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The Torture Report: Curative international marketing as remedy


| by Michael Czinkota

( December 21, 2014, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian)  The U.S. Senate report on the treatment of Islamic extremist captives has dealt a major blow to the reputation of American exceptionalism. “Curative International Marketing” can help restore the brand equity loss of the United States.

The report recounts the torture measures used, and states that the interrogation results were insubstantial in the war against terrorism. Directly and indirectly, the use of repellant interrogation techniques has soiled Americans with terrorist muck. The use of intermediaries or a stump in the chain of command, do not provide plausible deniability. “Stomach slaps” and “rectal re-hydration”, gnaw on the tree of freedom. But remorse alone is insufficient.

At Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business we have worked for several years on the concept of Curative International Marketing as a new direction for countries, economies, businesses, and organizations, very apropos to the current ingloriousness. We use the term “curative” to connote restoration and development of international societal health. ‘Restoring’ indicates something lost which once was there. ‘Development’ refers to new issues, new tools and new frames of reference. ‘Health’ clarifies the importance to overall welfare, all of which marketing can address and improve. International carries the concept across borders.

Some readers will be distracted by the word ‘marketing’ which is often perceived too narrowly within the context of communications or selling. But marketing is a broader strategic term that holistically encompasses development and presentation of the mission, vision, philosophy, governance, products, services, and actions of any organization.

Curative international marketing takes responsibility for problems which a society and its members have generated. Marketing can set morally corrupt actions right and increase the wellbeing of individuals and society globally. Curative marketing determines what wrong has been wrought and then initiates future action to make up for past errors.

Moving on is not enough ! Mistakes inflicted on society cannot be swept under the carpet. Errors fester like a destructive virus on a culture. One needs the spirit of “Wiedergutmachung” or restitution. A curative approach requires work on five pylons for a renewed shining position on the hill: Truthfulness, simplicity, less pressure, more participation and personal responsibility.

Truthfulness: Branches of government have either actively mislead citizens, or left them with a sense of substantial ambiguity. Curative actions must be based on fact and insight rather than emotions within the context of societal change. Government must have a presumptive burden of honesty.

Simplicity: Simplicity adds value and is crucially linked to truthfulness, learning, and making sure that people know and understand the implications of decisions. It is hard to be truthful, if one does not understand how the system works.

Less pressure: To soar is only one mode of behavior, even for eagles. Sometimes we may be trying too hard to expand too fast. It may be time for a slow food era.

More participation: A new international outlook must make allowances for others. Inclusiveness helps with future change when power waxes and wanes. Ongoing explanatory communication with critics is essential. One tendency is to focus on and celebrate winners. But when the rising tide lifts the boats, it is crucial that vessels do not leak, the crew has been properly trained, and the sails are tight. Otherwise only winners take all.

Personal responsibility:Distance does not abdicate responsibility. One can use intermediaries and, later on, be suitably astonished, surprised and mortified about their actions. Realistically, locals take even distant actions quite personally. Though there is frequent talk about mutual understanding, the actual overlap between societies remains miniscule. The average Chinese person understands as much about Columbus, Ohio as the average American knows about Tianjin, China.

Governments again assert a growing role for individuals. New global regulations and restrictions are not always free from fault and ambition. Global discord is growing. Conflict it is not resolved by simply moving on. One needs to invest the time and effort to systematically rebuild trust and admiration to which the United States used to be accustomed.

Curative International Marketing can help. Nobody is perfect, but a fair compensatory effort can restore many opportunities. A strong international presence by the U.S., its business and citizens can function as carriers and agents of positive change. At the front line they can mend broken dreams and fears of America.

Professor Michael Czinkota (michaelczinkota.com) teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. He has served in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations. Thomas Czinkota Thomas@czinkota.de) advises international banks from Bad Soden, Germany

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