International Business and Politics: 2012
Word count: 1583
Anil K. Gupta and Vijay Govindarajan argue in their article, “Knowledge flows and the structure of control within multinational corporations”, that mainly all previous research on strategic control within multinational companies (MNCs) has paid attention to why these choose to go abroad. They instead argue that for successful offshore business, one must understand how communication flows within the different sub-units of the organization. As Jollibee Foods Corporation considers whether they should establish a fourth store in Hong Kong, it faces several challenges. One of the main challenges regards knowledge transfer between its Filipino facilities and the newly established ones abroad. It is therefore relevant to look at the following research question:
What consequences does the current “strategic control over its subsidiaries” have on the knowledge transfer between the Jollibee headquarters on the Philippines and the offshore Jollibee Food plants in Hong Kong?
In answering the research question, we will start by explaining the framework of Gupta & Govindarajan’s (1991) on different kinds of subsidiaries, with attention paid to knowledge transfer and their related control instruments. Further we will examine what kind of challenges Jollibee Foods Corporation is facing with its expansion to Hong Kong. Finally, the above analysis will provide us with information about the existing opportunities on the Chinese market and will enable us to suggest a reconstruction of the offshore business in Hong Kong to make it more successful. Jollibee meets several tasks in their offshoring project, but due to space limitation there will in this paper only be focus on two selected challenges, the challenges of adjusting to Chinese taste and their management structure.
2. Jollibee Foods Construction and its strategic control over its subsidiary in Hong-Kong
Gupta and Govindarajan (1991) proposed that there exists a certain association between different types of subsidiary units and the strategic corporate control of that subsidiary. They defined four ideal types as; Implementor, Global innovator, Integrated Player and Local Innovator, based on the amount of knowledge that flows and the direction of this knowledge, between the subsidiary and the rest of the MNC.
Upon Tingzon´s arrival the main strategy of the offshore business has been “flag planting”. Flag planting aims at establishing a presence in each market before competitors, and so, emphasizing at implementing customer expectation, influencing taste and building brand (case p. 11). The initial plan in Hong Kong has been to become one of the major players in the market fast. The previous international strategy meant that the subsidiaries in Hong Kong functioned as implementors. An implementor is characterized by a high degree of knowledge inflow from the headquarters but with a low degree of knowledge outflow; hence mainly applying the strategy used in the parent company without any local adaption (Gupta and Govindarajan 1991). Functioning as an implementor has meant that the established Hong Kong stores have not been engaged in any knowledge creation, but simply followed instructions from the Filipino headquarters. Furthermore one can argue that Jollibee’s approach to Hong Kong has been to primarily implement the already existing practices from the Philippines. For example, the menu offered in Hong Kong is almost the same as the Filipino one, knowledge of what to sell has simply been brought in from headquarter (case page. 12)
Further evidence arguing for that the Hong Kong subsidiary has been operating like an implementor can be seen in the management transfer of the CEO’s brother-in-law, from the parent company to the Hong Kong subsidiary (case page 12). In addition, the store-level managers were all...