midterm exam


Please choose only one (1) of the following questions.



1.         Please briefly discuss the main resources and capabilities that are likely to influence competitiveness in the paper manufacturing industry.  Would the key resources and capabilities differ at all depending on whether a company is foreign or domestic?  How much are the key things internal in the company, and how much do they depend on external conditions in the country where the company operates?


there are a wide range of resources and capabilities the paper industry might need, starting with raw materials inputs.  wood pulp is one key raw material for most paper, but some papers are made from other kinds of fibers, especially for some specialized high quality papers.  some papers also have additives, for strength, for color, etc. 


the process also needs good manufacturing technology, and some additional inputs are needed during the process, which includes beating the pulp, pressing the pulp into paper, and finishing.   Since you knew the industries in advance, it is easy to look up what basic resources are needed in the manufacturing process; e.g., How Products are Made: Paper http://www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Paper.html (nothing special about this one – it just came up near the top in a simple Google search).


capabilities include good managerial expertise to produce run the procurement, to get the necessary quality levels consistently, and to operate efficiency, as well as for the downstream marketing and distribution of products. As we discussed a little in class, other business functions can also help these functions do things well.


in terms of basic manufacturing, probably key resources and capabilities are common across countries, although some will have more advanced tech, some less.  for supply, if the country does not have the inputs, additional expertise in IB is needed, and if main markets are outside the country (e.g., not a very big market, but could also export to neighboring countries), also IB expertise is needed.



Discuss the resources and capabilities needed for companies in the paper manufacturing industry to be competitive in your two countries.  Show how country resources and capabilities (or lack of them) in the countries affect companies in the industry in each country.  Is the domestic paper manufacturing industry strong or weak? Why?  Is there much foreign competition in your two countries?


the discussion on your two countries will need to say something about how available the key resources and capabilities are inside the country.  this includes inputs, as well as tech and equipment, and worker skills needed to work in the plant, and managerial expertise to operate the paper business.  You can find some indicators in the GCR that will help assess some of this.  You also need a little specific discussion on how competitive the paper industry is in your countries.  Are there big operators, are they domestic or foreign, do the countries import most paper, etc.


note that in some countries, competitive paper companies will also need tech ability to use recycled inputs, because the industry has moved to lots of recycling (and sometimes is legally required to).


If Gulf Paper Manufacturing Company wants to enter the market (or, if already there, expand its market) in your two countries, show how its resources and capabilities would make it competitive or not very competitive in each of your two countries.  To best use its advantages, or best minimize disadvantages, should they export or use FDI to develop the market?


this part needs to compare important resources and capabilities of Gulf Paper with the situation in your two countries.  If GP is fairly advanced, it will be pretty competitive, if about equal, it still may have good prospects if it does things well, and if it is behind, it will have trouble competing.  However, if behind, it might still go there to learn how to upgrade competitiveness.


this part also needs a decision for each country on whether export or FDI will work best, and a brief justification of why you choose the entry mode, based mainly on resources / capabilities issues, not just anything.






2.         Please briefly discuss how Hofstede’s cultural dimensions might have an impact on dealing with professional employees (technical people, mid-level managers, account representatives, etc.) in the facilities management industry.  What cultural issues would a company in this industry need to worry about if it operates in foreign countries?


You don’t absolutely need all the dimensions – if you have a couple, with good discussion of impacts, it shows you are thinking about how they might work.  E.g., Masculinity – femininity is about somewhat aggressive achievement orientation, vs. more of a nurturing, relationship orientation.  that’s the basics, but you need to translate that into how companies might act. 


e.g., in more masculine cultures, companies might tend to be results oriented, they will want to evaluate specifics of how individuals perform.  in more feminine cultures, they may be more oriented toward strong relationships with employees, assuming that a strong relationship will eventually translate into good business results.


power distance is about the strength of social hierarchy / status differences.  again, translate it into how companies might act in interactions with employees.  e.g., in high power distance cultures, they may expect high level executives to have somewhat top-down, at least in setting out the basics, after which implementation can be delegated to mid-level managers and technicians.  in low power distance cultures, it is easier to start with the mid-level first, and sometimes not necessary to deal with top management at all if there is substantial delegation of authority. 


these cultural aspects might also have an impact on how easy / difficult real information exchange is.  if it is difficult, the company may want to focus on standardized policies, and avoid specialized needs for various situations, because they will have a hard time getting information for good adaptation to different sorts of jobs.


Rather than these two, you could talk about individualism-collectivism or uncertainty avoidance if you want.  Very briefly, individualism can have an impact on compensation & rewards structures, the nature of training, etc.   Uncertainty avoidance is related to how much you can or need to delegate authority, etc.


There are lots of aspects of business you can tie any of the dimensions to.  The point is to start thinking about how they have some impact.


Discuss these cultural dimensions in your two countries, and show how they might affect dealing with professional employees in the facilities management industry.  Would they affect the nature of specific services that a company in this industry might want to offer?  Show how developed this industry is in your two countries, and whether a foreign company would be able to operate the same as a domestic company (focusing on the cultural issues).


in your two countries, you need to show how the countries rank on the dimensions you use, and say a little about what that means for dealing with employees.  e.g., it may be easier in the long run to adapt to specific contexts for companies in feminine countries, because the relationship orientation can facilitate good information exchange.  it is harder to get information exchange in masculine cultures, so a company may opt for more standardized policies, rather than highly customized ones, at least during initial entry when they don’t have much expereince.


you also need to say a little about the industry in the countries, and whether there are domestic and or foreign competitors, and whether there is any evidence that foreigners have had any difficulties that may come from different cultures.


If Intelligent Services wants to enter the market (or, if already there, strengthen its position) in your two countries, show how these cultural dimensions might affect its ability to hire and manage the professional people needed to run the business.  How can it adapt to local culture to best develop its professional workforce?


here, you need to show how Kuwait ranks compared to your two countries.  if the differences are very large on one or more dimensions, you need to say a little about how the Kuwaiti company will need to adapt.











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