Thursday, July 13, 2006

How is it possible to have an International business?

It may be a miracle that companies succeed in having prosperous international businesses. After all, the company is going to a country where the language, culture, and physical circumstances are very different. It should not surprise us that most companies international operations struggle for quite a while. Some even give up, others never reach the level of performance the home operation does. Most companies underestimate the challenges. For example, it is known that most people assume much greater homogeneity in groups to which they do not belong. So if you are a Harvard alumnus, you know there is wide variety among alumni, but someone who is not will feel comfortable generalizing about Harvard alumni. Americans will generalize about the French, while the French will generalize about Americans. So we are poor at understanding the subtleties of foreign cultures.

Equally, living in a place is very different from visiting there, however often. Even withn a country, living in LA is not the same visiting, and visting Mumbai is not the same as living there.

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