TERRORISM, COMPETITIVENESS, AND INTERNATIONAL MARKETING – (1/6)

MARKETING ACROSS BORDERS UNDER CONDITIONS OF TERRORISM

An introductory note: Over the coming weeks, we will post a series of Prof. Czinkota’s work with Prof. Valbona Zeneli, from the Marshall Center in Germany and Prof. Gary Knight, of Willamette University, USA. The work presented here is based on the research titled “Terrorism, Competitiveness and International Marketing: An Empirical Investigation” which was published in the International Journal of Emerging Markets, 2018.  We thank Ms. Niparat Pitchayanonnetr our departmental assistant for her editorial contributions. The series presents insights into what has been labelled a key challenge to the global business world today.
Here is our first post in the series which, together with future postings, you can freely distribute with proper credit to the authors and source.

Valbona Zeneli, Marshall Center, Germany

Michael R. Czinkota , Georgetown University USA and University of Kent, UK

Gary Knight, Willamette University, USA

Terrorism refers to the risk or actual encounter of violent acts designed to cause fear and intimidation.  Despite posing an important threat to internationally-active firms, there is a paucity of empirical research that addresses the distinctive challenges that terrorism poses to the international marketing activities of firms.  Here we first provide a theoretical background on terrorism and its effects on international marketing in emerging markets.  We then relate terrorism to operational costs, marketing planning, supply chain management and distribution activities in the multinational enterprise (MNE).  We recognize significant costs in the international marketing budget of MNEs. Firms with substantial resources and international experience appear to have more alternatives, which allow them to cope better with the effects of terrorism than their less endowed peers.

Terrorism is a salient threat to organizational competitiveness in international marketing. It is the premeditated use or threat to use violence by individuals or subnational groups to obtain a political or social objective through the intimidation of a large audience beyond that of the immediate non-combatant victims.

For terrorists, perception matters! Terrorist attacks around the world have increased greatly in the past decades, spanning 92 countries and over 28,000 fatalities in 2015 alone. Most attacks are directed at civilians, businesses, and business-related infrastructure. The five countries most exposed to terrorist attacks in recent years are Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria.

Emerging markets are particularly affected by terrorism since their businesses and citizens have less of an opportunity to protect themselves. Among the possible environmental contingencies that can affect marketing organizations – such as weak economic conditions, rising energy prices, financial crises – terrorism is identified as potentially the most serious threat. Since terrorists select their targets with high flexibility, intensity and precision, international firms seek competitive advantage through the expansion of production, distribution, and the marketing of products and services across multiple national boundaries. Terrorism sharply reduces corporate enthusiasm to expand. Measures to counter terrorism in turn are based of restricted freedom of movement and increased government regulation, both of which impair global commerce. The border-crossing effect of terrorism creates slowdowns for international transactions reaching 2.5% of merchandise value, which is comparable to the average level of global tariffs.

International trade depends on the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of global transportation systems. Terrorism increases the transaction costs of international commerce and delays global supply chains and distribution channels. Terrorism’s main impact reaches far beyond its immediate and direct effects. Key are the long term results from the indirect effects that occur in national and global economies. These include widespread anxiety and uncertainty that affect buyer demand, shifts or interruptions in the supply of needed inputs, new government regulations and procedures enacted to deal with terrorism, and longer-term perceptions that alter patterns of global trade and investment. Terrorism can also affect managerial attitudes towards risk, shift the risk absorption capacity of firms, and reduce the likelihood of embarking on international ventures or new investments abroad.

Our Google search of the NGram viewer system analyzed the extent of terrorism-related writings, and checked for correlations with the key terms ‘trade,’ ‘investment’ and ‘risk’. The results indicate a rapid increase of concern about terrorism since 1998. This development serves as an indicator of the growing preoccupation (in the English-speaking literature at least) with terrorism. Concurrently, and as expected in terms of theory-based postulations, actual risk increased while trade and investment interests declined.

We believe that terrorism will continue to be a significant factor in international marketing for decades to come. The rise of terrorism signals a new type of threat relevant to both developed and emerging economies. As governments increase security of public facilities, the likelihood of attacks against the softer targets of firms’ international operations is likely to increase.  Emerging economies need to find ways to increase their security in order to retain their attractiveness for foreign sourcing and investments. Corporate preparedness for the unexpected is a vital task. Innovative managers develop appropriate resources, and undertake planning and strategies to accommodate dislocations and sudden shocks. Terrorism represents an organizational crisis whose ultimate effects may be unexpected and unknown, posing a significant threat to the survival or performance of the firm.  Terrorism presents the firm with a dilemma that requires new decision-making and behaviors that will result in organizational change.  Firms that neglect to devote resources and capabilities to respond flexibly to terrorist triggered disruptions, risk sudden, sometimes even, total loss of competitive advantage. We follow the thinking of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who stated: “There are known knowns, which are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns, these are things we don’t know we don’t know”. The goal should be to analyze the role of terrorism under all three conditions.

Michael Czinkota teaches international business and trade at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of Kent. His key book (with Ilkka Ronkainen) is “International Marketing” (10th ed., CENGAGE).

Marketing innovation: A consequence of competitiveness | Journal of Business Research | Part 1: Context

Professor Suraksha Gupta, University of Kent

Professor Naresh K Malhotra, Georgia Institute of Technology

Professor Michael Czinkota, Georgetown University

Professor Pantea Foroudi, Middlesex University

ISSN 0148-2963

    Various studies recommend that managers aiming to venture into the challenging field of internationalisation should create a competitive edge that helps them to demonstrate the superior abilities of their firm (Porter, 2011; Samli et al., 1994; Barney et al. 2011). But, fear of the unknown deters managers from stepping out of their home country and benefiting from internationalisation because growth markets tend to be very complex as they foster competition (Knight, 1995; Thai and Chong, 2013). A business-to-business model of distribution allows managers of international firms to successfully deal with entry barriers and enter smoothly into a foreign market and effectively address the complexity of a place that offers high potential of growth to their businesses (Yan, 2012).

    A distributor simultaneously facilitates the entry of multiple firms with competing products into the market and engages micro level small and medium firms in the local market for selling (Chen, 2003). Since distributors offer multiple similar and competing products to resellers, markets being served through resellers become very competitive for international brands. Competition in a market encourages competing firms to demonstrate their ability to innovatively serve customers (Freeman et al., 2006). Lack of in-depth native knowledge in such markets is a major shortcoming for firms aiming to internationalise because it decreases their capability to innovate their marketing related business practices by predicting the business environment and trends in the consumption patterns of the foreign market (Bell, 1995; Johanson and Vahlne, 2009). Distributors and resellers have an important role to play in the successful penetration of a foreign market so how an international firm develops its capability to   market its products through reseller networks needs to be understood.

    The resource advantage theory recognizes the creation of a competitive edge as a function of marketing and identifies the role of branding in creating the capability of a firm to demonstrate its superior abilities (Hunt and Morgan, 1995; Hunt and Morgan, 1996; Srivastava et al., 2001). Simultaneously, the industrial practices of industrial brands particularly in the IT and telecom sector indicates that the managers of strong brands can compete in foreign markets based on their brand leadership and brand relationships in the local market. It has also been noticed and reported in the literature of local firms by studies like Gupta and Malhotra (2013) that a brand that contributes to the competitiveness of the reseller is able to compete at the local level using innovative marketing initiatives. These observations of various researchers indicate that the relationship between an international brand and its resellers in foreign markets becomes very important for brands in a market that poses strong competition (Anderson and Weitz, 1992).

2014-15 Global Competitiveness Ranking

The Global Competitiveness Report that is published by the World Economic Forum looks at the competitive landscape of 144 economies in terms of the institutions, policies, and factors that determine the productivity and long-term growth of a country. Sectors such as a country’s infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health, education, job market, financial development, and technological readiness are all considered.

Key Findings:

  • Switzerland and Singapore retain their position as first and second respectively. The United States moves to third from fifth place last year.
  • Those countries in Europe such as Spain, Portugal, and Greece are effectively implementing reforms and remain highly competitive. Whereas, the other half of Europe is lagging behind including France and Italy.
  • Most improved region belongs to Southeast Asia where Malaysia (20th), Thailand (31st), Indonesia (34th), Philippines and Vietnam (68th) have all progressed in their rankings. The Philippines is the most improved economy since 2010 jumping from 85 to 52.
  • Emerging market economies such as Brazil (from 57 to 56) and India (from 60 to 71) lost their competitiveness. But Russia (from 64 to 53) and China (from 29 to 28) climbed in global rankings.
  • Most Latin American economies need to address their productivity challenges in order to keep the momentum of their growth in the past years.
  • Due to geopolitical instability in the Middle East and North Africa, the region depicts a mixed picture. United Arab Emirates takes the lead in 12th place. Sub-Saharan Africa continues to pose impressive growth rates of 5 percent.

Global Rank2Are the rankings useful to you? Any surprises? Tell us what you think.

Source:

News from the USTR: Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations

On July 25th, 2013, strong progress had been reported about the TPP negotiations that ended that same day. Japan was welcomed into the negotiations while TPP leaders hope to reach agreement by the end of the year.

The United States’ goal of this agreement is “to advance a 21st-century trade and investment framework that will boost competitiveness, expand trade and investment with the robust economies of the Asia Pacific, and support the creation and retention of U.S. jobs, while promoting core U.S. principles on labor rights, environmental protection, and transparency.”

Yes Virginia, the Ham Is Chinese (Part 3)

Another concern is more xenophobic.  Many Americans are worried about lessened American competitiveness and the rise of China. There were similar concerns about the wave of Japanese cars and the purchase of iconic real estate by Japanese investors in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  In fact, the success of Japanese brands, like Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, was mostly positive for Americans, particularly for consumers, as it was accompanied by new capital, more sophisticated domestic manufacturing, new product ideas, and, eventually,  improved competitiveness of American car companies. Now individual states in the U.S. have learned to compete to attract manufacturing and services company investment in their communities. No reason not to expand such activities into the agricultural sector as well.

Of even more interest is the reverse flow, where international investments have a spillover effect on home country markets. Why not eat Hunan pork with Smithfield ham during a picnic at the Yangtze river? What pork other than Smithfield’s should be specified when planning the Chinese  government-subsidized opening of  restaurant chains in Africa ? The Smithfield acquisition opens new markets both for the Chinese investors as well as for American ham. Such is the path of true globalization.

The recent meeting between Presidents Obama and Xi Jinping demonstrated, that the United States and China have more to gain from a cooperative, albeit competitive, rather than a conflict based relationship.  Given President Xi’s experience as a student living in Iowa, we can hope that he is instinctively more likely to be drawn to the value of a asymptotic relationship with the United States, rather than one based on abrasive disagreement.

One of the principal motivators for the deal from Smithfield’s point-of-view, was the ability to more successfully sell its products to the huge Chinese market. That such an approach can work is seen in the acquisition of European car-maker Volvo by the Chinese company Zhejiang Geely Holding in 2010.  Not only is Zhejiang looking to profit from the existing global business of Volvo, but it is also expected to help the brand further penetrate the Chinese market, the largest and fastest growing automobile market in the world.

This article is a part of a series written by Michael Czinkota and Charles Skuba. Read part 2 here.  Guest writer Charles Skuba teaches international business and marketing at Georgetown University. He served in the George W. Bush Administration in trade policy positions in the U.S. Department of Commerce.