Although the authors of this book and I approach the strategic challenges of globalization
from different perspectives, we've come to a similar conclusion: that the
"people" imperative is often overlooked when companies decide to enter new
countries or world regions. Stroh, Black, Mendenhall, and Gregersen base their
assertion on extensive research and practice; mine is the product of more than 30
years in corporate leadership roles—the last two decades of which have included
positions with substantial exposure to the global marketplace.
It is stunning to think just how much the world of commerce has changed during
that time. Many of our most cherished business paradigms have been forever
altered by the impact offerees such as improved communications and transportation
technologies and borderless trade policies. When we speak today of the "Big
Three" automakers in the United States, for example, we must remember that one
of those—DaimlerChrysler—is now controlled by German ownership; and we
must recognize that in any given month, a Japanese firm with U.S. manufacturing
facilities is likely to be one of the top three.
As noted by Stroh et al., globalization has become a fact of business life. It is
inevitable in an era when the corporate customers that many companies serve are
positioning themselves to become global players. A company can no longer afford
to focus on a single geographic market—not if it expects to earn business
contracts from corporations and conglomerates that are aggressively developing
their business opportunities on a global stage. Such customers won't wait for their
traditional suppliers to catch up. Instead, they will turn to new suppliers, suppliers
that can in fact help produce and distribute their products and services in the markets
they want to enter.