Pushing the European Envelope

Last night over dinner, Leonardo Previ and I discussed the state of Italian — and broader European — business, as well as the tendency to look to America for new ideas, practices, and processes. Many of the challenges we considered parallel those I explored during the 2000 Company of Friends Roadshow.

While occasional non-North American business thinkers such as Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstroem and Kevin Roberts hit the radar of American business leaders, more often than not, it is American business gurus and concepts that are studied by leaders in countries such as Italy (consider the importation of leaders such as Tom Peters, Jack Welch, and Michael Porter via the World Business Forum).

Part of an ongoing series, today’s Financial Times piece on the need for ambition and risk offers some unsurprising reasons why Europe is slow to innovate. Among them:

  • few appropriate funding and tax arrangements
  • no large homogeneous home market
  • an inability to rapidly develop new products and services
  • no entrepreneurial culture and spirit
  • inconsistent goals across countries — no single Europe Inc. despite the EU

That said, I’m sure there are plenty more business thinkers around the world that American leaders should be aware of — and a nascent international literature of leadership and innovation. Fast Company works regularly to find them, and I’ve encountered people such as Horacio Marchand in my travels.

What little-known business thinkers around the world inspires and informs you and your work? What international thought leaders should have their essays, case studies, and articles translated into English for broader consideration and use?