قهرمانان مخفی یونان:درس های کوچک، شرکت های کمتر شناخته شده در یونان
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|21005||2000||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : European Management Journal, Volume 18, Issue 6, December 2000, Pages 663–674
The purpose of the research described in this paper is to first identify successful Greek SMEs that can be qualified as `hidden champions' and second to uncover the factors that have contributed to their success. These factors relate to their choice of markets served, their relationships with customers and suppliers, innovative behavior, leadership and human resources management practices. The findings suggest that four overall themes or `recipes' may explain the success of these firms: (a) intense specialization in narrowly defined market segments, (b) commitment to customer service, (c) innovative culture and adaptation to new technologies, and (d) strong leadership and a healthy organizational climate.
Can small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a small country like Greece survive, not to mention succeed, among today's global giants? What strategies should they adopt in order to compete against the large multinationals? Is their only chance to become niche players? Can they hope to expand beyond their home market? Can they secure a better or different relationship with customers other than large competitors? Can they find ways to innovate and provide high value added products and services to their customers? What type of competitive advantage should they seek? These and similar questions are of critical importance for SMEs and become even more relevant in small countries, like Greece, on the periphery of the EU. The contribution of SMEs in terms of innovation, creation of new jobs and economic revival of regions and localities is widely acknowledged (Dutta and Evrard, 1999). On the other hand, although nearly a million new firms register each year within the EU15 (EPU, 1997) it is also true that about an equal number exit the market, mainly because of their inability to compete against the large multinationals with their ample financial and human resources. According to a recent OECD study (OECD, 1997) a significant proportion of SME's will be threatened by international competition and are unlikely to survive in the long run. Although it is difficult to come up with some generally accepted conclusions it is recognized that cost cutting, outsourcing, mergers and networking as well as strategic alliances are commonly prescribed means to address the challenges of globalization (OECD, 1999). It is not clear, however, the extent to which those policies can ensure the long-term competitiveness of SME's in small countries like Greece. Research on the subject is not sufficient to draw definite conclusions. In contrast, SMEs in advanced economies have been the subject of extensive research (see for example, Glifford and Cavanagh, 1985, Page and Jones, 1989, Taylor et al., 1990 and Tonge et al., 1998). A particularly interesting study is that of Simon's (1996) which focuses, mainly, on German firms and which has been published in a book entitled `Hidden Champions: Lessons from 500 of the World's Best Unknown Companies'. As the subtitle of the book indicates, Simon identifies a large number of small- and medium-sized firms that have not only managed to successfully compete against the large multinationals but also to prosper in terms of better than average profits and strong growth rates. Furthermore, such firms, although world class, are not well known, hence the term `hidden'. Finally, the term `champions' refers to their dominant position in the global marketplace where they are either leaders, or close followers in their respective market niches. The major purpose of this paper is to examine if the type of `hidden champions' identified by Simon also exist in less advanced and smaller countries like Greece? Greece is an interesting case given its recent joining of the Euro. As economic progress can only be achieved at the micro-level, it must be made sure that the Greek SMEs (making up the great majority of Greek firms) can improve their competitive posture in order to become capable of competing in the unified European Union market. The research described in this study is of particular interest for the Greek economy and firms so that it can be determined if there are also Greek `hidden champions' and if so how their success story can be replicated by other Greek SMEs in their competitive battle with other firms from the EU and outside. The purpose of the research described in this paper is to first identify Greek SMEs that can be qualified as `hidden champions', and second, to uncover the factors that have contributed to their success. For a firm to qualify as a `hidden champion', it has to have achieved outstanding performance, sustained over a relatively long period of time, so that its success cannot be attributed to chance reasons. Some of the questions to be answered are the following: How do hidden champions choose their national and international markets? Do they adopt new technologies? Do they develop innovations on their own or are they followers? What is their relationship with customers, suppliers and other partners? What are the qualities of their employees and attributes of their leaders? Answering these and similar questions provides a way of finding commonalities among the hidden champions so that their overall operational and strategic characteristics can be described and evaluated. This paper is organized as follows. The first section briefly describes the methodology used for carrying out the research as well as the analytical framework utilized. The second section presents the Greek hidden champions and describes the factors that have contributed to their success. There is also a concluding section discussing the findings and their implications and offering some directions for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The findings of this study cast some doubts on the prevailing view that in today's globalized and hyper-competitive markets large size is the most critical factor for succeeding. Instead, this study has shown that some of the leading Greek firms, characterized by high growth and profitability, are small- or medium-sized. They closely resemble what Simon (1996)has termed `hidden champions'. Within the context of an economic environment where small- and medium-size firms face increased competition from large internationals, these hidden champions appear to view globalization more as an opportunity rather than as a threat and size not as a major disadvantage. The findings of this study reveal that hidden champions, although lacking the economies of scale and scope of their multinational competitors, can survive and prosper through their overwhelming persistence and strong commitment. Such persistence/commitment relates to the way they define markets, approach customers, innovate and treat/develop their personnel. Although the specific strategies chosen by each of the hidden champions differ according to their particular situation, the following four overall strategy themes, or `recipes', can explain their strategic orientation: 1. Intense specialization in narrowly defined market segments: The hidden champions select a market niche where they offer specialized solutions. However, such a selected market niche usually serves as the point of departure for entering into related markets and expanding internationally. Hidden champions generally avoid diversification and when they do, such diversification is closely related to products/services they know best and is aimed at meeting complementary customer needs and at providing integrated solutions. 2. Commitment to customer service and quality: Close contact with customers increases learning opportunities and enables hidden champions to address the requirements of their clients by offering unique, high quality products/services. Because of their persistence in satisfying their customers' particular needs, hidden champions tend to go against current management practices and keep production processes under their direct control, rather than subcontracting or outsourcing it. Similarly, they do not grow through mergers and acquisitions, as they do not want to contaminate their own culture with those of `outsiders'. In the few cases where subcontracting takes place, it involves secondary products, complementing their core product lines, or services they cannot provide themselves. Finally, lowering their operational costs does not constitute one of their priorities, especially when quality may be affected. 3. Innovation: Hidden champions adopt innovations along the whole value chain (i.e. in the production process or in the provision of services, in marketing, in logistics) often driven by their heavy reliance on better satisfying their customers' needs and through their close cooperation with their suppliers. Their way of implementing operational innovation is by closely monitoring new technological developments and by frequently providing new products and services developed by their own or by adapting and/or imitating innovations developed elsewhere, particularly outside Greece. 4. Strong leadership and a healthy organizational climate: The leader of the hidden champions is instrumental in formulating/implementing the firm's strategy and in promoting its norms and values as well as determining the organizational climate/culture. He/she serves as the catalyst that defines the purpose and provides the internal coherence and direction needed to motivate managers and employees alike. Consequently the purpose, climate and culture of the firm is heavily emphasized to all new employees and is used to a great extent when evaluating the performance of employees. Contrary to what one might expect, the `family' model of management being adopted by the hidden champions appears as an important advantage rather than a roadblock in the success of hidden champions. The above four strategic themes can be collectively taken as expression of an `endogenous' or `inside-out' approach to strategy, relying on internal initiative and capabilities. At first, in terms of Porter's generic strategy typology, this would resemble the focus-differentiation strategy. Taking it further, however, the findings suggest a reliance on internal assets and capabilities, i.e. charismatic leadership, organizational climate/culture, capacity to better define customer needs and to provide innovative solutions and high quality services. Building on these internal capabilities, hidden champions compete in the market place and achieve an advantageous position within narrowly defined market segments. In fact, it could be argued that market definition or market achievement follows from, or even presupposes, building such capabilities. In this respect our findings are in line with the recent resource-based theory that postulates that the essence of strategy is defined by the firm's unique resources and capabilities ( Rumelt, 1984). The `recipes' found to underline the success of hidden champions are in line with previous literature on the characteristics of excellent companies. Simon (1996)for example, studying his German `Hidden Champions' found these top companies share a set of common traits that include utilization of a narrow, highly-specialized product line to meet customers' needs worldwide, avoidance of diversification and subcontracting, close relationships with their customers/suppliers, strong leadership and innovation, among others. In conclusion the `recipes' of success of the hidden champions seem fairly simple but also not easy to imitate as they require a lot of hard work as well as insistence and persistence. As noted by one of the leaders of a hidden champion: `it is not easy to become first; it takes too much effort and hard work'. It appears therefore, that despite important contextual differences between the German and the Greek environment, the similarities are striking. Hence, it seems that we have the same pattern of competitive behavior, which suggests that success rules may be global, at least for those small- and medium-size firms who distinguish themselves in achieving excellent performance. Taking it however a step further, may involve certain differences between the Greek and the German firms. First, in selecting international markets, geographical vicinity and psychological proximity may be more pronounced in Greek firms in comparison to the German hidden champions. This difference may be related to the smaller size of the Greek firms and their limited international experience. So the obvious question is whether or not Greek firms can compete in the heartland of Europe. Second, innovative efforts in Greek firms appear to be more directed to the way services are offered as opposed to core technology. Thus the question is, can Greek firms can compete with international rivals, of comparable size, in technological and product innovation? Authoritative leadership styles prevail in both Greek and German hidden champions, but the question which arises is whether or not there exist some unique features stemming from national and cultural factors. To satisfactorily answer these questions would require further research that would be capable of further illuminating how small- and medium-sized firms in various countries can successfully compete with their giant counterparts that enjoy significant economies of scale and scope. This study of Greek hidden champions may have important implications for Government policy as well as other Greek firms, as Greece is entering the Single European Currency. The findings of this study show, beyond doubt, that some firms have managed to succeed by drawing on their own initiatives and drive, as opposed to taking advantage of Government support or EU programs. Thus, Greece's heavy bureaucracy and inadequate infrastructure, as well as all other major problems that hinder businesses operating in Greece, do not seem to deter the hidden champions from achieving high growth and profitability. Some observers, therefore, express a degree of optimism for the future, saying that Greek firms can succeed despite negative business conditions they have to operate in. Also, such conditions have to be seen from the perspective of a firm which becomes increasingly transnational, and therefore meets alternative policies and conditions in other countries. On the other hand, it could also be argued that if there was a more positive business environment and if the governmental policy towards business was more positive, achievements would be even higher and perhaps many more hidden champions could emerge.