Exporting is often the first choice when manufacturers decide to expand abroad. Simply stating, exporting means selling abroad, either directly to target customers or indirectly by retaining foreign sales agents or/and distributors. Either case, going abroad through exporting has minimal impact on the firm’s human resource management because only a few, if at all, of its employees are expected to be posted abroad.
Licensing is another way to expand one’s operations internationally. In case of international licensing, there is an agreement whereby a firm, called licensor, grants a foreign firm the right to use intangible (intellectual) property for a specific period of time, usually in return for a royalty. Licensing of intellectual property such as patents, copyrights, manufacturing processes, or trade names abound across the nations. The Indian basmati (rice) is one such example.
Closely related to licensing is franchising. Franchising is an option in which a parent company grants another company/firm the right to do business in a prescribed manner. Franchising differs from licensing in the sense that it usually requires the franchisee to follow much stricter guidelines in running the business than does licensing. Further, licensing tends to be confined to manufacturers, whereas franchising is more popular with service firms such as restaurants, hotels, and rental services.
One does not have to look very far to see how important franchising business is to companies here and abroad. At present, the prominent examples of the franchise agreements in India are Pepsi Food Ltd., Coca-Cola, Wimpy’s Damino, McDonald, and Nirula. In USA, one in 12 business establishments is a franchise.
However, exporting, licensing and franchising make companies get them only so far in international business. Companies aspiring to take full advantage of opportunities offered by foreign markets decide to make a substantial direct investment of their own funds in another country. This is popularly known as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). Here, by international business means foreign direct investment mainly. Let us discuss some more about foreign direct investment.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI):
Foreign direct investment refers to operations in one country that ire controlled by entities in a foreign country. In a sense, this FDI means building new facilities in other country. In India, a foreign direct investment means acquiring control by more than 74% of the operation. This limit was 50% till the financial year 2001-2002.
There are two forms of direct foreign investment: joint ventures and wholly-owned subsidiaries. A joint venture is defined as “the participation of two or more companies jointly in an enterprise in which each party contributes assets, owns the entity to some degree, and shares risk”. In contrast, a wholly-owned subsidiary is owned 100% by the foreign firm.
An international business is any firm that engages in international trade or investment. International trade refers to export or import of goods or services to customers/consumers in another country. On the other hand, international investment refers to the investment of resources in business activities outside a firm’s home country.