Cross-Cultural Conflicts in the
Corning–Vitro Joint Venture
Vitro is a Mexican glass manufacturer located in Monterrey,
Mexico. Vitro’s product line concentrates on drinkware but includes dozens of products, from automobile windshields
to washing machines. Vitro has a long history of successful
joint ventures and is globally oriented.
Corning Inc. is most famous for its oven-ready glassware;
however, Corning has diversified into fiber optics,
environmental products, and laboratory services. Like
Vitro, Corning has a long history of successful joint ventures and globalization. Vitro and Corning share similar
corporate cultures and customer-oriented philosophies.
After realizing such similarities and looking to capitalize
on NAFTA by accessing the Mexican market, Corning Inc.
entered into a joint venture with Vitro in the fall of 1992. The similarities in history, philosophy, culture, goals, and objectives of both companies would lead to the logical conclusion that this alliance should be an instant success. However,
as Francisco Chevez, an analyst with Smith Barney
Shearson in New York, said, “The cultures did not match
. . . it was a marriage made in hell.” As history reveals, Corning and Vitro dissolved the joint venture 25 months
after the agreement. Both companies still have an interest
in maintaining the relationship and continue to distribute
each other’s products.
A further look at the strategic history of Corning and the
joint venture between Corning and Vitro will lead to a better understanding of the difficulties that are involved in creating and maintaining foreign alliances. A more in-depth
investigation also will reveal the impact of culture on business transactions.
The Strategic History of Corning
Corning Inc. has been an innovative leader in foreign alliances for over 73 years. One of the company’s first successes
was an alliance with St. Gobain, a French glassmaker,
to produce Pyrex cookware in...