A Book Review – “Transnational Management” – by Christopher Bartlett and Paul Beamish

I was always fascinated by the multinational enterprises (MNE’s as they call them in the majority of the textbooks). This not only because their reach tends to be global , but also because they seem to dominate so dramatically the 21st century business arena. If you think how big are these behemoths (the ones with the largest market capitalizations are several times higher than the mid-tier nations in terms of GDP), then the reason becomes also more obvious. At last but not at least, the global presence of the multinational companies means that they are an indispensable part of any investment manager’s portfolio.

“Transnational Management” is structured rather as a study text for the MBA students. It does not neglect the study cases – in fact there are a myriad of those and the book is enjoyable especially because of their abundance. “Transnational Management” also insists on why the MNE’s are so successful – and you will be hardly surprised to find out that they practice very well the knowledge transfer. Interesting is how they do this transfer from one national or regional market to another, and here comes in the role of the book.

This MNE book tries to offer a complete overview on the cross-borders operations of the modern multinational companies – and its advantage comes from the rather conceptual approach than from the specific lessons the student can draw from the study cases. “Transnational Management” focuses on the management challenges that MNE’s face globally – an even more important aspect given the rapid landscape change generated the emerging BRIC global companies and by the global crisis. The book focuses on the triple relationship between:
– the multinational corporation itself;
– the countries where it does business and
– the competitive environment where MNE’s operate.

It is a good approach, since usually investment analysts and managers tend to focus only on one aspect of the three, neglecting the others. For example, some MNE’s are so obsessed with their competition, that it is practically impossible for them to tailor products or services for the markets they operate in to a large extent. This can lead to major losses of competitive advantages in those local environments.

As a small aspect, the book could have been color printed, to the benefit of its marketing part mostly, since the brands of the MNE’s illustrated there are well known and easily recognizable. Anyway, this is a small drawback compared to the benefits of the book.

At last but not at least, a table of contents:

Part 1 The Strategic Imperatives
Chapter 1 Expanding Abroad: Motivations, Means, and Mentalities
Case 1-1 Lincoln Electric
Case 1-2 Jollibee Foods Corporation (A): International Expansion
Case 1-3 Acer, Inc.: Taiwan’s Rampaging Dragon
Case 1-4 Research in Motion: Managing Explosive Growth
Reading 1-1 The Tortuous Evolution of the Multinational Corporation
Reading 1-2 Distance Still Matters: The Hard Reality of Global Expansion
Reading 1-3 When You Shouldn’t Go Global
Chapter 2 Understanding the International Context: Responding to Conflicting Environmental Forces
Case 2-1 Global Wine Wars 2009: New World versus Old
Case 2-2 The Globalization of CEMEX
Case 2-3 Mattel and the Toy Recalls (A)
Reading 2-1 Culture and Organization
Reading 2-2 Clusters and the New Economics of Competition
Chapter 3 Developing Transnational Strategies: Building Layers of Competitive Advantage
Case 3-1 Marketing the “$100 Laptop” (A)
Case 3-2 Global Branding of Stella Artois
Case 3-3 GE’s Imagination Breakthrough: The Evo Project
Reading 3-1 Managing Differences: The Central Challenge of Global Strategy
Reading 3-2 How Local Companies Keep Multinationals at Bay
Reading 3-3 Regional Strategies for Global Leadership
Part 2: The Organizational Challenge
Chapter 4 Developing a Transnational Organization: Managing Integration, Responsiveness, and Flexibility
Case 4-1 Philips versus Matsushita: Competing Strategic and Organizational Choices
Case 4-2 ECCO A/S – Global Value Chain Management
Case 4-3 World Vision International’s AIDS Initiative: Challenging a Global Partnership
Reading 4-1 Managing Multicultural Teams
Reading 4-2 Managing Executive Attention in the Global Company
Reading 4-3 Matrix Management: Not a Structure, a Frame of Mind
Chapter 5 Creating Worldwide Innovation and Learning: Exploiting Cross Border Knowledge Management
Case 5-1 Siemens AG: Global Development Strategy
Case 5-2 P&G Japan: The SK-II Globalization Project
Case 5-3 McKinsey & Company: Managing Knowledge and Learning
Reading 5-1 Building Effective R&D Capabilities Abroad
Reading 5-2 Connect and Develop: Inside Procter & Gamble’s New Model for Innovation
Reading 5-3 Finding, Forming, and Performing: Creating Networks for Discontinuous Innovation
Chapter 6 Engaging in Cross-Border Collaboration: Managing across Corporate Boundaries
Case 6-1 Nora-Sakari: A Proposed JV in Malaysia (Revised)
Case 6-2 Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd.–Farm Equipment Sector: Acquisition of Jiangling Tractor Company
Case 6-3 Eli Lilly in India: Rethinking the Joint Venture Strategy
Reading 6-1 The Design and Management of International Joint Ventures
Reading 6-2 Collaborate with Your Competitors – and Win
Part 3: The Managerial Implications
Chapter 7 Implementing the Strategy: Building Multidimensional Capabilities
Case 7-1 ING Insurance in Asia/Pacific
Case 7-2 BRL Hardy: Globalizing an Australian Wine Company
Case 7-3 Silvio Napoli at Schindler India (A)
Reading 7-1 Local Memoirs of a Global Manager
Reading 7-2 Tap Your Subsidiaries for Global Reach
Chapter 8 The Future of the Transnational: An Evolving Global Role
Case 8-1 Hitting the Wall: Nike and International Labor Practices
Case 8-2 IKEA’s Global Sourcing Challenge: Indian Rugs and Child Labor(A)
Case 8-3 Killer Coke: Campaign Against Coca-Cola
Case 8-4 Genzyme’s CSR Dilemma: How to Play its HAND
Reading 8-1 Values in Tension: Ethics Away From Home
Reading 8-2 Serving the World’s Poor, Profitably

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