- Opinion & Analysis
- Read Time: 16 min
The colonization of American manufacturing by distributors has pushed U.S. companies overseas.
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.
As entrepreneurs are considering international expansion earlier and earlier, it is crucial that they structure their ventures to anticipate and mitigate the tensions that can arise from the ongoing need to match perceived opportunities to available resources.
Manufacturing practices popularized by the Japanese, such as total quality management and just-in-time procurement, have become the worldwide gold standard for producing high-quality products. One might expect the same to be true of Japanese methods of logistics management (planning and arranging the transport and storage of goods and materials).
Although large-scale risks garner media attention, it is the everyday, small-scale risks associated with a lack of transparency in countries’ legal, economic, regulatory and governance structures that can confound global investment and commerce. New research identifies the causes and measures the effects of this phenomenon.
For multinationals, it is increasingly difficult to maintain competitive advantage on the basis of the traditional economies of scale and scope. Future advantage will go to those that can stimulate and support interunit collaboration to leverage their dispersed resources.
A decade ago, multinational companies seemed poised to dominate in China. Today that picture has changed. Whereas IBM, HP and Compaq had quickly won more than 50% of the personal computer market, for example, Chinese company Legend Group Ltd. is now the number one supplier. Research in 10 industries over the last 10 years reveals a pitched battle of competencies between multinational and local players and points to five strategies that can help multinationals regain the edge.
When a certain U.S. multinational corporation sought to adopt a global policy on employee mobility, it convened a yearlong symposium with representatives from units worldwide. Through a format that encouraged brainstorming and in-depth discussion, a consensus gradually emerged that enabled executives to reduce mobility classifications from eight to two.
A series of surveys by Alan Rugman, professor of international business at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University, and senior research fellow in strategic management at Templeton College, Oxford, suggest that only a small proportion of the largest companies that call themselves multinational have an effective global presence.
Almost all companies polled by the authors in a three-year study that spanned firms in Europe, North America and Asia claim they lack an adequate number of globally competent leaders. The authors outline four strategies that are particularly effective in developing global leaders, who, their work reveals, cannot succeed without several core characteristics.
Emerging markets (EMs) constitute the major growth opportunity in the evolving world economic order. Their potential has already effected a shift in multinational corporations (MNCs), which now customarily highlight EM investments when communicating with shareholders.
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