TRAVERSE CITY, MI – In sports, you have a choice. You can participate or you can be a spectator.

But if you are in the auto industry and part of a flattening world where once faraway countries such as China, India and Eastern Europe now play a vital role in boardrooms, you have no such choice but to participate, says Tim Timken, chairman of Timken Co.

“The only ones who can ‘fix’ this industry are sitting in this room,” Timken tells attendees at the Management Briefing Seminars here. “It is not up to government or consumers or the Chinese or Wall Street. And it’s also not their fault that we are where we are.”

Timken tells attendees that in a flattening world, the role of government will have an ever increasing influence over a company’s ability to achieve objectives.

“Policy makers are entering brand new territory, just like us,” Timken says. “As leaders of industry, it is our duty to understand, participate in and challenge the role of government.”

That doesn’t mean pushing for protectionist legislation, but, rather, taking responsibility in shaping public policy in regard to international trade.

“Do you know your representatives? More importantly, do they know you? Do you encourage them when a decision is positive and share your displeasure when you are negatively affected?” Timken asks.

He advises attendees individually and collectively to tell their representatives at the state and federal levels about their concerns regarding the economy, the world market, health-care issues, pension and tort reform and trade agreements.

“And I encourage you to do this in each of the countries you do business in,” Timken says.

dwinter@wardsauto.com