Corporations Going Global and Adapting to Local Culture

In my Food, Eating, and Culture class we recently read an article entitled
Of Hamburger and Social Space: Consuming McDonald’s in Beijing. The article is about the first McDonalds opening in Beijing and how the company was forced to adjust to the culture of the Chinese people and how the Chinese people adapted some American culture. It got me thinking about other companies going global and how they must change their business models from their country of origin in order to be successful abroad.

McDonalds in Beijing

McDonalds in Beijing

I have decided to do a series of blog posts for my final paper. I will start with a general post about companies going global and the challenges they face. I found a book in our library called Managing Cultural Differences by Phillip Harris and Robert Moran. They cover topics such as: global leaders and culture, leadership in changing organizational culture, managing diversity in the global work culture, effective performance in the global marketplace, and chapters on doing business with Middle Easterners, Latin Americans, Asians, Australians, Europeans, Africans, and North Americans. In my first post I also plan on touching on topics from Organizations and Organizing about culture and rational organizations.

The goal of my first post will be to lay a foundation for the rest of my post where I plan to build on these topics using specific corporations as examples. I will start with McDonalds in Beijing and discuss in more detail the article I read in my class, touching on challenges McDonalds faced and the adaptations that were necessary in order for the company to be able to mesh nicely with the Chinese culture. I will also talk about the benefits the people of Beijing acquired from McDonalds. I have not picked the other companies I will examine yet but I plan on doing four or five in total. Some European companies that came to the US and some other US companies that went abroad.

My final post will sum up similar cultural challenges that any company that decides to go global will face. I may add recommendations that I find about adapting to the culture or suggestions of things to avoid. I have not finalized my ideas but my running theme will be around the question: How much do organizations adapt to local culture, and how much do multinational companies change local culture? If anyone has any suggestions of corporations that they think have made cultural impacts when they went abroad or had to adapt to the local culture I would love to hear them!

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4 Responses

  1. Today, it seems like every major corporation is attempting to break the foreign markets. With every corporation and every attempt at going global, the strategies and levels of success will vary. In my current Chinese Business class we take a look at some of the largest companies in the world, their strategies in breaking into the chinese market and the successes they have had. Companies include Ikea, Wal-mart, Sam’s Club, Starbucks, and P&G. I think it would be interesting to concentrate on one major corporation and with each blog post, analyze their attempts to enter BRIC countries. This way you can specifically pinpoint differences in how one corporation changes its strategy for different cultures.

  2. Didn’t that used to have a picture? Did you strip it?

  3. Oh, picture is back. Good.

    You might want to look at McDonalds in France as a contrast to China. Jose Bove is the face of the pro-culture, anti-McD movement there.

    Do you just want to focus on consumer goods? Franchised companies?

    Coca-Cola seems another biggie that has a particular way of entering other countries.

    You could look at German or Japanese car makers building in the US, but that is more about running operations in other places, as opposed to selling stuff.

  4. […] Taking the blog up a notch: Megan with Corporations Going Global and Adapting to Local Culture […]

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