Global Opportunities at the Focus of SME Support by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)

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Keynote Speaker Gerhard Hain, managing director of ti communication, spoke on the vital significance of intercultural competence.


Stefan Schnorr, head of the Digital and Innovation Policies department at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), opened the annual convention of ZIM (Central Innovation Program for SMEs) on December 5, 2017 in Berlin. The event was characterized by globalization and its specific challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises. Two hundred representatives from SMEs and interested parties were able to experience a variety of talks on the subject throughout the day.


In a panel discussion with top-class participants called “Internationally Networked – Opportunities for SMEs,” it soon became clear that small and medium-sized enterprises more and more frequently organize their value creation chains by sharing the work with international partners. Also, within the course of the event, three internationally active ZIM network managers presented their experiences with their innovative networks. All participants agreed with Dr. Andreas Baar of innos-Sperlich GmbH when he said: “A network is more than the sum of its partners, and that is also true for international collaboration.” The special distinctions in the international realm were repeatedly substantiated in several practical examples.
Daniel Gottschald, general manager of TUM International GmbH, and Gerhard Hain, general manager of ti communication GmbH in Regensburg, served as keynote speakers, succeeding in providing the event with an optimal framework. While Daniel Gottschald in his keynote speech raised the question of “Designing Globalization – Networks and SMEs as ‘Global Players’,” Gerhard Hain, in his talk “One is sometimes Followed by Three,” referred to the special challenges in the intercultural environment. BMWi 2
The introductory thesis “From Body Proximity to Organizational Development – Cultural Differences influence our Business” was illustrated by practical examples throughout the talk. The strength of German enterprises, such as good time management, clear structures, precisely formulated contracts, and clearly-defined responsibilities are recognized and praised around the world. However, they are being experienced less frequently. In the intercultural realm, it is not unusual to observe that troubleshooting and flexibility are the focus, rather than clear time management, that contracts serve as the beginning of cooperation and not as its basis, and that hierarchy is more important responsibility. “ONE is sometimes followed by THREE,” according to Gerhard Hain.
The concrete effects of this phenomenon were then presented using examples from Italy and China. Both of these cultures have more in common with each other than with Germany regarding the validity of agreements, the significance of hierarchies, punctuality, the use of networks, the significance of personal contacts, and a distinct flexibility in business. As Gerhard Hain concluded, “One should prepare for such cultural distinctions. That saves time and money, and contributes considerably to mutual success.”

You can find a detailed report on the ZIM network conference of December 5, 2017 here.

The ZIM (Central Innovation Program for SMEs) is a national, technical, and multi-industrial support program for small and medium-sized enterprises. You can find basic information, principles for support and the contact data of ZIM project executing organizations here.

 

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Thursday, 21 February 2019

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