BAE and EADS in merger talks as Woodford site closes

September 13, 2012

by Tudor Rickards

As someone living close to Woodford aerodrome, the proposed merger of BAE and EADS [announced September 13th, 2012] had more than professional interest for me.

Last rites

Each morning, I drive or walk past the little airfield at Woodford in Cheshire, where BAE systems has conducted part of its aerospace business for many years. From time to time, sleek military aircraft would swoop past above. Transporters, each carrying one wing for the mighty Airbus, would trundle down Woodford Road, which had its plastic road furniture regularly removed and then replaced to permit easier access to the site. Each year, a flying show featuring Britain’s most loved aircraft blocked the roads around the village.

Now, only glimpses are to be seen of the last rites. Construction has been replaced by dismantling of aircraft such as the Nimrod shown in the image above.

Planning permission

Woodford aerodrome is now waiting for planning permission before conversion to new build which would produce private housing and mark the end of such commercial activities. While BAE systems faces the most serious job-losses, the site occupies a slice of aeronautic history going back to 1910. Local residents are still involved in community discussions.

Creating a global giant

At a strategic level, the merger between the two organisations has considerable face appeal. Woodford is probably of little significance in the wider scheme of things.

Dealbook, a New York Times publication, reported the news that the merger of the two biggest European aerospace and defence companies would create a global giant with a combined market value of nearly $50 billion.

“On the face of it this will create one of the largest aerospace and defense organizations on the planet,” said Guy Anderson, a senior defense industry analyst with IHS Jane’s in London, who added that the combination would “change the European defense market beyond recognition.”

Shares of BAE Systems rose 10.8 per cent by the end of trading in London on Wednesday [12th September 2012], while shares of EADS were down 5.6 per cent.

BAE and EADS (for European Aeronautic Defense and Space) have a history of collaboration. They are partners on a number of projects, including the Eurofighter jet. BAE also held a direct interest in the Airbus consortium for many years before selling it back to EADS in 2006.

The deal could give the two companies more lobbying muscle to compete with Boeing and other American military companies. BAE already has a strong presence in the United States, but EADS has had only limited success with American military contracts. Last year, the company lost a coveted $35 billion Air Force contract for aerial refuelling tankers to Boeing.

Regulatory Hurdles

Any deal would face its share of regulatory hurdles. The European Commission would have to approve the merger. The American government might also weigh in on the transaction. BAE’s Sanders unit could especially face scrutiny.

Leadership issues

The merger will bring with it some complex leadership issues. EADS over the years has been involved in many tortuous strategic decisions as the competing pressures from French and German stakeholders played out. Government involvement will now be compounded by British political interests.

Leaders We Deserve will be among the millions of interested parties watching the situation as it develops. Maybe, just maybe, for local residents and BAE employees there is renewed hope for a sensational last-minute change of plans for the Woodford site.


A is for Albatross as Airbus struggles with the A400 project

April 18, 2009
Airbus A400 EADS mock up

Airbus A400 EADS mock up

Der Spiegel continues to be the window into the complex world of EADS and its giant subsidiary Airbus. In a major interview with Airbus CEO Thomas Enders, Der Spiegel throws light on the corporate challenges facing the organization and its leadership.

The double whammy

Der Spiegel was in particularly robust mood in its interview with Thomas Enders recently [March 2009]. The two-part report opened with a series of fierce questions challenging the company’s long-term viability. Ender’s truculence comes through, even in translation and from the printed page. The second part of the interview concentrated on a single project, the A400M and that made the story appear all the more damaging

Technological innovation is notoriously risky, and there must surely be additional risk factors emerging as a consequence of the financial turbulence of the last year. The A400M is becoming known as its albatross. The plane, still yet to fly, is a military transport plane promising payload deliveries over extended distances under extreme conditions. Delays and production mishaps have plagued the project (even in comparison with the more publicised woes of the company’s other high-technology efforts).

Der Speigel as rotweiler

Der Speigel runs excellent and probing articles. One can’t help admire its success in its interviews with Germany’s business leaders. [In style it reminds me of the aggressiveness of England’s Newsnight programme and its chief Rotweiler Jeremy Paxman]. In the issue carrying the Thomas Enders interview, there were similarly tough questions asked of Robin Goudsblom, a Lidl senior manager, over the company’s personnel scandal;and of Nikolaus von Bomhard, CEO of reinsurance giant Munich Re, over banker bonuses.

Enders comes clean

Under fire, Thomas Enders is remarkably direct. He was first reminded of a recent wager.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Enders, on December 31 you won a bottle of champagne. You had wagered that Airbus would manage to complete 12 of your super-jumbo jets by the end of the year. That bottle could cost your company millions because, in the heat of the race against the clock, quality and safety may have fallen by the wayside.
Thomas Enders: No, we haven’t made any compromises here. Our customers are generally very satisfied with the A380. But, as you know, it is an extremely complex aircraft, which now unfortunately — like every new model during the introduction phase, I might add — has some teething problems here and there

Then he faced equally direct questioning on a range of general topics such as Government subsidies. These did not result in subsequent wider headlines, perhaps because they were ‘nothing new’ either in question or reply.

Part two of the report gave a focus to the entire interview in the plight of the A400M. The level of openness from Enders deserves attention from students of leadership:

SPIEGEL: Your biggest worry is currently the planned A400M military transport aircraft, which has been in the news for months. Which countries could cancel as buyers in the future?

[Enders denied the specific charge of cancellations and accepted accusation that the company had to shoulder some blame]

Enders: EADS should never have signed this contract. Our American competitors would never have accepted such conditions. We’ve made big mistakes, and errors have also been made on the customer side. We should now rectify these together.

Enders went on to deal frankly with equally tough questions on ‘[r]ivalries and power struggles between the Germans and the French’, consolidation of the European headquarters in Toulouse [‘maybe a good idea’], and the loss of a major American military contract.

Leadership notes

I was struck by the tone of the interview and by the fascinating technical insights provided into corporate and production management.

How important is the interview to EADS? This is one of the questions open to reflection and debate. I suggest that Der Spiegel is a media leader in news of the Airbus adventures from a European perspective. Its interviews are guaranteed widespread subsequent coverage. A typical example is the report in Aerospace [30 March 2009]. Even The Economist draws on the Spiegel interview, although its piece shows evidence of its own deeper research [bonus points to the Economist for that].

The interview has to be taken seriously by the company leadership. A faulty performance (and it is a performance) would become part of a subsequent narrative developed in the media.

How well did Enders do? You could assess the interview for strengths and weaknesses. A misguided remark might become a hostage to fortune for the company in the future. On the other hand, the impact is mediated by several communities deeply concerned with the future of the company and whose judgments go to make up the ’conventional wisdom of the dominant elite’ . Enders has the responsibility to defend his position without being too defensive, and avoid easy-to-refute claims. Which in this case involved a painful level of openness. If he appeared a bit testy at times, that might be a permissible weakness rather than a fatal one.

Despite tough times, the corporate leadership of EADS seems to have stabilized under the urbane Louis Gallois, and his Airbus CEO, the former paratrooper Thomas Ender.

To go more deeply

We have followed this story in earlier posts. The Economist article on Airbus can be found in its April 11th -17th, 2009 issue.


Louis Gallois Outlines EADS Position at Farnborough

July 17, 2008

Louis Gallois faces the Farnborough Air show with news of a possible loss of the tanker contract with the US Airforce, and ongoing corruption investigations

Louise Gallois demonstrates desirable leadership quality in a BBC interview in advance of the Farnborough air show.

His performance is as effortlessly skilled as those expected of his company’s products. Smooth, effortless, competent, flexible (he communicates as well in English as (presumably) he does in French.

It is hard to resist lapsing into cliché, and borrowing other bits of franglais. His communiqué showed considerable sang froid.

The substance of his answers

The substance of his answers was that his company had good highly-competitive products. EADS was, and would continue to be successful.

That’s a message most leaders want to convey, most of the time. But while some leaders have to knack of sounding convincing, others do not.

Here’s the BBC video. It is only eight minutes long, and has great potential for showing as part of leadership development programmes.

The questions (by Nigel Cassidy) were hardly posed in an aggressive way. (You’d need a different style for dealing with the in-you-face blustering of a Paxman or a Humphreys). But they covered the current and recurrent issues facing the company.

Listen to the answers

On the possible loss of the lucrative tanker contract for the USAF: Not a problem. ‘we have the best airplane .. we expect to win.. and anyway, we will go to the US .. this is only one deal.’

On on-going negotiations to sell a UK production facility to GKN:

‘…tough ..always tough, especially at the end of negotiations ..I won’t say precisely when, as that restricts my negotiation possibilities’

On oil prices: Difficult, but on the medium term an opportunity for their advanced technology products.

On the rumbling corruption scandal: Not very pleasant, but in the short-term not important. ‘My [current] people are fully committed, working like hell. And there are no guilty people without a judgement, and there is no judgment’.

Try repeating these quotes. Listen to yourself. Did you sound convincing? M. Gallois did. Why? The mystery of leadership as communication remains.


Airbus delays as A380 production continues to stall

June 1, 2008

Delays to Airbus flagship A380 came as no surprise to anyone following the extended story of this mega-engineering project. Do we have a tale of a jumbo jet turning into a white elephant?

The extended case against former Boss Noel Forgeard rumbles on. This may still be harmful to the company. But the production struggles associated with the A380 persist, and seem more likely to prove commercially damaging.

When a project starts badly there seem to be inevitably further problems right down the line. How much of this due to the complexities of project management? How much to leadership or lack of it?

The company said the latest delays were due to problems moving from the initial production phase, responsible for the first 25 aircraft, to a more intensive production line. No details were given about the financial implications of the announcement.

“The extent of the additional costs will be influenced by the actual production and delivery scenario,” Airbus said.

Airbus – which is part of aerospace group EADS – now plans to deliver 12 planes this year, instead of the 13 expected. In 2009, 21 A380s will be supplied to carriers against the previous plan to deliver 25. Deliveries for 2010 would be discussed with airlines in the coming weeks.

A scale-up problem?

Further light is thrown on the delay by Aerospace reporter James Wallace

The latest delays will affect planes that are delivered in 2009 and 2010. These are what Airbus calls its “Wave 2” A380s, in which new automated production methods will be used that eventually will streamline the production process. The first 25 A380s are essentially being wired by hand, and problems with the wiring bundles caused the earlier major delays.

Wallace writes with insight about the pressures facing the rival firms Boeing and EADS. He recalls with some nostalgia how

Thirteen years ago [dating back from May 15th 2008] Boeing Co. delivered the first 777 to United Airlines — on schedule to the very day it had been promised years earlier. But meeting schedules for the next generation of jets from Boeing and Airbus, with all the advanced technology and new production methods, has proved impossible.

The A380 production lines are struggling, but Wallace offers even more gloomy expectations for the challenges facing the rivals and their next generation promises for the 787 (Boeing) and A350 (Airbus/EADS).

Commenting for the Herald Tribune, Caroline Brothers outlines the press conference call from Thomas Enders which briefed on the delay.

Because of rising fuel prices, the delivery slowdown will hurt airlines seeking to get the most efficient aircraft onto their flight schedules. Enders declined to estimate the financial impact of the delay until Airbus completed discussions with its customers. Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Qantas are all expecting deliveries this year. Air France-KLM and Lufthansa are expected to receive the A380 in 2009.

The report also suggested that Air France might take a particularly hard hit. Now that’s something worth watching out for. Surely political influences on EADS are not being exercised in a direction which disadvantages French interests?

Acknowledgement: Image from M Puddy’s excellent Aerospace website


The Search for a New leader: Now its BA and Willie Walsh

May 15, 2008

Update: The post below [May 15th, 2008] was updated [December 16th, 2009] as British Airways faced a highly damaging strike of Cabin Crew over the Christmas holiday period. Original post follows:

When a company starts looking for a new leader, rumours about the incumbent are bound to arise. The most recent case is that of British Airways and its CEO Willie Walsh. Students of leadership succession should keep a close eye on unfolding events.

The duty of a corporate board is to safeguard a company’s future viability, and that must include monitoring of its leadership. While secrecy is desirable, it may suit pressure groups to bring matters to public attention. For example, shareholder activists seek advantage for their narrower interests, which would include getting the best short-term deals on investments, but might also include the possibility of becoming king-makers for a change of leadership.

The Independent reports that

[British Airways] has appointed the recruitment consultants Whitehead Mann to find a new chief operating officer and possible successor for its embattled chief executive Willie Walsh.

The successful candidate will fill a newly created role, devised after the recent Heathrow Terminal 5 fiasco. Both BA’s director of operations, Gareth Kirkwood, and head of customer service, David Noyes, parted company with the group last month [April 2008] . The two roles will now be combined to create the position of chief operating officer.

The airline, which will publish its full-year results on Monday, is believed to have instructed Whitehead Mann to find a senior level candidate who could be considered for a position on the board within two years, and could also be a potential replacement for Mr Walsh within five years.

Opening Sacrifices?

For ‘parted company’ read sacked. Gareth makes an opening sacrifice in BA’s attempts to allay criticisms for a wave of customer service reactions. David will do for the time-being for operational failings, as Terminal 5 lumbers into action.

Later, [May 13th 2008] BAA, Heathrow’s operating organization announced the departure of Mike Bullock, its Managing Director at Heathrow, another victim of the Terminal 5 opening (or non-opening, if you prefer). At least the BBC announced it, beating the BAA web-site to the news.

The departures at British Airways seem more in the nature of opening gambits, if we want to puruse the theme of chess as a metaphor for corporate strategy.

The Times has reported that public sentiment strongly in favour of BA finding a replacement for Willie Walsh.

However, Richard Northedge argues that

Walsh ..is directly culpable too [for the recent Terminal 5 opening fiasco]. Unfortunately, BA cannot afford to lose him. It has other problems that require solutions – from its pension deficit to its industrial relations – and Walsh is the best man it has. But stakeholders require some recognition that Walsh’s acceptance of responsibility is not just hollow words: it would be appropriate if, when the remuneration committee considers bonuses, it acknowledged the need to punish Walsh.

The Walsh Legend

Mr Walsh arrived at British Airways in 2005 already as something of a celebrity. His reputation had been secured as a former pilot who aspired to leadership. He had risen through the ranks at Aer Lingus to be acknowledged as a transformational figures for the fortunes of that company.

Stories accumulated about his hands-on style, and were used to sketch his operating methods.

He was known for negotiating toughness. Successfully reinventing Aer Lingus as a profitable no-frills airline, while other established European flag carriers went to the wall, he slashed costs by 30% and shed more than a third of staff. [saying]”we make no apologies for focusing on profit” … [and that] “a reasonable man gets nowhere in negotiations”.
He is renowned for not driving an expensive car and choosing not to take on a secretary, instead writing all his own letters and answering his own phone.

Mr Walsh’s obvious toughness and eye for increased profitability no doubt caught the attention of BA’s board. After the UK airline’s long history of staff disputes, most recently the wildcat walkouts in August 2005 in support of sacked workers at the airline’s main caterer, he must have seemed ideal.

Be careful of what you want…

‘Be careful of what you want. You might get it’ runs an office-wall summary, capturing the myth of the Faustian pact. Maybe that is another version of getting the leaders we deserve. The appeal of a tough leader for BA was obviously appealing, not just to the Board, but to its major shareholders.

Students of leadership succession should keep an eye on events at British Airlines. We will continue to watch Willie, at Leaders We Deserve.

To go more deeply into succession planning

We touched on British Airways in the context of Mandrill Management .

Travolution is a useful site for wider issues of the industry

The Post Office/Royal Mail leadership succession activities were noted including attempts to have a fall-back plan if Allen Leighton were to leave.

Times Warner’s appointment of Jeff Bewkes also makes an interesting succession story.

EADS strategic issues under Louis Gallois
and also its leadership challenges have been covered.

There have stories of the rise and fall of varous sporting leaders. When Liverpool owners approached Jurgen Klinsmann, the story blew-up as a scheme to get rid of the popular Rafa Benitez.

England’s Rugby Football Union eventually appointed Martin Johnson and relegated Bryan Ashton to the bench.

Numerous posts covered the stories the longest leadership succession saga of modern times.

The transition from President Vladimir Putin to Dmitry Medvedev is offering further insights into succession issues in internationally important arenas.

Overall, the events covered in these posts indicate recurring themes within recent leadership succession stories. A thorough examination might produce a valuable contribution to understanding of the dynamics of leadership succession. They may also hint at the likely outome to the story of Willie Walsh at British Airways.


J P Morgan is always willing to help

March 17, 2008

zinn-and-his-peoples-history.jpg

During the American civil war, John Pierpont Morgan helpfully arranged a deal to buy U.S. rifles and sell them back to the federal government at a whacking personal profit. One hundred and fifty years later the firm founded by J P Morgan has arranged a monster deal acquiring Bear Stearns, aided by Federal money

Several weeks on, J.P. Morgan increases its initial offering for troubled Bear Stearns by 500% to 10$ a share.

I make no claims to being an expert in high finance (or even low finance). I rely on excellent sources of information and insight, but from time to time I find myself out there more as an outsider looking for unexpected parallels between contemporary business life and historical accounts.

It is in such a spirit that I offer an observation on this week’s monumental financial news. The historical aspect as told by Zinn [and summarised in wikipedia] in his quietly revolutionary account is that during the Civil war Morgan

was approached to finance the purchase of antiquated rifles being sold by the army for $3.50 each. Morgan’s partner re-machined them and sold the rifles back to the army for $22 each. The military knew it was buying back its own guns, so the so-called ‘scandal’ turned out to be more about government inefficiency than any chicanery by Morgan (who never even saw the guns and acted only as a lender). Morgan himself, like many wealthy persons, including future Democratic president Grover Cleveland, avoided military service by paying $300 for a substitute.

Back to the present day deal

If B-S had flopped, the entire banking system would have gone into meltdown. B-S credit assets had increasingly been seen as less credible and thus less credit-worthy.
Hence the fire-sale.

Rather than have them declare bankruptcy, the Fed engineered a plan to have JP Morgan “buy” Bear Stearns for $2 per share. A price of $2 per share means the market was too optimistic in the last 14 months when Bear’s stock fell from $169.33 in January 2007 to $30 per share as of Friday’s [March 14th 2008] close.

The Fed smoothed the way for the take-over by cutting its interest rates, and offering other guarantees for inter-bank lending. This is believed to be calming the process of what is becoming known as deleveraging in the globalised financial services industry.

I am reminded of the arms-length fashion in which European governments involve in institutions in the national interest. Specifically, the role of the German Federal States in the matter of Volkswagen effectively protects the company from foreign (i.e. non-German) take-over. EADS is not a state-owned institution, but is thoroughly dependent on wishes of the French and German governments. So much so that it affects the increasingly difficult working relationship between Sarcozy and Merkel.

The bigger picture: Canute reversed?

One financial commentator quoted in the Wall Street Journal suggested we are seeing a case of Canute in reverse. The Fed appears to be acting not by erecting flood defences against an advancing tide, but trying to put up barricades against a retreating one.

In a bear market, as asset prices fall, leverage is reduced. This causes lenders to ask for more collateral on existing loans, and borrowers to sell assets so as to reduce the need for such loans, and for additional collateral … The credit crisis is unfolding as we expected, but more slowly than anticipated, because of the actions taken by central banks (mainly the Fed) and the U.S. government to allay its effects. The wholesale socialization of credit has meant that government and central bank measures account for 70% of new credit since last summer…total credit losses of $1.4 trillion will cause a contraction in world GDP of 2.5 percentage points, or half the current rate of global growth. So the global economy will become a gray, dull world of semi-recession and sticky inflation that will last a long time. Without major policy blunders, however, it won’t be a 1930s-style depression.

Leadership Lessons for the Quick-sands

It is probably of minor significance that Bear Stearns has not shown signs of effective leadership of late. The departure of James Cayne had been seen as finding a scapegoat rather than solving a problem:

Cayne has been pilloried since in news reports as a chief executive more interested in golf outings and bridge tournaments than one working diligently to get his firm out of its problems.

tTaking the wider financial picture, the Canute image may be a suitable and chastening one for those crying for stronger leadership. By someone. By anyone.

Come on Hillary, Barack, John, what might you do differently?

An honest answer might be. ‘A bit here and there.’ Avoid foolish claims of a New Deal or any other relatively quick fix to rescue the world from the global financial quick-sands.

There is a case for transformational change efforts financially and politically. But when in a hole, the sensible course of action is stop digging. In quick-sands, wrongly applied energy just makes things worse.


Boeing loses Mega-Contract to Northrop Grumman

March 1, 2008

boing-kc-135.jpg

The US Air Force announces it is to award a giant procurement contract to Northrop Grumman and its European partners. Boeing had been expected to win the estimated $40 billion of business for delivery of mid-air refuelling planes for the US military. The decision seems likely to raise questions of factors that influenced it

Northrop Grumman has snatched a $35 billion Air Force contract to build refueling planes in a surprise victory over Boeing, the company that has supplied such tankers for 50 years.

The Los Angeles-based Northrop Grumman and its partner in the competition, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. of France, plan to do most of the tanker assembly work in Mobile, Ala., some frame work in Europe and the refueling systems at Northrop Grumman’s new facilities in Bridgeport, W.Va.

“The tanker is the number one procurement priority for us right now,” General Duncan McNabb, vice chief of staff for the Air Force, said Friday [February 29th 2008] in announcing the bid winner. “Buying the new KC-45A is a major step forward and another demonstration of our commitment to recapitalizing our Eisenhower-era inventory of these critical national assets.”

The contract gives Northrop Grumman an opening to further future billions of dollars because the Air Force wants to replace its entire fleet of 600 refueling tankers. For EADS, the maker of Airbus planes, the victory is an entry into the lucrative U.S. military market.

The Loser without doubt is Boeing

Business Week makes it clear, and even points to an explanation

The decision represents a major coup for a European aviation behemoth—and a major blow for Boeing, considering that the business was firmly in its grasp four years ago but slipped away in a scandal that led to the departure of the company’s chief executive. … Nevertheless, there was outrage in Washington State, where Boeing’s commercial jetliner operations are based. “We are shocked that the Air Force tapped a European company and its foreign workers to provide a tanker to our American military,” Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a statement. “At a time when our economy is hurting, this decision to outsource our tankers is a blow to the American aerospace industry, American workers and America’s military.”

Scandal? What scandal?

The scandal story can be traced back to events over the last six years.

The Decatur Daily account paints the gruesome details

Boeing Co. CEO Harry Stonecipher, brought back from retirement 15 months ago to boost the aerospace manufacturer’s tainted image, has been forced out because of a new ethics scandal involving an affair he had this year with a female company executive.

In a stunning announcement that left the exact circumstances behind the ouster unclear, Boeing said Monday the 68-year-old president and chief executive officer had resigned at the board’s request a day earlier for improper behavior while carrying out the consensual relationship.

The emergence of another ethical flap is an embarrassing jolt to a company that had been trying to put two years of scandal behind it.
Stonecipher’s predecessor, Phil Condit, resigned Dec. 1, 2003, as a result of the defense contracting controversies that ultimately sent two Boeing executives — ex-Air Force procurement official Darleen Druyun and chief financial officer Mike Sears — to prison.

These controversies resulted in the U.S. Air Force suspending Boeing for about 20 months, the longest such suspension of a large defense contractor in procurement history.
Boeing had thousands of documents belonging to Lockheed Martin Inc., documents the Air Force said gave Boeing an unfair advantage in bidding for rocket contracts.

As the LA Times put it

The surprising award [to Northrup] is likely to add to one of Pentagon’s more sordid and tangled procurement scandals that evoked the wrath of a presidential candidate and led to prison sentences for two Boeing executives.

The European Dimension

In Europe the coup was hailed as a success for EADS, partnering Northrop Gumman. American commentators noted Northrop Grumman as LA based, and partnering EADS.

Louis Gallois, EADS chief executive, said on Friday night the contract was a ”breakthrough for EADS” in the biggest defence market in the world. ”To win against Boeing is just great,” he told the FT.

As recently as Friday afternoon the EADS team had been convinced that Boeing would take the contract. Mr Gallois, about to leave Paris for a mountain holiday, said he had simply not believed his ears when informed at 10.25pm local time last night. ”I think it is the best contract I have won in my life.”

So Louis was as surprised as commentators outside the company.

In America more is made of the role played by Ronald Sugar, CEO of said international firm Nothrup Grumman. Mr. Sugar is a business leader who has operated largely away from the headlines.

As well as a successful business career he is extremely well connected through his efforts for prestigious charities, including the post of national fundraising chairman of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Fund. He is a past Chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association, and earlier was appointed by the President of the United States to the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. He is a national trustee of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and a trustee of the University of Southern California.

The Morphing of International Companies

The differing treatments of the story around the globe is instructive. Globalization is acquiring its special features. One is the capacity of a global firm to represent itself somewhat selectively. Retention of ambiguity is made easier when international contracts are operated from a consortium. In the United States, a consortium arrangement may be presented as American as Apple Pie, while in Tokyo as Japanese as Sushi …

So in this instance, in America, emphasis is placed on planes that will be built in America. In France, the venture is French-led.

I am reminded of international business executives who hold several passports, more for convenience than deception. They avoid the double-sided business card in two languages in favour of several cards, each with a specific corporate location, and often with different job handles for the executive.

Acknowledgement

The image is from the industry journal Space Mart