Offshoring

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Revisiting the Logic of Being Global

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The state of the multinational and how “the world is losing its taste for global businesses” is the subject of a recent cover story in The Economist titled “The Retreat of the Global Company.” For many multinationals, the article notes, the case for global integration has been hurt by falling profits, lower returns on capital, and increasing pressures from governments looking to protect local jobs and tax revenue.

From the Archives: How to Reshore Manufacturing Successfully

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The Trump administration has an aggressive stance about finding new American manufacturing jobs, which could pressure some companies to consider bringing overseas operations back to the U.S. But the task is complex. “While the macroeconomic data on comparative labor and factor costs may be compelling, the actual process of reshoring — bringing assembly work back from abroad — is hard work,” wrote Harvard Business School’s Willy C. Shih, in a 2014 article in MIT Sloan Management Review.

Image courtesy of Walmart

Should You Outsource Analytics?

Outsourcing analytics activities can offer benefits, but it requires a carefully constructed relationship between the company and the business process organization (BPO). Customers must be careful not to lose their expertise or their core intellectual property. Research suggests that companies with superior analytics capabilities will approach outsourcing differently than companies that are analytically challenged.

Organizing R&D for the Future

Executives from around the world agree that research and development is a global effort requiring collaboration. Yet many say their organizations must improve in this area — evolving from the centralized approach that’s prevalent today — to meet strategic goals. In other words, for today’s R&D organizations, there is a significant gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it. Vital as it is to their futures, the art of collaboration is one that many R&D organizations have yet to master.

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Image courtesy of Nokia.

Mobilizing for Growth in Emerging Markets

There are four elements to an effective “network orchestration” strategy, which brings together local and global innovation partners in emerging markets. The elements: Multinationals should 1) extend innovation partnerships beyond the usual channel partners by engaging key community stakeholders such as government bodies, universities and NGOs; 2) engage innovation partners strategically with a larger purpose; 3) trust but verify in a transparent manner; and 4) designate local partner network managers.

Is It Time to Rethink Your Manufacturing Strategy?

Since the mid-1990s, many companies have outsourced or offshored their manufacturing operations. For most, one crucial enabling factor was cheap oil: Long supply lines were economically feasible because transportation costs were relatively low. Hence, companies emphasized reducing manufacturing costs through (1) offshoring or outsourcing; (2) plant rationalization; and (3) consolidating distribution centers and warehouses to reduce inventory levels and minimize fixed facility costs.

Image courtesy of Flickr user utpal.

Should Top Management Relocate Across National Borders?

International relocations of entire corporate headquarters are rare. But the relocation of top management team members is happening more and more. For instance, a desire to be close to its major global customers led Halliburton Co., an international oil services group, to relocate the company’s CEO from Houston to Dubai. But there are strategic costs and benefits of such decisions. Deciding which option to pursue depends on the strength and interplay of the relocation drivers and barriers.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Electrolux Design Lab.

Should You Have a Global Strategy?

Senior executives weighing strategies appropriate for today’s global economy will hear contradictory advice. Some say you need to move quickly, before competitors, to establish a worldwide presence; others cite data showing that this approach is often less profitable. The reality is that neither approach is appropriate for every circumstance. Therefore, executives need to understand when to pursue one route and when to pursue the other.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Dominic's pics.

How Gap Inc. Engaged With its Stakeholders

Back when protesters were targeting the company, the Gap realized that it needed to overhaul the way it interacted with its critics. So the company launched a strategy of stakeholder engagement.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user gak.

Flat World, Hard Boundaries – How To Lead Across Them

While technological innovations have revolutionized the workplace, it is ironic that relational boundaries — obstacles to productive human interactions — remain largely unchanged. This article identifies five types of such boundaries, and suggests that all five of them may be overcome when collaborative and creative leaders engage in six boundary spanning practices: buffering, reflecting, connecting, mobilizing, weaving and transforming.

Courtesy of IBM.

Putting It Together: How to Succeed in Distributed Product Development

The increase in outsourcing and offshoring of complex work has resulted in innovation efforts that require coordination across cultural, geographic and legal boundaries. If that coordination is mishandled, companies can find themselves needing to make multimillion- or even billion-dollar changes. The complexity of the task makes midcourse corrections likely. Managers must anticipate and adapt their processes in order to reduce risk and, ultimately, cost.

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The New Practice of Global Product Development

Many manufacturers have established product development activities in different countries around the world. Yet their senior managers often struggle to tie those decentralized organizations into a cohesive, unified operation that can efficiently drive growth and innovation. New empirical frameworks may help unlock practices with which managers can deploy well-coordinated global product development strategies.

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