Today, everything has changed. Globalization, the integrated internationalization of markets and corporations, has changed the way modern corporations do business. As Thomas Friedman points out in The World Is Flat, jobs, knowledge, and capital are now able to move across borders with far greater speed and far less friction than was possible only a few years ago.
Improvements, such as containerized shipping, mean that companies can now locate anywhere and work with multiple partners to serve any market. For companies seeking a low-cost approach, the internationalization of business has been a new avenue for competitive advantage. Nike and Reebok manufacture their athletic shoes in various countries throughout Asia for sale on every continent. Many other companies in North America and Western Europe are outsourcing their manufacturing, software development, or customer service to companies in China, Eastern Europe, or India. English language proficiency, lower wages in India, and large pools of talented software programmers now enable IBM to employ an estimated 100,000 people in its global delivery centers in Bangalore, Delhi, or Kolkata to serve the needs of clients in Atlanta, Munich, or Melbourne.19 Instead of using one international division to manage everything outside the home country, large corporations are now using matrix structures in which product units are interwoven with country or regional units. Today, international assignments are considered key for anyone interested in reaching top management.
As more industries become global, strategic management is becoming an increasingly important way to keep track of international developments and position a company for long-term competitive advantage. For example, General Electric moved a major research and development lab for its medical systems division from Japan to China in order to learn more about developing new products for developing economies. Microsoft’s largest research center outside Redmond, Washington, is in Beijing.
The formation of regional trade associations and agreements, such as the European Union, NAFTA, Mercosur, Andean Community, CAFTA, and ASEAN, is changing how international business is being conducted. See the Global Issue feature to learn how regional trade associations are pushing corporations to establish a manufacturing presence wherever they wish to market goods. These associations have led to the increasing harmonization of standards so that products can more easily be sold and moved across national boundaries. International considerations have led to the strategic alliance between British Airways and American Airlines and to the acquisition of the Anheuser-Busch Companies by the Belgium company InBev, creating AB InBev, among others.
Strategic Management and Business Policy: Globalization, Innovation, and Sustainability, 15th Edition, ISBN 978-0-13-452205-0 by Thomas L. Wheelen, J. David Hunger, Alan N. Hoffman, and Charles E. Bamford, published by Pearson Education © 2018.
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