation became free. Competition can be conducted on the Internet. Those who are motivated and combative choose to move to more competitive societies because the tougher the competition the greater the reward to winners. Thus, open, free and competitive societies attract talented individuals. American society is an exemplar. Because it is more competitive and more rewarding many foreigners came to join. During the 1990s almost 10 million foreigners migrated to the U.S. and supported the dynamic development of the country. American society was generally open and receptive to them. The allegiance to the Stars and Stripes and the English language were the glue to unite the diverse ethnic group. With unique cohesive power Americans succeeded to create their own political machinery, business model, and scientific and cultural achievements. Other societies admired and envied American society and some of them tried to emulate the American model. But none of them succeeded because they had some inerasable historical imprint. The new generation is brought up with the imprint on their back. If someone wants to be free from it they have to migrate to American society. American society is a very special, one-in-the-world type of society. There is a wide gap between America and the rest of the world. In the Post-Cold-War period the supremacy of American society became pronounced. Strength of multi-ethnical society overwhelmed the world. Americans are understandably confident and triumphant. The terrorist attack on September 11th was an unprecedented shock to the world, particularly to Americans. Everybody was gripped with a rightful sense of rage. But many Americans felt that they were posed with a dreadful question, "Why we are hated so much?" The attack revealed that at least for those fanatic group of people and their supporters the U.S. was not the symbol of a genuine world harmony. Rather, the U.S. was viewed as a country dominated by an ideology that protects certain people's interests but antagonizes the beliefs of certain people. The attack revealed that there are some people who do not endorse the idealized image of the American society. As a result of the terrorist attack the openness of American and other democratic societies will inevitably be somewhat curtailed. Openness to foreigners will be reduced. The lesson we learned from the experience was that, in order to establish a peaceful and prosperous society, internal effort is important but not enough by itself. We also need to be mindful about what our society does project to the rest of the world. Acceptance of foreigners will, in many cases, enrich and strengthen our society. But that alone will not ensure that our society is fully appreciated in the world. We have to be clear about what should be the most valuable asset of our society in the globalized world. The issue of the role of foreigners should be an important element to be considered in this context.

MIYAO: Thank you Mr. Gyohten, for making this provocative point. Next, Mr. Glen Fukushima, please.

FUKUSHIMA For the sake of clarity, simplicity, and symmetry, I will divide my comments into three parts, each comprising four points. First, I will discuss four trends in the role of foreign nationals in globalization; second, four implications of these trends; and finally, four examples of these trends and implications. The first trend is that globalization has led to greater mobility, diversity, and specialization of the workforce, as well as to the flexibility of labor markets. The citizenship of the worker, the nationality of the corporation in which he or she works, and the geographical location of work may be quite different--for instance, the person who heads our Asia Pacific operations is a Chinese national from Taiwan, based in Hong Kong, working for a U.S. corporation. The second trend is that as globalization advances, the usefulness of the category "foreign nationals" is losing significance. For instance, there are an increasing number of individuals who carry passports of more than one country. The third trend is that as human capital is increasingly recognized as a source of strategic advantage, the "war for talent" will intensify. The fourth trend is that to remain competitive, organizations, both profit and non-profit, will need to hire, develop, and utilize the most capable individuals for the task regardless of nationality, gender, age, etc. For example, it is becoming increasingly irrelevant to ask whether it is better to have a Japanese or an American heading the Japan operations of an American company; it is the individual's abilities, not nationality, that is determinative. So the relevance of the notion of "foreign nationals" is coming into question as globalization advances. With regard to the implications of these four trends, there are implications for individuals, managers, organizations, and governments. The first implication is that individuals will be rewarded for developing their own talents and professional skills. With national borders fading, there is a greater incentive for individuals to enhance their "market value." The second implication is that managers and executives will increasingly need to be able to effectively manage a diverse workforce. For this reason, many global corporations have instituted diversity training, educating their workforce on how to deal with diversity. The third implication is that organizations need to be flexible and reward individuals based on their ability, achievements, and contributions to the organization rather than based on their ascribed status such as nationality, gender, age, etc. The fourth implication is that governments risk not being able to attract the most capable talent from around the world if they insist on imposing overly restrictive immigration policies. Finally, let me briefly touch on four examples. The first example is American universities, which have been quite successful in attracting highly capable professors and students from around the world. One of the reasons for this is their relatively open and competitive environment that values diversity and merit, regardless of nationality. The second example is Silicon Valley, with the diversity of its workforce contributing to the dynamism, growth, and success of that region and its corporations, as Mr. Mehta suggested earlier. The third example is global corporations, which are opening their corporate boards not only to individuals outside the company but also to foreign nationals. For example, Mr. Kobayashi, who spoke earlier today, until recently was a board member of ABB, and is currently a board member of Xerox and of Callaway. The fourth example is Japanese companies. One of the companies in Japan being most scrutinized in recent years is Nissan-Renault, where an individual of Lebanese background, raised in Brazil, and educated in France is running an automobile company in Japan jointly owned by Japanese and French capital. So my conclusion is that there is an undeniable increase in the importance of foreign nationals in various spheres of globalization, and we can expect foreign nationals to play an ever-greater role--to the extent that the term "foreign nationals" continues to have any meaning.

MIYAO: Next, Dr. Emiko Magoshi, please make you presentation.

Tokyo Fourm Discussion 2MAGOSHI: I would like to talk about the importance of foreign nationals in globalization trends based on the two empirical studies that I undertook, and I would also like to direct your attention to how foreign nationals and women are positioned in Japanese companies. First, regarding the study I undertook several years ago on Japanese companies and subsidiaries in Europe, Sony and the Bank of Tokyo, before the merger with Mitsubishi, as well as another bank. The research findings indicate that Japanese expatriates at Sony are strongly global-minded, and foreign nationals at Sony are strongly motivated. The study also found that differences in opinion between the companies are greater than those between Japanese expatriates and foreign nationals within each company. So, some preliminary conclusions from the survey are that localization enhances motivation of foreign nationals, and corporate culture is more important than national culture. This is in line with what Mr. Fukushima has mentioned. Next, I conducted another survey on an American company, a high-tech company based on the east coast in the States. Here the catch word is "mind distance," that is distance in the minds of personnel, as opposed to physical distance, and such mind distance, arising from differences in culture and values, can create obstacles to the successful management of global corporations. The study found that mind distance between corporate headquarters and its regional offices within the U.S. is generally greater than that between the headquarters and the company's overseas offices. A message from these two studies is that with state-of-the-art IT and a global management system with transcultural mindset, companies can overcome both physical and mind distance among their personnel with cultural diversity and motivate them to contribute to their company to the best of their capacity. In Japan, foreign nationals and women are very similarly positioned in Japanese companies. They cannot yet become mainstream, and they have a tendency to quit. What is lacking is a transparent evaluation system with clear career tracks for foreigners as well as for women. As Mr. Fukushima has mentioned, I think that diversity and mobility are the key words for the globalization of the workforce, and it is very important to have equi-mind distance, that is, the same distance between the company and yourself as an employee, regardless of gender or nationality. I think that Japanese companies as well as Japanese society should be more open and welcome diversity, and that I think that we need to work on this in spite of what happened on September 11th.

MIYAO: Thanks for the excellent comments and points made by the panelists. I would like to take up the important issue that Mr. Gyohten raised and Dr. Magoshi touched on. That is, how to manage society with diverse people with different cultures and different backgrounds. In corporate management, you can manage a diverse workforce to tremendous benefit, if you have the right management. But it is very difficult to manage society, so we are facing a dilemma here, as Mr. Gyohten pointed out. Don't we need some kind of risk management for society as a whole?

FUKUSHIMA I would like to offer a response to Mr. Gyohten's point regarding why the U.S. has been such a target of hostility. I think it is basically a result of the success of the U.S. Just as Japan in the 1980s was so successful that many people were envious, critical, or afraid of Japan, the success of the U.S., especially over the last decade after the end of the cold war, has engendered envy, hostility, and apprehension. Obviously there are many historical, religious, cultural, and other factors involved, but that is a clear and simple explanation that I believe makes sense. With regard to Mr. Gyohten's point that this has resulted in some limitations on civil liberties in the U.S., I was in San Francisco on September 11th and was quite impressed that a number of Americans pointed out that they need to learn from history and not repeat the mistake of indiscriminately singling out Muslims as "the enemy," as were Americans of Japanese ancestry as they were incarcerated in internment camps in 1942. So one can point to some progress in the U.S. One can certainly cite some unfortunate recent examples of discriminatory treatment toward Muslims in the U.S., but I think overall there is a very strong commitment in the U.S. to the advantages and benefits of diversity and to the protection of civil liberties. My expectation is that after a certain period of time, restrictions will be loosened again. But the relationship between appearance, ethnicity, religion, nationality, and passports has been brought to the surface by the tragic events of September 11. In many ways, we are witnessing an interesting "experiment" in how the U.S. comes to terms with this profound issue.

MAGOSHI Regarding risk management, there are two underlying factors. One is that when we look at society, business is really becoming more competitive and more accountable, responsible for many things, because there is a bottom line. But what about politics? I think politics in Japan is something that is really lagging behind anything else. Maybe education too. So politics and education need to be changed. I think we need to be responsible and accountable for what we do, and risk management is intertwined with responsibility and accountability. And so far when we look at Japanese politics, it seems like not many people would like to be responsible for any issue. Let's think about education. When you look at children, they are not immune to discrimination. They notice others' differences and discriminate against those who are different from them. So, it is education at home and education at school that are important and we have to be very patient and repeatedly educate children that to be different is all right. We cannot change ourselves right away, so we need to have certain education in corporations and also for politicians. But how can we educate politicians. By voting, I think. Let us vote, and we can change it.

GYOHTEN: I think everybody agrees that Japanese society is now faced with a very difficult economic, social and political question about immigration in coming years. Everybody knows that our society is aging and probably at one time the size of our population will start declining, and at the same time, in this age of globalization many Japanese organizations, private business corporations and other institutions are lagging behind in global competitiveness, because we so far have not been able to make maximum use of this multi-ethnic society. However, one very serious reality is that it is absolutely impossible to accept only the best people. Everybody agrees that we need talented scholars, capable managers, etc., but we don't want criminals among illegal migrants. If we really want to open our society to more foreign nationals we have to accept risk. And when it comes to a question of how we will be able to master our own social power to establish our own harmony and order, including those foreign nationals in our society, I think it is a very difficult assignment. But if we look at the U.S. and some of the European countries that accepted much more foreign nationals in their societies, they all have to face that risk and are trying to reduce that risk, some very successfully and some not so successfully. So I think we really need to start thinking about that possibility, both the risk and the benefit of a more mixed society as a very imminent and urgent task.

MIYAO: Mr. Mehta, could you mention the situation in your own country. I understand that India is such a diverse nation with various religions, cultures, and languages. How to manage different heterogeneous people in a country for maximum benefit..

Tokyo Fourm Discussion 2MEHTA: I believe it is something to do with some organic factors. India is a country with many immigrants from the start in history. It is good fortune that they like the place so much that they thought of settling down there. So we had Indo-Aryans come in 5000 BC and we had Muslims somewhere in the 12th century, and then we had British come in. So I guess we are sort of a melting pot like the U.S. But the U.S. is about 200 years old, while we date back to 5000 years BC. So I guess in all of that time you started accepting things. I am not saying that it's all good, as there are radicals. I am not denying that. But that is a small faction. I guess it is a very socio-cultural factor and it is best felt rather than spelled out. So I might invite all of you to India to study that. Buddhism came here from India, and one of the basic tenets is tolerance. I guess it advances a culture favoring the coexistence of heterogeneous people in the society.

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