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Beyond Borders: Hi-Tech Diplomacy in the Era of Global Conflicts

Beyond Borders: Hi-Tech Diplomacy in the Era of Global Conflicts

Expert analysis by Dmitry Bagdasaryan

Recent global crises, such as the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic and numerous armed conflicts and trade wars, appear to have paused globalisation. However, this viewpoint is incorrect, as we are currently experiencing a new technological revolution. The increasingly sophisticated technologies necessitate the work of cross-functional teams, which are typically formed from members dispersed across many countries. This trend is not new; for decades, scientific advancements have necessitated the collaboration of specialists from around the world, who have pooled their resources and efforts to achieve breakthroughs.

Global Value Chains and the Global Economy

One of the pillars of today’s global economy is the concept of a global value chain (GVC). Having gained prominence in the 1990s, it prioritises the optimisation of production of goods from ideation to delivery. To achieve this goal, GVC envisions locating different stages of production in countries where they can be performed most efficiently and cost-effectively. GVCs have accelerated globalisation, reshaping international economic structures, impacting labor markets and intergovernmental relations. Entire countries have started to rebuild their economies in order to get a specific niche in GVCs that would ensure a continued demand in their produce. They have focused on stages of the production process where they have competitive advantage, skilled labor, technological expertise, or natural resources.

GVCs have driven global economic growth and internationalization for years, especially in high-tech industries which push companies to fight for global talent and resources to maintain competitiveness in the market. Multinational tech companies like Apple, Samsung, and Huawei attract highly skilled professionals from around the world to work on products that are assembled in locations dispersed across the world. For example, the software for a smartphone might be developed in Silicon Valley, its components manufactured in South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, and assembly carried out in China.

Despite recent global shocks that led to supply chain disruptions, GVCs are unlikely to go away soon. They rather adapt to new challenges, in large part thanks to the possibility of greater digital integration. This means that the advanced technological products will further require teams assembled from the best minds of various countries.

The Role of Distributed IT Teams

The GVCs are hard to imagine without distributed teams, which are present both in large corporations and small startups. Unified by common goals, these teams operate across time zones and national borders. The people on these teams come from different cultural backgrounds and walks of life, which may lead to varying work ethics and conflict-resolution styles, potentially causing friction. At the same time, the diversity within teams can enhance creativity and problem-solving, as well as facilitate cultural dialogue, promoting values of acceptance and tolerance.

Major companies have long spotted the power of cultural exchange that teams from different countries give. Google, for instance, prioritises cultural exchange and inclusive communication in managing distributed teams. The company, which runs offices in different parts of the globe, always strives to celebrate local culture in each country to make employees feel connected to the larger organization. Google has exchange programs allowing employees to work in different countries for experiencing diverse working environments and cultural perspectives firsthand. Google has also declared the policy of diversity and inclusion, creating training programs to promote an understanding of different cultures and foster an inclusive workplace.

The Relocation of IT Specialists and Cultural Exchange

Relocation as part of work in distributed teams presents a dual opportunity for tech professionals. They not only bring their technical skills to new regions, but also carry their cultural norms and practices, fostering a cultural exchange. It is no wonder that high skilled tech workers become cultural ambassadors that help stitch the ties that may break apart in the time of geopolitical turbulence. They redefine traditional notions of diplomacy, proving that collaboration can indeed thrive beyond borders.

An example of this is seen in companies like Google and Facebook, which facilitate international assignments and transfers, allowing employees to experience and influence diverse corporate cultures firsthand.

So how do tech professionals contribute to modern-day cultural diplomacy to enhance cooperation between people of various nations?

Here are key examples:

  1. Tech workers engage in community initiatives and volunteer programs, and some leading companies support such activity. For example, SAP has a Social Sabbatical program for employees to engage in short-term assignments in different countries. As part of this initiative, the professionals work with local nonprofits and startups, promoting mutually beneficial cooperation as well cultural and knowledge exchange.
  2. Digital industry professionals participate in international educational initiatives, sharing skills and knowledge through a variety of channels. These efforts are backed by corporations like IBM. Its P-TECH education initiative is designed to bridge the gap between high school, college, and career, especially in underprivileged communities in developing countries. It involves practising tech professionals from different countries in curriculum development and mentoring, promoting an exchange of knowledge and shared cultural values.
  3. High tech prodigies engage with global audiences via social media. Influencers like Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) use YouTube and other platforms to discuss technology in ways that resonate across cultural boundaries, educating a diverse audience about technological advancements.
  4. Professional conferences gathering international tech players also foster cultural exchange. At events like the annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) developers from various countries and cultures converge, sharing ideas, and fostering connections that transcend boundaries.
  5. IT experts work on international open-source projects, creating open-source software like Linux or Apache. Such projects can serve as a model for further international cooperation, demonstrating how shared objectives can unify individuals from diverse backgrounds.
  6. At last, tech workers participate in international cultural events. Tech companies often celebrate cultural diversity through events like international food days or cultural heritage months, which encourage employees to share their traditions and learn about others’.

Recommendations on Cultural Integration

Here are some practical tips that can tech professionals not only fulfill their career goals internationally, but also promote cultural exchange:

  1. Learn about the cultural contexts of the regions they relocate to for work.
  2. Engage in cultural competence training provided by your employers.
  3. Build culturally diverse teams to have multiple perspectives in decision-making processes.
  4. Participate in international educational and cultural initiatives to promote multifaceted cooperation.
  5. Develop culturally sensitive and inclusive technologies that can bring together people from different cultural settings.


Intercultural cooperation and dialogue are becoming increasingly important in times of global instability. As advanced technologies become more widespread and global in the modern world, tech professionals naturally take on the roles that writers and artists once held. They become cultural ambassadors, engaging in modern-day diplomacy that transcends traditional boundaries. As a result, they find themselves in a unique position to promote international understanding and cooperation by contributing to a more diverse, interconnected global community.

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