Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Think Global, act Local" : A thought in the context of Indian Politics

In the last decade of the 20th century, the quote was made famous by Percy Bernevik, Chairman of ABB. Percy Bernevik ruled ABB for 15 long years and converted a small Swiss-Swedish electrical engineering company into a 30 BUSD conglomerate of 1500 diverse companies through the route of mergers & acquisitions. Percy appeared on the cover of Times magazine twice and was hailed as a practising management guru till he was disgraced a year after retirement by his successor in ABB. Percy had wrongfully written to himself a pension & retirement cheque of 85 MUSD instead of some 30 MUSD and he was let go only after he returned the excess money to ABB. Percy's global strategy was inorganic growth whereas his country-specifc strategy was to protect the local market share of each of the 1500 companies wherever they were located.

In the globalised environment of 21st century, however, this quote has changed to

Think Cooperation, Act Competition.

Globally, bigger companies are bidding & acquiring equally big companies to the extent that they do not rub off on the wrong side of the anti-trust bodies both in North America and in Europe. The competition in the global landscape in now limited to 3-5 corporations instead of 15-20 myriad corporations a decade back. Synergy in operations & skill sets is leading to inorganic growth, rapid capture of market share, quick value to the shareholders and limiting the field of competition. Think of Microsoft’s recent bid for Yahoo to ward off Google as an example. Global mergers take a long time to get reflected in all the countries where the companies have operations. Typically, the priorities are North America and Europe followed by Asia-Pacific, Middle East, South-East Asia, Africa & South Asia. I mean , the nameplates do get changed immediately but it takes time for the processes to be streamlined and till that time the concerned corporate compete in the local arena to protect their market share from outside competition.

In the Indian political context, the same quote {i.e Think Global (cooperation) & act Local (competition)} assumes funny connotations if you take the Congress & the Left parties. They have a merger in the parliament called UPA but in the state of Bengal , they appear to be at each other’s throats. The inherent hypocrisy in such a statement affects finally the citizens who are caught between conflicting policies & programs of the partners in cohort.

If the Congress & the Leftists politicians cannot make up whether to cooperate or compete in a pan-indian context, then surely they must lessen the burden of the common man of such a hypocritical dilemma by either resigning en masse from the parliament or forming an alliance with like-minded parties or independents.

Even a student of Class Five will know that if you act local all the time you will always think local and never global.

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