Achieving ‘Glocal’ Success

Michael R. Czinkota and Ilkka A. Ronkainen for www.ama.org

Companies that have adopted this approach have incorporated the following four dimensions into their organizations.

Building a Shared Vision

The first dimension relates to a clear and consistent long-term corporate mission that guides individuals wherever they work in the organization. Examples of this are Johnson & Johnson’s corporate credo of customer focus; Coca-Cola’s mission of leveraging global beverage brand leadership “to refresh the world, inspire moments of optimism and happiness, create value and make a difference”; Nestlé’s vision to make the company the “reference for nutrition, health and wellness”; and Samsung’s mission to “create superior products and services, thereby contributing to a better global society.” But formulating and communicating a vision or mission cannot succeed unless individual employees understand and accept the company’s stated goals and objectives.

Broadening Perspectives

This relates to the development of a cooperative mindset among region or country organizations to ensure the effective implementation of global strategies. Managers may believe that global strategies are intrusions on their operations if they do not have an understanding of the corporate vision, if they have not contributed to the global corporate agenda, if they are not given direct responsibility for its implementation or if there is no reward for their cooperation.

Capable Managers

The third component in the “glocal” approach is making use of representatives from different countries, regions, and cultures. Organizationally, the forces of globalization are changing the country manager’s role significantly. With profit-and-loss responsibility, oversight of multiple functions, and the benefits (and drawbacks) of distance from headquarters, country managers enjoyed considerable decision-making autonomy, as well as entrepreneurial initiative. Today, however, many companies have to emphasize the product dimension of the product-geography matrix, which means that power has to shift at least to some extent from country managers to worldwide strategic business unit and product line managers. Many of the previously local decisions are now subordinated to global strategic moves.

Internal Cooperation

In today’s environment, the global business entity can be successful only if it is able to move intellectual capital within the organization—that is, to transmit ideas and information in real time. If there are impediments to the free flow of information across organizational boundaries, important updates about changes in the competitive environment might not be communicated in a timely fashion to those tasked with incorporating them into the strategy.

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GLOBAL CONSUMERISM AND SUSTAINABILITY

Between 1980 and 2010, the middle class worldwide nearly doubled in size, growing to almost 2 billion people. By the year 2030, it is likely to reach nearly 5 billion people. The middle class is the largest group, demographically, in terms of consumers of various products and services. However, growth of the middle class poses pressures on the natural environment and demand for resources, such as energy, food, and raw materials. Rising world population and increased production and consumption raise concerns about sustainability, which refers to meeting humanity’s needs without harming future generations.  On the one hand, rising consumerism is a sign that living standards are improving worldwide; billions of people are emerging from the poverty that besets humanity.  On the other hand, growing population and consumerism pose important challenges to planetary well-being.

The World Economic Forum has proposed various ideas for addressing sustainability, while ensuring people can obtain the products and services they need:
1. Emphasizing durable over disposable. Firms and consumers alike benefit from products that are relatively durable, as opposed to disposable goods that use more resources and fill up landfills.

2. Using renewable versus disappearing resources. Renewable resources are usually more cost-effective and encourage sustainability. For example, energy generated from solar and wind sources can be maintained indefinitely, while fossil fuels are dwindling over time.
3. Sharing resources. Firms and consumers must think increasingly about developing and using goods that they share with others. For example, homeowners tend to use lawnmowers, snowblowers, and other home-care equipment only intermittently. Economies result when such resources are shared among several households.

4. Favoring virtual products and delivery methods.  Online product vendors use resources more efficiently than physical, “brick-and-mortar” retailers. Some products can be offered electronically, which saves paper. For example, many consumers opt for digital books they can read on Kindles, Ipads, and similar devices. Such approaches help reduce the destruction of forests and other resources.

5. Consuming locally grown goods. Many agricultural products must be transported long distances, which contributes to air pollution and needless resource usage. An emphasis on consuming locally-grown farm products can help increase resource sustainability and decrease pollution.

To thrive while preserving natural resources, companies will need to include sustainability in their strategy-making. Managers need to improve their understanding of how resources create new risks, but also produce new opportunities.  Firms must devise sophisticated approaches for conserving resources and offering sustainable products and services.

For example, Otis makes the Gen2 elevator, which uses up to 75 percent less energy than conventional elevators.  Recently, Otis established a green manufacturing facility to produce Gen2’s in Tianjin, China, which reduced site energy use by more than 25 percent. Builders are adopting Gen2 elevators and escalators, to save energy and help the environment. The Dutch consumer products company Unilever is cutting water usage and greenhouse gas emissions in its factories. The firm aims to increase recycling and recovery efforts in manufacturing, and reduce by one-third the use of materials in its product packaging by 2020. The Swiss food company Nestlé works with farmers around the world to help them increase crop yields, while minimizing their water usage and pollution. Nestlé has allied with nongovernmental organizations such as the Rainforest Alliance to focus on how farmers can improve access to clean water and sanitation.

Sources: Business & the Environment, “Food and Beverage Companies Serve Up Sustainability,” October 2011, pp. 1-3; Richard Dobbs, Jeremy Oppenheim, and Fraser Thompson, “Mobilizing for a Resource Revolution,” Mckinsey Quarterly, January 2012, accessed at www.mckinseyquarterly.com; World Economic Forum, Consumer Industry Emerging Trends and Issues (Geneva, Switzerland: World Economic Forum, 2011), accessed at www.weforum.org