What Will Be the Balance Between National Interest and International Collaboration?

01/11/2023
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Phil Smith
CBE Interim Executive Chair of IQE PLC and former CEO and Chairman of Cisco UK and Ireland

We have seen a huge out pouring of national pride this week. When you think about leadership of the future what do you think will be the balance between national interest and international collaboration?

VocL Voices’ Responses

Ross O’Brien 
Business Advisor at BP 

Since the start of COVID, many have predicted the end of globalisation. I tend to disagree. I see it as an evolution to become more adaptable, resilient and diverse. On top of this, the next generation is increasingly understanding of different cultures and the planet continues to shrink thanks to technology. In the U.K., we’ve also recently been reminded of the pride people share when representing a nation. It brings a huge sense of identity and I think leaders should continue to tap into this energy. It’s never a bad thing to “remember where you came from” and support local communities. Looking ahead, I believe there should be room for both national and global interests. Some matters will always be better handled at a national level and others such as climate change – a challenge with no borders – will continue to depend on countries working together. 

Danielle Crompton
Ethics & Sustainability / John Lewis Partnership

Leaders now and in the future have a huge part to play in solving the world’s biggest challenges including: climate crisis, inequality, nuclear threat. Multilateralism is fundamental. Leaders and nations cannot act alone if we are to navigate these. It’s well appreciated that international politics are a fine balance for leaders to walk and leaders are often judged more harshly for their actions at an international scale. How to be a global and local leader? Though I do think that the actions required at a global scale can very much be in the interests of the nation at the same time. Let’s take climate change. With more focus, the UK would be well positioned to make transformational changes at a national level that could be leading on the world stage. Our leaders of the future should be committed to taking these steps. 

Dara Latinwo
Digital Transformation Consultant 

With geopolitical tensions rising, the balance between national interest and international collaboration feels more important than ever to achieve, yet so much harder. To shore up democracy, it will be vital for politicians to prioritise national interest more visibly and in a way that delivers tangible results to their populations in order to stave off further lurches towards populist parties. However, there will need to be concessions to international collaboration and the very best politicians will be able to make the case that this supports, rather than stymies, national interest.

Will Lankston
Managing Director of B2B at the Timpson Group

I suspect that in the short-medium term, we will see a renewed emphasis on international collaboration, predominantly driven by the de-coupling of supply chains in the Far East and the need to improve supply chain resilience. This will be followed by a new focus on the national interest. Governments and businesses were (somewhat) surprised by Covid and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a result of this will be a medium-long term shift towards deglobalisation. One such example of this being the CHIPS act in the US. 

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