We are living in extraordinary times with the global fight against COVID-19. While the extent and speed has varied, governments around the world have imposed stringent controls on businesses and the movement of people. Non-essential businesses are required to close for several weeks and the livelihood of many thousands is at risk. Professionals are being asked to work remotely and universities are being required to rapidly move into large-scale online teaching, posing significant changes for both faculty and students. Borders are being closed and there is the risk of a retreat from globalization. Technology is enabling the utilization of invasive monitoring mechanisms which reduce the spread of COVID-19 today but present the opportunity for some governments to tighten the surveillance of their citizens in the future.
While we struggle to control the spread of COVID-19 and to save lives today, thoughts are also turning to what the world will look like once COVID-19 no longer presents a crisis. While much uncertainty remains about the duration of the current crisis, there is a growing consensus that COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the world. In more ways than one, our behaviors have probably been changed forever. It is likely that governments, businesses and society will witness significant changes in the coming months and years.
Some questions of interest include the following:
- As we imagine the world after COVID-19, is 2020 a global turning point?
- How will governments approach globalization and balance economic and societal goals in the future?
- Will businesses move away from globalization? How will they balance the interests of different stakeholder groups and manage the wellbeing of their employees?
- How will we manage the tradeoffs between privacy and surveillance of citizens?
- How will society balance universal human values with local cultural differences?
- Will technology and remote working bring us together or make us drift apart?
- How will learning paradigms and the business models of business schools change?
- How can global leaders enhance global coordination and enhance trust in governments and business?
At GBSN, we are keen to explore the contours of the world after COVID-19, the world that is emerging as a result of the extraordinary times we are experiencing today. To do so, Dan LeClair, CEO GBSN and I are reaching out to our community to better understand the many ways in which the world after COVID-19 will be different for our key stakeholders including governments, businesses, universities and students. We are interviewing several Deans of GBSN member schools to learn from their perspectives to the question of whether 2020 represents a global turning point. If you are interested in taking part in this study, please do reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to Dan LeClair (email@example.com).
Nature does present us with significant challenges at times. Now is one such time. We have to use our exceptional talents individually as human beings and collectively as societies to rise to the challenge. It is not just a question of overcoming the COVID-19 crisis and reverting back to the normal. The normal will shift. And our leadership can help us to define the shift. Define the new normal. It is time for us to shape our future.
Soumitra Dutta is a Professor of Management at Cornell University and the Chair of the Board of Directors for GBSN. Previously he was the Founding Dean of the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell and Chair of AACSB Intl.