Lessons from European Strategies in Asia

Vinod K. Aggarwal

Winning in Asia, European Style: Market and Nonmarket Strategies for Success, 2001

Asia has long enticed foreign firms. This region includes many of the world’s fastest growing markets, and promises to be a dynamic and fiercely competitive arena for decades to come. The regional currency crises of 1997-1998 complicated but failed to diminish foreign firms’ ardor for the region. Both before and after the crises, firms have attempted to devise trade and investment strategies that would give them a competitive advantage over their rivals.

The objective of this volume is to present a novel framework to understand the market and nonmarket strategies that have enabled European firms to win in Asia. From an empirical standpoint, the book explores the political and economic constraints facing firms wishing to enter the Asian region, as well as strategies to secure European governmental support. It also includes a set of case studies of the software, auto, commercial aircraft, banking, and insurance industries to provide a basis for comparing and contrasting how firms in these sectors have attempted to enhance their competitive positions. In many cases, the case study authors have provided valuable comparisons of European firm strategies with American or Japanese firms, thus giving insight into the impact of national origin on competitive success. These sectoral analyses also provide deeper insight into how firms have attempted to build effective relations with governments in the region and their home countries, as well as with regional institutions in Asia and Europe. In doing so, the objective has been to identify the most successful strategies for meeting the unique challenges of Asian markets.

This chapter is organized as follows. Part two begins with a focus on the context within which European firms have operated, concentrating on the economic characteristics of the Asian market and the relative performance of European firms. This section also examines the political institutional arrangements that firms face in both the host and home markets. Part three describes the market and nonmarket opportunities and constraints that prevail in the five sectors covered in this volume. Part four assesses the theoretical and empirical aspects of the strategies and tactics pursued by European firms in Asia. Part five concludes with a discussion of lessons that emerge from the book’s analysis and offers directions for future research.

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