Somewhat like the continental drifts, major geopolitical shifts have ancient origins which evolve slowly until they eventually degenerate into a very sudden cataclysm with brutal and immediate consequences. Geopolitics is basically the study of the influence of political and economic geography on international politics, national power, foreign policies. It is now being used by corporations and is a tool available to business executives too easily obsessed by their inboxes, short term or quarterly results who tend to isolate issues and be excessively backward-looking in their analyses as a result. It allows to focus on the long-time and a number of factors which may supplement traditional and quantitative academic teachings. Identities, religion, minorities, quest for resources, technological revolutions and demography among other factors, typically impact regional imbalances and subsequently expansion of corporations. Looking at these subjects allows you to understand the extent of a problem and help strategic decision making in a world now gone global. Despite current circumstances, a company could for instance ignore the economic opportunities with Russia and not seize some of the subtleties of the Ukrainian crisis in order to draw some conclusions for its business scope in Central and Eastern Europe, and to some extent with neighboring countries in the Balkans and with Turkey. A manager may simply miss the essence of the conflicts and tensions in the Gulf which go well beyond religious issues. If the impact on the evolution of oil prices seems relatively obvious, what about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, richer than all other countries in the Middle East combined, or its relations with Qatar, Syria, Egypt, Libya and more broadly its traditional allies? Coincidentally, the role of Russia in the Middle East, especially with Iran and Iraq may give a different perspective to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and opens for a more subtle understanding.

It is sometimes difficult though to draw operational implications from geopolitical analysis for concrete business purposes. Geopolitics can nevertheless help business executives broaden horizons when they have to make difficult assessments or decisions in relation to allocation of resources, growth strategies, alliances, M&A or re-structuring business units abroad. This course is meant to offer participants as well a reflection as an operational tool that can provide enough flexibility to deal with geopolitical uncertainty and make them sufficiently resilient to overcome or even leverage geopolitical shifts and their global consequences.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Understand the strategic landscape in which decision are taken.
  • Assess the business risks and opportunities entailed by geopolitical dynamics.
  • Monitor changes in the international landscape, including the probability and high-impact of events with major economic or business consequences.
  • Integrate geopolitical analysis in the firm’s broader international and risk-mitigation strategies.
  • Develop a long-tem, consistent strategy and vision, beyond mere day-to-day tactics.