L’Oréal Masters Multiculturalism

by Hae-Jung Hong and Yves L. Doz

AT THE HEART OF EVERY global business lies a tension that is never fully resolved: Achieving economies of scale and scope demands some uniformity and integration of activities across markets. However, serving regional and national markets requires the adaptation of products, services, and business models to local conditions. As U.S. and European companies increasingly look for customers in emerging economies, both the advantages of global scale and the need for local differentiation will only increase.

It’s easy to get the balance wrong. Some offerings may feel like commodities—think refrigerators and washing machines—yet there are often important variations in the way people ...

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