A Global Disruption Requires a Global Response: Policies for building international business resilience for this and future pandemics
by Luis Dau, Elizabeth Moore
As part of the GRI Whitepaper Series, GRI has released Special Investigation Reports supported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These reports bring together analysis and policy recommendations in cross-cutting critical areas including municipal and state budgets, housing, food, healthcare, K-12 education, childcare, higher education, small business, energy, and fisheries. Each sector-specific report was authored by subject matter experts of these areas from GRI’s Northeastern Faculty Affiliates and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, providing an in-depth, accessible review of the challenges, opportunities and actionable policy considerations in each area facing the COVID-19 crisis.
The COVID-19 global pandemic has exacerbated the move toward greater economic nationalism and isolationism across the world. As nations have independently constructed responses to the pandemic with vastly dissimilar success levels, the repercussions for international businesses and national economies has been intense. We posit that addressing a global disruption, such as this pandemic that cannot be contained effectively by borders, requires a global response
– not a national nor a local response. Based on a series of original interviews of international businesses conducted in the New England region of the United States, we examine some of the main issues they are facing, followed by recommended solutions to address them. The top five issues identified are: 1) Continued contagion and the domino effect; 2) Supply chain disruptions and forced localizations; 3) Closing of borders – work force issues & knowledge flow problems; 4) Decreasing confidence in international trade/sales and consumer spending; and 5) Institutional complexity/uncertainty. After each challenge, we also offer insights and learning opportunities for firms and policymakers. We then propose a global response plan for policy-makers in preparation for the next global disruption, with the aim of limiting its potential damage to the global economy and facilitating a prompter recovery.