The world is changing in two fundamental ways. First, the development of a truly global market in products, services, capital, and even certain types of labor is changing the basic terms of competition for an array of different firms and industries. Second, the rules and institutions governing the new international economic order are still in flux. National regulations are no longer adequate yet international accords over trade, intellectual property, labor standards, and a host of other issues are fiercely and frequently contested by competing interests. The final results of these debates will determine who wins and who loses in the new global economy. Understanding the interaction between environment and business around the world is key to understanding both the possibilities for and constraints on either managing an existing or starting a new business in today's fast-changing economy.

This course provides students with the conceptual tools necessary to understand and work effectively in today's global world. We will do this in three closely related ways:

  • Analyzing how the environment for business varies around the world, including what this means for business people and policy makers.
  • Discussing efforts to construct "rules of the game" for the global economy. In particular we will examine contemporary debates and controversies surrounding intellectual property rights, trade policies and labor and environmental standards.
  • Developing conceptual tools and frameworks that help make sense of our increasingly global and complex world.

In addition to traditional case/class discussions, we will have discussions with managers and policy makers around the world. The hope is that greater exposure to/interaction with these real-world practitioners will "bring to life" some of the issues discussed in the readings/cases.


The requirements for the course and the contribution of each towards the final grade are as follows:

2 Case write-ups (10% each) 20%
Group research paper 25%
Final exam 20%
Class participation 35%

These requirements are described in detail below:

Case Write-ups

The case write-ups should be brief, no more than 3 double-spaced pages. You may choose any 2 cases to analyze. Cases include both the traditional cases and company/industry cases discussed in some of the readings. Write-ups are due before class on the day the case is to be discussed. They are intended to be analytic discussions of some issue central to the case. Please do not write a precise of the case or repeat case facts except to bolster your argument. Based on the information provided in the case materials, please be analytically judgmental and evaluative. You should propose alternate managerial views and action plans whenever appropriate and discuss the relevance and applicability of the frameworks proposed in the readings and lectures. In short, you should write what you think of the situation in the case and not merely what the author of the case says. These case write-ups are individual assignments.

Country Report

This group project is due on Ses #12, and will count for 25 percent of the grade. You will need to write a 10-15 page report on the business environment in one country (other than the U.S.). This is a group assignment. You can work in teams of 3-4 people on this project.

Final Exam

A final exam will be given in class two days after  Ses #12. The exam will be an essay exam based on questions discussed in class. Details will be explained in class.

Class Participation

Your active participation in the discussion in class is integral to the design of this course. Class participation counts for 35% of your final grade. Prior preparation of the cases and assigned readings are essential as this background is presumed in the lectures and case discussions. Those of you whose native language is not English and/or may have difficulty speaking up in class are encouraged to meet with me to discuss how your participation in class can be ensured. Additional discussion sections will be organized so that we can clarify/elaborate on any points raised in class. These discussion sections are optional, intended only for those of you who find these extra sessions helpful.

Recommended Citation

For any use or distribution of these materials, please cite as follows:

Richard Locke, course materials for 15.223 Global Markets, National Policies, and the Competitive Advantages of Firms, Fall 2007. MIT OpenCourseWare (, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Downloaded on [DD Month YYYY].