I believe that Rosenfeld's primary goal in making these statements were aimed at strengthening her strategic thrust of enabling local responsiveness by strengthening Kraft's values of supporting front line innovation, and empowering workers at all levels. The Kraft China website lists these values in these words:
We inspire trust.
We act like owner.
We keep it simple.
We are open and inclusive.
We tell like it is.
We lead from head and the heart.
We discuss. We decide. We deliver. (1)
Could the Oreo-bike-wheel idea have possibly come from some other source? Yes, but they also say that give an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters and sooner or later, one of them will type the collected works of William Shakespeare. But if you do not have infinite resources and can't afford to wait, using people who understand the local culture, history, habits, and trends will find something brilliant much faster than taking the infinite number of monkeys approach.
Is using empowered local managers a competitive advantage? At this point in time I would say yes. But this is a time-limited advantage. More and more companies have found that expat management is not a high success percentage path. According to research by Black and Mendenhall (1990), 16% to 40% of expatriate managers terminate their overseas missions ahead of time due to poor performance or mal-adaptation. Furthermore, 50% of them are unable to return to their original positions because of poor performance (Black and Mendenhall, 1990). In addition, based on a study of more than eighty transnational corporations, researcher Tung pointed out that in more than 40...