Global

Leading to Become Obsolete

Zhang Ruimin, the CEO and chairman of the Qingdao, China, white goods giant Haier Group Corp., has done what most chief executives dare not even dream about. He blew up nearly the entire administrative structure of a global manufacturing enterprise, eliminating the 10,000 management jobs that once held it together, and reshaped the organization into a network of entrepreneurial ventures run by employees.

Rethinking the East Asian Leadership Gap

Many western multinationals have a tough time finding local talent in East Asia — a problem that global companies originating in East Asia don’t seem to face. One problem: The cultural values and expectations of those doing the hiring and those seeking the jobs are at odds.

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Why China Is the World’s Innovation Role Model

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There’s a lot of talk of trade tensions between the U.S. and China, but there’s another way to think about China: as an innovation role model. “Anybody involved in international business needs to treat China not just as a place to sell, but also as a place to learn,” wrote Edward S. Steinfeld and Troels Beltoft in MIT Sloan Management Review in 2014. China, they argued, is “becoming the best place to go if you want to learn how to make ideas commercially viable.” Three years later, this is truer than ever.

The Need for Culture Neutrality

Companies today work with an incredibly diverse array of people. To thrive, these organizations need culturally neutral, globally coherent leadership standards. These standards should promote needed outcomes without prescribing behaviors, since some behaviors are outside of the cultural norms in some countries. Inevitably, significant advantage will accrue to companies that ready their people for truly global leadership.

Defining “Material” Climate Risks

Companies know climate change is relevant to their businesses, but they don’t address it in corporate reports because corporate leaders don’t believe it’s material to their business. The effects of climate change are beyond their planning horizon, they think, or they just aren’t clear whether or how climate change might be a material business risk. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) is hoping to change that.

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.

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Does Your Supply Chain Risk Management Strategy Hold Water?

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Water’s deceptive abundance and low cost in many countries is not yet promoting responsible management within many companies. That needs to change, argues Alexis Bateman, director of the MIT Responsible Supply Chain Lab. “Increasingly stressed water resources represent a major threat to the integrity of global supply chains,” she writes. Mitigating or eliminating these risks will require action on multiple fronts.

Competing Through Joint Innovation

Even as multinationals struggle to make inroads in emerging markets, companies from those markets are finding ways to compete in Europe and the U.S. A case in point is Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications company, which has used strategic partnerships to gain ground in Europe. Huawei’s overseas expansion closely resembles the strategy the company used to build its position in China: Start at the perimeter and work toward the center.

The Next Wave of Business Models in Asia

The first wave of innovation from emerging markets in Asia has been predicated on the replication of existing business models at lower cost. The second wave, which could be even more disruptive than the first, fundamentally reimagines various facets of the business model to find new, often digitally enabled, ways in which resources and processes can be leveraged. Such companies identify creative ways for partners, stakeholders, and customers to be involved in value creation and capture.

Mastering the Market Intelligence Challenge

A shortage of reliable information is common in emerging markets. Because such markets are heterogeneous, the sources and methods for market intelligence require modification before they can be transferred from one emerging market to another. Market intelligence is thus best viewed and managed as a strategic asset that multinationals should invest in keeping up to date.

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Engaging With Startups in Emerging Markets

For large multinationals, forging effective partnerships with emerging-market startups is complicated. Traits that make startups attractive as partners also make it hard for large companies to engage with them. Looking at startups in India, China, and South Africa, researchers identify key factors inhibiting emerging market partnerships and offer strategies for addressing them.

A Fresh Take on Supply Chain Innovation

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For PepsiCo, entering the natural beverage markets of coconut water and smoothies meant developing new risk-management practices. In the coconut water business, “lead times are longer and supply is more variable than in PepsiCo’s traditional beverage supply chain,” write Tim Rowell of PepsiCo and James B. Rice Jr. of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics. “The company has had to build enough inventory to minimize stock outs — without causing excessive losses through obsolescence.”

Harnessing the Best of Globalization

Globalization offers significant opportunities, yet most companies approach key decisions haphazardly. Although the complexity of globalization means managers rarely can fully analyze a global business opportunity before they need to act, the basic tensions in global business models are straightforward. A simple analysis of global ventures along these dimensions can help entrepreneurs develop clearer expectations and decision-making processes.

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