A move to international markets

January 12, 2009

Atop the strategic agenda of many executives is globalization. But infiltrating the fertile grounds of Europe is not so easy. Hundreds of years of tradition present challenging dilemmas for those who attempt to push the boundaries of their company, but the European market is too great to ignore -- and to the worthy competitor the opportunities are abundant.

The way business is done on the other side of the world is unlike anything done in the United States, says John Buscher, executive managing director of Eurosourcing at Technology Partners International (TPI). And a company that attempts to replicate the business practices that it follows in the states will have very low success rates. "There are a lot of nuances that must be observed then practiced," Buscher says. "And it takes time to learn them all. There is nothing predictable about them."

Not only do business perspectives and culture change from the United Kingdom to France to Germany, but they also differ from region to region within the individual European countries themselves, says Dennis McGuire, president and CEO of TPI. "You\'re not dealing with say, 14 European Countries; you\'re dealing with more like 40 local areas that have a lot of history behind them," McGuire says. "So it is a pretty complex environment."

While U.S. companies move into unfamiliar international territory, McGuire recommends that companies expand slowly. "If you\'re an American company coming to Europe it will be a struggle getting started," McGuire says. "There is clearly a preference for European businesses to do deals with local companies that knows the idiosyncrasies of the legal system, the economy and are familiar with human resource laws. You also have to work through the bureaucracy of getting set up and then you have to get your name known."