Editor’s note: This guest commentary was provided by Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business, a Global Atlanta annual sponsor.
With the world in a seemingly constant state of flux, how do companies begin the process of making international decisions? How can students make sense of complex global issues facing the United States and its international partners?
A dynamic tool created at Georgia State University, the Robinson Country Intelligence Index or RCII, serves as a jumping-off point to tackle such questions.
As a political scientist and World Affairs Council of Atlanta vice president, I helped create RCII through a multifaceted partnership between GSU’s Robinson College of Business, the council, the Department of Political Science and Instructional Innovation and Technology.
The RCII currently has some 1,500 users, mostly GSU graduate and undergraduate students, but a new initiative, supported by the Gates Foundation through the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities, embeds it in innovative “adaptive learning” courseware and will help spread it to a much wider educational audience. We’re also looking at ways to make it more readily available to companies.
The RCII offers a unique and comprehensive way of measuring country risk across 199 economies. Basically, we’ve harnessed the world’s country-level data, pulled from a wide-variety of sources, into a comprehensive, intuitive tool that users, whatever their field or pursuit, are able to adapt to the problem they are trying to solve.
Similar tools are available, but the RCII’s dynamic, interactive dashboard allows users to drill down to the variables they seek to isolate within four major dimensions — Governance, Economics, Operations, and Society, what we call GEOS—to get the most accurate picture. The tool’s dynamic visualization means that graphs and charts recalibrate automatically as the user’s desired metrics shift.
While it’s currently a teaching and research tool used in settings from introductory “Global Issues” classes to executive doctorate courses, the RCII has immense potential value for businesses, non-governmental organizations and governments. From a wide variety of angles, it helps start a conversation with the numbers, leading to deeper and better-informed discussion among key stakeholders.
Students have told us that the index helps them “understand what is going on in the world” and “really grasp the concept” being taught. We aim for companies to say the same thing as they access the tool, so they can gain a data-driven, contextually sensitive approach to decision making. As RCII board member Dave Forquer and Robinson College of Business assistant dean says, the index “allows companies to identify and evaluate the strategic factors that drive their growth and profitability.”
That will be even easier thanks to a partnership we’ve planning launched this summer with an Irish-based company, Realizeit. In this initiative, the RCII will be an integral part of a broader course curriculum that the company hopes to expand to other universities. This should set the basis to move the RCII back into the business market, possibly via in-company training that could bring data literacy to the issues that Atlanta’s international companies face.
Companies can access the tool at RCII’s website, http://rcii.gsu.edu. It’s available through a subscription priced at $100 per year.
So how did this all come about? Since the tool’s inception in 2009 as the Robinson Country Risk Index (described in this Global Atlanta video), we’ve come a long way, but we know we’ve only scratched the surface.
The RCII’s current board includes the Robinson College’s dean, Richard Phillips, as well as Dr. Forquer, assistant dean for executive education, along with chaired international business professor Tamer Cavusgil and assistant dean for international engagement, Jacobus Boers, from the college.
It also includes the World Affairs Council’s president, Charles Shapiro; the chair of GSU’s political science department, Carrie Manning; and Instructional Innovation and Technology’s Phil Ventimiglia, also GSU’s chief innovation officer.
Also noteworthy are the roughly 70 graduate and undergraduate students that have worked on the project since its inception, driving it forward. The RCII Research Team is managed by Michael Shea, a Ph.D. student in political science.
With this team in place and partnering with the business community, we look forward to continuing to help students and companies better navigate a challenging global environment.