As a Financial Times article once argued, the past decade has provided us with a refresher course on risk and its multiple dimensions. The subprime crisis reminded us about the relevance of credit risk. The fall of Lehman Brothers demonstrated once more the significance of liquidity and counterparty risk. Rising public debt in several Western countries such as Greece and even the United States suggest that sovereign risk remains highly relevant.
Political instability in the Middle East, political polarization in the United States and in Europe, growing tensions in the South China Sea and social unrest in Brazil and in Ukraine have re-introduced the world to a final dimension of risk: societies, politics and geopolitics. What seemed to be solid assumptions about how the world worked and how stable it was are now continuously challenged by – predictable and unpredictable – events that can unfold very quickly. Perhaps even more crucially, geopolitics is not only a dimension of risk but also a channel of contagion that can transform a sovereign or a liquidity crisis for instance into a worldwide, systemic failure of the international system. The same events also tend to suggest that the relevance of geopolitics in and of itself does not need to be demonstrated. The magnitude of the change that they have triggered – or can potentially trigger – proves how significant the consequences of geopolitical change are.
The real issue lies in drawing operational implications from geopolitical analysis for businesses and decision-makers. Business executives can become easily obsessed with their inboxes, and be tempted to micromanage, isolate issues and be excessively backward-looking in their analyses as a result. This course is meant to explore how geopolitics can help them broaden horizons and enrich their strategies by locating their current choices in a time stream, and/or in relation to other issues. It is meant to offer participants with an operational tool that can help them analyze the strategic landscape in which they elaborate their strategies and make their decisions. These strategies should provide organizations with enough flexibility to deal with international uncertainty and make them sufficiently resilient to survive a major and unpredictable event. This course will explore how geopolitical analysis can help decision-makers achieve these fundamental goals.