Globalization is a featured research topic and an initiative at Harvard Business School.
The globalization of business has long encouraged Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty to research international business practices and the effects of globalization. Seminal contributions - Christopher Bartlett on managing across borders, Michael Porter on competition in global industries, and Louis Wells on foreign investment in emerging markets - helped pave today’s global research path. Supported by eight Global Research Centers that facilitate our contact with global companies and the collection of international data, key investigations concentrate on the effectiveness of management practices in global organizations; cross-cultural learning and adaptation processes; the challenges of taking companies global; emerging-market companies with global potential; and international political economy and its impact on economic development.
  1. Location Choices under Strategic Interactions

    Juan Alcacer, Cristian Dezso and Minyuan Zhao

    The literature on location choices has mostly emphasized the impact of location and firm characteristics. However, most industries with a significant presence of multi-location firms are oligopolistic in nature, which suggests that strategic interaction among firms plays an important role in firms' decision-making processes. This paper explores how strategic interaction among competitors affects firms' geographic expansion across time and markets. Specifically, we build a model in which two firms that differ in their capabilities enter sequentially into two markets with different potentials for profit. The model is solved using game theory under three learning scenarios that capture the ability of a firm to transfer its capabilities across markets: no learning, local learning, and global learning. Three equilibrium strategies arise: accommodate, marginalize, and collocate. We identify how these strategies emerge depending on the tradeoff between the opportunity costs of absence (giving competitors a lead in a market) and the entrenchment benefits (the cost advantage firms develop through learning-by-doing when they enter early). Both the opportunity costs of absence and the entrenchment benefits vary according to initial relative firm capabilities, relative market profitability, and learning rates. Our model offers a comprehensive approach to understanding the drivers of firm location choices by modeling not only the impact of location and firm heterogeneity, but also the strategic interaction among firms.

    Keywords: Location strategies; multinational strategy; oligopolistic competition; game theory; firm heterogeneity; Geographic Location; Multinational Firms and Management; Balance and Stability; Decision Choices and Conditions; Game Theory;


    Alcacer, Juan, Cristian Dezso, and Minyuan Zhao. "Location Choices under Strategic Interactions." Strategic Management Journal 36, no. 2 (February 2015): 197–215. View Details
  2. CJ E&M: Creating a K-Culture in the U.S.

    Elie Ofek, Sang-Hoon Kim and Michael Norris

    Buoyed by the success of K-pop music and K-drama television shows in Asian countries, Chairman Jay Lee, of the South Korean conglomerate CJ Group, believed that the time was ripe for taking Korean cultural content to the West. One initiative, carried out by the Group's Entertainment & Media (E&M) division, was a daylong fan convention, called 'KCON', that was held in Irvine, CA in October 2012 and which featured various Korean cultural elements, such as music, dance, film, and food.

    In the spring of 2013, Miky Lee, the Group's Vice Chairman (VC), called a meeting with key executives to review the results of KCON 2012 and make a recommendation to the Chairman on whether to hold a similar event in 2013. As part of their deliberations, the executives were expected to consider where a potential 2013 convention should be held, which artists to invite, which target consumers to focus on, how to price tickets and how to attract more sponsors. With KCON 2012 having lost money, despite a robust turnout, it was far from clear whether to repeat the event and, if so, whether its scale should be expanded beyond 2012's $1.1 million budget. With CJ recently opening a chain of mid-market Korean food restaurants in the Los Angeles area called Bibigo, the meeting would also touch on the restaurant's U.S. growth plans and how they might be connected to KCON.

    More broadly, the executives had to wrestle with the question of whether Americans would ever really embrace Hallyu, the Korean Wave, beyond one-off success stories like PSY's "Gangnam Style." And even if they believed so, was KCON the right vehicle to make it happen, or was the event just a waste of the company's time and money?

    Keywords: global strategy; Cultural Consumption; Media Businesses; international marketing; event marketing; Creative Industries; cross-cultural adaptation; ethnic marketing; South Korea; Marketing Strategy; Entertainment; Global Strategy; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; United States; South Korea;


    Ofek, Elie, Sang-Hoon Kim, and Michael Norris. "CJ E&M: Creating a K-Culture in the U.S." Harvard Business School Case 515-015, January 2015. View Details
  3. Aura Light: from a Light Bulb Manufacturer to an Energy Savings Solutions Provider

    Krishna Palepu and Elena Corsi

    A Swedish light bulb manufacturer reviews its strategy to better compete against large global multinationals.

    Keywords: global strategy; outsourcing; new markets; Lighting Industry; Global Strategy;


    Palepu, Krishna, and Elena Corsi. "Aura Light: from a Light Bulb Manufacturer to an Energy Savings Solutions Provider." Harvard Business School Case 115-027, January 2015. View Details
  4. Dalian Wanda Group: The AMC Entertainment Acquisition (A)

    Willy Shih

    When Dalian Wanda Group of China announced its plan to acquire the AMC Entertainment theatrucal exhibition chain in the Unityed States, many people in the U.S were mystified. Unlike China where theatrical exhibition was experiencing rapid growth, the U.S. market was viewed as mature, and rapidly changing technology was giving consumers a widening range of choices for movie viewing. AMC was owned by a group of private equity firms, and their pessimistic view of the industry influenced their strategies and investment decisions. AMC's management team had yet a different view on the prospects of the industry. Thus three present or potential stakeholders, all looking at the same data, had distinctly different views of future prospects. How could this be?

    Keywords: Dalian Wanda Group; AMC Entertainment; Wang Jianlin; Theater Entertainment; Film Entertainment; Acquisition; Mergers and Acquisitions; Foreign Direct Investment; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Growth and Development Strategy; Business Strategy; Corporate Strategy; Expansion; Motion Pictures and Video Industry; China; United States;


    Shih, Willy. "Dalian Wanda Group: The AMC Entertainment Acquisition (A)." Harvard Business School Case 615-033, December 2014. View Details
  5. Muñoz Group: Sustaining Vertical Integration Through Innovation

    Jose B. Alvarez and Annelena Lobb

    Muñoz Group, which supplied supermarket chains and food distribution chains around the world with fruit, flowers, juice and ice cream, was at a strategic crossroads in 2014. CEO Alvaro Muñoz had to choose the best way to achieve profit goals and provide his company with a sustainable competitive advantage. The company had already developed innovative citrus, grape and flower breeding units in efforts to keep its product pipeline on the cutting edge. The company also worked to integrate vertically—to own or control every viable piece of the supply chain—in an effort to manage the flower and produce businesses from plant to retailer. The company’s stronghold was its UK and European markets, but it had expanded into North America and also eyed new opportunities in Asia. Muñoz had to decide where to focus his efforts against a backdrop of margin squeezes in the food business, competition for product from the developing world, ever more stringent quality, sustainability, and environmental standards from clients, and perennial hiring challenges.

    Keywords: innovation; supply chain; retail; Agribusiness Industry; Globalized Firms and Management; Supply Chain Management; Competitive Advantage; Vertical Integration; Profit; Innovation and Invention; Retail Industry; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; North and Central America;


    Alvarez, Jose B., and Annelena Lobb. "Muñoz Group: Sustaining Vertical Integration Through Innovation." Harvard Business School Case 515-011, December 2014. View Details
  6. HEINEKEN—Brewing a Better World

    Forest L. Reinhardt, José Alvarez, Tonia Junker and Daniela Beyersdorfer

    The Dutch company HEINEKEN, one of the leading global brewers known for its brands like Heineken, Amstel, or Desperados and for its award-winning marketing campaigns, seeks to closely integrate its long-term sustainability "Brewing a Better World"-approach into its corporate strategy. HEINEKEN had set itself ambitious 2015 and 2020 sustainability targets in six pillar areas around Energy/CO2, Water, Sustainable Sourcing, Responsible Consumption, Community/Inclusive Growth, and Health & Safety. The case zooms in on HEINEKEN's efforts in the sustainable sourcing pillar, with its work on farming standards and supplier code as well as its support for local sourcing programs in the growing African market. HEINEKEN's management finds that marketing its achievements in these sustainability areas poses new challenges though. For example, its current "mass-balance" sourcing in which sustainable and traditional material got mixed in the supply chain did not allow for effective communication on a given bottle. But was this reason enough to try to move to "segregated" sourcing, if that was even reasonable?

    Keywords: Beer/brewing industry; sustainability; local sourcing; Corporate Strategy; Global Strategy; Brands and Branding; Marketing Strategy; Supply Chain Management; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Food and Beverage Industry;


    Reinhardt, Forest L., José Alvarez, Tonia Junker, and Daniela Beyersdorfer. "HEINEKEN—Brewing a Better World." Harvard Business School Case 715-022, December 2014. View Details
  7. Market Competition, Earnings Management, and Persistence in Accounting Profitability Around the World

    Paul M. Healy, George Serafeim, Suraj Srinivasan and Gwen Yu

    We examine how cross-country differences in product, capital, and labor market competition, and earnings management affect mean reversion in accounting return on assets. Using a sample of 48,465 unique firms from 49 countries, we find that accounting returns mean revert faster in countries where there is more product and capital market competition, as predicted by economic theory. Country differences in labor market competition and earnings management are also related to mean reversion in accounting returns—but the relation varies with firm performance. Country labor competition increases mean reversion when unexpected returns are positive, but dampens it when unexpected returns are negative. Accounting returns in countries with higher earnings management mean revert more slowly for profitable firms and more rapidly for loss firms. Thus, earnings management incentives to slow or speed up mean reversion in accounting returns are accentuated in countries where there is a high propensity for earnings management. Overall, these findings suggest that country factors explain mean reversion in accounting returns and are therefore relevant for firm valuation.

    Keywords: Performance; Corporate performance; valuation; Equity Valuation; Persistence; competitive advantage; institutions; earnings management; labor market; capital markets; competition; Profit; Performance; Supply and Industry; Financial Statements; Government and Politics; Globalized Markets and Industries;


    Healy, Paul M., George Serafeim, Suraj Srinivasan, and Gwen Yu. "Market Competition, Earnings Management, and Persistence in Accounting Profitability Around the World." Review of Accounting Studies 19, no. 4 (December 2014): 1281–1308. View Details
  8. The Global Agglomeration of Multinational Firms

    Laura Alfaro and Maggie Xiaoyang Chen

    The explosion of multinational activities in recent decades is rapidly transforming the global landscape of industrial production. But are the emerging clusters of multinational production the rule or the exception? What drives the offshore agglomeration of multinational firms in comparison to the agglomeration of domestic firms? Using a unique worldwide plant-level dataset that reports detailed location, ownership, and operation information for plants in over 100 countries, we construct a spatially continuous index of pairwise-industry agglomeration and investigate the patterns and determinants underlying the global economic geography of multinational firms. Our analysis presents new stylized facts that suggest the emerging offshore clusters of multinationals are not a simple reflection of domestic industrial clusters. Agglomeration economies including capital-good market externality and technology diffusion play a more important role in the offshore agglomeration of multinationals than the agglomeration of domestic firms. These findings remain robust when we address potential reverse causality by exploring the regional pattern and process of agglomeration.

    Keywords: Multinational Firms and Management; Manufacturing Industry;


    Alfaro, Laura, and Maggie Xiaoyang Chen. "The Global Agglomeration of Multinational Firms." Journal of International Economics 94, no. 2 (November 2014): 263–276. (Revised April 2014. Also NBER Working Paper Series, No. 15576. See Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 10-043. for longer version.) View Details
  9. Finance and Social Responsibility in the Informal Economy: Institutional Voids, Globalization and Microfinance Institutions

    Hao Liang, Christopher Marquis and Sunny Li Sun

    We examine the heterogeneous effects of globalization on the interest rate setting by microfinance institutions (MFIs) around the world. We consider MFIs as a mechanism to overcome the institutional void of credit for small entrepreneurs in developing and emerging economies. Using a large global panel of MFIs from 119 countries, we find that social globalization that embraces egalitarian institutions on average reduces MFIs' interest rates. In contrast, economic globalization that embraces neoliberal institutions on average increases MFIs' interest rates. Moreover, the proportions of female borrowers and of poorer borrowers negatively moderate the relationship between social globalization and MFI interest rate, and positively moderate the relationship between economic globalization and MFI interest rate. This paper contributes to understanding how globalization processes can both ameliorate and exacerbate challenges of institutional voids in emerging and developing economies.

    Keywords: Institutional voids; microfinance institutions; economic globalization; social globalization; Microfinance; Globalization; Developing Countries and Economies;


    Liang, Hao, Christopher Marquis, and Sunny Li Sun. "Finance and Social Responsibility in the Informal Economy: Institutional Voids, Globalization and Microfinance Institutions." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-029, October 2014. View Details
  10. Sanford C. Bernstein Goes to Asia

    Linda A. Hill, Dana M. Teppert and Allison J. Wigen

    Sanford C. Bernstein, a premier sell-side research firm, is expanding globally. Three years after launching Bernstein's Asian business, senior management has appointed Ghislain de Charentenay, a six-year sales veteran of the firm, as director of Asian research in Hong Kong. He is the first director of research Bernstein has put on the ground in Asia. As the firm faces the challenging realities of scaling its Asian business and meeting growing client demand for global products, de Charentenay must figure out how best to support the senior research analysts in leveraging their franchises. And with a recent wave of attrition among Bernstein's research associate ranks in Hong Kong, de Charentenay and the management team must also consider where to focus their recruiting efforts.

    Keywords: collaboration; leadership; globalization; organizational design; talent management; Leadership; Talent and Talent Management; Organizational Design; Emerging Markets; Globalization; Hong Kong;


    Hill, Linda A., Dana M. Teppert, and Allison J. Wigen. "Sanford C. Bernstein Goes to Asia." Harvard Business School Case 415-037, October 2014. View Details
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