Four ways the Olympics can inspire global business

The Olympics embody the ideal of globalization. High-performance competitors push each other to do their best in an arena where everyone follows the same rules. An Olympian's dream is to stand out – not only in his or her own country but around the world. Global companies aim to do the same. There's one key and fortunate difference between sports and economics. In any sporting contest, there's only one winner. In a global economy, the number of winners is potentially unlimited, as I point out in my book, "Globalization." So what can businesses learn from these Games? Here are four ways international sport can inspire a better global economy:

1. Mankind is able and willing to compete peacefully, even joyfully

Eranga Jayawardena/AP
Australian players shake hands with Britain players after defeating them in the men's field hockey bronze medal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. International sports embody the ideals of fair play and sportsmanship that global business can learn from.

So often globalization is portrayed as a dog-eat-dog world, where cut-throat competition and worker exploitation are the norm. We see elements of that dark underbelly around the world. But the Olympics is a timely reminder that competition is also a fundamental engine that pushes all its participants to strive for improvement. And if Olympians can show that sportsmanship in an arena where there is only one gold medal, then surely business can embody a similar ethic in a world where the possibilities are endless.

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