Regional Transnationals and Triad Strategy
AbstractIn this paper, we address the geographic distribution of sales of some of the world’s largest multinational enterprises (MNEs), with a focus on the share of each leg of the ‘Triad’ (the North-American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA-zone, the European Union - E.U., and Asia) in these firms’ overall sales. Our view is that a firm has achieved global corporate success only if it is able to earn a balanced regional distribution of sales. Only high actual sales across the globe, especially in the wealthy and technologically advanced triad regions, demonstrate both strong firm-level capabilities at the supply side to market products and services worldwide, and a high willingness of sophisticated consumers at the demand side, to pay for the firm’s output. With respect to the supply side, we develop a new conceptual framework, which distinguishes among the global, regional and national loci of MNE decision-making, as well as the global, regional and national levels of product standardization. Our main point is that the regional dimension is important for many firms, because it is a geographic level where many important decisions are made, and where product standardization may be appropriate. We then identify the twenty MNEs with the highest foreign-to-total (F/T) sales ratios in the UNCTAD list of most internationalized companies in terms of foreign asset base that are also Fortune 500 firms. For this set of large, highly internationalized companies, we measure the distribution of their sales across triad regions. We find that only three of these firms actually have a substantial portion of their sales across all three legs of the triad. The other MNEs are either bi-regional, host-region oriented or home-triad region oriented. In other words, the empirical evidence reveals that even these highly internationalized MNEs do not have a balanced global distribution of sales. We further elaborate on this empirical finding by investigating whether a regional component can be identified in twelve specific cases of MNE strategy, building upon our new framework.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy in its series Working Papers with number 2004-20.
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Transnational Corporations, 2004
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globalization; regionalization; triad; transnational enterprises; triad home-base; regional; global; bi-regional; Wal-Mart;
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