COVID-19 on Telecommunications

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) shared today an insightful article for the telecommunications industry in all its social, economic and political dimensions.

Their findings on the impact of the global-scale social distancing (due to COVID-19) on our telecommunications networks trigger important public policy debates on topics such as net neutrality, spectrum management and question regarding the maintenance of the old voice technology.

I believe this is a good starting point to reflect on the importance of creating a user-level culture for managing technological resources intelligently. Can you imagine this global-scale social distancing without internet connectivity?

Summary of key points:

  • During the global COVID-19 crisis, telecoms connectivity is vital to keeping the economy going and keeping society intact.
  • Customers/users will be more reliant on Internet access during quarantine, and at the same time will be experiencing economic difficulties.
  • Telecoms networks are showing effects of the stress caused by the traffic increase in both data and voice.
  • Despite the popularity of messaging apps, voice has seen a resurgence.
  • Network disruptions have been reported across Europe.
  • Concerns over broadband network overload has made EU Commissioner issue a call for streaming channels to limit their services to standard definition only and users to be more responsible about their data consumption.
  • The US’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been using Special Temporary Authority powers to grant temporary additional spectrum to some operators in order to help meet increased consumer demand for mobile broadband.

For the full article, please access: Telecoms, Coronavirus and keeping the networks running.

Source: ITUNews, https://news.itu.int/

EU new guidelines for AI Regulation

Brussels has resealed a white paper with new guidelines for regulating Artificial Intelligence. For some reason, I find the directive of informing citizens that they are interacting with AI particularly interesting. The news below is a copy from the MIT Technology Review mailing from February 20th 2020.

____

The EU just released new guidelines for regulating AI

The news: The European Union’s newly released white paper containing guidelines for regulating AI acknowledges the potential for artificial intelligence to “lead to breaches of fundamental rights,” such as bias, suppression of dissent, and lack of privacy. It suggests legal requirements such as:

  • Making sure AI is trained on representative data
  • Requiring companies to keep detailed documentation of how the AI was developed
  • Telling citizens when they are interacting with an AI
  • Requiring human oversight for AI systems

The criticism: The new criteria are much weaker than the ones suggested in a version of the white paper leaked in January. That draft suggested a moratorium on facial recognition in public spaces for five years, while this one calls only for a “broad European debate” on facial recognition policy. Meanwhile, the paper’s guidelines for AI apply only to what it deems “high-risk” technologies. 

When does this kick in?: The white paper is only a set of guidelines. The European Commission will start drafting legislation based on these proposals and comments at the end of 2020. 

What else: The EU also released a paper on “European data strategy” that suggests it wants to create a “single European data space”—meaning a European data giant that will challenge the big tech companies of Silicon Valley.

—Angela Chen

Read next: Artificial intelligence development should be regulated, says Elon Musk. (TR)

Nation States: Organizational Hierarchies or Networks?

Last semester, during a seminar at Goethe Universität on Geographies of Violence: state, space and power relations in Latin America, the idea of “Nation States as institutional hierarchies” was fiercily challenged by the idea of “Nation States as networks”.

The “network party”, as Anne-Marie Slaughter calls it (2014: pp. 59), is a paradigm change for social organization. And though I do agree and believe that all interactions can now be referred to as networks, I believe it is early to redefine Nation States as networks.

Ultimately, Nation States still function as hierarchical structures, and though the concept of networked organization is indeed possible to be applied to understanding power relations, economic and social dynamics within them (and especially to their relations within the international system), understanding Nation States as networked organizations is something only feasible (to a large extent) in academic/conceptual thought.

Slaughter gives us valuable insights on why the transition from traditional hierarchical structures to networked organizations has not yet happened to Nation States. She draws a comparison between Hierarchies and Networks that clarifies why this is so:

  1. Networked organizations are more flexible (?), creative (?), adaptable (?), autonomous (?) and resilient (?) relative to hierarchies;
  2. Networks depend on trust (?) and reciprocity (?);
  3. Networks do not require a governing authority (?); and lastly
  4. Every organization features continuous  interplay between its informal networks and its formal structures (!). All formal hierarchies contain informal networks (!) ; all networks will develop informal hierarchies based on experience or expertise. (ibid.: pp. 63)

Based on her insights, Anne-Marie Slaughter helps us to understand Nation States as hierarchical structures featuring continuous interplay between its informal networks and its formal structures. I believe this is a more accurate description or even conception of the contemporary organizational model of Nation States.

Though a more detailed analysis is certainly needed to further understand the ongoing structural and paradigmatic transformation in society and in State institutions (especially through developing case studies, as different Nation States would certainly prove to be in different stages of this transformation), I suggest avoiding the assumption that the network paradigm has made its way through and substituted the hierarchical formalities of public governance.

 

Reference

Slaughter, A. (2017) The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked World. Yale University Press.

Tech giants face US Congress hearings on competition

Just came across this article on the US Congress hearings of the giant Tech companies Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple. What called my attention was the approach from the executives (you know, corporate diplomats) in stating that they face competition and are not monopolies – which, let’s be honest, is not quite accurate.

I believe that the issue with governmental affairs professionals in private organizations is the short-sighted vision on matters of public interest. This is the core scope of their work and yet, governmental affairs specialists bring this fierce attitute of business strategy to the public debate – definitely not a win-win approach. This approach will only continue to get the exact conter-productive reaction they got from congressman David Cicilline, as reported by Wired:

“I don’t think there’s any question that we cannot expect them to regulate themselves. We’ve seen the total absence of any ability to regulate themselves, so I think it will absolutely require some action by congress.”

Would it be reasonable to say that the new data economy revolves around data as the raw material of its production systems? Does this mean that these tech companies are extracting data as a commodity?

They are arguing that they extract these commudities to serve their consumers. But, aren’t their consumers the people who they also extract the raw material from?

And what do the consumers/suppliers get in exchange? Not much except an overwhelming load of personalized advertising (is this a benefit, anyway?) and access to content creation and sharing platforms – which is the over-the-top (OTT) infrastructure of the production system.

Well, I believe that it basically comes down to the fact that the emerging production mode (knowledge production systems) does not close the economic feedback loop. In the industrial mode of production, in which raw material is in fact extracted from space territory, there is a feedback loop – concessions pay taxes and royalties to the States that have sovereignty over territory and wages to workers who provide labor to extract the material. However, in the emerging information age, the story is completely different. And my argument is that people – the data subjects from which raw material is extracted, hence data providers – are shut outside of the economic loop. This has something to do with the flawed assumption that all individuals performing economic agency (i.e. as both end consumers and data providers) are conscious homo economicus.

But anyway, this is a long academic argument which I will try to elaborate on further in my next article. Until then, I offer a couple of links to the respective US Congress hearings that made headlines this week.

Elon Musk’s cyborg technology

Let me start by apologizing for the rather radical shift in the nature of my post today, but this is actually a reflection of my ongoing scientific research. I do believe, however, that this shift presents itself quite appropriately.

Our technological apparatus is advancing in such a rapid pace that I believe human-machine symbiosis is becoming an increasingly critical phenomenon in our contemporary society. Herbert Marcuse (One-Dimentional Man, 1964) anticipated our need to reflect on the totalitarian character of technological rationality in advanced industrial societies. As far as I can tell, technologies such as artificial intelligence and human-machine integration is at the verge of transforming humans into a new life form – we’re becoming cyborgs. It only sounds reasonable to discuss the political implications of such extraordinary transformation.

For this reason, I would like to share Elon Musk’s Neuralink streaming that took place on this past July 16 2019. Musk is pushing forward with yet another incredible breakthrough technology!

I also recommend the following article written by Tim Urban on April 2017: Neuralink and the Brain’s Magical Future. It is quite a long read, but it is definitely entertaining and extremely informative, insightful and absolutely worth it for those who are interested in further understanding the broad aspects of advancements in cyborg technologies.

The future has arrived!

Ad Hoc: Complexity in Science, Culture and Society

The research group Complexity met on April 1st of 2019 at the Research College for Human Sciences (Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften) in Bad Homburg, Germany to participate in a discussion with the South African cosmolgist George Ellis. His recent work The Dynamical Emergence of Biology From Physics: Branching Causation via Biomoleculeswas the basis for the workshop held throughout the day.

Complexity Workshop April 2019 Bad Homburg
Research group on Complexity in Science, Cuture and Society at Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften in Bad Homburg, Germany.

The increasing complexity in research and society is accelerating with new phenomena such as big data, digitization, migration flows, technologisation or even automation. As a result, science has an obligation to identify strategies for successfully dealing with complexity and solving complex problems. Examining these expectations is one of many starting points of the research project.

The overarching goal is to investigate different concepts of complexity and their theoretical justification from an interdisciplinary perspective and thus not only show new patterns for the practical handling of complexity, but also to gain new insights for the scientific research itself. A starting point of the project is the scientific-philosophical definition of complexity as a property of systems that show unexpected and unpredictable behavior due to the interaction of their elements, Interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary cooperation between the natural sciences and the humanities explores questions as to whether and how such a definition can apply and be applied to scientific systems as well as to cultural and social systems.

Development and operation of the project

Since the beginning of 2017, researchers from various disciplines at the Goethe University have collaborated in the project »Complexity in Science, Culture and Society«. After a successful pilot phase funded by the Aventis Foundation , the project was headed by Prof. Dr. med. Harald Schwalbe (chemistry) and Prof. dr. Matthias Lutz-Bachmann (Philosophy) another funding commitment from the Aventis Foundation for the period from 2019 to 2020.

The research group consists mainly of natural and life scientists from the Goethe University and the University of Darmstadt, but also from humanities scholars from other institutions in Germany and abroad. She meets regularly at the Research College Human Sciences of Goethe University (FKH), where the project is administratively located. In addition, joint workshops and lectures are organized, to which internationally renowned scientists are invited to discuss with the research group different aspects and topics in the context of the complexity question.

An important part of the project work are the Complexity Fellowships , in which international guest scientists are invited to the FKH. There, they will be given the opportunity for their own research and active participation in the questions and events of the project.

2019 Global Economic Outlook: World Bank Report

The World Bank released its 2019 Global Economy Outlook in January this year. In this post I try to highlight the key facts and information from their press released and patially from the report as well.

Global Summary

  • International trade and manufacturing activity have slowed down.
  • Intensifying trade tensions could result in even weaker global growth and disrupt global interconnected value chains.
  • Borrowing costs for emerging and developing economies have increased.
  • Uprising in commodity exporters has stagnated and activity in commodity importers is decelerating.
    • Energy prices have fluctuated, mainly due to supply factors.
    • Other commodity prices have also weakened – particularly metals – posing further challenges to commodity exporters.
  • Past increases in public and private debt could heighten vulnerability to swings in financing conditions.
    • Debt vulnerability (debt-to-GDP ratio) is rising in low-income countries.
  • Maintaining low global inflation may become a challenge as long-term factors that helped reduce inflation in past decades may lose momentum.
East Asia and Pacific remains one of the world’s fastest developing regions. Regional growth expected at 6% in 2019.
  • China 6.2%
  • Indonesia 5.2%
  • Thailand 3.8%
Europe and Central Asia. Financial stress in Turkey is weightening down regional growth, expected at 2.3% in 2019.
  • Turkey 1.6% (due to high inflation, high interest rates and low market confidence)
  • Poland 4%
Latin America and Caribbean. Regional growth is expected at 1.7% in 2019.
  • Brasil 2.2% (assuming fiscal reform is quickly put in place).
  • Mexico 2%
  • Argentina -1.7% (as deep fiscal consolidation leads to loss of employment and reduced consumption and investment)
Middle East and North Africa. Regional growth expected to rise to 1.9% in 2019. Domestic factors such as policy reforms are promoting growth in the region. Oil exporters expected to pick up slightly and GCC countries expected to grow 2.6%.
  • Iran -3.6% (due to sanctions)
  • Algeria 2.3%
  • Egypt 5.6% (as investments is supported by reforms and consumption picks up)
South Asia. Regional growth expected to accelerate tp 7.1% in 2019, by strenghtening investment and robust consumption.
  • India 7.3%
  • Pakistan 3.7%
  • Sri Lanka 4%
  • Nepal 5.9%
Sub-Saharan Africa. Regional growth expected to accelerate to 3.4% due to diminished policy uncertainty.
  • Nigeria 2.2% (assuming that oil production will recover)
  • Angola 2.9% (assuming that oil sector recovers)
  • South Africa 1.3% due to constraints on domestic demand and unlimited government spending.

The United States remains stable due to fiscal stimulus and better than expected domestic deman, with GDP growth projected at 2.9% in 2019. Growth in the European Union, on the other hand, is weaker than expected at 1.6%, due to slowing exports and as monetary stimulus is withdrawn.

Source: World Bank Press Release

2019 Economic Outlook Brazil: Infrastructure and Reforms

On February 4th, the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro delivered the yearly Message to National Congress, in its opening ceremony for the 2019 legislative year. This article is based solely on the official document, which is divided in five main chapters: Economy, Infrastructure, Society, Strategic Issues, and Public Administration. It covers highlights related to macroeconomic reforms and infrastructure. And a second post containing highlights related to Strategic Issues and Foreign Policy will follow.

Economic Overview

  • The country ended 2018 with a deficit of USD 14 bi for 12 months (0,7% of GDP).
  • Exports were impacted by the economic crisis in Argentina. However, soy exports to China increased in the second semester due to restrictions derived from US-China trade tensions.
  • The report states that the country faces low external vulnerability as a result of its international reserve volume (USD 380 bi) and the flow of its direct foreign investment.
  • Labour market still experiences high rates of unemployment, but shows slow recovery.
  • Macroeconomic reforms are proposed for social security, fiscal system, public administration, foreign trade liberalization, privatization, and the autonomy of Central Bank.

Fiscal Reform

Brasil faces two major problems in its fiscal system. First is the high tax rates, which can reach 33% of GDP. This is above the other emerging economies and other Latin American countries, which average 20% of GDP). Secondly, its tax system is highly complex. This demands high resources from both private and public sectors, and generates high levels of litigation disputes due to uncertainties. Current fiscal reform proposals are limited to measures that seek to simplify enforcement, reduce tax cost liability and reduce the cumulative effects of some federal taxes. The message also states the continuity of the New Fiscal Regime (or, NRF – Novo Regime Fiscal), introduced by the Constitutional Amendment No. 95, of December 15, 2016, which is relevant for the fiscal rebalancing of the Federal Government. This regime, also called the “spending ceiling” (teto de gastos), established a limit for federal primary expenditure.

Social Security Reform

Payment of Social Security benefits has been the main factor responsible for the increase in total public spending in the last 20 years. In addition, the growth of pension transfers tends to accelerate due to the rapid demographic transition that the country is experiencing. The fertility rate fell considerably between 1980 and 2015, from 4.1 to 1.7 children per woman, which implies lower population growth in the future.

Infrastructure

One of the main problems is the lack of intermodal infrastructure allowing for connections between the national network of seaports to other modes of transportation (road, rail and river). It is necessary to reduce costs by improving port efficiency, which implies integration with the railway and road networks, linking the main regions of the country. It is also imperative to reduce costs and deadlines for boarding and disembarking. The goal is to reach performance levels of ports in countries such as South Korea (Busan port), Japan (Yokohama port) and Taiwan (Kaohsiung port).

The Government plans to launch dredging and land infrastructure projects, as well as completing other projects that will increase its seaport infrastructure capacity by 11.25 million tons /year, 4.11 million tons m³ /year, 250 thousand TEU /year, 13 thousand passengers /year and 50 thousand vehicles /year. The immediate goal is to auction ten port terminals in order to expand current capacity.

In 2018, a bidding announcement was issued for the 30-year concession of 12 airports in the Northeast, Southeast and Mid-Western regions. For the next years, it is projected the continuity of the airport concessions through the release of other bidding blocks.

Its road network, has not received the volume of investments needed for keeping up with the economic activity. Recent surveys indicate that only 38% of the segments are classified as being of good or better conditions. The government estimates USD 7,08 bi in investments for the next 5 planned concessions, which will comprise around 5,000 km of highways.

Source: Mensagem ao Congresso Nacional 2019

[Podcast] Christine Lagarde’s call for action – IMF World Economic Outlook

In today’s podcast we are going to be speaking about the IMF World Economic Outlook, which is a publication that was release by the International Monetary Fund in October of 2018. I actually want to focus this conversation a little more on the press conference that was delivered in the World Economic Forum on January 21st of 2019, where a panel was held with directors of the IMF – the Managing Director Christine Lagarde, she is very well known, but she also had the support of an economic counselor, who is the director of their research department, in order to deliver the sort of information that we are going to review today. What I think was very interesting – the highlight of this study, of course – will be Lagarde’s message because she introduced us to the study. She gave us an overview of what is actually happening in the global economy. But she had a very strong call for action and, of course, when that comes from Christine Lagarde I think that we need to focus and pay attention. She is a powerful woman, she is running the IMF, and it was very interesting to see her out there and deliver this message.

In the beginning she tried to make this analogy between cross-country skiing with the global economy. It was quite interesting, it was kind of cute to see her – such a powerful woman – come down and say: “here,” – in a very educational manner – “this is what we expect from the economic environment. We want predictability, less risk. We want things to run smoothly, just kind of like cross-country skiing”, which is a personal practice. So that was quite interesting.

But Lagarde did not have a very exciting message to tell us. She actually had some unfortunate news for the global economic environment. She told us, here, we have to deliver this message that we are downgrading the growth forecast since october 2018, because risks are on the rise and we have some bad news on the trading front, so we have some threats in the trading environment which is sort of escalating all sorts of problems and risks in the global economy and for that reason they had to announce a further downward revision of the forecast that was published in October. This is pretty much because of the significantly higher risks.

Higher trade tariffs and rising uncertainty over future trade policies. That is a big issue that is one of the key sources of global economic risks. Lower asset prices, higher market volatility, which these three combined are tightening financing conditions and that is including for advanced economies. And this is in a scenario of high debt burden in both private and public sectors are carrying a high debt load right now.

But she does give us the message that we are not facing a global recession right around the corner. This does not mean that a major downturn is happening. But what is happening is that a sharper decline in global economic growth is happening, there are many issues, including geopolitical worries as well.

But she says that this scenario actually shows us a very clear message for policy-makers. One is that they need to address remaining vulnerabilities. And two, is that they need to be ready if a serious slow down were actually to materialize. So, if a recession is actually to materialize, policy-makers need to be ready. Third message is that policy-makers need to harness existing growth momentum, and she is very emphatic. She says, yes, there is growth momentum, so we need to take advantage of that and harness these sorts of opportunities.

Policy-makers also need to work on reducing high government debt, and she is making a point here that this opens space to fight future downturn in the global economy. So, economies need to be ready if that comes to take place.

As far as monetary policy, they should be data dependent and exchange rates should be allowed as shock absorbers, and I thought that that was kind of interesting because of the whole conversation behind exchange rate manipulation. Next message is about economic reforms. They need to be in place in order to push growth, specially in labour markets and infrastructure investments.

So, these were the messages that she believes that this risky scenario is showing us. But she also makes a point in saying that if we must deliver the promise of the digital revolution, it has to be inclusive to all people, including measures to help workers that are displaced because of the automation of work, and we also need to create opportunities for women and young people.

She has a very important point here on International Cooperation. She said that for efficient and effective collaboration in the international system we have to increase our efforts in resolving the shared problems and that meaning, we need to fix the global trading system. There is a call for action here for the G-20 saying that they have to deliver results. This is a call for the World Trade Organization reform. I think this took place in Buenos Aires. She says that we need to collaborate in fighting corruption and tax evasion, and also, collectively address climate change.

Now, one very interesting message, I think she nailed in closing her speech talking about something that she calls New Multilateralism. And that was brilliant, because she runs away from the term globalization. Because people have been feeling very uncomfortable about the globalization topic, and globalization issues. Countries are becoming more nationalist driven, and she puts this here that is not becoming a unit, it is staying multilateral but acting together. And I thought that that was quite brilliant. She gives us a new perspective on globalization. Kind of running away from the term, but still sticking to togetherness. Kind of nice. And that includes macroeconomic policies and structural reforms that need to be applied to many economies in the world.

Now, going back to the report. In October of 2018, the IMF had this projection of global growth at 3.7% in 2019 and they reduced that to 3.5% in 2019 and then they also reduced to 3.6% in 2020. Now this is for global growth. The growth in advanced economies is forecasted at 2% in 2019 and 1.7% in 2020. And then emerging markets and developing economies at 4.5% in 2019 and 4.9% in 2020.

Both in the report and the press conference, they really put emphasis on the rising trading tensions and then the policy uncertainty that raise concerns about the global economic prospects, because these factors could actually lead firms to postpone or forgo capital spending, and then hence slow down economic growth and investment and demand.

One very interesting point in the report – and this is where I am going to close this podcast with – is the point that the IMF is now keeping an eye on increasing market power. They also think that this is a risk for economic growth. They said that the concerns about corporate market power is growing pretty much for two reasons. One is because, in the past decades, there has been some macroeconomic trends that can be somewhat the fault of corporate behaviour. Low investments, despite of rising corporate profits, declining business dynamism, low productivity growth and falling labour income. This is quite interesting because they pretty much raise a flag here saying, here, we have to review the behaviour that is happening in the private environment, we have to follow up on actions that are going to change this sort of trending behaviour. And, I mean, if we are talking about Corporate Diplomacy, there is a lot to be talked about on here – activities and strategies that need to be built in order to respond to such a claim that corporate market power can actually account for these macroeconomic trends that are not so positive for the overall economy.

And then the second reason about the rising concern in the market power of corporations is that the rise of tech giants has raised questions about whether this trend – of the tech giants becoming more powerful – and if this trend continues, the IMF is saying that we need to rethink the policy that is needed in order to maintain fair and strong competition. I thought that it was very nice to put in the context of Corporate Diplomacy. So, there is a lot that could be explored in this report. This increasing market power session in this report itself is evidence that government is becoming aware and it actually wants to tackle the sort of increase in power for private environment. And all sorts of strategies that have to be built, not because the private environment needs to win in the game. We actually want a balanced governance strategy nowadays.

[Podcast] Creating the Corporate Foreign Policy

The topic today is Corporate Foreign Policy, but how did we come up with this name? Because Corporate Diplomacy is pretty much a reflection of traditional Public Diplomacy, we borrowed the term Foreign Policy. States, in Public Diplomacy, have specific interests that they need to defend in the international environment, so they build up this foreign policy on how they are going to relate to the external economy, to the external political environment. So, we bring ths term – this practice of having a plan on how to relate to the external environment – we bring it to  Corporate Diplomacy and then build this matrix.

I created this methodology to build a strategy that goes beyond the economic interests of the organization. What the Corporate Foreign Policy does is it expands this planning – this strategy building – to engage with the external environment as a whole: the government, the market and society in general. It is a composition of four pilars. So, the methodology is divided in a pilar that is called Information, a pilar that is called Government, a pilar that is called Society and a pilar that is called Market. And this is what I will talk about today. I will break down these four pilars and then talk a little about each one of them and how to build this strategy by starting with the pilar Information.

Information is the main pilar because it is where the organizational philosophy is going to be constructed and how the diffusion of this philosophy is going to be carried on. So, you define the philosophy of the organization and then you also define a strategy to communicate that philosophy within the organization and then to the external environment. This philosophy of the organization is pretty much the organizational’s narrative: what are we portraying externally? What are our ideals, our beliefs upon which the organization is built? Are we a sustainable business? And if so, what do we understand by sustainability? We have to create these concepts in our organizational strategy.

A second step within the information pilar is to define the causes we support. Do we wish to engage in activities that will tackle current challenges such as poverty, climate change and education? If so, we develop these meanings. What are our ideas that compose our strategy to deal with poverty, for example. What do we think that should be done collectively so that issues are minimized and that the problems can be tackled. In the information pilar what we are going to build is a conceptual narrative and this conceptual narrative is pretty much the message that we want to communicate externally. This message needs to be diffused internally so that the people (our employees) who are going to diffuse this information are alligned with the philosophy of the organization.

Now, the second pilar is Government. There isn’t necessarily an order here,  but I like to put information first because you can first construct the philosophy of the organization and then from there on you can build your strategy in the order that you wish: either government, society or market. But within the Government pilar we want to ask ourselves: who in government are we going to engage with and negotiate our interests and interests that are more related to public interests?

Within national governments we have a set of institutions at municipal, state and federal levels. And we have to map these institutions within each one of these spheres. Do we want to relate locally (municipally), do we want to relate at state and federal levels? So, what we are going to do is: we are going to map these key institutions we wish to relate with, we are going to map the programs that interest us, So, if the institution at municipal, state and federal levels have specific programs that they already work with, we need to have these programs mapped out so that we know what kind of proposals we are going to build for technical cooperation. And I think that essentially, we need to have a map for the key contacts within these institutions. A map of people who are within the offices and the people who occupy these offices. And the reason why I think this map is really important is pretty much because organizational employees – especially in private organizations – come and go, they move either to other institutions or they move either vertically or horizontally within the organization. By mapping these contacts out we have a track record, a history of these relations, who is the organization relating to, and at which point within other institutions. And this is a good track record to have because then you don’t have to restart the relationship – to restart the conversation and the exchanges – everytime you have somebody new coming into the offices.

Then we have the institutions at the international levels, and we draw these maps slightly different because we want to know which countries have common technical and commercial interests. If we are based in one country we would also like to know which countries have similar interests and whether there are treaties, either multilateral or bilateral treaties (agreements) already in place to promote these sort of cooperation in these particular interets. Let me give an example. If we are located in Germany and we export to the United States, it would, in a particular segment – lets say, biotechnology – it would be interesting to know which treaties are in place bilaterally, between the United States and Germany, to understand if there is some space to integrate that agreement, that common interest at the higher political level into our activities. This is quite interesting, and this is where real Corporate Diplomacy comes into place, because we have the expertise, we have the economic exchange, we have a lot to be able to cooperate with these bilateral agreements and to put these activities in a more practical perspective and how we can increase the economic exchange – either scientific or economic exchange within these two countries. So this is a good example.

Then there is our third pilar, which is Society. Within this pilar we must define the policy programs that will be carried out by the organization. This is pretty much an extension of the organizational philosophy. Here is where the plan to act on the visions that we have for the collective are carried out. So, if the philosophy says we are a sustainable organization, within the Information pilar we are going to define the concepts of sustainability, and then within the pilar Society we’re going to structure programs to carry out these sort of philosophies. Are we going to promote recycling? Are we going to promote water cleaning? Decrease atmosphere pollution, and so on. We want to know if we have social or environmental policies in place, and if so, what are our priority programs within these policy programs. This is pretty much the third pilar, I’m not going to be speaking about it extensively. We already kind of spoke about it within the Information pilar because the third pilar really depends on the philosophy that the organization has. This has a lot to do with Corporate Responsibility. So, if the organization wants to engage in particular projects that can improve its corporate image, then this is the place where we should create the programs.

Then we move on to the last pilar, which is Market. This is essentially just an integration of the more traditional organizational strategy. Within this pilar we map out the entire supply chain: consumers, distributors, suppliers, competitors. And we kind of have these definitions and these maps – a visual – on how we relate to all these stakeholders.

And here we also define our Research and Development strategy. We establish our priority projects in scientific developments. We map also scientific institutions that might be working on the same type of technologies that our organization is working on, and we also map the incentive programs that are in place for technological developments.

Ideally, all of these pilars must contain action plans for at least a 12-month period. Maybe four years to relate at federal levels, because offices change after four years.  But ideally, every 12 months we should have some sort of revision on our plan, and having an action plan for the next 12-month period. That would be a good time frame to have a vision on how we are relating to the external environment.

So, what this methodology attempts to do is pretty much to centralize – in a good way, centralizing. I’m going to explain this. If you think of air traffic, for example. If you don’t have air traffic control, if you don’t have a centralized vision on what is happening collectively, than you might face accidents and all sorts of problems. So, I think that by centralizing a vision, we can tackle and coordinate the way that we are going to deal with the external issues and problems that may arise in a more efficient way. So I think that in this way, centralization is not so negatively put.