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Yip identifies four sets of “industry globalization drivers” that underlie conditions in each industry that create the potential for that industry to become more global and, as a consequence, for the potential viability of a global approach to strategy.George S. Yip first developed this framework in his book Total global strategy: Managing for worldwide competitive advantage (1992), chaps. 1 and 2. Market driversHow customer behavior distribution patterns evolve. define how customer behavior distribution patterns evolve, including the degree to which customer needs converge around the world, customers procure on a global basis, worldwide channels of distribution develop, marketing platforms are transferable, and “lead” countries in which most innovation takes place can be identified. Cost globalization driversScale or scope economics, experience effects, sourcing efficiencies, and technology advantages that shape the economics of an industry.—the opportunity for global scale or scope economics, experience effects, sourcing efficiencies reflecting differentials in costs between countries or regions, and technology advantages—shape the economics of the industry. Competitive driversDefined by the strategic actions of globally competing firms in deciding in which markets to compete. are defined by the actions of competing firms, such as the extent to which competitors from different continents enter the fray, globalize their strategies and corporate capabilities, and create interdependence between geographical markets. Government driversInclude such factors as favorable trade policies, a benign regulatory climate, and common product and technology standards. include such factors as favorable trade policies, a benign regulatory climate, and common product and technology standards.
One aspect of globalization is the steady convergence of customer needs. As customers in different parts of the world increasingly demand similar products and services, opportunities for scale arise through the marketing of more or less standardized offerings. How common needs, tastes, and preferences will vary greatly by product and depend on such factors as the importance of cultural variables, disposable incomes, and the degree of homogeneity of the conditions in which the product is consumed or used. This applies to consumer as well as industrial products and services. Coca-Cola offers similar but not identical products around the world. McDonald’s, while adapting to local tastes and preferences, has standardized many elements of its operations. Software, oil products, and accounting services increasingly look alike no matter where they are purchased. The key to exploiting such opportunities for scale lies in understanding which elements of the product or service can be standardized without sacrificing responsiveness to local preferences and conditions.
Global customers have emerged as needs continue to converge. Large corporations such as DuPont, Boeing, or GE demand the same level of quality in the products and services they buy no matter where in the world they are procured. In many industries, global distribution channels are emerging to satisfy an increasingly global customer base, further causing a convergence of needs. Finally, as consumption patterns become more homogeneous, global branding and marketing will become increasingly important to global success.
The globalization of customer needs and the opportunities for scale and standardization it brings will fundamentally alter the economics of many industries. Economies of scale and scope, experience effects, and exploiting differences in factor costs for product development, manufacturing, and sourcing in different parts of the world will assume a greater importance as determinants of global strategy. At bottom is a simple fact: a single market will no longer be large enough to support a competitive strategy on a global scale in many industries.
Global scale and scope economics are already having far-reaching effects. On the one hand, the more the new economies of scale and scope shape the strategies of incumbents in global industries, the harder it will be for new entrants to develop an effective competitive threat. Thus, barriers to entry in such industries will get higher. At the same time, the rivalry within such industries is likely to increase, reflecting the broadening scope of competition among interdependent national and regional markets and the fact that true differentiation in such a competitive environment may be harder to achieve.
Industry characteristics—such as the degree to which total industry sales are made up by export or import volume, the diversity of competitors in terms of their national origin, the extent to which major players have globalized their operations and created an interdependence between their competitive strategies in different parts of the world—also affect the globalization potential of an industry. High levels of trade, competitive diversity, and interdependence increase the potential for industry globalization. Industry evolution plays a role, too. As the underlying characteristics of the industry change, competitors will respond to enhance and preserve their competitive advantage. Sometimes, this causes industry globalization to accelerate. At other times, as in the case of the worldwide major appliance industry, the globalization process may be reversed.
Government globalization drivers—such as the presence or absence of favorable trade policies, technical standards, policies and regulations, and government operated or subsidized competitors or customers—affect all other elements of a global strategy and are therefore important in shaping the global competitive environment in an industry. In the past, multinationals almost exclusively relied on governments to negotiate the rules of global competition. Today, however, this is changing. As the politics and economics of global competition become more closely intertwined, multinational companies are beginning to pay greater attention to the so-called nonmarket dimensions of their global strategies aimed at shaping the global competitive environment to their advantage (see the following section). This broadening of the scope of global strategy reflects a subtle but real change in the balance of power between national governments and multinational corporations and is likely to have important consequences for how differences in policies and regulations affecting global competitiveness will be settled in the years to come.
From a geographic point of view, the world automotive industry, like many others, is in the midst of a profound transition. Since the mid-1980s, it has been shifting from a series of discrete national industries to a more integrated global industry. In the automotive industry, these global ties have been accompanied by strong regional patterns at the operational level.
Market saturation, high levels of motorization, and political pressures on automakers to “build where they sell” have encouraged the dispersion of final assembly, which now takes place in many more places than it did 30 years ago. According to Automotive News Market Data Books, while seven countries accounted for about 80% of world production in 1975, 11 countries accounted for the same share in 2005.
The widespread expectation that markets in China and India were poised for explosive growth generated a surge of new investment in these countries. Consumer preferences require that automakers alter the design of their vehicles to fit the characteristics of specific markets. They also want their conceptual designers to be close to “tuners” to see how they modify their production vehicles. These motivations led automakers to establish a series of affiliated design centers in places such as China and Southern California. Nevertheless, the heavy engineering work of vehicle development, where conceptual designs are translated into the parts and subsystems that can be assembled into a drivable vehicle, remain centralized in or near the design clusters that have arisen near the headquarters of lead firms.
The automotive industry is therefore neither fully global, consisting of a set of linked, specialized clusters, nor tied to the narrow geography of nation states or specific localities, as is the case for some cultural or service industries. Global integration has proceeded at the level of design and vehicle development as firms have sought to leverage engineering effort across regions. Examples include right- versus left-hand drive, more rugged suspension and larger gas tanks for developing countries, and consumer preferences for pick-up trucks in Thailand, Australia, and the United States.
The principal automotive design centers in the world are Detroit, Michigan, in the United States (GM, Ford, Chrysler, and, more recently, Toyota and Nissan); Cologne (Ford Europe), Rüsselsheim (Opel, GM’s European division), Wolfsburg (Volkswagen), and Stuttgart (Daimler-Benz) in Germany; Paris, France (Renault); and Tokyo (Nissan and Honda) and Nagoya (Toyota) in Japan. This is just nine products sold in multiple end markets.
As suppliers have taken on a larger role in design, they have, in turn, established their own design centers close to those of their major customers in order to facilitate collaboration. On the production side, the dominant trend is regional integration, a pattern that has been intensifying since the mid-1980s for both political and technical reasons. In North America, South America, Europe, Southern Africa, and Asia, regional parts production tends to feed final assembly plants producing largely for regional markets. Political pressure for local production has driven automakers to set up final assembly plants in many of the major established market areas and in the largest emerging market countries, such as Brazil, India, and China. Increasingly, as a precondition to being considered for a new part, lead firms demand that their largest suppliers have a global presence.
Because centrally designed vehicles are manufactured in multiple regions, buyer-supplier relationships typically span multiple production regions. Within regions, there is a gradual investment shift toward locations with lower operating costs: the U.S. South and Mexico in North America; Spain and Eastern Europe in Europe; and Southeast Asia and China in Asia. Ironically, perhaps, it is primarily local firms that take advantage of such cost-cutting investments within regions (e.g., the investments of Ford, GM, and Chrysler in Mexico), since the political pressure that drives inward investment is only relieved when jobs are created within the largest target markets (e.g., the investments of Toyota and Honda in the Unites States and Canada).
Automotive parts, of course, are more heavily traded between regions than finished vehicles. Within countries, automotive production and employment are typically clustered in one or a few industrial regions. In some cases, these clusters specialize in specific aspects of the business, such as vehicle design, final assembly, or the manufacture of parts that share a common characteristic, such as electronic content or labor intensity.
Because of deep investments in capital equipment and skills, regional automotive clusters tend to be very long-lived. To sum up the complex economic geography of the automotive industry, we can say that global integration has proceeded the farthest at the level of buyer-supplier relationships, especially between automakers and their largest suppliers. Production tends to be organized regionally or nationally, with bulky, heavy, and model-specific parts production concentrated close to final assembly plants to assure timely delivery, and with lighter, more generic parts produced at a distance to take advantage of scale economies and low labor costs. Vehicle development is concentrated in a few design centers. As a result, local, national, and regional value chains in the automotive industry are “nested” within the global organizational structures and business relationships of the largest firms. While clusters play a major role in the automotive industry, and have “pipelines” that link them, there are also global and regional structures that need to be explained and theorized in a way that does not discount the power of localization.