The management issues that this paper has focused on include globalization, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and leadership. These issues were examined in the context of the computer industry. Hewlett-Packard (HP) and International Business Machines (IBM) are the two organizations that were selected as case studies. Data was obtained from the official websites of the two organizations. Data from annual CSR and global citizenship reports from the websites of the two companies were used for analysis of the managerial issues of globalization, CSR, and leadership. Moreover, industry reports, corporate reports, and government publications also proved to be useful sources of data. The paper also utilized scholarly sources to shed light on theoretical aspects of the three managerial issues.
One of the main findings of this paper is that globalization is increasingly transforming the way multinational computer corporations conduct business. One rather unique approach entails efforts to address problems relating to globalization in ways that enable companies achieve CSR goals. This is evident through the emergence of the concept of global citizenship. This new approach demonstrates the relationship between corporate social responsibility and globalization. Many of the societal concerns that are linked to the operations of corporations are increasingly taking a global dimension. Therefore, corporations should adopt a global dimension when seeking solutions to these concerns.
According to Kanter (2010) another important finding is that large corporations in the computer industry continue to support the idea that firms can do well by doing good. In other words, it is in the corporationsâ€™ best interest to participate in efforts to solve the problems of host communities (Kanter, 2010). Nevertheless, corporations must also assess their own business needs even as they make these efforts. This creates the need for CSR to be merged with business strategy. For example, IBM has been making efforts to develop products that support the languages, cultures, as well as other specific needs of different countries. However, further research should be conducted to ascertain the effectiveness and relevance of this CSR approach (Martin & Wajcman, 2004).
Furthermore, glocalization is a useful way to deal with challenges of globalization (Harvard Business Review, 2011). In glocalization, products and services are developed and distributed to the global market while at the same time being tailored to the needs of consumers in specific local markets. This is necessitated by differences in consumer preferences, cultures, and local laws.
Finally, corporations that operate in todayâ€™s globalized world risk sharing the blame for unacceptable labor practices and human rights violations linked to their suppliers. To avoid this scenario, the companies must exercise leadership and due diligence in scrutinizing the sources of their raw materials as well as the circumstances under which they have been sourced. More importantly, firms need to partner with suppliers and other stakeholders to increase their overall capacity for CSR and industry leadership. These findings suggest that many companies are aware of challenges associated with globalization, CSR, and leadership. In literature, more research needs to be undertaken with a view to draw parallels between theory and practice as far as these management issues are concerned.
This paper analyses the computer industry. This industry is of utmost relevance because it is at the heart of the contemporary revolution in information and technology. Computers have greatly contributed to the emergence of the information. Most people around the world get access to the internet via computing devices such as personal computers and laptops. The study investigates Hewlett-Packard (HP) and International Business Machines (IBM), both of which are leading multinational computer companies with their origins in the US.
The management issues that this paper sets out to investigate include globalization, leadership, and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Globalization is the growth of technological, industrial, financial, economic, political, and social process in a worldwide scale. Through globalizations, the activities that people engage in are increasingly being incorporated into a single, cohesive â€œglobal villageâ€ (Iveroth, 2010). The contemporary internet technology makes it possible for people to communicate, share ideas, conduct business, and even carry out financial transactions on a single global platform. Companies operating in the computer industry are expected to widen the scope of their business operations in order to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the international market. The issue of leadership is also important for computer companies. For international computer companies to remain competitive in todayâ€™s globalized marketplace, they need to be driven by strong leadership (Bambacas & Patrickson, 2008). The insights provided visionary leaders act as a source of inspiration for the companies in their quest for increased competitiveness (Wren & Bedeian, 2009). The issue of corporate social responsibility is also important because it enables companies obtain legitimacy in their operations in various host countries.
The central argument in this paper is that HP and IBM must rethink their globalization, leadership, and CSR strategies in order to regain the global market share that is increasingly being snatched by rival technology companies. These technology companies provide mobile computing capabilities through smartphones, tablet computers, and palmtops, thereby drawing attention from the traditional PC (personal computer) and laptop market.
In recent literature on globalization a lot of focus is on efforts to understand the meaning of the term â€œglobalizationâ€. According to Fiss (2005), globalization is an emerging concept that tends to be subjected to different interpretations. In some instances, an economic perspective is adopted. At other times, researchers adopt political, sociological, and cultural viewpoints. Differences also tend to occur in terms of the issues addressed in case studies. Some case studies focus on specific countries while others focus on specific companies that are putting in place strategies to adapt to the current wave of globalization.
The concept of globalization has also been surrounded by increasing contention. In some cases, globalization is understood to have been heavily influenced by the move by the U.S. to increase its level of involvement within the international economy. Moreover, a new trend has emerged whereby the meaning of globalization tends to be framed in different ways depending on the specific interests of the originators of the definitions.
Despite all these differences, it is evident that cross-border issues must be discussed in any debate on globalization. For this reason, nation-state focus tends to dominate these discussions. Researchers look at the different ways in which the economic, political, social, and cultural systems of different countries are being integrated to form a cohesive, interdependent global system.
A new strand of research of literature has also emerged that highlights the ways in which the forces of globalization and localization tend to work in opposite directions. This has led to the emergence of the term â€œglocalizationâ€. This term was coined from a combination of the terms â€œglobalizationâ€ and â€œlocalizationâ€. A glocalized product or service is one that is being developed and distributed to the global market but is at the same time being tailored to the needs of consumers in specific local markets. The need to adapt the product or service to the local market arises because of differences in cultures, consumer preferences, and local laws. End users are more likely to become interested in products that have been effectively glocalized. For multinational companies to succeed, they are expected to conduct their businesses in accordance with both global and local considerations.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Literature on CSR has undergone major developments since its introduction during the 1960s. Ratten & Babiak (2010) point out that during its formative years, CSR was associated with philanthropy. Today, different terms are used in reference to CSR, including sustainability, corporate social performance, and corporate citizenship (Wren & Bedeian, 2009). Companies engage in CSR mainly to obtain legitimacy, to reduce risk and inefficiencies, and to increase profitability.
Research findings have portrayed mixed results regarding the ability by CSR to increase the profitability of a company (Margolis, 2009; Snider, 2003). Margolis (2009) observes that although a weak correlation between CSR and profitability has been established in recent research, the issue remains contentious with regard to aspects of causation. It is not clear whether companies engage in CSR because they feel sufficiently rich or they first and foremost engage in CSR before amassing huge profits that end up sustaining their social responsibility projects.
Controversy also rages regarding the logic of expecting a business to come up with appropriate solutions to social problems (Snider, 2003). According to Snider (2003), the assumption that companies have a duty to solve the problems of local communities seems fundamentally flawed. This is because the companiesâ€™ primary responsibility is to engage in value-creation for the benefit of their shareholders. To this, they must align all their operations, including CSR, to their overall business strategy. This means that local people may not get appropriate solutions to their problems. Rather, they are likely to get only those solutions that are in line with the business strategy of the company. Nevertheless, some scholars argue that social benefits can be integrated successfully into company strategy (Kanter, 2010).
Researchers also agree that any company is better off both societal and bottom-line benefits. However, at some point, businesses encounter what is seemingly the biggest challenge in their CSR blueprint: that of creating synergies between societal and bottom-line benefits. Since the benefits of CSR tend to be intangible and long-term, many senior company executives are tempted to start engaging in rhetoric at the expense of genuine efforts to create appropriate solutions to social problems.
Current literature on CSR also contains the suggestion that companies have a political role to play in todayâ€™s globalized world (Scherer, 2011). For example, they may choose to mobilize government support for projects relating to the so-called â€œmacro-levelâ€ CSR. In macro-level CSR, companies focus on projects that build the capacity of local people. Scherer (2011) observes that Companies that wish to stay away from local political settle for â€œmicro-levelâ€ CSR projects, which involve the construction of various social amenities such as hospitals, schools, recreation facilities, and roads.
Traditionally, leadership scholarship has focused on the ability by leaders to infuse meaning. Today, a new trend is emerging whereby a lot of interest is on the ability by leaders to influence economic performance of their organizations (Podolny, Khurana, & Hill-Popper, 2005). This conceptual shift is significant in many ways. For instance, it has redefined the way leaders are understood to find meaning in the world of corporate affairs. There is a need for more research to be undertaken to examine the meaning of leadership in the context of its role in creating meaningful economic activities in todayâ€™s globalized world (Podolny, Khurana, & Hill-Popper, 2005).
The capacity by leaders to make meanings especially in todayâ€™s globalized world remains a critical attribute that can enable them achieve the desired goals in the most efficient way. To emphasize this point, Jokinen (2005) uses the term â€œglobal leadership competenciesâ€. According to Jokinen (2005), leadership development efforts of today should be mapped onto the global business framework in order to enable leaders to facilitate the process through which organizations achieve sustainable growth.
The US computer industry holds a leadership position in the world. It is home to the pioneering computer companies such as Microsoft, Apple, HP, and IBM. The US also happens to be the worldâ€™s most advanced economy. Therefore, these companies operate in an environment where numerous investment opportunities exist and appropriate structures for ensuring efficiency in business operations have been established.
US computer companies have been setting the pace in the world of computing. For example, Microsoft Inc. is famous the world over for creating the most commonly used computer operating system. On the other hand, Apple has managed to build a strong brand that continues to be promoted through innovative and stylish personal computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablet computers. HP, Dell, and IBM, are also leading computer companies whose home-country offices are in the US. Politically, the US is a stable country. It has an established democracy that is a model for the rest of the world. This political stability is one of the factors that have contributed to the continued growth of these companies.
The computer industry is arguably the biggest in the world. This is true considering the high number of computer companies that continue to set the pace in computing innovation. The industry brings together not just computer manufacturers but also internet service providers. This gives the US a competitive advantage over other countries especially in the area of systems integration. This competitive advantage can be extended to other aspects of computing, including networking and software. This competitive advantage gives the US numerous opportunities to continue leading the way in the computerization process for years to come.
However, competitiveness poses a major challenge for this industry. Other countries are making serious attempts at catching up with the US in terms of technology leadership. This has created numerous problems for the industry. For example, intense price competition continues to cause a drop in industry profits despite growing demand for tablets and PCs. To address this problem, some computer manufacturers have started engaging in enterprise-oriented products such as servers. This follows the current growth in cloud computing, which has prompted many companies to invest heavily in servers. This competitiveness is also contributed to by the nature of the US market, which continues to attract huge investments from multinational PC manufacturers with headquarters in other countries.
This paper makes use of academic research, industry reports, corporate reports, and government data. The analysis was carried out through reviews, comparisons, and in-depth assessments to ascertain reliability, credibility, and authenticity. The materials obtained were read, analysed, and synthesized to ascertain their relevance for purposes of the study. The information obtained was sorted out and categorized in terms of its appropriateness in contributing to the themes of globalization, CSR, and leadership. Emphasis was put in materials that discussed these themes in the context of the US computer industry in general and HP and IBM in particular.
Hewlett-Packard Company is a computer company based in Palo Alto, California, in the United States. The company has diversified its operations by providing technologies, solutions, software, and services to businesses, individual consumers, large enterprises, and government sectors worldwide (Yahoo Finance, 2013). HP sells commercial desktops and notebooks, mini notebooks, calculators, servers, workstations, software and services to both individual consumers and commercial markets (Yahoo Finance, 2013).
HP was founded in 1939 by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard while they were students at Stanford University. The first product was an oscillator for use by Walt Disney. During the 1940s and 1950s, the company continued growing. It acquired new headquarters, went public, and acquired a company called F.L. Moseley Co. During the 1960s and 1970s, diversified into business computing, and started reporting a rapid growth in non-US revenues.
The company has grown over the years by developing new PCs laptops, and printers; acquiring new companies; opening research centres; and venturing into new foreign markets. Today, HP has a full-time staff of 331,800 employees (Yahoo Finance, 2013). In terms of organizational structure, HP operates three core segments. The first one handles interne programs. The second one handles Computer Organization, Marketing, and Operations (CMO). The third segment handles Software and Services Group (SSG), Computer Sales and Distribution Group (CSDG), Enterprise Servers Group (ESG), Consumer Products Group (CPG), and Printing And Personal Systems Group (PPSG).
IBM is one of the worldâ€™s top providers of computer hardware, software, and services. The company started by venturing into computer hardware. Later on, it diversified into business services, information technology, and software units. The company is renowned for its excellence in the production of data storage products and enterprise servers. This has enabled the company to win customers from around the world.
IBM was founded in 1911 as Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) (IBM.com, 2013). Over the next two decades, IBM positioned itself as a leader in innovation and technology. This was reflected when the company eventually changed its name to IBM in 1924. Today, IBM has a workforce of 434,246 employees worldwide (IBM.com, 2013). The companyâ€™s international growth continued even after the World War II, leading to the formation of the World Trade Corporation whose aim was to manage the companyâ€™s international operations. By 1960, IBMâ€™s workforce had surpassed the 100,000 mark (Hoovers.com 2013). Between the 1970s and 1990s, IBM focused largely on the personal computer market. During the mid-1980s and 1990s, IBM entered into turbulent times (IBM.com, 2013). Ultimately, this led to a great turnaround characterized by diversification into software and services. Since the advent of the internet, IBM has continued to support standard computing standards and e-business, thereby putting it at the forefront in the global computer industry.
In terms of organizational structure, the chairman, who is also CEO, sits at the top of the management hierarchy (IBM.com, 2013). Together with the board of directors, this company head oversees operations in all departments and segments. The main segments include Software and Systems Group, Business Services, Research, Strategy, Growth Markets, Systems and Technology Group, and System Storage and Networking (The officialboard.com, 2013). The main departments are more or less related to those of a typical large corporation, such as Sales and Distribution, Marketing and Communication, Finance, and Human Resources. Each of the segments and departments that fall under the direct control of the CEO are headed by a senior vice president while those that fall under the senior vice president are headed by a general manager.
The case of HP
HP responds to issues globalization, CSR, and leadership by paying attention to and promoting what it refers to as â€œglobal citizenshipâ€. The company takes pride in being in a leadership position with regard to the issue of global citizenship (HP.com, 2012). This is largely by virtue of having operations in 170 countries (HP.com, 2012). According to the companyâ€™s 2012 Corporate Citizenship Report, the issue of global citizenship has been one of HPâ€™s corporate objectives since 1957 (HP.com, 2012). Since then, one of the companyâ€™s stated objectives has been to conduct its business in a manner that impacts positively on the planet and society.
The main elements of HPâ€™s corporate citizenship strategy include environmental sustainability, human rights, social and environmental responsibility in the supply chain, and an accountability approach that promotes privacy (HP.com, 2012). Lee (2005) points out that to achieve these goals, HP strives to create innovative technology, improve competitiveness through the efforts of its dedicated global workforce, and collaborating with partners across borders, sectors, industries and institutions with a view to improve the collective capability to seek solutions to the worldâ€™s problems.
Some of the areas where the most damaging criticism has been leveraged against HP relate to use of minerals that are linked to armed conflicts and the prevalence of sweatshops in countries such as China. In June 6, 2010, in a New York Times article, Barboza (2010) claimed that HPâ€™s supply chain is intricately linked to the operations of sweatshops in Chinese electronics factories. This reflects badly on HPâ€™s ability to adhere to the highest values as far as corporate social responsibility is concerned. To defend its reputation, HP has been insisting that the factories that operate sweatshops where employees are abused and mistreated are solely responsible for these unacceptable labour practices. This is a mere scapegoat that does not reflect positively on HPâ€™s reputation either. This is because it is the responsibility of multinational computer companies such as HP to collaborate with all suppliers in efforts to invest in projects that promote sustainable improvements in the working conditions of those factories.
The case of IBM
IBMâ€™s top leadership has been putting in place measures to ensure that the company is able to adapt to the highly dynamic world of globalization. This is evident not only in IBMâ€™s CSR strategy but also changes in organizational structure and leadership at different levels. IBMâ€™s leadership continues to support the view that a company can do well by doing good. Consequently, IBMâ€™s leadership continues to follow in the footsteps of multinational corporations that have demonstrated that they can gain return on investment from activities that promote the wellbeing of the local communities in which they operate.
When promoting CSR in the context of globalization, IBM is keen to ensure that corporate social performance is aligned with corporate financial performance. To do this, impact of business is normally carried out at different levels of leadership. Another crucial aspect is information, whereby efforts are made to promote transparency in addressing the challenges of globalization. In terms of relationships, the companyâ€™s top leadership emphasizes on the values that promote engagement with all stakeholders.
The companyâ€™s leadership has also been making concerted efforts to ensure that it adapts to globalization in ways that facilitate the integration of its social responsibilities into its business strategy (IBM.com, 2013). For example, the company makes efforts to develop products that support the languages and cultures of different countries (IBM.com, 2013). This has led to the development of solutions that support the specific needs of different countries and cultures. It has also led to the creation of products and services that can be adapted to the socio-economic and cultural needs of many different countries.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â The case studies of HP and IBM reveal a lot about globalization, CSR, and leadership issues. Multinational computer companies operate in highly competitive global market. To survive, they need to reorient their CSR and leadership strategies to reflect the socio, economic, and cultural realities of host countries. CSR activities present a unique opportunity for HP and IBM to promote ideals of Global citizenship. Failure to engage in CSR may trigger criticism from local communities, government authorities, and human rights activists.
Dell and HP cannot afford to go it alone as far as efforts to address CSR issues are concerned. The companies have to partner with other participants within their respective supply chains in efforts to build sustainable business models. The case of HP demonstrates that in efforts to build partnerships, it is possible for issues of globalization, CSR, and leadership to be integrated in such a way that a companyâ€™s global competitiveness is promoted. This, by extension, demonstrates that these three managerial issues are related in many ways. For example, in the process of addressing challenges of globalization, a company may have to launch various CSR projects aimed at promoting legitimacy and reducing business risks. Such rationale for launching such projects is to promote the view that a company can do well by doing good. Such an approach would enable a computer company achieve the goal of becoming a better global citizen.
The issues highlighted the case study of HP shed some light on the challenges that large multinational companies encounter in efforts to collaborate with partners across sectors, borders, institutions, and industries with the aim of improving collective capability for both business and society. Serious difficulties arise because of the numerous issues that need to be addressed, including environmental responsibility, social responsibility, human rights, sustainability, and accountability. Different stakeholders tend to have varying interests with regard to each of these issues, thereby making it even harder for the goal of collective capability to be achieved.
HPâ€™s case also introduces the notion of â€œglobal citizenshipâ€, which the company uses to refer to its CSR strategy. This concept also relates in many ways to the global nature of the companyâ€™s operations. The impression in this case is that issues relating to globalization are likely to emerge whenever a multinational company sets out to engage in CSR activities and vice versa. The case, however, failed to demonstrate a direct relationship between CSR and globalization one the one hand and leadership on the other. Nevertheless, it is evident that the company has been making a number of changes in its organizational structure. One of the aims of these changes is to ensure that the company is strategically positioned to adapt to the dynamics of globalization at all times.
In conclusion, both IBM and HP have gained immense experience from their international business operations. This experience greatly elevates their capability to address the challenges of globalization. Both companies should focus on â€œglocalizingâ€ their products and services in order to maintain a competitive edge over local and international competitors. One area where leadership strategies should be reoriented is that of supply chains. The two companies risk being dragged into bad reputation from suppliers who use unacceptable labour practices as well as those who acquire minerals by funding warring factions in war-torn, resource-rich countries. There is a need for these computer companies to partner with different stakeholders to ensure that their CSR values are upheld at all stages within the chain of distribution.
My colleague and I contributed towards writing the paper. We exchanged valuable ideas, insights, and information. This was made possible because we endeavoured to inspire one another in efforts to come up with relevant contributions throughout the research process. However, we disagreed regarding the choice of companies. My friend wanted us to analyse the case studies of Coca Cola and Pepsi while I wanted us to analyse the cases of any two multinational computer companies. Eventually we agree that we would focus on IBM and HP. The problem of choice arose because the responsibility of choosing companies for analysis was left entirely to us. If the companies had already been selected for us, we would have saved valuable time. We would not have spent a lot of time arguing over which case studies to discuss.
Based on the experience I have gained from working on this group project, there are a number of things I would do different next time. First I would prefer to join a group with more members. This way, the work to be undertaken by each member would be less strenuous. I would suggest that all group members are apportioned different sections to work on before presenting their output for discussion and approval by all group members.Â I would also request the instructor to allocate a higher number of words for the analysis of various managerial selected in the context of each of the case studies.
I did not encounter any serious difficulties in the process of gathering information about the paper. This is because I was conversant with the managerial issues that we decided to investigate. Much has been written by scholars regarding globalization, CSR, and leadership. It was easy for us to establish trends in CSR literature. It was also easy to obtain information on HP and IBM from a variety of sources. Although the process of cross-checking facts was tedious, it was a worthwhile effort. In several cases, I had to ignore some online sources that were either inaccurate or not credible. My colleague is better than me at conducting internet research so he was always at hand to give me assistance.
However, I feel that we did not give sufficient scope to the analysis of trends in globalization and leadership. This is because the scope of this paper could not permit such an in-depth view of the issues highlighted by various scholars. Similarly, I feel that the requirements of the paper should have been adjusted to give more attention and coverage to case studies. This would have facilitated a more concise analysis of the way in which IBM and HP address challenges relating to globalization, CSR, and leadership. Based on the experience of this group project, I would establish strict timelines next time to avoid procrastination. I would also assess the likelihood of adopting a different approach that puts more emphasis on the relationship between theory and practice.
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