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Management article
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Reference no. R1109J
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2011

Abstract

Many companies in mature markets assume that the only reason to enter emerging markets is to pursue new customers. They haven't yet realized the potential for innovation in developing countries - though a few visionary multinationals are tapping that potential for much-needed ideas in products and services. General Electric, with its portable ultrasound technology, and Intel, with its inexpensive Classmate PC, are two examples. Other companies see the potential but find it hugely difficult to develop ideas in unfamiliar settings, much less turn them into global businesses: C-level executives may resist disruptive concepts, or their organizations may lack the processes necessary for absorbing outside innovation. The authors' research shows that a new kind of manager - a ‘global bridger’ - can help these companies take advantage of the innovative energy that permeates emerging markets. Global bridgers tend to be good at developing and maintaining relationships of trust; they understand emerging markets; they have long tenure with their companies; and they are skilled at selling their ideas internally. They have learned to intentionally observe customers, suppliers, and competitors. They cultivate ‘translators’ - people with insights into the local environment. And they test their ideas before taking them back to headquarters, where they rely on advocates to help promote their ideas.

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Abstract

Many companies in mature markets assume that the only reason to enter emerging markets is to pursue new customers. They haven't yet realized the potential for innovation in developing countries - though a few visionary multinationals are tapping that potential for much-needed ideas in products and services. General Electric, with its portable ultrasound technology, and Intel, with its inexpensive Classmate PC, are two examples. Other companies see the potential but find it hugely difficult to develop ideas in unfamiliar settings, much less turn them into global businesses: C-level executives may resist disruptive concepts, or their organizations may lack the processes necessary for absorbing outside innovation. The authors' research shows that a new kind of manager - a ‘global bridger’ - can help these companies take advantage of the innovative energy that permeates emerging markets. Global bridgers tend to be good at developing and maintaining relationships of trust; they understand emerging markets; they have long tenure with their companies; and they are skilled at selling their ideas internally. They have learned to intentionally observe customers, suppliers, and competitors. They cultivate ‘translators’ - people with insights into the local environment. And they test their ideas before taking them back to headquarters, where they rely on advocates to help promote their ideas.

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