As Western multinationals shift their focus to emerging markets, they must adjust their structures, processes, and decision-making speed to compete successfully. This article explores the challenges presented by emerging markets and offers several approaches to successfully survive within them.
Many leading Western multinational corporations expect that their future success will depend on their ability to win in emerging markets. They project that the share of their business based in emerging markets will increase from some 20 per cent to 50 per cent or more over the next decade. While their intentions are clear, results thus far have been mixed, even for those Western multinationals that have operated in emerging markets for several decades.
Our experience and research suggests that companies are still learning how to organise for success in these markets. They are looking for better ways to allocate financial and human resources to match their aspirations. They are trying to attract and retain senior talent with the skills to align stakeholders in a global network and the entrepreneurialism to drive initiatives on the ground. They are working to innovate so they can be relevant in a local market at the prevailing price point, all while maintaining global quality standards. They are exploring how to improve risk management to accelerate the “metabolic rate” of decision making in a complex matrix organised by products, segments, countries, and functions. And they are working out when they should get into emerging markets and how they will sustain long-term commitments once they do so.