Y2K: The Bug That Failed to Bite, Business and Politics, Vol.3, No.3, 2001. with Robert J. Crawford

This case, and the accompanying teaching note, is based on extensive interviews² in the early months of the year 2000 with many of the participants involved in Global 2000-an organization set up to preempt a possible global business meltdown as a result of the “Millenium Bug.”³ Global 2000 emerged between November 1997 and April 1998 as a coordinated project among managers at various international banks to monitor suspicious private and public organizations from around the world, engage national and multilateral regulators, and develop and implement a workable strategy to forestall the worst potential consequences of the Year 2000 (Y2K) bug. This project involved maintaining control over a rapidly expanding network, establishing readily implementable procedures, setting incentives for a diverse community of players, and agreeing on effective country assessment charts. If they succeeded, they ran the risk of being criticized for crying wolf; if they failed, the world financial system would be at stake. This article tells the story of Global 2000’s efforts to squash the Y2K bug and discusses the lessons of this story for our understanding of issues of collective action, network dynamics, and voluntary compliance.

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About Jonathan Story, Professor Emeritus, INSEAD

Jonathan Story is Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy at INSEAD. Prior to joining INSEAD in 1974, he worked in Brussels and Washington, where he obtained his PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He has held the Marusi Chair of Global Business at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Graduate Schoold of Business, Fordham University, New York. He is preparing a monograph on China’s impact on the world political economy, and another on a proposal for a contextual approach to business studies. He has a chapter forthcoming on the Euro crisis. His latest book is China UnCovered: What you need to know to do business in China, (FT/ Pearson’s, 2010) (www.chinauncovered.net) His previous books include “China: The Race to Market” (FT/Pearsons, 2003), The Frontiers of Fortune, (Pitman’s, 1999); and The Political Economy of Financial Integration in Europe : The Battle of the Systems,(MIT Press, 1998) on monetary union and financial markets in the EU, and co-authored with Ingo Walter of NYU. His books have been translated into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Arabic. He is also a co-author in the Oxford Handbook on Business and Government(2010), and has contributed numerous chapters in books and articles in professional journals. He is a regular contributor to newspapers, and has been four times winner of the European Case Clearing House “Best Case of the Year” award. His latest cases detail hotel investments in Egypt and Argentina, as well as a women’s garment manufacturer in Sri Lanka and a Chinese auto parts producer. He teaches courses on international business and the global political economy. At the INSEAD campus, in Fontainebleau and Singapore, he has taught European and world politics, markets, and business in the MBA, and PhD programs. He has taught on INSEAD’s flagship Advanced Management Programme for the last three decades, as well as on other Executive Development and Company Specific courses. Jonathan Story works with governments, international organisations and multinational corporations. He is married with four children, and, now, thirteen grandchildren. Besides English, he is fluent in French, German, Spanish, Italian, reads Portuguese and is learning Russian. He has a bass voice, and gives concerts, including Afro-American spirituals, Russian folk, classical opera and oratorio.
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