SARS and Starbucks, Part One

signs of the times

Nestled away in my 20th floor hotel, I’m perched high above Shekou’s myriad shops tailored to the Westerner. If not for the Mandarin written on my Starbucks cup, I’d almost be convinced I’m nowhere near a newfound corner of the world.

So it took me twenty-six years to enter the world’s most populous country. Granted, it took me about twelve to realize that there were other countries other than ‘Merica, nineteen to finally leave it, and twenty-three to realize that my efforts as a businessman had to extend far far faaaaar beyond the purple mountains’ majesties.

I’ve admittedly been afforded a pretty steep learning curve over the past few years, yet I realize that immersion is truly the best way to become what the British call “cultured” and the Americans call “liberal tree-huggers”.

Maybe I’m seeing globalization’s effects in a more direct light this week, even moreso than the summer in Mexico when I realized more 7-11’s existed in Guadalajara than Ann Arbor.  No, this epiphany takes on more substance in the light of my future-bleedingheart-businessowner goal. 

I began to sort the scenarios through my head in the midst of practicing my Pinyin: what if Oxfam, Doctors without Borders, Tearfund, etc. etc. had as much influence and notoriety than Starbucks or McDonald’s?  What if my OWN firm, in fifty-plus years, was on the tip of every potential client’s tongue, from Mumbai to Mississauga?  Is it possible that globalization can be a tool for marketing socially-responsible issues and not just commercialized, service-oriented industries?

Yes, yes, and yes.  In fact, I think we’ve already seen plenty of it occurring.  I’ve seen many economists and socially-oriented business gurus prove — with a bit of shiny analysis polish — that the explosion of growth in specific developing/developed countries catalyzes the problems existent in the “poor” nations; i.e. If I now have the resources to help a neighbor in need, by golly, I’ma DO it! 

[Shootdang, this post is jumbled.]  Anyway, all I’m sayin’ is this: Starbucks, 7-11, McDonald’s, go wherever you want.  But the economy, and the people that drive it, are not a commodity to be exploited.  My challenge for y’all is to evoke social, environmental, and personal change in the communities you choose to set up shop.  I may not buy your Big Macs (and all its unholy 2.7×10^3 calories), but I will jive with your commitment to making the world a better place.   

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2 Responses to SARS and Starbucks, Part One

  1. […] business but also international relations. This is a tremendous responsibility. One applicant, Rainierisms, writing from China reflects on the need for ethically and environmentally sound practices in […]

  2. […] India represent natural choices for this innovative partnership. We recently noted a posting from Rainierisms in China regarding his take on globalization as well as a post on how 25% of Tuck’s […]

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