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Global Economic Systems

Market Economy

A market economy exists when private enterprise reserves the right to own property and monitor the production and distribution of goods and services while the state simply supports competition and efficient practices. Management is particularly effective here since private ownership provides local evaluation and understanding, opposed to a nationally standardized archetype. This model contains the least restriction as the allocation of resources is roughly determined by the law of demand. Individuals within the community disclose wants, needs, and desires to which businesses may appropriately respond. A general balance between supply and demand sustains prices, while an imbalance creates a price fluctuation. In other words, if demand for a good or service exceeds supply, the price will inevitably rise, while an excess supply over consumer demand will result in a price decrease.19

Since the interaction of the community and firms guides the system, organizations must be as versatile as the individual consumer. Competition is fervently encouraged to promote innovation, economic growth, high quality, and efficiency. The focus on how to

best serve the customer is necessary for optimal growth as it ensures a greater penetration of niche markets.20 The government may prohibit such things as monopolies or restrictive business practices in order to maintain the integrity of the economy. Monopolies are a danger to this system because they tend to stifle economic growth and consumer choice with their power to determine supply. Factors such as efficiency of production and qual- ity and pricing of goods can be chosen arbitrarily by monopolies, leaving consumers without a choice and at the mercy of big business.

Command Economy

A command economy is comparable to a monopoly in the sense that the organization, in this case the government, has explicit control over the price and supply of a good or service. The particular goods and services offered are not necessarily in response to consumers’ stated needs but are determined by the theoretical advancement of society. Businesses in this model are owned by the state to ensure that investments and other business practices are done in the best interest of the nation despite the often contradic- tory outcomes. Management within this model ignores demographic information. Gov- ernment subsidies provide firms with enough security so they cannot go out of business, which simply encourages a lack of efficiency or incentive to monitor costs. Devoid of private ownership, a command economy creates an environment where little motivation exists to improve customer service or introduce innovative ideas.21

History confirms the inefficiency and economic stagnation of this system with the dramatic decline of communism in the 1980s. Communist countries believe that the goals of the so-called “people” take precedence over individualism. While the communist model once dominated countries such as Ethiopia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, and the former U.S.S.R., among others, it survives only in North Korea, Cuba, Laos, Vietnam, and China today, in various degrees or forms. A desire to effectively compete in the global economy has resulted in the attempt to move away from the communist model, especially in China, which will be considered in greater depth later in the chapter.

Mixed Economy

A mixed economy is a combination of a market and a command economy. While some sectors of this system reflect private ownership and the freedom and flexibility of the law of demand, other sectors are subject to government planning. The balance allows competition to thrive while the government can extend assistance to individuals or com- panies. Regulations concerning minimum wage standards, social security, environmental protection, and the advancement of civil rights may raise the standard of living and ensure that those who are elderly, sick, or have limited skills are taken care of. Owner- ship of organizations seen as critical to the nation may be transferred to the state to subsidize costs and allow the firms to flourish.22

Below we discuss general developments in key world regions reflective of these economic systems and the impact of these developments on international management.

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