The Global Corporation

Definition and Challenges of a Global Corporation

Global corporations operate in two or more countries and face many challenges in their quest to capture value in the global market.

Learning Objectives

Identify the most meaningful challenges encountered by multinational corporations (MNCs) when pursuing global markets and efficiencies

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • A multinational corporation (MNC) is present in several countries, which improves the company's ability to maintain market share and earn higher profits.
  • As GDP growth migrates from mature economies, such as the US and EU member states, to developing economies, such as China and India, it becomes highly relevant to capture growth in higher growth markets.
  • Despite the general opportunities a global market provides, there are significant challenges in penetrating these markets. These consist of public relations, ethics, corporate structure, and leadership.
  • Combining these challenges with the inherent opportunities a global economy presents, companies are encouraged to pursue high value opportunities while carefully controlling the risks involved.

Key Terms

  • value-chain: The series of operations necessary for a business to operate.
  • economies of scope: Lowering average cost for a firm in producing two or more products through the common and recurrent use of proprietary know-how or an indivisible physical asset.
  • economies of scale: The characteristics of a production process in which an increase in the scale of the firm causes a decrease in the long run average cost of each unit.

Global Corporations

A global company is generally referred to as a multinational corporation (MNC). An MNC is a company that operates in two or more countries, leveraging the global environment to approach varying markets in attaining revenue generation. These international operations are pursued as a result of the strategic potential provided by technological developments, making new markets a more convenient and profitable pursuit both in sourcing production and pursuing growth.

International operations are therefore a direct result of either achieving higher levels of revenue or a lower cost structure within the operations or value-chain. MNC operations often attain economies of scale, through mass producing in external markets at substantially cheaper costs, or economies of scope, through horizontal expansion into new geographic markets. If successful, these both result in positive effects on the income statement (either larger revenues or stronger margins), but contain the innate risk in developing these new opportunities.


As gross domestic product (GDP) growth migrates from mature economies, such as the US and EU member states, to developing economies, such as China and India, it becomes highly relevant to capture growth in higher growth markets. is a particularly strong visual representation of the advantages a global corporation stands to capture, where the darker green areas reppresent where the highest GDP growth potential resides. High growth in the external environment is a strong opportunity for most incumbents in the market.


GDP Growth Rate by Country: This map highlights where the strongest growth opportunities currently are, as of 2010. In that year China and India had the highest GDP growth rates.


However, despite the general opportunities a global market provides, there are significant challenges MNCs face in penetrating these markets. These challenges can loosely be defined through four factors:

  • Public Relations: Public image and branding are critical components of most businesses. Building this public relations potential in a new geographic region is an enormous challenge, both in effectively localizing the message and in the capital expenditures necessary to create momentum.
  • Ethics: Arguably the most substantial of the challenges faced by MNCs, ethics have historically played a dramatic role in the success or failure of global players. For example, Nike had its brand image hugely damaged through utilizing 'sweat shops' and low wage workers in developing countries. Maintaining the highest ethical standards while operating in developing countries is an important consideration for all MNCs.
  • Organizational Structure: Another significant hurdle is the ability to efficiently and effectively incorporate new regions within the value chain and corporate structure. International expansion requires enormous capital investments in many cases, along with the development of a specific strategic business unit (SBU) in order to manage these accounts and operations. Finding a way to capture value despite this fixed organizational investment is an important initiative for global corporations.
  • Leadership: The final factor worth noting is attaining effective leaders with the appropriate knowledge base to approach a given geographic market. There are differences in strategies and approaches in every geographic location worldwide, and attracting talented managers with high intercultural competence is a critical step in developing an efficient global strategy.

Combining these four challenges for global corporations with the inherent opportunities presented by a global economy, companies are encouraged to chase the opportunities while carefully controlling the risks to capture the optimal amount of value. Through effectively maintaining ethics and a strong public image, companies should create strategic business units with strong international leadership in order to capture value in a constantly expanding global market.

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