بهره برداری در برابر اکتشاف در شرکت های چند ملیتی: مفاهیم برای آینده کسب و کار بین المللی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|20126||2010||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||9534 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Futures, Volume 42, Issue 9, November 2010, Pages 937–951
Given the economic weight of multinational corporations and their privileged access to resources, many different scenarios can be built about the future of international business and about the future impact of international business on economic, technological, and social development. In this paper, we argue that multinationals do not form a uniform organisational population, and we provide empirical evidence of the existence of traditional, rigid entities seeking benefits from low-risk exploitative strategies on one hand, and of flexible multinationals seeking higher performance levels by balancing the trade-offs between exploration and exploitation on the other hand. As these two sub-populations compete with one another for resources, we use a population ecology perspective to study likely ecological scenarios for the future. Our conclusion is that traditional multinationals tend to prevail over flexible multinationals, and the conditions required for a future society to allow a genuine growth of flexible multinationals are unlikely. This implies that multinationals remain primarily exploitative, and that as such, they will only be associated with marginal economic, technological, and social developments in the future. Other organisational forms, such as entrepreneurial small business and communities of practices are shown to be much more likely vehicles through which society can progress and innovate.
The multinational corporation (MNC) and models of MNCs  have always been central concepts in international business theory. Thus, when investigating the future of international business, one direction for reflection is the future forms of MNCs and their future economic roles. Back in the 1980s, in parallel with the business literature on globalisation, international business theory was promising radical change and the emergence of highly competitive and resilient large scale businesses. Multinational corporations (MNCs) were said to be more flexible , benefiting from unique economies of scale, economies of scope, learning and real options opportunities , and having access to more sources of (cheaper) funds from international markets . The predictions from these theories of “multinational advantage” is that MNCs should be naturally more competitive than domestic firms, and that they should dominate the realm of economic activities through the management of their knowledge reserves, flexibility platforms, and portfolio of real options. Such superiority should naturally be reflected in the MNCs overall value and corporate performance. There is a significant empirical literature in international business research investigating this proposition and the relationship between multinationality and performance, but it reports inconsistent and controversial results  and . Most of this research, however, investigates a population of MNCs assumed to be uniform. If this assumption is relaxed, then the theory of multinational advantage would only hold: (1) if MNCs really seek, rather than avoid, strategic flexibility; and (2) if flexible MNCs can remain competitive when compared with MNCs using alternative strategies. The specifications of the flexible MNC  and  match those of an explorative firm, as described by March . March describes exploration as being associated with activities such as “search, variation, risk taking, experimentation, play, flexibility, discovery, and innovation”. Exploitation is associated with activities such as “refinement, choice, production, efficiency, selection, implementation, execution” . March demonstrates the existence of a delicate trade-off between exploration and exploitation. He also shows that because adaptive processes refine exploitation more rapidly than innovation, organisations naturally tend to exploit rather than explore. As a result, organisations become very effective in the short-run but do so at the cost of compromising or “self-destructing” long run economic prospects. Conversely, a firm investing solely in exploration processes operates at such a level of risk than it would be difficult for it to secure enough short-term returns to fund long-term growth. Therefore, if several types of MNCs compete with one another through different strategies, the rather ambivalent nature of the relationship between multinational flexibility and performance in MNCs can be revisited in a different light. Specifically, some firms will tend to forego valuable exploration opportunities (e.g. learning and real options) for exploitation activities. For example, these MNCs could seek growth by replicating their existing business models over a broader portfolio of markets, in what could be described as a “copy and paste” approach to strategy. At the other end of the spectrum, one would find MNCs systematically investing in flexibility and seeking an optimal trade-off between exploration and exploitation. In this work, we assume that managers’ propensity to detect and appraise real options as resources and tools for flexibility management in MNCs is one way of differentiating flexible MNCs from traditional ones in the current international business landscape (consistently with ,  and ). We argue that to appreciate the future of the international business landscape, one needs to investigate the validity of theories of multinational advantage. Thus our main research question is: Is the flexible multinational a reality or a theoretical fiction? In other words, does the flexible multinational, once the hot topic of international business research, have a future? Is it able to recognise, explore, and exploit its (flexible) real options platforms? For example, Reuer and Leiblein  and Tong and Reuer  empirical findings, both focusing on real options as determinants of performance in MNCs, are that multinationality and international joint-ventures as flexibility options do not necessarily equate with a lower exposure to risk or higher performance. This paper is organised as follows. In Section 2, we use empirical data to investigate whether or not all MNCs are identical when it comes to flexibility. Our findings confirm the existence of two distinct sub-populations: traditional (non-flexible) MNCs and flexible MNCs. Having established the existence of two competing species of MNCs, we turn to the question of their likely co-existence, in the present and the future. Section 3 discusses our futures methodologies and our choice of a population ecology framework to assess the survival likelihood of both species on the basis of their ability to compete for resources. Section 4 discusses the application of this framework in the case where traditional and flexible multinationals are competing with one another. Section 5 extends this analysis by enlarging the set of species with small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and communities of practice (COP). Section 6 concludes the paper by discussing implications for the future of international business and its role in society.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The future of international business is likely to be the result of an intensification of competition on the basis of exploitative processes. At the time of writing this paper, there are still ample opportunities for international growth, irrespectively of the nature of the strategy (exploration versus exploitation) followed by MNCs. There are also considerable growth opportunities for MNCs from emerging economies to invest in markets overlooked by MNCs from older economies. It is because firms’ adaptive processes prefer exploitation over exploration , that the simulation of population dynamics suggests that it is unlikely that a new era of competition on the basis of exploration only could emerge. This also explains the low proportion of P2 companies nowadays, and the disappointing results of the multinationality-performance research programme. The population dynamics parameters used in this paper show that, despite the apparent superiority of explorative companies, both type of multinationals should coexist in the long-run, with traditional multinationals being able to emerge and grow more easily than explorative firms. The findings also imply that because of population dynamics and the permanent competition from traditional multinationals (not so good at innovation, but lucrative and numerous), the multinational organisational form may not the best organisational template for innovation, leaving space for small organisations, or other organisational forms, to operate profitably. Alternatively, one could argue that if it ever comes to the saturation of population P1, this may lead MNCs to switch to the strategies of population P2 to seek more differentiated market positions and novel approaches to growth. This turnaround would match Kogut and Kulatilaka's  recommendation of using real options for corporate renewal and against structural inertia. Whether firms that have fine tuned their exploitative processes can operate such a transformation is a question for debate. Thus, the once golden child of international business research, the flexible MNC, seems to have a future fraught with the danger of extinction. Given the scale of assets and manpower of multinationals, and their increasing economic and political importance, the question of the relative evolution of the two sub-population P1 and P2 is key to understanding the future of international business, and the potential contribution of internal business to economic, technological, and social development. To illustrate this point it is useful to consider two practical examples of industries at different stages of population maturity. Unlike other industrial sectors, the airline industry is probably close to the saturation of its traditional population P1 as evidenced by the bankruptcy of many national carriers (e.g. Swissair, Sabena, and Alitalia). The industry has always had an exploitative character with its self-imposed regulation forbidding differentiation on the basis of quality of services. Its more explorative sub-population P2 (e.g. Singapore Airline, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic) is smaller (consistently with the dynamics shown in Fig. 7) but remains a robust, differentiated, and profitable segment despite the troubled times experienced by other airlines. The global oil industry is at a different evolutionary stage. Due to the fundamental role of oil in national economies, the oil industry is characterised by a dominance of exploitation mechanisms, as evidenced by the cartel-type arrangements currently in place. In an exploitation-based economy, significant profits can be accumulated by voluntarily restricting supply when demand is increasing. Profits are derived from inflated prices rather than growth, and both the restriction of input and the economic gloom which comes with this restriction make it more difficult for an innovative and competition-oriented population P2 to grow and turn markets around. Although our simulation results suggest that explorative MNCs can never dominate an economy in the long run, reflecting upon such a future is not uninteresting. To go back to the oil industry example, it would mean the rise of a sub-population of MNCs not thinking of themselves as exploiting a natural resource but seeking differentiated and sustainable ways to better serve the needs of energy consumers. Such transformations have taken place in other industries, as for example by film manufacturers that have reconverted themselves to the digital camera industry. In other words, if flexible MNCs could come to dominate their industries, it is under such a scenario that the greatest economic transformations could take place, as exploration is opposed to the structural inertia that comes with exploitation. However, our population ecology approach shows that if current societal values and processes are an indication of what the future will be, such a scenario is very unlikely to ever unfold. Not unlike Fuller's conclusion about the bright future of small businesses in a society which values individual human spirit , the flexible MNC only has a bright future in a society which values, support, and select progress and innovation over easy, safe, and short-term gains. Finally, this paper's findings also highlight that seeking social progress and innovation through businesses that have to compete for survival with non-innovative businesses may simply be a poor idea. The origin of this poor idea could be a general confusion between the idea of competing for market share (which requires innovation) and competing for resources (which does not require innovation). Therefore, the future of international business may be one of the providing undifferentiated, or moderately differentiated products and services, to the masses. Innovation, social progress, improvement to quality of life, flexible responses to changing economic and societal conditions are reasons why small business networks, or new organisational forms such as communities of practice, have a bright future.