International Business. Business and management practices in the region of the United States, European and Asian countries
This article is mainly focused on the distinctions in significant differences in business and management practices in the region of the United States, European and Asian countries. It is also aimed to identify and compares those significant differences in terms of organization structure, decision- making business processes and their ownership (equity) structure.
Under globalisation, we share many cultural features and characteristics of a new group of globetrotters. Traditionally, each culture has its unique value system. In a new era, values and norms of global village have been transformed into a dominant cultural system ( Zajda & Daun, 2009).
Furthermore, with the existence of this dominant cultural system and global development of information technology, especially in the presence of k - economy, these developments also bring the impact on the free market economy. The internationalization of the organization is now taken up to further illuminate the internationalization of the process. Historically, the multinational organization or the mother-daughter organization is an early type of worldwide organization for the multinational companies (MNCs), which is typical of the first wave of internationalization of firms, especially for West-European companies. Later, it was developed by big American corporations during the first wave of internationalization of firms and was adopted by West Europe MNCs during the second wave of internationalization of firms (Jansson, 2007).
Global economic developments have enabled the international economy performed either bilateral or multilateral, directly or indirectly resulted in the business and management practices of the firm according to the type of culture and political system of their country. Every country has its own legal system and cultural differences, for instance, the American investors ought to adapt and familiarize themselves with the Japanese’s business and management practices. At times, cultural and political problems often translate into misunderstandings (Lientz & Larssen, 2006). Besides,
cultural and political differences profoundly affect organization’s standard operating procedures (Hui, 2003). It is essential to note that it has been shown by studies that insensitivity to cultural differences and culture is directly linked to loss to business opportunity and money (Abbott & Moran, 2002).
In order to find a function of congruence between management practices and national culture, works unit of one multinational company is examined on the financial performance of European and Asian firms. What standard is used to measure the management practice of a firm? Based on Hofstede's five national culture dimensions and analogous management practice (Hofstede, 2001), work unit financial performance is higher when management practices in the work unit are congruent with the national culture. This was an extensive survey at IBM done in mid 1970’s, which he investigated the influence of national culture and he was able to statistically distinguish cultural differences between countries. The five dimensions are power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus femininity and time orientation (Hofstede, 1980) .
According to geo-economist, the global development of the three regional trade is associated with the relations between the so-called “triad” regions of the EU, NAFTA and the Yen-bloc (Spark & Lawson, 2004) “which is coming to replace the predominantly military geopolitics of the past” (Savona & Jean, 2004). Flow of trade, investment and finance is still concentrated among the three major economic powers, the United States, Europe and Japan, and their dominance is expected to continue. As a result, three of these have the capacity, especially if they coordinate their policies, to influence and manage the world's financial markets and other economic trends (Ishak, 2000) .
However, the old power triad—the United States, the European Union and Japan—controlled 75% of world trade, but now desperately needs economic growth to sustain employment and political stability, Sheth (2008) explains. The economic growth of developing countries will create a new power triad-United States, China and India, which will have a tremendous impact on global growth. According to Sheth, that triad is formed. “Regardless of the long history of mistrust, China and India began to forge strong economic ties, "said Sheth. Trade between the two countries, which is less than $ 200 million five years ago, has grown to more than $ 30 billion and likely will be more from $ 50 billion in the next three years, he explains (Emory, 2008).
Organisational structures among the US, European and Asian firms
According to Wikipedia, an organisation structure describes the types of coordination used to organise the actions of individuals and department that contribute to achieving a common goal. Organizational structures developed from the ancient times of hunters and collectors in tribal organizations through highly royal and clerical power structures to industrial structures and today's post-industrial structures ( Wikipedia, 2010).
Mintzberg (1979) defined organisational structure as "the sum total of the ways in which it divides its labour into distinct tasks and then achieves coordination among them". Each configuration contains six components:
1. operating core: the people directly related to the production of services or products;
2. strategic apex: serves the needs of those people who control the organisation;
3. middle line: the managers who connect the strategic apex with the operating core;
4. techno-structure: the analysts who design, plan, change or train the operating core;
5. support staff: the specialists who provide support to the organisation outside of the operating core's activities;
6. ideology: the traditions and beliefs that make the organisation unique
When a company has to increase participation in international trade, this issue has become an increasingly important event. There are some structures that are used by some international firms, including the structure of international specialization, the structure of the product, the structure based on function, structure based on geography, as well as the matrix structure (Nazari, 2001) .
Throughout Asia and Southeast Asia unique mosaic of business groups, government linked enterprises and small family businesses continue the major forms of indigenous business in the country's major cultural tradition and society in Mainland China, Islamic Indonesia and Buddhism in Thailand and the Christianity Philippines (Leung & White, 2004). Outside Japan and Mainland China- big or small- are owned and managed by family members, and the companies are run as extensions of the families ( Backman & Butler, 2003).
The Chaebol, like any other surviving big-business organization, is an entity that endlessly tries to fine-tune its organizational structure to changing environment ( Rowley et al, 2001). The chaebols have been the central feature of industrial organizations in Korea. (Adams, 1999). In other words, a chaebol can be defined as a business group consisting of large firms that are owned and managed by family members in many diversified business areas. The five largest chaebols, in terms of sales, are Hyundai, Samsung, Daewoo, LG and SK (Richter, 2002) .
In recent years, the management training and development programs in Korean firms have emphasized on behavioural and organizational changes. Faced with increasing global competition, many Korean firms have begun programs of great reforms to improve their ability to compete in the open world market with the ultimate objective of becoming “super world-class company.” Many Korean firms have re-defined the core ideas and the new values in this endeavour, and have initiated the changes in their organisational structure, human resource management and the business strategies (Chung et al, 1997).
The Japanese model is a comprehensive reference to a unique management which emphasizes on long term business relationships in business practices; a lifetime employment reliance on seniority in human resource management; a heavy reliance on indirect finance in financial management and the influence exercised by main banks in corporate governance (Shibata & Takeuchi, 2006). In other words, the group-orientated behaviour of the Japanese, combined with corporate capitalism with aim of forming business group (keiretsu), results in the strong loyalty of people to the corporations, namely, corporate collectivism, in sharp contrast to the individualism that is the policy of the West (Sato & Hashino, 1984).
In responding to the challenges of global markets, one of the changes in globalization is the organizational structure of the firms operating in the world market place that is to transform industry structure to their own advantage (Craig & Douglas, 2002; Prahalad & Hamel, 1994). Keeley (2001) argues that the greatest challenge Japanese firms face in expanding their foreign direct investment is how to integrate host country national managers into the management process of their overseas subsidiaries as well as their parent companies themselves. In contrast, the combination of internal in the Japanese domestic business environment and external changes in the international environment has generated strong incentives for Japanese firms to seek new ways to structure and compete (Beechler et al, 2005).
It is undeniable fact that China has hurtled through a breathtaking transformation during twentieth century. When China sets on the course to reform its economy in the late 1970s, inspired by the former leader, the late Deng Xiao Peng, the development of science and technology as a key driving-force of productivity in the economy. The last two decades have shown that large state-owned enterprises evolved from government ministries have been transforming their organizational structures (Zhang, 2004). The Chinese state enterprise management still operates within an imperfect legal framework and an underdeveloped information system. This will continue to generate some substantial difficulties in market efficiency. In order to deal such problems, this typical Chinese approach is to lay down a good network of relationships (guanxi) (Yan, 2000). For developing nations like China needs to reshape their domestic business system to meet international benchmark (Zhang, 2004).
To implement their strategies, the European firms have successfully built their alliances in Asia with local and global partners, through the provision of faculty development, technology training to customers and the industry is willing to customize their global solutions. All of these tactics played with the professional services and claims adjusting the strength of European companies. A second key niche in Europe arose from the organizational culture, complexity of languages, and differences in accounting and legal systems. Here, firms were also able to build on their prior competencies in meeting the needs of large companies ( Aggarwal, 2001).
In terms of the relationship between the U.S. and European firms, Franko (1976) investigated them as mother-daughter structure in which the heads of foreign subsidiaries reported directly to the head of the parent company. The most important was the personal relationship between presidents of parent companies and presidents of foreign ventures. In other words, the mother-daughter firms employed a higher proportion of home-country expatriates as presidents of foreign manufacturing subsidiaries than did firms with alternative structures (Jones, 1996).
Compared to their US competitors, European MNEs largely bypassed the international division and went directly from the decentralised mother- daughter structure to global structures (Borghoff, 2005). Holland and Switzerland had the lowest proportions of firms retaining the mother- daughter structure (next to the United States) suggests that supranational responsibility was especially necessary for those buffeted the most by the winds of international competition. There are about 50% of American affiliates in Europe, mainly American companies produce goods in Europe and is to sell goods there (U.S. Congress, 1988). American affiliates in Europe could not mere copycats of their mother’s house, they had to be original, somewhat Europeanized or even regionalised, with plural- national scales within the continental. Today, the word "glocal" has been invented to talk about globalised companies, and in fact we could see as leverage to a better understanding of the development of American companies in Europe 20th century ( Goey & Bonin, 2009). As far as this “ globalization-localization” is concerned, this mind-set is the key of learning how to adapt business practices and information-management processes to different market and cultural environments (Hui, 2003).
In the context of manufacturing industries, despite global advantages in these sectors passed from European to American then to Japanese companies from 1920s to 1980s, it is impossible to point to any special structure combination as uniquely successful for multinational companies. The strength of multinational corporations in Europe was to adapt to their conditions and market demands. The strength of the U.S. multinational was able to transfer technologies and proven new products from their base to the national subsidiaries. That of the multinational companies from Japan was to improve the efficiency of global integration (Grant,2002).
Decision making business processes among the US, European and Asian firms
In the business world, companies are faced with decisions about new strategies to implement, the new operations and hire a new marketing campaign for the board. When it comes time for decision makers to choose the center for their organization, there are some tools that a business decision to help organize their ideas and assist decision-making process ( Bartolemei, 2010). A few types of tools or models that have been used in business world are SWOT analysis, PDCA (Plan, Do, Check and Act), pros and cons model, forecasting, decision trees and linear programming. These tools or models can help businesses to determine the best strategic choices for their company ( Bartolemei, 2010). Moreover, Vadim (2010) mentions that decision is the key to transformation and the most successful people make decisions quickly and change them slowly.
Cultural values also affect the way people make decisions. In hierarchical societies, decisions typically are made by strong leaders who may or may not confer with colleagues or direct reports. By contrast, in egalitarian cultures everyone feels empowered to participate in the debate and at least vote in the final decision. Participation in teams and meetings also follows hierarchical levels. For instance, Chinese, Indian and Japanese workers won’t speak during a meeting due to someone of higher status is present. By contrast, in egalitarian cultures, meetings often are conducted to make decisions and determine implementation tactics (Solomon & Schell, 2009).
United States as the most important country of the world, accounting for 40% -50% of the total world market, such as telecommunications, securities trading, air services and the power. In these sectors, the United States introduced major regulatory reforms, which have an impact on other countries. They changed the chance to compete in the world market pressure, due to the size of the United States. They varied opportunities and competitive pressures in world markets, because of the size of the United States, for instance by allowing the establishment of very large companies with the capacity to expand in Europe. They provided a good example of reform and a clear opportunity for Europe companies to enter the large and attractive United States market, followed by strategy and the impact of European policy makers (Thatcher, 2007).
Decision-making in European Community (EC) is decentralized. Business must focus on EC institutions and national governments. The main institutions are the EC Commission, the EC Parliament and the Council of Ministers. The key decision maker is the Council of Ministers. The pattern of government-business relations in Europe markedly differs from the US. US firms are considered active participants in European Representative Organizations and as interlocutors of governments. To a reasonable extent, the US companies have been accepted as an equal basis with European companies (Harrison, 1994).
The report commissioned by the Bretton Woods Project indicates that the lack of basic democracy, accountability and transparency in European decision-making process on issues of financial markets. This is clearly reflected in the inadequacy and biased duties of the European Central Bank and also increasing number of informal and institutionalized groupings which address the problems of financial markets as well as dominate the discourse and the formal decision-making process (Myriam, 2008).
There are five key areas of Obama-Geithner Plan which is aimed at reforming and modernizing the U.S. regulatory system for the 21st century including promote robust supervision regulation of financial firms, establishing comprehensive regulation of financial markets, protect consumers investors from financial abuse, provide government with tools it needs to manage financial crises and raise international standards as well as improve regulatory co-operations (Saunders & Allen, 2010.
The role of family affects the most in Asian business, which interacts the important cultural concepts of guanxi (“personal relationship” or “connections”)(Chen, 2001; Hempel & Chang (2002). In Hong Kong and Singapore, for instance, significantly more than 90% of businesses have fewer than 100 employees. Family businesses account for a large proportion of businesses in Asia. Asian family businesses differ systematically from the typical mature Western business (Tan, 2003). For example, as characterized by Hempel and Chang (2002) said that the overseas Chinese business has centralized decision making by the founder or his immediate family.
Unlike in Japanese organization, the process of ringi or group decision making is considered peculiar by westerners because it is so different from the westerner organization. Many western scholars and businesspeople are very critical of Japanese decision making processes as intuitive and irrational (Nishiyama, 2000). Gerzberger (1994) said that decision making of Japanese business is a time-consuming process as it includes the involvement and discussion of almost every employee. On the other hand, based on a firm-level survey, it is indicated that Japanese firms are organized in a decentralized fashion in terms of their decision-making system as compared to the US firms (Shibata and Takeuchi, 2006).
The survey done by Ouchi, Pascal and Athos (1981) about the decision- making process in the Japanese organizations practiced bottom-up decisions in which employees at the lowest rank were asked for their input on major decisions. In contrast, the American organization practices topdown decision-making without any discussion with employees and then implement the decision by downward communications. At times, the American firms rather make quick decisions and the firms are bogged down in implementing the decisions because they faced resistance with employees (Gunderson and Sharpe, 1998).
The tool for decision making in the typical Japanese company and the Z American is the "group", based on sharing information and an attachment to consensus. In contrast, U.S. companies account for the typical person a prominent position in decision-making, a consultative process is not a prerequisite for the decision taken (McKenna, 2000). Theory Z by William Ouchi was to compare and contrast the US management practices with those of Japan (Gershon, 2001).
The Euro-group and European Business Associations play a vital role in influencing the business policy in European Union. A more study recent study on Union of Industrial Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE) deals with organisation’s influence on the European policy process (Matyja, 1997). Besides, it is also shown that multinational companies essentially broadened their base of influence inside UNICE through direct enterprise membership (Bethke, 2007). Green-Cowles (1994) points out that European Round Table of Industrialists, a highly influential association of multinational companies, as a key supporter of the European Single Market and its influence on decision making. In pertaining to this, she also demonstrates American multinationals have their influential roles organised in Brussels based American Chamber of Commerce on European Union decisions.
According to Gartner Research (2002), a study has shown that Business Intelligence (BI) is a key cornerstone in Corporate Performance Management (CPM) in both Europe and the USA. A key part is being able to access reliable intelligence so as to support accurate decision-making in dynamic business environments (Xu, 2007). The aim of Business Intelligence is to help decision makers make well-informed choices. ( Gonzales, 2003) Furthermore, Business Intelligence systems can help to provide knowledge workers with tools and methodologies that allow them to make timely and effective decisions (Vercellis, 2009).
Ownership structures among the US, European and Asian firms
Equity as ownership in any asset after all debts associated with that asset are paid off. For example, a car or house with no outstanding debt is considered the owner's equity because he or she can readily sell the item for cash. Stocks are equity because they represent ownership in a company ( Investopedia, 2009). There are different types of ownership in the business world, including sole ownership, partnership, public and private limited company and cooperatives.
Study on the role of family ownership structure is critical to the effectiveness of corporate governance employed by the firms in Asia (Claessens & Fan, 2002). Unlike developed countries such as UK and US with dispersed ownership structure, Asian firms have more concentrated ownership structure where family control is common in both small and established firms (Mak & Kusnadi, 2005). As highlighted by Bartholomeusz and Tanewski (2006), there are several reasons to favour family-controlled firms as agents are to reduce agency costs. First, family firms can protect their family if the benefits of the firm are borne by the same person. Secondly, family firms are in a better position to monitor the firms’ activities as they greater expertise. Third, having a close relationship, they are tied together that enhance an effective decision- making and an efficient communication. Fourth, family firms adherence to maximize long term wealth of their firms so as to protect family’s reputation which in reduces the agency costs.
The founder of the family is a special class of shareholders, because they often hold portfolios less diversified, but at the same time, they are long- term investors, because their goal is to bequeath to the next generations. In the U.S., it is reported that one-third of Standard and Poor’s ( S & P) 500 firms can be classified as family firms ( Anderson & Reeb, 2003). In the case of a ‘founder’, where the company is a founding member of the family is involved with the company, most likely as a CEO or the chairman. The distinction family and founder company - a category that includes Dell, Oracle, and Microsoft - is important because such companies are likely to differ in significant ways. Founder CEO typically has a unique expertise and experience, and talent management to run a major company that does not have properties inherited by their descendants. Founder is also usually has more invested in his companies than his offspring. The company's founder does not have to deal with complex issues of the family including the succession of ownership. In fact, many choose not owned or controlled by the founder of a major transmission to family members, but sell to outsiders instead (Chew & Gillan, 2009).
One of the fastest growing areas of research in international business has been equity structure assessment. In the wake of international turmoil of recent years, particularly refer to the 2007 US financial crisis, the proximate causes of credit crisis was the interplay between two choices made by the banks (Kashyap, 2010). In this financial crisis, the management have not looked after the long term interests of the shareholders, rather they have maximised benefits for themselves (Wang, 2009).
The incentive-to-accountability system - set by the board of directors on behalf of shareholders - is the core of corporate governance. This is an institutional arrangement that shared interests between the shareholders and the management. The non-functioning incentive-to-accountability system indicates that shareholders have lost power relative to the board of directors and the management, and are unable to do anything, their interests are jeopardised by the management. They are always in a weak position in any conflict between the shareholders and the management. Listed companies in the United States are now the best examples of this phenomenon (Wang, 2009) .
The consequences of inadequate risk management can be a financial crisis that spills over into the real economy. In the late 1990s, the consequences of several East Asian countries have experienced major failure of risk management at the individual level and corporate regulatory level. Many Asian countries drew this conclusion experience that rapid increases in asset prices and / or in debt may endanger financial stability (Wall, 2010). As a result, many regulatory agencies in Asia including - Hong Kong, China, India, Thailand and the Republic of Korea - increased regulatory restrictions on domestic mortgage loan to prevent rising prices and debt levels (Vanikkul, 2009).
In recent years, Israelis knowledge-intensive born global companies have gained attention as they cannot be classified as MNCs nor exporting Small Medium Enterprises due to their limited scope of operations and their small size. Israel is regarded as second most active venture capital market after Silicon Valley (Dana et al, 2008) . It appears that these companies use patents to protect their innovations. More than 50% of their sample products are patented even if they are expensive and resource demanding (Ndubisi, 2008).
The characteristic feature of modern world industry is not only free trade in goods and services, but also free movement of a capital. In different regions all over the world, a stock exchange listing, rates of interest and course of currency are interconnected. World financial markets and capital markets significantly influence on financial-economic conditions. Moreover, international investment capital plays an important role in financial development in separate countries as well as in the regions all over the world. The above mentioned condition helps through "the inflow" of investment capital in highly-profitable countries.
Nowadays, it is increasingly an electronic market, with pervasive use cutting-edge computer applications, it is open to millions simultaneous investors and conceivably able to maximise the chances that market participants have basically instantaneous access to the same information no matter where they are (Cetina & Preda, 2005).
As mentioned by Prahalad and Hamel (1994) in the book “Competing for the future”, today’s executives should identify and accomplish no less than heroic goals in tomorrow’s marketplace. They also pointed that there is no single economy, whether the U.S., European, or Asian, is immune from wrenching changes brought about by technological revolution, deregulation, and corporate entropy.
In a nutshell, as global citizens, other than MNCs as stated, when any country engages in international trade, they need to adapt constantly to the future of world civilization and global business environmental changes in terms of changes in organizational structure, decision-making business processes and equity ownership structures. Those countries involve in the international trade should also need to face the future challenges by equipping themselves with innovations and effective business models as these two are tremendous valuable assets to a company ( Prasad et al, 2010). At this very moment, they point out that the best ICT potential has yet been properly explored. The concept of ‘Green ICT’ plays an increasingly important role in business world particularly and private life by increasing the international inter-connectedness and speed up the process of globalization. Besides, as suggested by Swallow (2009), the future business world should carry out ‘Green Business Standards’ by striving to improve business performance and mainly generating a common platform for understanding such as corporate social responsibility, sustainability and Green Business Practices ( Swallow, 2009). Nonetheless, today’s business world from now and then has to keep up with the accelerated pace of globalization, rapid technological change, and the growth of new economy ‘knowledge-intensive’ industries (Ndubisi, 2008).
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