Mumbai: The next decade will be shaped by the retreat of globalization because of widespread anger with the process and the rise of nationalism, Kumar Mangalam Birla, head of the $48 billion Aditya Birla group, said.
Globalization, Birla said, will make way for “slowbalization", the emerging pattern of trade that is more regional with multiple local operations.
“The tension between nationalism and globalization is reshaping the world and will perhaps be the most defining trend as we head into a new decade. When Thomas Friedman coined the phrase that the world is flat, the world was a very different place. Back then he opined that technology and geopolitics were reshaping our lives while we were sleeping. Now that we are wide awake, I see a very different world dealing with the consequences of globalization and its discontent," Birla said in a statement on LinkedIn on Tuesday.
At the same time, the new decade will focus on sustainability, Birla said, hailing teen environment activist Greta Thunberg as the conscience of Gen Z. “This generation is born into a post-hedonistic world, where the choices they make will be influenced not just by considerations of personal good but also of how they impact the world 50 years from now," he said.
Birla admitted that his businesses have traditionally “looked at sustainability from the perspective of compliance and good governance. In this new environment, we need to think strategically about how to create business value through sustainable initiatives. Sustainability is, therefore, not just good citizenship but also, good business".
Another major theme that Birla focused on was the importance of scale. “Scale is not everything. It’s the only thing…Dominant scale is not just about size. It is equally about achieving the widest reach, while replicating quality and service standards, across markets. When that happens, you truly become the No. 1 choice of customers," he said.