Author(s): Khanna T, Palepu KG, Sinha J
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Abstract It's no easy task to identify strategies for entering new international markets or to decide which countries to do business with. Many firms simply go with what they know-and fall far short of their goals. Part of the problem is that emerging markets have "institutional voids": They lack specialized intermediaries, regulatory systems, and contract-enforcing methods. These gaps have made it difficult for multinationals to succeed in developing nations; thus, many companies have resisted investing there. That may be a mistake. If Western companies don't come up with good strategies for engaging with emerging markets, they are unlikely to remain competitive. Many firms choose their markets and strategies for the wrong reasons, relying on everything from senior managers' gut feelings to the behaviors of rivals. Corporations also depend on composite indexes for help making decisions. But these analyses can be misleading; they don't account for vital information about the soft infrastructures in developing nations. A better approach is to understand institutional variations between countries. The best way to do this, the authors have found, is by using the five contexts framework. The five contexts are a country's political and social systems, its degree of openness, its product markets, its labor markets, and its capital markets. By asking a series of questions that pertain to each ofthe five areas, executives can map the institutional contexts of any nation. When companies match their strategies to each country's contexts, they can take advantage of a location's unique strengths. But first firms should weigh the benefits against the costs. If they find that the risks of adaptation are too great, they should try to change the contexts in which they operate or simply stay away.
This article was published in Harv Bus Rev
and referenced in Journal of Entrepreneurship & Organization Management