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How Complexity Trips Up Companies In Foreign Market

Idea posted: March 2020
  • Strategy
  • Operations

International expansion can be a fast-track path to lower profits as many companies ignore the complexity of operating in foreign markets. A step-by-step approach — expanding to new markets with operational complexity similar to the company’s current markets before attacking markets that are significantly more complex — is more likely to be successful.

Idea #767
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The Reception of the Ambassador at the Court of Pekin, James Gilray, 1792 (Courtesy: National Portrait Gallery, London)

Investing Abroad? Use Your Country’s Diplomats

Idea posted: July 2018
  • Strategy
  • Operations

When looking to invest abroad, companies can leverage the diplomatic relationships between their country’s government and governments of potential host countries to connect with potential foreign partners. An international study based on foreign investment decisions by more than 500 Chinese companies examines the factors involved in leveraging such relationships.

Idea #714
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Henry the Navigator leading Vasco da Gama, Magellan and others. Monument of the Discoveries, Lisbon, Portugal (Source: Wkimedia Commons)

What Does It Take to Develop Globally Competent Leaders?

Idea posted: August 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Most companies recognize the importance of training top leaders in global competence skills, according to a new survey of more than 300 HR professionals. Many companies, however, are unsatisfied with their leaders’ and potential leaders’ skills in this area. A variety of methods can help build multicultural sensitivity and other global capabilities. 

Idea #541
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The Tower of Babel, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563 (Courtesy: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)

The Language Challenge for Social Media in Multinationals

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The growth of social media in business enables and enhances a company’s communication among employees and with outside stakeholders, including customers and partners. The diversity of languages within a multinational, however, can hamper communication and collaboration both externally and internally. 

Idea #500
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The Mexican Stock Exchange (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Companies from Emerging Markets Are Putting the Heat on Multinationals

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

While multinational corporations typically establish their dominant competitive advantage thanks to their position in the industry and/or access to strategic resources, somehow firms from emerging markets who have neither of these advantages are beginning to dominate globally — or at least compete for domination — in their industries. The reason: while MNCs compete on position or possession, the emerging MNCs are competing on action. They have developed innovative business models, often as a direct result of conditions in their home markets, that give them the edge. 

Idea #427
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Inclusive Leadership: Aligning the Different

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: Mercer LLC

Globalization, advances in technology, and the impact of emerging markets have made the leadership of organizations increasingly complex. To address this complexity leaders need to embrace the ‘different’ and to become ‘inclusive’.  Inclusive leaders have the skill to engage with people with different backgrounds and outlooks, are willing to adapt personally, and are able to create a shared vision which brings diverse individuals to a collective focus on a coherent end-goal. Organizations should follow the advice from Apple and their strapline “Think Different.”

Idea #415
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Walkie talkie. Image from World War II US Signals Corps' manual (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How to Lead Virtual Teams

Idea posted: May 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Virtual teams, groups of diverse and geographically dispersed people communicating mainly by technology, pose challenges for companies. They can deliver superior performance and become an important source of value creation, but they demand a new management and leadership approach. Organizations that apply the ‘rules’ for classic or traditional teams will be disappointed.

Idea #384
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Dr. Manmohan Singh in 1994, when finance minister. He subsequently became Prime Minister of India (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Modernizing without Westernizing: Social Ties and Indian Business

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

The modernization of India’s economy, begun in the early 1990s when Manmohan Singh, then finance minister, introduced a series of reforms, has not reversed centuries-old traditions. Personal affiliations and kinship ties, long the bedrock of Indian society, continue to exert a powerful influence in the financial sector. India’s economy has been liberalized — but not, necessarily, Westernized.

Idea #341
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The Reception, by James Gillray, published 1792. Lord Macartney, the first envoy of Great Britain to China, meeting Emperor Qianlong  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

When Supply Chain Partners Move Up the Value Chain

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

The role of suppliers in global supply chains has been evolving from simply providing components to manufacturing entire products. Especially for suppliers in emerging economies, however, successfully moving up the value chain requires internal skills and capabilities as well as the willingness of the client to share not only technology but customer-facing capabilities as well. 

Idea #320
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Brazillian President Dilma Rousseff and South African President Jacob Zuma, 2013. Courtesy of Brazilian Foreign Ministry

The 'Brazilian Way': The Future for Africa?

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Recent years have seen increased investment and activity in Africa from newly industrialised countries. While China leads the emerging-power pack in terms of trade and investment, Brazil could be the one to watch. A policy of development co-operation, begun in the early 2000s, means that the future of the South American country and the future of countries in Africa are closely linked.

Idea #300
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Overload' by George Pemba, 1989, courtesy Ann Bryant Art Gallery, RSA, www.annbryant.co.za (Source: Wikipaintings)

Collectivism and Consumers at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ in South Africa

Idea posted: January 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Despite their poverty and limited purchasing power, people at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ in South Africa increasingly attract the attention of marketers. At more than one third of South Africa’s population, they represent a significant, or potentially significant, market for companies. But they will not be ‘reached’ by conventional approaches — or by applying the individualistic perspective of the developed world. At the bottom of the pyramid in South Africa, communities are different — and collectivism still counts. 

Idea #290
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  The Roman Forum, the commercial, cultural, and political centre of the Republic (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Centralized or Decentralized Decision Rights in Multinationals

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Certain company and country factors determine whether decisions should be centralized at parent company headquarters or decentralized to the foreign subsidiary. Ignoring those factors will hurt parent and subsidiary financial performance. And fixing the inappropriate decision-making structure could prove costly.

Idea #237
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All-consuming: Brand Management in the Digital Age

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: ESADE

Media fragmentation, globalization and expanding social networks are changing the way we view and follow brands. Leaders need to respond to these changes and challenges, taking a comprehensive approach to satisfying an increasingly diverse set of stakeholders in an ever more competitive environment. 

Idea #215
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Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo,1982, written and directed by Werner Herzog, winner or the Best Director award at the 1982 Cannes film festival

Working Abroad: The Value of Experience

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Intuitively, experience reduces the chance of failure. An experienced manager will make fewer mistakes than the inexperienced manager. The same logic can be applied to international business activity: companies experienced in foreign markets are going to fail less frequently than companies without foreign experience.

New research shows, however, that this assumption is too simple. Previous experience in a foreign market helps if the company returns to that market. It also helps if the company ventures into a different foreign market, but only, the research shows, as long as the

Idea #205
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Solar-powered Camel Fridge System, Nomadic Communities Trust (Source: Wikimedia)

Reverse Innovation: Ideas from Emerging Countries

Idea posted: April 2013
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

Emerging markets are usually coveted for the potential customers they represent — perhaps hundreds of millions of new consumers who are looking (or will be looking in the near future) for products to buy.  Most companies, however, develop products for developed markets first and then adapt them to the emerging markets. Research conducted by two professors from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business reveals a new strategy that reverses the traditional flow of innovation. This new strategy calls for developing products that are adopted first in emerging markets and then adapted for

Idea #127
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