Disclaimer: This blog is a way of expressing my personal opinions thoughts and anecdotes, as well as my personal understanding of the scriptures, and conference addresses. It is not meant as a statement of doctrine, and may not necessarily reflect the views, thoughts, or doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

20 August 2015

The Book of Acts and International Growth/Risk (from a corporate perspective)

Response from the Professor: 
"Orion, that was an excellent coverage of an international risk. Class, are there other risks associated with this?  What are your thoughts?"                         
[Feel free to leave yours at the end] 
The Book of Acts and International Growth

 While studying for this week’s homework assignment, I also find myself preparing to teach my Sunday school lesson throughout the week as well, as is often the case. I am surprised that more often than not the subject matter is pleasantly similar. For example, the subjects I wish to discuss in this forum are the perils and challenges of international operations, and the subject that I am covering in Sunday School is the book of the Acts of the Apostles (in the New Testament), specifically chapters ten through fifteen which deal predominately with the challenge of a congregational or local organization that has been tasked with taking the message and ministry globally. While my personal experience in international business is limited, I see some similarities in what the early Christian church dealt with, and International businesses today. The subtle challenge to deal with is that often, current businesses are more geared to focus on profit maximization while the early church was more focused on establishing and sustaining a more mission focused strategy. This can still prove to be a helpful model, as many Non-profit organizations are effectively more focused on a sustainable mission rather than profit-bearing decisions and thus establishing a more unique set of risks (Michalski, 2012).

Some of the predominant struggles of an international focus may not seem to directly focus on financial decisions, but are still factors in the decision for growth strategies. Topics such as cultural diversity, standard operating procedures, economies of scale and scope, and the fear of existing competitors, as well as new entrants, are the concern of both the early Christian church, and businesses today. To go from one culture in Jerusalem, with its unique blend of different dialects and cultures and expanding to one that would include Greek, Roman, Ethiopian, and other cultures would go beyond merely understanding what is best for the whole group. Changes would need to be made that could accommodate the new locations while not losing the prior formation’s interest or passion. One of the greatest challenges of expansion is ensuring a new budget and balanced resources can meet the needs of the expanded presence. If the resources are spread too thin, they can become weak in certain areas; therefore, an effective means of keeping current assets at a manageable level becomes a driving factor for the organization (p. 361).

A struggle than can ensue in international growth, especially one that hopes to blend different opportunities, must also worry about leadership and hierarchy structures. What may have worked in one branch or area may not work in another. Chapter fifteen of Acts mentions the covenant of circumcision as a ‘regulation’ to belong to the organization, but as they expanded to the ‘Gentile’ nations, this requirement was discussed, revealed, and rescinded for the additional proselytes (while still giving them specific requirements that they would need to meet). This may also be the case when multiple currencies of different nations are involved. One may be the predominant currency with it’s associated rates and risks, and the less dominant one may struggle to keep up. While there are such balances as Purchasing Power Parity to keep finances in check, there can still be some risks involved, or a more relative approach rather than absolute (Ross, et al, 2013). These types of concerns may differ depending on the industry, but they are still there (Greenwald, 2012).

Political challenges must be dealt with as well, as the organization must provide the social responsibility of benefiting the culture with which they hope to assimilate (Rammohan, 2010, See also Ross, et al, 2013). Rammohan discusses the need to smooth over the process, understand the culture, and discuss why the organization can benefit the community. The early church dealt with this risk in excess. There were constant feuds with both religious leaders as well as political figures such as Herod and King Agrippa. The church sought to visit with the leaders directly, built on common ground when possible, and taught in the synagogues and places of worship offered to them. This particular risk can be the most difficult as regulations and legal matters often slow or stop progress, as well as stagnant international growth. It is interesting to see from the examples in Acts that each region would react differently. Some would be more accepting, some would seek certain favors or benefits in return, while others would outwardly reject them. The organization was the same, but acclimating to each culture is what provided the different responses.

In managing these risks, the leaders of the church eventually needed to change the base of operations to a more conducive environment. While this situation may not always work, it is certainly feasible to assess different reactions to various locations to ensure proper acclimation. Some industries offer Beta testing while many restaurants change various elements to their menu to accommodate each region differently. As far as helping with different currency risks and parity, it would be a crucial element of the financial team to ensure that the correct methods of accounting are maximized to account for various international challenges such as interest rates, exchange rates, and spot prices. Just as the international church was able to communicate effectively to expand growth, mitigate risk, and assess changes (Such as letters or other official forms of communication), so to must the international business of today communicate, adapt, and expand to meet the needs of an international community.


GREENWALD, J. (2012). Regulatory risks differ by industry. Business Insurance, 46(4), 10.

EFFICIENCY. Economics, Management & Financial Markets, 7(4), 360-376.

Rammohan, S. (2010). Fueling Growth. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 8(3), 68-71.

Ross, S. A., Westerfield, R. W., & Jordan, B. D. (2013). Fundamentals of corporate finance (10th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

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