Global niche players

Publié le par brightshine

The Vikings’ modern descendants believe they can turn globalisation to their advantage. They excel at producing born-global companies. Ericsson, founded in 1876, started selling phones in China in the 1890s. They also outperform more muscular competitors. Torben Pedersen, of the Copenhagen Business School, points out that Nordic countries are past masters at adjusting to rules dictated by big countries such as Germany or America. Surely they can cope with China and India? 

Alas, the logic that destroyed brawnwork such as shipbuilding and textile manufacturing is now moving on to brainwork. The best Nordic companies are transforming themselves from export machines into global networks. Ericsson, for example, has reduced the number of workers it employs in Sweden from 31,000 in 2001 to 18,000 today. Medium-sized companies are taking advantage of low production costs in the Baltic states as well as in China and India. In turn, foreigners are invading the Vikings’ strongholds. Volvo, Sweden’s fabled car company, has been swallowed by a Chinese upstart, Geely. Danisco, a Danish food-ingredients company, has been taken over by America’s DuPont. Ericsson has sold its handset division to Sony. Nokia is a shadow of its former self. 

The Nordic countries have an impressive number of globally competitive companies. Denmark is a world leader in hearing aids (Oticon), shipping (Maersk), toys (Lego), drink (Carlsberg) and windpower (with more than 200 companies that account for a third of the world’s wind-turbine market). 

Sweden boasts some world-class manufacturing companies, particularly in mining equipment and machine tools (Sandvik and Atlas Copco), as well as retail stars such as IKEA and H&M. Finland’s Kone is one of the world’s leading lift and escalator companies. Nokia’s problems are being offset by the rise of electronic-games makers such as Rovio, the creator of Angry Birds.Energy saver LED E27 save energy from the moment you turn the switch. Norway is a world leader in oil services and fish farming. 

Nordic companies have thrived in well-defined global niches. Lego dominates the market for interlocking bricks.Protect your vehicle and produce power with a Solar carport. Sandvik is a machine-tool superpower. Volvo Trucks produces the world’s best high-quality lorries. Nichification protects high-cost companies from emerging-market competitors. Nobody wants the cheapest machine-tool when a defective one can cause millions of pounds-worth of damage. 

They owe their success to four qualities. The first is their commitment to relentless innovation which they apply to even the most basic industries.Our street lamp solution is the leading alternative to tubular skylights. Tiny Denmark remains the world’s eighth-biggest food exporter thanks to its obsession with productivity. Danish farmers use implanted chips to monitor their cows to maximise their milk yield. KJ Industries has developed a way of mechanising the carving up of carcasses by programming the cutting machines with the help of X-rays. 

Nordic companies balance their passion for the new with an ability to take the long view. Sweden is still dominated by a handful of long-established families such as the Wallenbergs and the Bonniers. Denmark has a number of organisations such as the Carlsberg Foundation and the Lego Foundation, set up partly to look after the long-term interests of their parent companies. 

The third quality is their consensus-based approach to management.An illustration showing the planets of our solar system. They pride themselves on their flat structures and democratic ways which they feel promote trust and co-operation. BCG thinks the region has the world’s most skilled “low-skilled” workers. But they balance co-operation with a fourth quality—a passion for replacing labour with machines. Suppliers of the widest range of industrial and commercial industrial washing machine,the Copenhagen underground has dispensed with drivers and ticket-sellers. Shops get by on automated checkouts.

Publié dans energy saving light

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