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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Research in Marketing, Volume 29, Issue 1, March 2012, Pages 5–12
Although standardization–adaptation has long been recognized as a dynamic negotiation, less is known about the attendant processes within organizations. Accordingly, this study “pulls back the curtain” on a new global brand management strategy at Kimberly-Clark (KC). An extended case method was employed, comprising three rounds of semi-structured interviews with senior regional and global marketing managers on six continents. Global brand strategy development at KC entails sharing information and best practices, implementing common brand planning processes, assigning responsibilities for global branding, and creating and implementing effective brand-building strategies. Indeed, KC's approach, predicated on accountable empowerment and capacity-building, is transforming the organization by increasing marketing capability locally while instilling better processes and disciplines centrally. An examination of these seemingly orthogonal objectives allows us to see how brand strategy cohesiveness is maintained in an unconventionally decentralized structure.
The global integration of markets has spurred a convergence in consumer preferences (Townsend, Yeniyurt, & Talay, 2009), prompting organizations to search for more effective ways to serve international customers and enhance their worldwide competitive positions (Wang, Wei, & Yu, 2008). Within this context, globalization is defined as the distribution and creation of products and services of a homogenous type and quality worldwide (Rugman & Moore, 2001). The attempts of multinational corporations (MNCs) to globalize have resulted in the development and promotion of global brands (Townsend et al., 2009 and Wang et al., 2008). Therefore, as competition globalizes, an MNCs' success hinges on its ability to position and manage brands across the numerous countries in which it operates (Usunier & Lee, 2005). Although most MNCs recognize the advantages of global brands and the value of developing effective brand strategies that nurture their global identities (Motameni & Manuchehr Shahrokhi, 1998), many are grappling with the challenges and complexities of competing in a global environment (Cavusgil, Yeniyurt, & Townsend, 2004). These complexities are amplified by the assumption that most MNCs are regional, not global, and that there is no single global market or single global strategy (Rugman & Moore, 2001). Thus, Townsend et al. (2009) argue that additional research using examples of the globalization of brands can provide managers and scholars with a deeper understanding of global brand management strategy. Prior literature has explored components of global branding and the ways MNCs can exploit global opportunities, but limited attention has been paid to branding within a global context (Cayla & Arnould, 2008). Furthermore, no consensus has been reached on the relationship between global standardization and centralization in global branding ( Özsomer and Simonin, 2004 and Quester and Conduit, 1996). We sought to extend current knowledge of global brand management by deconstructing and learning from the strategies and processes of a well-known and successful global MNC. The study viewed the global brand-building process as a dynamic capability of MNCs, and the research therefore considered how dynamic and ongoing tensions are managed between global standardization and local adaptation, as well as the resultant decisions that shape corporate strategies and processes. Our focal MNC was Kimberly-Clark (KC), which provided an ideal and constant context by “set[ing] the limits on the range of relationships to be expected”, (Johns, 2001, p. 33). KC's global marketing and branding strategy has recently undergone extensive changes, thereby providing a rich context within which to understand the processes, procedures, and practices involved in becoming a Global Marketing Organization. After presenting an extended case method (Burawoy, 1998 and Kates, 2006), we focus on understanding the dynamics of the KC setting (Eisenhardt, 1989) in order to explore and build theory (Yin, 1994). The manuscript is structured as follows: We review the literature, concentrating on global brands/branding/brand management and on dynamic capabilities; describe the case setting and the method; discuss the findings; advance a process theory of global brand management at KC; outline theoretical and managerial implications, acknowledge study limitations and provide directions for future research.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our findings show that balancing standardization and global best practices with regional empowerment and capacity-building is paramount to KC's global brand management strategy. The key to understanding the KC experience lies in deconstructing this strategy. We mapped this process in Fig. 1 and drew on transformational leadership theory and dynamic capability theory to explain how and why KC's strategy works, thereby laying the foundation for a global brand management process theory to inspire future research and practice.5.1. Theoretical implications In reference to Fig. 1, the KC global brand realignment process began with the strategic review initiated by Tony Palmer when he was appointed CMO (with the obvious backing of a more “market-oriented” board; see http://www.kimberly-clark.com/ourcompany/overview/leadership/board_of_directors.aspx). Palmer articulated a vision for a new type of global marketing organization, one which simultaneously leveraged the company's global scope and scale to provide centralized support and direction through well-crafted processes, while empowering and inspiring regional managers to “lift their respective games” and implement “only the best possible campaigns in their respective markets” (Interviewee 12). Strategic leadership theory suggests that buy-in from all levels of management is vital to innovation and sustained success. Indeed, Elenkov, Judge, and Wright (2005) emphasize the need for visionary leadership, inclusion, reward, and the intellectual stimulation of staff. In addition, Jansen, Vera, and Crossan (2009) demonstrate the impact of transformational leadership on innovation, which captures many of the facets of cooperation and coordination present in the KC case. In short, KC's head office consulted with regional leaders, established trusting relationships, and only then formulated (in conjunction with regional leaders) a global strategic framework. Fig. 1 demonstrates that global–regional alignment and mutual commitment/trust converged to produce a collaborative, learning, and sharing culture that facilitated constructive dialogue and negotiation. Moreover, unlike most similar situations, the KC process deliberately avoided a major organizational restructuring (and all of the associated turmoil and loss of momentum). Interviewee 11 (a global executive based in Europe) noted that “…it's less about boxes and reporting lines. In truth, we didn't change much. It's more about better systems and processes. We're changing the nervous system and the social system, not the skeleton”. Organizationally, the only real change was the establishment of the Global Sector Leadership (GSL) team, a high-level oversight committee that sits outside of the existing organizational structure. This team reports to the CMO and to two group presidents, ensuring that regional proposals are “on strategy”. A region that wishes to pursue an initiative that is not on strategy would need to secure agreement from the CMO and the group presidents (but even then, the GSL team may not provide resourcing support), producing a form of accountable and qualified decentralization in the process. The new KC strategy and processes were designed and implemented as part of an ongoing effort to extend its brand-building and marketing capabilities, accelerate growth and product innovation, and improve the effectiveness of their marketing resources (speed to market and success rates). This requires dynamic organizational and strategic routines through which firms can achieve new resource configurations as markets emerge and evolve (Eisenhardt & Martin, 2000). While one stream of literature posits that dynamic capabilities are directly associated with organizational performance, a second stream argues that dynamic capabilities are important to the development of new capabilities, which, in turn, improve organizational performance ( Helfat and Peteraf, 2003 and Zahra et al., 2006). The KC experience exemplifies this second stream. Through global sharing and collaboration, KC is building local capabilities and empowering regional managers to execute the best possible marketing strategies. By becoming more agile (Chonko & Jones, 2005), innovative, and resourceful, KC should be able to operate more profitably in a rapidly changing and fragmenting global marketplace (Tsourveloudis & Valavanis, 2002). Agility, after all, means having the organizational support, resources, and intellectual capital necessary to deal with change (Chonko & Jones, 2005), which KC's new global brand strategy and processes aim to achieve. 5.2. Managerial implications On some levels, KC's global brand management is neither new nor revolutionary. For instance, in 2001, Unilever split responsibility for each of its brands between two groups: a brand development group, which had a global scope, and a brand-building group, which was charged with building the brand in the specific markets and major regions in which Unilever operated (Deighton, 2007). The difference between Unilever and KC is not in the strategic plans, but in the processes and implementation. To paraphrase Bertolt Brecht (Mother Courage), the finest plans are spoiled by the littleness of those that carry them out [regionally]; even [CMOs] cannot execute them all by themselves. Transformational leadership must achieve widespread buy-in before implementation can proceed and succeed. We saw this at KC. Other MNCs may be willing to restructure in an effort to produce immediate and measurable changes, but KC focused first on achieving buy-in, then on building local capacity through better marketing processes, and finally on empowering regions to grow. It should be noted, however, that many of KC's subsidiaries were late market entrants relative to KC's chief competitors, Unilever and Proctor & Gamble. Indeed, by virtue of their longstanding presence in numerous international markets, Unilever and Procter & Gamble have already experienced success (and mistakes) in their efforts to enhance global standardization and centralization.1 The processes that KC implemented should therefore be viewed in the context of the firm's status as a latecomer to brand standardization. 5.3. Limitations and directions for future research This study examined the interplay between KC's regional offices and global headquarters. It devoted less attention to analyzing the role of the local subsidiaries in this relationship. The ways in which local subsidiaries respond to increased centralization and global standardization is therefore an important area for future research, as a breakdown in communication along the global–regional–local chain could mean that regional or global best practices are not adequately transferred to the local level. By establishing the fundamentals of global brand management in all regional teams, KC has ensured that its branding teams are ‘singing from that same songbook' or “singing the same thing” (various interviewees). However, balancing regional autonomy and standardization strategy is difficult. KC must determine how it can maintain consistent brand meaning while allowing a diverse customer base to adapt its brands to local customs.