A New Spin on the Globe the World Will Be Dominated Not by Corporations but Networks of Alliances
Trapp, Roger, The Independent (London, England)
IF THERE is a central theme to modern business, it must be "globalisation". As Cyrus Friedman, vice-chairman of the management consultancy Booz.Allen & Hamilton, points out: "The word 'global' has become an integral part of the business vocabulary. In recent years, if a strategy or organisation or human resource plan didn't have a global perspective, it just wouldn't fly. Try to find an annual report that doesn't have the word 'global' in it or doesn't extol the company's global outlook."
We assume that the natural corollary of "international" or "multinational" being replaced by this grander term is that a huge range of organisations will be transformed - with the aid of the internet and wonderful strategic visions - into global corporations.
But although the continuing popularity of cross-border mergers suggests otherwise, Mr Friedman believes this is not necessarily the route to success. In his book The Trillion-Dollar Enterprise (Capstone, pounds 19.99), he acknowledges that globalisation is an unstoppable force. But he says we might be "a little too quick in declaring victory for a corporate form that we don't yet understand, that might not be the best, and that certainly is not the only solution for meeting the challenge of an integrating world economy". His vision of the next two decades sees the world dominated not by a bunch of corporations as we currently understand them, but by networks of alliances. Membership of these groupings would be fluid, with new organisations joining as they came up with something the others needed. Mr Friedman stresses that while he envisages a different kind of environment, he is largely extrapolating from what is already happening. Since alliances do not attract as much attention as mergers and acquisitions, they are not so well known. But he claims there has been a "quiet revolution". In the 1970s, according to figures collated by his firm, there were about 100 to 200 alliances a year around the world. By 1990, that figure had risen to 2,000 and by 1995 it was up to 10,000. …