International business management professional is a broad term used to describe any management professional engaged in planning, organizing, directing and piloting international business activities. It is often international business managers who coordinate and lead the marketing and financing, as well as strategic and logistical planning of new or expanding international business ventures.
In his article, “What is a Global Manager?” from the Harvard Business Review, Professor Christopher A. Bartlett of the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration identifies global business managers as having one overriding responsibility: to further the company’s global-scale efficiency and competitiveness with the overall goal of capturing the full benefit of integrated worldwide operations.
International business managers must understand how political, economic, cultural and technological factors within a given foreign market impact business operations. They must also understand the many legal factors that govern transactions between countries, including laws pertaining to taxation, joint ventures, financing, licensing, antitrust and dispute resolution. In short, international business managers must be able to adapt, change or combine strategies to fit situations specific to different foreign markets so as to allow the company to develop and nurture international business relationships and a foreign customer base. An effective international business manager will be able to successfully increase a company’s market share, improve efficiency, decrease operating costs and, of course, increase the profitability of foreign operations.
Global managers possess expertise in a number of international business activities, including international marketing, international trade and investment, global finance and global human resource management. International business managers are often called upon to develop well-researched and comprehensive business plans that spell out business strategies to be applied to specific international markets. They are usually engaged in import and export related activities, establishing licensing and franchising contracts within foreign markets or direct investing in either wholly owned subsidiaries or joint ventures.
Today’s global business managers possess a number of distinct skills that distinguish them from conventional business managers. They are often multilingual, have a deep understanding of global management theory and understand how to apply theory to create successful strategies in international business applications.
The Factors That International Business Managers Must Consider
As competition within the global marketplace continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly important for international business managers to understand and evaluate competitors, both foreign and domestic, within international markets. When contemplating competition, it is important for the business manager to consider the issue of anti-trust law, which pertains to fair competition, including when and how these laws are enforced. Some counties, like the United States, strictly enforce anti-trust laws, while other regions and countries like the European Union and Japan are generally more tolerant, creating an environment that is more welcoming to many companies and less fraught with anti-trust legislation.
The economic environment of a host country is of great importance to the international business manager when considering international business operations. Some of the issues addressed by international business managers include a market’s gross domestic product (GDP), its gross national product (GNP) and its per-capita income; the market’s level of development; and the technology and infrastructure available within the market. Many international business managers must consider job creation in foreign markets and how it may impact international business relations.
The expertise of an international business manager is, perhaps, never more valued than when setting up operations in overseas markets. International business managers must be able to determine how to staff the international operation so that the business can properly operate and expand. They must take into consideration labor laws, currency exchange and wage control, and they must understand how cultural issues may affect the building of a qualified labor force.
Political and Legal Considerations
International business managers must consider the political environment of a host country, as it can have a profound effect on the management of overseas business operations. From ideological beliefs and business laws to tariffs and government restrictions, politics are an important factor to consider for international business managers.
International business managers must also be aware of specific license requirements, they must understand proper compliance, and they must examine the level of risk associated with operating in a foreign market.
Cultural differences are often a major consideration for international business managers, as they affect how a product or service is marketed and sold in a foreign market. Cultural differences must be understood by the international business manager and respected during negotiations and other types of contact, including written, verbal and personal, as cultural knowledge and respect are vital when establishing and maintaining relationships with foreign countries.
Intellectual Property Law
Although intellectual property in the United States is fully protected through patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets, businesses in foreign markets may not recognize or respect these laws. They may therefore engage in counterfeiting, in the disclosure of trade secrets and even in industrial espionage. International business managers must be able to recognize the risks associated with intellectual property theft and seek protection and guidance through such organizations as the UN World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the United States Foreign Corruption Practices Act (FCPA).
Overseeing the financial management of international business operations is often tricky, as international business managers must consider the exchange rates, the financial laws and other regulations of foreign markets. A business manager must also understand the process and benefits of countertrade, which is the exchange of goods and services instead of money.
Training and Educational Opportunities in International Business Management
An education in international business management may prepare graduates for a number of professional titles including import/export specialist, international law specialist, international planning and management specialist, project executive, management analyst, and international purchasing and management specialist.
Many international business degrees include concentrations in general business, human resources and organizational management. Just a few of the degree possibilities available to students include:
- B.S. Business/Global Management
- B.A. Public Relations and Marketing/International Management
- Bachelor of Business Administration, International Business
- M.B.A. Global Management
- M.B.A. International Business
- M.A. Organizational Management/Global Management
- M.B.A. Master of Business Administration
- M.P.A. Master of Public Administration
A degree in international business management will often include core courses, or offer valuable electives, in a foreign language, organizational psychology, ethics, communication, international commerce, history and social science. International business programs are generally geared toward providing students with a solid background in such areas as international customs, legal and financial regulations, marketing, sales, pricing and distribution strategies, and organizational behavior.
Many colleges and universities encourage students of international business management to study abroad so as to become familiar with the social customs, language and business practices of other countries. As such, there are often overseas internship opportunities available for students of global business management.
Continuing education programs designed for mid-to-senior level managers in international business management are also quite common. Most programs are aimed at strengthening existing skills and developing and improving analytical and decision-making skills in the international business environment.
Some of the larger U.S. companies, such as General Electric and Cisco Systems, sponsor preparation programs and training programs for their international business managers. Many times these training programs include cultural assimilation programs to prepare their international business managers for overseas assignments.
Salary Expectations for International Business Management Professionals
According to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for General Managers and Operations Managers was $137,450 as of May 2010. The average among the top 25 percent of these management professionals was $142,030.
The top-paying areas within the United States for management professionals in this industry classification were the District of Columbia, Connecticut, New York, Delaware and Washington, where the average salary was between $131,480 and $162,420 in 2010.
The average annual salary of management professionals in other Bureau of Labor Statistics industry classifications were as follows:
- Marketing Managers- $128,770
- Administrative Services Managers- $100,790
- Industrial Production Managers- $112,570
- Human Resource Managers- $121,130
- Training and Development Managers- $102,010
- Transportation, Storage and Distribution Mangers- $103,380
- Financial Managers- $134,100
- Marketing Managers- $128,770
- Business Operations Specialists- $71,990
- Management Analysts- $83,260
International Business Management Certification and Accreditation Opportunities
The International Management Consultants Board (IMCB), which includes the Management Consultants Advisory Council and the Business Consulting Accreditation Council, is a certifying body that regulates the certification standards and accredited educational criteria of qualified programs, while also issuing board certification in various areas of business management.
The Management Standards Board of the IMCB awards specialized certifications, designations and charters specific to the fields of business, finance, management, marketing, human resources, risk management, international tax and consulting.
Some of the certifications for international business management professionals available through the IMCB include:
- AMC Accredited Management Consultant
- MCP Management Consulting Professional
- MBC Master Business Consultant
- CHRA Certified Human Resources Analyst
- RBA Registered Business Analyst
- CIPM Certified International Project Manager
- MPM Master Project Manager
The Association of Professionals in Business Management (APBM) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the certification of business management professionals. There are two professional certifications available through the APBM:
- The CABM, a professional certification based on a pre-MBA curriculum that is suited for junior professionals or aspiring managers seeking an MBA degree
- The CBM, a masters-level professional certification based on an MBA curriculum that is suited to mid-to-level senior managers
The Institute of Certified Professional Managers offers the Certified Manager (CM) certification. The CM certification is suited for current and prospective managers, leaders and supervisors working at any level. The body of knowledge required to obtain the CM certification includes: management fundamentals, planning and organizing and leading and controlling.