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Marvin  Zonis

Marvin Zonis

Political Economist & Consultant


The first University of Chicago professor to teach a course on the effects of digital technologies on global business, Marvin Zonis is Professor Emeritus in the Graduate School of Business, where he teaches courses on international political economy, leadership, and e-commerce. Read More >

He also consults to corporations and professional asset management firms throughout the world, helping them to identify, assess, and manage their political risks in the changing global environment; and is co-founder and chairman of DSD, a software development company based in Moscow and Chicago.

What unites all of these activities is Zonis' unique understanding of how politics, economics, and emergent technologies intersect, and how these intersections determine certain regions’ prospects for economic growth and business success.

In light of these global challenges, a true understanding of business leadership is more essential than ever. Putting his knowledge and business acumen to that specific use, Dr. Marvin Zonis shares the ins and outs of globalization, digital technologies, emerging markets, Middle Eastern politics, the oil industry, Russia, and US foreign policy with audiences throughout the country. His writings on these subjects have been published in The Financial Times, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Chief Executive Magazine, La Vanguardia, The Boston Globe, and the Japanese journal Nikkei Weekly and he has appeared on numerous network television news programs, including Nightline and CNN's Larry King Live. His books include The Kimchi Matters: Global Business and Local Politics in a Crisis Driven World; The Eastern European Opportunity; Majestic Failure: The Fall of the Shah; Khomeini and the Islamic Republic of Iran; and The Political Elite of Iran.

Zonis is also interviewed regularly on NPR and is the international editor of WBBM-TV-Chicago.

He is a leading authority on the Middle East and has spent the last 40 years studying the volatile mix of Islam, terrorism, and the Middle East. He is the former director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago and was the Middle East consultant to ABC/Capital Cities television. He has lived in Iran, hitchhiked through Afghanistan in the 1960s, studied Islam in Iraq beginning in 1964, and traveled extensively throughout other parts of the region.

Zonis is a member of the Board of Directors of CNA Financial, the global insurance and financial services firm; the Board of Directors of Go2Call, a VoIP company; and the Board of Advisors of Syntek, a European private equity venture capital firm focusing on telecom, media, and technology. He is a Fellow of DiamondCluster International, a global technology consulting firm, as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the Fondation des États-Unis and the Board of Advisers of the Centre for Business Management.

Zonis was educated at Yale University; the Harvard Business School; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he received a Ph.D. in political science; and the Institute for Psychoanalysis-Chicago, where he received psychoanalytic training. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Politics Drive Economics

Emotion is Business

On International Leadership

Speech Topics

Getting Globalization Right: Rules for Successful Global Investing

Despite 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ongoing terrorist threats, globalization is alive and well and slowly rebounding to pre-crisis levels. However, businesses looking to expand their global reach need to carefully determine where they ought to commit their business—a decision largely based on a country’s prospect for political stability and economic growth.

In this enlightening keynote, Dr. Marvin Zonis shares a set of 15 principles for "getting globalization right" to help businesses more effectively assess a country’s prospects. These principles include estimates of corruption, leadership succession, and external threats.

Geo-Politics & Global Business in the New Decade

As technology undergoes exponential growth, powerful demographic trends dramatically age the world’s populations, and fears of climate change drive public policy and private investments, the 21st century will witness the most rapid changes in the history of the world.

Companies that wish to succeed in this century must anticipate and prepare for these changes. In this fascinating keynote, Dr. Marvin Zonis identifies these forces and explains their effects on the global economy.

The Triumph of the Markets: Global Politics & Economics

The gap between rich and poor countries is not widening. In fact, for the majority of the world's population, that gap is decreasing. Some 60 developing countries have adopted many of the features market economies thrive on and are growing their economies faster than the 30 richest countries. These rapid developers include India and China, who hold 40 percent of the world's population between them.

However, there are another 60 countries in the world that have not adopted market economy features and thus have not joined the trend towards globalization and are getting poorer. The income gap between those failing states and the rest of the world is widening rapidly. Unless wealthy nations take concerted and vigorous action to generate economic development in those countries, the future of global stability will be at stake.

In this keynote, Dr. Marvin Zonis identifies and discusses these changes’ implications for businesses around the world.

Crisis of Globalization & Succeeding in an Unstable World

Whether in business or government, leaders are in the midst of hard times. Yet for many leaders, these hard times provide an opportunity to strengthen their leadership positions.

In this keynote, Dr. Marvin Zonis explains how leaders who seize the opportunities within a crisis can re-fashion their strategic vision for the future of their organizations, remobilize resources, and enlist the powerful emotions generated in a crisis to strengthen their ties with their followers.

Forget the BRICs: It's the BICIs (Brazil, India, China & Indonesia)

Despite President Medvedev's recent efforts to transform Russia, it will remain a laggard in the global economy. The vast mineral income flowing to its government makes market-oriented reform difficult. When it comes to economic growth, the winners are the BICIs—the rising powers of Brazil, India, China, and Indonesia.

In this keynote, Dr. Marvin Zonis assesses the BICIs’ prospects for continued growth as these four countries become major economic and political powers.

Books & Media