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Multinational Corporations in a Local Perspective – the Case of Varkaus in Finland Prof Raimo Lovio Helsinki School of Economics.

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Presentation on theme: "Multinational Corporations in a Local Perspective – the Case of Varkaus in Finland Prof Raimo Lovio Helsinki School of Economics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Multinational Corporations in a Local Perspective – the Case of Varkaus in Finland Prof Raimo Lovio Helsinki School of Economics

2 The message of the paper In favorable circumstances local business units may have surprising power vis-à-vis multinational companies Multinational companies lose a significant amount of knowledge base and innovation potential if they fail to use knowledge available in their local units = think locally, act globally

3 The proportion of foreign-owned enterprises of Finnish enterprises The position of foreign-owned enterprises has become stronger in Finland during the 1994 to 2002 period. In 2002 the proportion of turnover was 17.5 per cent.

4 The effects of foreign acquisitions in Finland? Foreign ownership has primarily had a positive influence on the profitability and productivity of the acquired enterprises It has changed the management style of the acquired companies Some concern is related to the R&D investments and growth perspectives of the acquired enterprises The effects of foreign acquisitions have been mainly studied on the corporate level, therefore focus in the paper is on the level of local business units

5 Varkaus case in a nutshell Small industrial company-town with inhabitants in eastern Finland, first industrial units established in the 1850s Ahlström Ltd continued invest in its factories in Varkaus up until the 1980s: a sawmill, pulp mill, four paper machines, three engineering units (steam boilers, pulping equipment, screen plates), process automation unit, etc. employees over Between 1985 – 2002 all units were sold to international companies






11 Following the change in ownership, the links of the business units in Varkaus with the global economy were altered The historical emotional ties disappeared The companies turned from builders of the town into tenants From domestic family ownership to foreign stock markets The significance of the units in Varkaus in the business of the new owners is very small, when compared to Ahlströms times From owners of a diversified company to owners of companies with a clear focus

12 New ownerCountry of origin Employees total Employees in Varkaus Business Stora EnsoFinland and Sweden pulp & paper HartmannDenmark egg cartons Foster WheelerUSA energy technology AndritzAustria pulp technology AFTCanada screen plates HoneywellUSA industrial automation Tellabs (a new unit) USA telecommuni cations

13 New ownerBusiness Development StrenghthWeakness Stora Ensopulp & paper no growth Large integrated unit Long distance, somewhat old systems Hartmannegg cartons no growth in Finland competitive cost structure in other countries non- competitive c.s. Foster Wheelerenergy technology growth technology, engineering non-competitive cost sturucture in production Andritzpulp technology no growth technology a minor advantage non-competitive cost sturucture in production AFTscreen plates growth technology and production competitive only in Europe Honeywellindustrial automation lots of ups and downs applications in paper, pulp and graphical ind credibility in a huge major company Tellabs (a new unit) telecommuni cations new R&D unit closed knowhow in embedded information systems only additional unit

14 Honeywell unit in Varkaus Idea of the acquisition was to buy a competing product off the market and replace it with its own product (technology transfer from the center to periphery) Surprise: customers were not interested; the Finnish original product back to production, secret development work started in customer projects Competition: three competing products in Honeywell, difficult situation Honeywell bought Measurex: new possibilities to Varkaus unit because of Measurexs marketing channels and of a new unit in Kuopio, in Finland Honeywell was in financial difficulties: it was first acquired by the American Allied Signal and after that merger negotiations started with GE: due to the quest for profitability the unit in Kuopio was closed down and its product was sold New thinking in Honeywell when the merger with GE did not happen: –new customer-based structure, new role for Varkaus unit as a developer for platforms in its strong application industries –the product of Kuopio unit was reacquired –a new R&D unit was relocated from USA to Finland to develop new sensor systems for different industrial applications in the paper industry but also in some others These developments are leading to technology transfer from periphery to the center

15 Lessons Local units may have strong and surprising cumulative knowhow due to historical and other reasons and they may have tacit advantages in keeping this knowhow accurate Difference between generic (technology driven) R&D and specific (customer driven) R&D Credibility of local units in head offices, capital cities and mainstream studies is often low: local units have to be active in showing their capabilities

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