The 1990s to the Present Day
The 1990s brought even greater destabilizing changes to the business environment. Companies now had to deal with global competition as free trade agreements brought down many of the barriers that once protected them from overseas competition. The information technology revolution, which increased the speed at which companies could develop, test, produce and market goods and services meant that market conditions changed literally overnight. This was in stark contrast to market changes that occurred over several months, as in the managerial era, or years, during the administrative age that preceded it.
This new, dynamic landscape called for leaders to run departments and the projects that were now becoming a part of daily business life. Customers were in the driver's seat, and if they were not satisfied, they would seek to fill their needs elsewhere - immediately. Motivated teams within organizations were needed to meet the relentless demands of the global market. Teams from different departments were often assembled to achieve a common goal. Leaders were needed to create and communicate both a shared vision and a sound plan that would result in the accomplishment of the project goal.
The intense global competition fostered by increases in global trade flows and the information technology revolution has only intensified the pressure on business enterprises over the past decade. To make matters even more challenging, the financial crisis of 2008-09 severely wounded many large developed economies. Governments are now seeking the same "beggar thy neighbor" approach to increase exports in a world economy that is still on shaky footing.
Currency devaluation is the current weapon of choice. Although not as harsh as the tariff wars witnessed in the 1930s, the effect is still the same. Businesses now have to contend with the destabilizing policies of overseas central banks, all while keeping up with ever-changing customer demands. This dynamic and unstable environment calls more loudly than ever for leadership.