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Global Strategy and Emerging Markets Conference Provides Insights on Multinationals’ Challenges and Opportunities

January 12, 2016
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pankaj ghemawat presenting

Pankaj Ghemawat during his keynote presentation
"Emerging Upheaval."

Corruption, “trickle-up” innovation and the competition between multinationals and local companies were among key topics at the "Global Strategy and Emerging Markets Conference and International Business Institute,” organized in January by the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), housed at the School of Business. The conference drew about 50 scholars from institutions around the world.

Noted author Pankaj Ghemawat, professor, Stern School of Business at New York University, and IESE Business School in Barcelona, focused on how cultural, administrative, geographic and economic (CAGE) factors vary across emerging markets in his keynote presentation on "Emerging Upheaval."

Ghemawat encouraged international business researchers to analyze rather than advocate, and look closely at leading companies rather than accepting media reports.  “Emerging markets will clearly remain a locus for growth,” he said. “But ‘management 101’ concepts need to be diffused more broadly if we want to see greater progress in these markets.”

Among the highlights of the three-day conference were a practitioners’ panel with three Latin American executives moderated by Joseph Ganitsky, research professor of management and the CIBER director, and a series sessions that focused on advancing student learning in international business programs. Conference co-sponsors were University of Miami Ethics Programs and Northeastern University’s Center for Emerging Markets at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business.

joseph ganitsky presenting

Joseph Ganitsky, CIBER director, at the podium
during the GSEM conference.

Daniel Rottig, associate professor at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, said he liked the smaller size of the conference as well as the wide range of papers and presentations. "I was able to attend all the sessions and listen to the perspectives of researchers from various disciplines," he said. 

Other attendees also had high praise for the CIBER conference. Ana Elisa Iglesias, professor, University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, said she was able to share ideas with colleagues from South Africa, Australia and Turkey. Sui Shi, professor of global management studies, Ryerson University in Toronto, said, "I was able to gain new insights on my research topics and meet some of the most well-recognized researchers in the field."

In his keynote presentation on "Global Strategy, Multinationals, Ethics and Corruption," Philip M. Nichols, professor of legal studies and ethics, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, said the abuse of authority for personal benefit is an ongoing concern for companies in both developed and emerging markets.

“Surveys indicated that corruption is one of the most frequently encountered problems in forming international business relationships,” said Nichols, who is also president-elect of the Academy of Legal Studies in Business. “Corruption is damaging on every level.”

Nichols suggested that multinationals consider a corporate shared value (CSV) strategy as part of their anticorruption programs. “This approach seeks to enhance profit by focusing on unmet social needs,” he said. “While CSV strategies have a long time horizon and are hard to measure, they can engage local partners and have a powerful impact.” 

alvaro cuervo-cazurra presenting

Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra during his talk, "Lessons
from Analyzing Emerging Markets and Emerging
Market Firms."

In Latin America, for example, Coca Cola provided training in general retail practices to small stores in rural Brazil. In Mexico, multinational building supplier Cemex offered free blueprints and engineering services to local builders.  In both cases, the multinationals increased sales, while addressing social needs, Nichols said. 

In his talk on "Lessons from Analyzing Emerging Markets and Emerging Market Firms,” Alvaro Cuervo-Cazurra, professor of international business and strategy at Northeastern University, emphasized the importance of taking a broad approach to the interplay among institutions, economies and companies.  “Case studies are a great way to see how managers develop their ability to deal with institutions and markets in their home countries,” he said.

Cuervo-Cazurra noted that multinational corporations are often studied as the  conduit for the cross-border transfer of innovation and ideas. But outbound migration – the “brain drain” – and inbound funds sent to family members can also affect businesses in the home country, he said. “We also need more research on how the culture of country of origin affects the behaviors of companies,” he said.  “In Taiwan, for instance, the number of sons in a family can determine the overall size of the company.” 

yadong luo presenting

Yadong Luo, recently named the world’s most prolific
overseas Chinese strategy scholar, speaking to the
audience during the GSEM conference.

Reflecting on the conference, Yadong Luo, professor of management and the Emery M. Findley, Jr., Distinguished Chair at the University of Miami School of Business, said now is the time for multinational enterprises to reinvent their global strategies.  “In our highly connected world, emerging markets can contribute to the flow of talent, information and value,” he said.  For instance, Luo noted that some emerging market firms have developed innovative “trickle-up” business strategies, such as building labor-intensive rural distribution networks or adding new functions and features to existing products. “Successful emerging market firms have demonstrated their ability to survive hardships and balance conflicting goals,” he said. “We can all learn from their experiences.”

The University of Miami CIBER was established in 2010 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The CIBER's goal is to promote and increase the nation's innovative services and interdisciplinary endeavors to strengthen US competitiveness and understanding. The CIBER supports and funds programs, for students, faculty, and the community.

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