Managing in a Polarized Regional World: The Case of Latin America and the Caribbean

Special issue call for papers from Management Decision

Submission Deadline: March 30, 2012

Managing in a Polarized Regional World: The Case of Latin America and the Caribbean

Special Issue Editor: Fernando Robles- George Washington University

The Context

The recent financial crisis has exposed an increasingly polarized global economic order: stagnation in advanced developed economies and growth and rising affluence in emerging countries. As a result, polarization is shaping the regional order, in particular in Latin America. A group of economies in this region is experiencing sustainable economic growth and strong domestic markets. This group of South American countries, led by Brazil includes Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay.  A second group of countries in the region is stagnating economically and becoming immersed in chaos, violence, and social instability. This second group is led by Mexico and includes most if not all of the Central American economies and some Caribbean countries. The former group has achieved sustainable growth to a great extent due to a combination of prudent macroeconomic policies, innovative social programs that alleviate poverty, and flexibility to realign their productive structure to meet the immense market opportunities of Asian growth. The latter group of economies is closely integrated with the now stagnant advanced economies in terms of trade, investment and remittances. As their economies deteriorate, poverty and violence increase. 

This polarization creates structural differences in both groups. The growing economies overheat, suffer from exchange rate appreciation and inflationary pressures but enjoy growing local markets driven by an expanding middle class, and increased reserves. On the other hand, the depressed group of economies in the region exhibits large fiscal imbalances, loss of competitiveness to Asian competition, and dollarization. At the macro economic level, policy makers in both groups face different challenges and exercise a different mix of policy instruments to deal with opposite macroeconomic situations. In addition, both groups have in common a legacy of issues that include poor educational systems, income inequality, poor infrastructure, a large informal sector, corruption, obsolete legal and regulatory frameworks, and in many cases a high cost of doing business.

The most remarkable feature of this polarization that is that it has taken place over a very short time- the last five-to-seven years.  Local firms in thriving markets are pressed to keep up with the challenges of fast growth ranging from human resource shortages to shortages of supply to energy. These challenges stem from the inadequate legacy environment, with a growing concern for sustainability and social inclusion. Consequently, research on management challenges in this new context is also far behind.


The purpose of this special issue is to call for insightful research to enhance our understanding of how to manage in a polarized environment (expansion/ stagnation) and resolve the challenges of these two contrasting environments (growth/survival).

Research Questions

Within this context, this special issue aims to address the following general questions:

  1. What are the current management challenges that firms face in a polarized Latin American environment?
  2. How do firms meet these different challenges and what solutions emerge as best practices to deal with stagnation or growth?
  3. If polarization continues and increases in the future, how would firms’ vision, and strategies diverge?

More specific questions relate to particular challenges in specific areas of business and for firms in one of the polarized economies in the region. The following are illustrative, rather than exhaustive, of the type of research that will fit well in the special issue.

How do firms deal with the challenges of retaining management talent in a polarized regional world? The following illustrate the contrasts of challenges. In growing environments like Brazil, management is scarce and hard to retain. What incentives and human resource strategies work better to keep talent from being attracted to other firms? In the stagnant economies of the region, management talent is abundant and perhaps tempted to leave the country in search of better professional opportunities. How do firms’ slow the talent migration? What are the best practices for retention in this case?

What type of strategies work better in an expansion or a survival mode? Firms in the growth economies of Latin America deal with a case of wealth of riches: a strong and growing mass market and also a strong export market in Asia. How do firms balance growth without taxing limited strategic resources? On the other hand, how do firms in stagnant economies in the region realign their strategies and productive structures to turn around their fortunes? Should these firms aim at growing Asian markets or the growing economies in the region- the Brazil market for instance?

The special issue will also focus on more specific research questions issues such as:

In the context of poor infrastructure, what supply and logistics strategies help firms meet the increasing and more dispersed demands in domestic markets? In meeting the needs of the growing international markets, what supply and logistics strategies allow firms to compensate for the distance disadvantage vis-à-vis closer competitors to Asian markets?

What product and pricing strategies are the best for the increasing middle class affluence of consumers in markets in the expansionary economies? Conversely, what marketing strategies work better for stagnant markets in the region?

With increasing pressure to preserve natural ecosystems, how do firms develop sustainable business strategies to meet the increasing global demand for natural resource-based commodities  in large ecosystems (such as Amazonia)? What systems of economic, environmental and social indicators are used to manage growth and sustainability?

We hope that this special issue provides the venue for research to establish the foundation to study the long-term consequences of an increasing polarized Latin America and Caribbean region. Contributions are welcome to address the topic of the special issue in the form of theoretical and empirical contributions as well as case studies. Contributions of management issues focusing on the contrasting contextual economic situations (stagnation, expansion) and sustainable pressures (preservation and social responsiveness) are also welcome. Manuscripts focusing on one of the contexts or a comparative analysis of both will be considered.

Submissions Instructions:

The deadline for submissions is March 30, 2012. 

All manuscripts will be subject to the  double-blind peer review process of Management Decision. Submissions should be prepared in accordance to the Management Decision’s Author Guidelines

After registering on ScholarOne Manuscripts on follow the instructions to submit your manuscript. Please be sure to not Special Issue on “Managing in a Polarized Region,” when submitting your manuscript.

Please direct any questions to the editor of the Special Issue: Fernando Robles, George Washington University [log in to unmask]


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