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Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything
By Hal Sirkin, Jim Hemerling, Arindam Bhattacharya

What Is Globality?

“We are in a new economic order. Who will survive and who will go down?”

Globality is not a new and different term for globalization, it’s the name for a new and different global reality in which we’ll all be competing with everyone, from everywhere, for everything.

We three, management consultants turned authors, are partners in The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and we have been studying the change in the global business environment—and working with companies involved in it—for more than twenty years. The extensive research that we and our colleagues have conducted over the past five years set us on a path that led to this book.

When we started out in our international travels, globalization was just getting under way. It was a cavalcade that traveled from West to East—big multinational companies centered in Europe, Japan, and the United States marching out from their corporate fortresses to foreign lands in search of low-cost manufacturing and low-end markets.

Today we look forward and see a new era emerging. We call it globality, a different kind of environment, in which business flows in every direction. Companies have no centers. The idea of foreignness is foreign. Commerce swirls and market dominance shifts. Western business orthodoxy entwines with eastern business philosophy and creates a whole new mind-set that embraces profit and competition as well as sustainability and collaboration.

Globality is a blockbuster new script—action, drama, suspense, and road picture all packed into one—with a sprawling cast of characters and locations in every corner of the earth. We have met, worked with, and had extensive conversations with many of the key figures in this unfolding scenario.

Ratan Tata, chairman of India’s largest conglomerate, the Tata Group, is unquestionably one of the “everyone” who will be players in the world of globality. He graduated from Cornell with a degree in architecture in 1962, flew back to India, and went to work for the family firm, which was founded as a trading company in 1868 by Ratan’s great-grandfather, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata. Ratan Tata was named chairman in 1991, when Tata Group was a jumble of local companies, and India was still essentially closed to foreign business and investment. Ratan Tata made it his mission to modernize and internationalize his company and, along the way, help India open its borders and its mind to worldwide business.

Today the Tata Group is a decentralized family of companies grouped into seven sectors, including information and communication technology, chemicals, hotels, automotive, and steel. When Ratan Tata negotiated the $13.1 billion deal to buy Corus Group, an Anglo-Dutch steelmaker, in 2007—India’s biggest-ever foreign acquisition—Tata flashed onto the world’s radar in a big way. Today, Tata Group has market capitalization in excess of $50 billion, and more than 50 percent of its $50 billion annual sales comes from outside India. “We no longer discuss the future of India,” said Kamal Nath, the country’s minister of commerce. “We say: ‘The future is India.’ ”1

Tata Group is a “global challenger,” one of the hundreds, even thousands, of companies that have their origins outside the established world of Western commerce in the rapidly developing economies (RDEs)—Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Thailand, and Turkey—and that are bursting their way onto the big stage. They’re fast growing, hungry, and have access to all the world’s markets and resources. They’re showing up everywhere—in each other’s markets throughout the world, in markets that are less developed than their own, and, increasingly, in the developed markets of Japan, western Europe, and the United States.

A few years back, Glenn Tilton, chief executive officer of United Airlines, spoke over breakfast about the Embraer 170, a new regional jet made in Brazil that United had put into service on the Chicago–Santa Fe route, which we often fly. At the time, we weren’t fans of the small, narrow-bodied jets in service to secondary cities. “Regional jet, as in no overhead bin space and knees banging up against the guy in front, right?”

Tilton smiled. “Try it,” he said. “I think you’ll like it.” We did. He was right. The seventy-seat, twin-engine jet has all the comforts of the big planes with none of the drawbacks, especially the dreaded middle seat. In 1995, Embraer was virtually bankrupt. Today it’s the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial jet aircraft of up to 120 seats, surpassing the Canadian producer Bombardier in deliveries and sales volume, yet constantly vying for supremacy with its archrival. And Embraer grew up in a South American country much better known for coffee, oranges, diamonds, and steel—and supermodel Gisele Bündchen—than for the kind of engineering and high-tech manufacturing you need to build state-of-the-art aircraft.

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