RESEARCH AND PRACTICE
IN HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

Book Review:
International Business: The Challenges of Globalisation
Authors: J. Wild, K. Wild, J. Han & H. Ramal

Wild, J., Wild, K., Han, J. & Ramal, H. (2007). International Business: The Challenges of Globalisation, Pearson Education Australia, Sydney

Reviewed by: Alan R. Nankervis

This is an Australasian adaptation of a United States international business textbook, published by an Australian subsidiary of an American publisher, and co authored by two American academics (one currently working in the US and the other in the UK); a (deceased) Hong Kong professor; and an Australian academic, with assorted case studies provided by additional Australian contributors. With such a diversity of authors, together with the sub title which implies an emphasis on globalisation, I had anticipated optimistically that it would herald a new genre of such books which truly reflects global business management by exploring it through a range of eclectic prisms within an integrated paradigm. In particular, its Australasian focus suggested that it might seek to avoid the usual Western ethnocentrism of many such texts in favour of a more regional orientation.

However, despite its lofty goals “to deliver the most readable, current and concise international business textbook on the market… (and to go) beyond a ‘US-centric’ outlook by taking a global perspective” (p. xv, xvii), in my opinion the book is disappointing on several grounds. Whilst it certainly incorporates the experience and expertise of its multiple authors, and thus, avoids a wholly North American perspective, it fails to embrace its promise of developing an innovative geocentric model of global business management grounded in the myriad of perspectives from which it is comprised. An interesting variety of regional cases, vignettes, ‘beacons’, and ‘global managers’ toolboxes’ is not a sufficient substitute for a truly global perspective of the management of international business.

Surprisingly, the book neglects to discuss the international management ‘convergence-divergence-cross-vergence’ debate, which might have provided an integrative theme for an exploration of the emic and etic aspects of globalisation. In defence of the book, however, few companion texts do so either, and it might be argued that the targeted undergraduate student markets in Australia and New Zealand are more focused on their own perspectives of globalisation rather than those of their culturally diverse prospective regional business partners or competitors.

The book is divided into five parts (global business environment; national business environment; international trade and investment; international financial system; and international business management), disproportionately comprising seventeen chapters, a glossary, name/company and subject indices. Whilst a relatively common structure, there is arguably an overemphasis on the macro aspects of international business (contexts, trade and investment, financial systems – 11 chapters) and an under representation of the functional elements. In particular it is surprising that human resource management issues, arguably the most problematic aspects of international business, are discussed briefly and in the second last chapter of the book.

With respect to currency and readability, most of the information in the text is contemporary, many of the cases and feature boxes are challenging, and the student exercises and projects are appropriate for its first or second year undergraduate Australian student markets. The expression is simple, concise, and lucid (if often prescriptive, rather than analytical) and the format is clear and well developed. Due to these factors the book is readable and accessible. However, the busyness of the format (for example, pictures, information boxes, vignettes, case studies, feature boxes, ‘beacons’, ‘global managers’ toolboxes’, ‘bottom line for business’, ‘global challenges’) arguably divert from and sometimes obscure the information and arguments presented.

Overall, then International business: The challenges of globalisation is appropriate in its coverage of international business management issues (although it might have included more emphasis on the micro aspects) is current in relation to the global issues discussed for its chosen Australasian student markets and is certainly user friendly for academics and students alike. However, it has missed the opportunity to address global management issues from a geocentric perspective, and thus, to differentiate itself from its national and regional competitors. This challenge now passes to new authors.

Alan R. Nankervis
RMIT University
Melbourne
Australia