Case | HBS Case Collection | August 2007 (Revised September 2010)

Unilever as a "multi-local multinational" 1945-1979

by Geoffrey G. Jones and Stephanie D. Decker

Abstract

Explores the opportunities and threats to Unilever's global business in 1978 based on the commercial and political challenges faced by three of its subsidiaries, Lever Brothers in the United States, Hindustan Lever in India, and United Africa Company in West Africa. Management faced several problems: criticism of multinational companies, anti-trust legislation, expropriations, and rising competition from international and local rivals. Focuses on developing a new global strategy for a company that placed a premium on a consensual management style and local autonomy.

Keywords: Business Divisions; Local Range; Global Strategy; Multinational Firms and Management; Management Style; Africa; India; United States;

Citation:

Jones, Geoffrey G., and Stephanie D. Decker. Unilever as a "multi-local multinational" 1945-1979. Harvard Business School Case 808-025, August 2007. (Revised September 2010.)