Rawi Abdelal

Inquire About This Speaker

Foremost Authority on Geopolitical Trends Affecting Businesses, Economies, Supply Chains and Social Structures; Transformative Strategist and Advisor Helping Leaders Position Their Organizations for a Sustainable Future; Director, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies; Award-winning Professor of International Management, Harvard Business School

Biography

Recent trends like “The Great Resignation” and increasingly polarized political and social movements have presented organizations around the world with unique challenges. Leaders need a better understanding of what’s happening so they can respond in ways that bring about positive change for their business, employees and customers.

Having shifted his teachings from “examining the fragile state of the world” to “imagining the next global economy,” renowned Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal, Director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, is helping current and future business leaders understand the macro and micro forces driving these trends, how to make sense of the world we’re living in, and what they can do to help build a more sustainable, equitable future.

An award-winning professor of international management and one of the world’s foremost authorities on how globalization and geopolitics affect businesses, economies, supply chains and social structures, Abdelal says the next global economy will not resemble the last one in some fundamental ways.

“The frustrations people are feeling are not all about money. What people are craving is a sense of worth and dignity. They are looking for meaning and purpose in their work, to be treated equitably. They also want their employer to see their value and invest in them,” explains Abdelal, whose work focuses on empowering organizations to save capitalism from the ground up. “There are specific actions organizations can take – many of which require little or no financial investment – that can create a dramatic turnaround. We can’t wait for dysfunctional governments to fix these problems. It won’t work.”

In his executive education programs and MBA classes, Abdelal shares case studies demonstrating the success of programs that focus on building a culture of dignity and mentorship. His co-authored McKinsey article in April 2021, “The CFO’s Role in Capability-Building,” elaborates on this point, and offers actionable steps and critical insights. By connecting many pockets of frustration and helping participants “see things more clearly,” his facilitated conversations around topics such as dignity, equity and sustainability – which are by nature non-partisan since they touch on ideas most people support – have a unifying effect and lead to powerful transformations.

Abdelal is a widely published author and an eloquent and inspiring speaker, educator and storyteller. In his courses and lectures, he teaches about global financial systems, international politics, the influence of multinational firms on world politics, the transformation of energy markets, and policies affecting and emerging from Russia, China and India.

“We’ve been misdiagnosing why people are disenchanted with global and domestic capitalism. If business leaders want to attract and retain talent, they need to take a different approach. Teaching and mentoring is the most important thing leaders can do,” explains Abdelal. “People don’t want to work for companies that don’t seem to care about their talents or contributions. So, it’s a crisis of management and incumbent on management to create more interpersonal relationships. Mainly, to cultivate dignity.”

# # #

Rawi Abdelal is the Herbert F. Johnson Professor of International Management at Harvard Business School (HBS), faculty co-chair of the Bloomberg-Harvard City Leadership Initiative and faculty chair of the Harvard Business School/YPO Presidents’ Program. He has won the HBS Student Association’s Faculty Award for outstanding teaching several times, as well as the Williams Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Apgar Award for Innovation in Teaching.

During his 20 years on the HBS faculty, Professor Abdelal has served in a number of leadership roles, including as course head for the core course Business, Government and the International Economy, and as chair of the MBA required curriculum. In addition, he has chaired custom executive programs for firms around the world and has twice earned the Greenhill Award for service to Harvard Business School.

Professor Abdelal earned his doctorate in government from Cornell University, where he also received his master’s degree. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was a President’s Scholar and graduated with highest honors.

Rawi Abdelal is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

Dignity, Inequality, and the Populist Backlash: Lessons from America and Europe for a Sustainable Globalization

(University of Durham and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2020)

The Multinational Firm and Geopolitics: Europe, Russian Energy, and Power

(Harvard Business School Press, October 2015)

The Profits of Power: Commerce and Realpolitik in Eurasia

(Review of International Political Economy, April 2010)

Constructing the International Economy

(Cornell University Press, June 2010)

Capital Rules: The Construction of Global Finance

(Harvard University Press, September 2009)

Measuring Identity: A Guide for Social Scientists

(Cambridge University Press, April 2009)

The Rules of Globalization Case Book

(Wspc, March 2008)

National Purpose in the World Economy

(Cornell University Press, November 2001)

A-Z Name

Abdelal, Rawi

Biography

Recent trends like “The Great Resignation” and increasingly polarized political and social movements have presented organizations around the world with unique challenges. Leaders need a better understanding of what’s happening so they can respond in ways that bring about positive change for their business, employees and customers.

Having shifted his teachings from “examining the fragile state of the world” to “imagining the next global economy,” renowned Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal, Director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, is helping current and future business leaders understand the macro and micro forces driving these trends, how to make sense of the world we’re living in, and what they can do to help build a more sustainable, equitable future.

An award-winning professor of international management and one of the world’s foremost authorities on how globalization and geopolitics affect businesses, economies, supply chains and social structures, Abdelal says the next global economy will not resemble the last one in some fundamental ways.

“The frustrations people are feeling are not all about money. What people are craving is a sense of worth and dignity. They are looking for meaning and purpose in their work, to be treated equitably. They also want their employer to see their value and invest in them,” explains Abdelal, whose work focuses on empowering organizations to save capitalism from the ground up. “There are specific actions organizations can take – many of which require little or no financial investment – that can create a dramatic turnaround. We can’t wait for dysfunctional governments to fix these problems. It won’t work.”

In his executive education programs and MBA classes, Abdelal shares case studies demonstrating the success of programs that focus on building a culture of dignity and mentorship. His co-authored McKinsey article in April 2021, “The CFO’s Role in Capability-Building,” elaborates on this point, and offers actionable steps and critical insights. By connecting many pockets of frustration and helping participants “see things more clearly,” his facilitated conversations around topics such as dignity, equity and sustainability – which are by nature non-partisan since they touch on ideas most people support – have a unifying effect and lead to powerful transformations.

Abdelal is a widely published author and an eloquent and inspiring speaker, educator and storyteller. In his courses and lectures, he teaches about global financial systems, international politics, the influence of multinational firms on world politics, the transformation of energy markets, and policies affecting and emerging from Russia, China and India.

“We’ve been misdiagnosing why people are disenchanted with global and domestic capitalism. If business leaders want to attract and retain talent, they need to take a different approach. Teaching and mentoring is the most important thing leaders can do,” explains Abdelal. “People don’t want to work for companies that don’t seem to care about their talents or contributions. So, it’s a crisis of management and incumbent on management to create more interpersonal relationships. Mainly, to cultivate dignity.”

# # #

Rawi Abdelal is the Herbert F. Johnson Professor of International Management at Harvard Business School (HBS), faculty co-chair of the Bloomberg-Harvard City Leadership Initiative and faculty chair of the Harvard Business School/YPO Presidents’ Program. He has won the HBS Student Association’s Faculty Award for outstanding teaching several times, as well as the Williams Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Apgar Award for Innovation in Teaching.

During his 20 years on the HBS faculty, Professor Abdelal has served in a number of leadership roles, including as course head for the core course Business, Government and the International Economy, and as chair of the MBA required curriculum. In addition, he has chaired custom executive programs for firms around the world and has twice earned the Greenhill Award for service to Harvard Business School.

Professor Abdelal earned his doctorate in government from Cornell University, where he also received his master’s degree. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was a President’s Scholar and graduated with highest honors.

Rawi Abdelal is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Imagining the Next Global Economy

Global supply chain issues. Rising political and social activism. Broken political, social, health care and infrastructure systems. These are the challenges businesses and economies in almost every country are facing. In this talk, Rawi Abdelal – award-winning professor of international management at Harvard Business School and one of the world’s foremost authorities on how globalization and geopolitics affect businesses, economies, supply chains and social structures – explains the fundamental differences between the current global economy and the one that looms on the horizon. Having shifted his teachings from “examining the fragile state of the world” to “imagining the next global economy,” he helps participants understand the macro and micro forces driving current trends, how to make sense of the world we’re living in, and what they can do to help build a more sustainable, equitable future that serves business and society.

Chekhov’s Gun: How the Conflict in Ukraine Will Affect the Future of Business and Society

Anton Chekhov regularly advised playwrights that if they are to describe a gun on the mantle in the first act, then in the third it absolutely must go off. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we are now in the third act, says renowned Harvard Business School professor Rawi Abdelal, Director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. All sorts of guns that have been hanging on the mantle — including NATO expansion and declining American hegemony — are now being fired. In this enlightening presentation, Professor Abdelal begins by highlighting the historical and geopolitical origins of the crisis in Ukraine and what might happen next. He then explains how the entire security architecture of Europe is likely to be redefined and the consequences for markets, multinational firms, and the contours of the next phase of globalization.

Russian Energy, Europe and Power: How Multinational Firms Can Influence Geopolitics

European countries may be dependent on Russia for energy but increasingly the viewpoints and practices of Europeans are becoming divided. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine clearly seeks to leverage that division. But multinational firms can play a key role in shifting power dynamics. In this talk, renowned Harvard Business School professor Rawi Abdelal, Director of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, explains how multinational firms can exert influence over politics through power that is generated by both structure and process. He highlights the reciprocal relationship between multinational firms and geopolitical systems, how links between multinational firms form a distinct type of international system for the private sector – one that is simultaneously enmeshed in geopolitics and international markets even as it is also autonomous from them. He then outlines his analytical framework for understanding how relationships among multinational firms can directly impact geopolitical outcomes, based on his study of the natural gas trade of Eurasia in three eras that span nearly 40 years.

Doing Business in Europe: How Political and Social Movements Are Affecting the Economy

The European macroeconomic, political and social environment in which we do business is at an inflection point. The European Central Bank has resumed its policies of quantitative easing and much of the Continent faces negative interest rates. A rising tide of both left-wing and right-wing populist movements is transforming national governments in the West and relations between Russia and the West are greatly strained. These trends have resulted in the Brexit crisis, political and financial instability in Italy and elsewhere in southern Europe, and disagreement within the European Union about the way forward. Through keynotes, workshops and advisory roles, Harvard Business School professor Rawi Abdelal, a renowned expert on globalization and geopolitics, outlines what this all means for stakeholders conducting business outside and inside Europe so they can make more informed decisions, optimize their investments and reshape their business model accordingly.

Turning Your Organization Around from the Ground Up

“The Great Resignation” and increasingly polarized political and social movements have organizations around the world looking for a better understanding of what’s happening so they can respond in ways that bring about positive change for their business, employees and customers. In this talk, renowned Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal explains why the frustrations people are feeling are not all about money and have more to do with how their companies treat them, value them and invest in them. An award-winning professor of international management and one of the world’s foremost authorities on how globalization and geopolitics affect businesses, economies, supply chains and social structures, Professor Abdelal outlines specific actions organizations can take to create a dramatic turnaround.

The CFO’s Critical Role in Capability Building

As organizations shift from responding to the COVID-19 pandemic to recovering from it, many are discovering that the capabilities of the workforce no longer match the needs of the marketplace. As an advisor to leaders tasked with developing new skills for the next normal, Professor Rawi Abdelal highlights the important role CFOs must play as companies rebuild their capabilities post-pandemic. Pointing to a 2018 McKinsey survey in which four out of ten CFOs said they created the most value for their organizations through their strategic leadership and performance management, Professor Abdelal explains why CFOs are uniquely positioned not only to ensure that business units get the resources they need to invest in the infrastructure, technology, talent and organizational changes required to thrive in the next normal, but also to model critical cross-functional behavior and skill sets.

Weathering Changes in the Global Marketplace

As a rule, business leaders and policymakers base their decisions on economic forecasts and analyses driven by traditional predictors and trends. In recent years, however, that process has become more complex as globalization and multilateralism are being eclipsed by unilateral and protectionist policies around the world. Global politics are affecting free trade and the way multinational organizations choose or are forced to conduct business due to changing regulations and policies. This quickly shifting new order – further complicated by the pandemic-driven meltdown – is influencing political and economic relationships between countries, and sometimes within industries, leaving decision makers in almost every sector grappling with questions about where and how to wisely and profitably do business. Through keynotes, workshops and advisory roles, Harvard Professor Rawi Abdelal, a leading authority on the global economy, shines a light on the current world economy, explains what lies ahead and offers leaders and policymakers insights into how they can respond and adapt to the new landscape in order to sustain and drive growth.

How Businesses and Governments Can Mitigate Disinformation

Once upon a time our information technology revolution promised something extraordinary: the entire world would have access to the same facts and knowledge would become universal. But that dream never materialized. What we got instead was very nearly the opposite: a fragmentation of often misused, misdirected information. How can societies engage in civic and political discourse when we can no longer agree on what is true and not true? How can we avoid both domestic and foreign disinformation when we deliver to ourselves this extraordinary vulnerability? Through keynotes, workshops and advisory roles, Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal, a leading authority on globalization and geopolitics, discusses our collective responsibility to resolve this fundamental challenge and shows businesses how they can do their part to mitigate the negative effects of disinformation.

Media

Array

Books & Research

Array

Workshops

Leading in the Global Marketplace

What trends are influencing your business and how do you know if you are looking at the right signposts? In this powerful workshop, Harvard Business School Professor Rawi Abdelal – a leading expert on how political and economic trends shape contemporary business – offers participants a rare opportunity to ask and answer such questions, propose and explore alternate scenarios, discuss their current perceptions and share their future expectations. Acting as tour guide, coach and mentor, he works with participants on backcasting then forecasting possible futures so they can identify their challenges and goals. After going through Abdelal’s probing exercises, participants find their perspectives shifted by the surprising answers that come back, which not only translate to the way they conduct business going forward but to the perceptions they have of the world in which they operate.

Recommendations

“I would like to wholeheartedly endorse Dr. Rawi Abdelal, who has worked with us for more than 10 years. His breadth and command of his subject matter are truly impressive. On numerous occasions, Rawi delivered superb, stimulating, and memorable presentations to our investors. He connects extremely well with his listeners and was always one of our most popular speakers.  Rawi is a truly unique academic with a flair for both educating and entertaining his rapt audiences. It is for these reasons that I strongly recommend Professor Abdelal. I don’t normally take the time to write recommendations such as this one, but in this case, it is so richly reserved.”

— Gregg S. Fisher, CFA, Founder, Portfolio Manager – Gerstein Fisher, Portfolio Manager, Quent Capital LLC

“We invited Rawi to be our keynote speaker at the Intel Executive Forum and he didn’t disappoint. In fact, our customers unanimously requested that he return the following year. He has a current and deep grasp on world politics and globalization and connects well with a diverse audience. He left our group entertained, better informed, and challenged our thinking as we navigate the world’s complexities.”

— Daniel Gutwein, Director, Intel Corporation, Internet of Things Group

“Rawi’s lectures distill an array of information and complex world events into coherence and help make sense of political systems and geopolitics.  You will watch him unravel seemingly unrelated events and magically bring them together with references to literature, pop culture, history, and philosophy. His words, analysis, forewarnings, and insights will stay with the world citizens to guide them for months to come.”

— On behalf of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), Istanbul Chapter, Emin Ozgur & Gamze Dinckok Yucaoglu

“As one of the world’s great academics, Rawi Abdelal is the best person on earth to give a tour of our international landscape. We had the honor of him doing just that at one of our executive leadership sessions, bringing us unprecedented clarity and insight into the complicated world we live in — and how we can use these insights to best serve our global constituents. Rawi is thought-provoking, rich with applicable teachings, and simply a delight to learn from.”

—Sonia Nijhawan Mehra, Chief of Staff – Product, Uber

“Rawi is a gifted, passionate story-teller who is capable of illuminating the most complex political and economic phenomena without intimidating his audience or leaving anyone behind. You end up feeling smarter and more insightful about how the world is changing around you.”

—Frances Frei, Harvard Business School

Social Media

Similar Speakers

Array