A global organization with a multinational presence
To most of us, globalization—as a political, economic, social, and technological force—appears all but unstoppable. The ever-faster flow of information across the globe has made people aware of the tastes, preferences, and lifestyles of citizens in other countries. Through this information flow, we are all becoming—at varying speeds and at least in economic terms—global citizens. This convergence is controversial, even offensive, to some who consider globalization a threat to their identity and way of life. It is not surprising, therefore, that globalization has evoked counter forces aimed at preserving differences and deepening a sense of local identity.
Yet, at the same time, we increasingly take advantage of what a global economy has to offer—we drive BMWs and Toyotas, work with an Apple or IBM notebook, communicate with a Nokia phone or BlackBerry, wear Zara clothes or Nike sneakers, drink Coca-Cola, eat McDonald’s hamburgers, entertain the kids with a Sony PlayStation, and travel with designer luggage. This is equally true for the buying habits of businesses. The market boundaries for IBM global services, Hewlett-Packard computers, General Electric (GE) aircraft engines, or PricewaterhouseCoopers consulting are no longer defined in political or geographic terms. Rather, it is the intrinsic value of the products and services that defines their appeal. Like it or not, we are living in a global economy.
The histories of Toyota, Wal-Mart, and Coca-Cola provide support for the diagnosis of a semiglobalized and regionally divided world. Toyota’s globalization has always had a distinct regional flavor. Its starting point was nota grand, long-term vision of a fully integrated world in which autos and auto parts can flow freely from anywhere to anywhere else. Rather, the company anticipated expanded free-trade agreements within the Americas, Europe, and East Asia but not across them. This reflects a vision...