Following the aftermath of Brexit and the US presidential elections, worries about a potential US-China trade war which could shake the very foundations of world trade and the upcoming uncertainty regarding elections in France and Germany this year, global leaders at the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos sought to re-affirm that globalization has not come to an end. Yet, many were left unconvinced. The anti-establishment tsunami sweeping through post-WWII institutions and economic order seems to signal a new era in global economic relations, politics, societies and markets.

But what implications does this have for countries, markets, companies and consumers in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), who have themselves not long ago undergone profound changes? These events have brought to the forefront not just the age-old issue of inequality and globalization, but a new type of Schumpeterian creative destruction which might create long-lasting institutional drift unseen since the Industrial revolution (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2013). Are CEE countries, markets, companies and consumers better prepared for such creative destruction and institutional drift, or do they pose an even greater challenge due to existing institutional voids?

One this is sure. In this new type of creative destruction, the struggle of western middle class and the emergence of a newly empowered middle class in emerging markets like China and India has become a central issue in world economic order and business (Milanović, 2016). It also shows the need for IB scholarship to bridge the hostile worlds divide between economics and business, and social sciences and humanities on the other side. But what implications does this bring for international business and CEE? As the global marketplace has given way to a multi-polar set of highly dependent markets, the fundamental principles of global free trade are being questioned and protectionism and demagogy lurk in many corners. The growing regional nature of world trade and its value chains, the inter- and intra-regional nature of socio-economic disparities and competition across the world, as well as the growing role of emerging markets like China, India, Latin America and Africa call on all of us not just to rethink existing institutional frameworks, but also on IB actors to develop new business models and strategies to adapt to these newly emerging landscapes. It is these and many other issues that will be examined at the 4th Academy of International Business (AIB) CEE chapter conference, which will also be preceded by the 1st AIB-CEE chapter doctoral and junior faculty development workshop on “Relevance and rigor in IB research: capturing CEE context richness” on September 26, 2017.

Matevž Rašković* and Andreja Jaklič, conference co-chairs

Conference co-chairs

Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana and Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

* Fulbright scholar at Harvard University, FAS Sociology