…Strategies for Profitable Growth
On 20th February 2016 the British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that an in/out referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union would be held on 23rd June in the same year. The die was cast for an extraordinary period of British, European and even global economic history which combined political chaos with a prolonged state of Brexit stasis in the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and unprecedented uncertainty for businesses from around the world operating in the UK and the EU.
Within this emerging and dynamic context the Outside Fortress Europe initiative was launched by Colin Edward Egan, formerly Professor of Marketing and Strategic Management at leading university business schools, to build upon the research of the already established Strategic Management Think Tank, an organizational discussion forum and nascent publisher exploring global business and marketing strategies in developed and emerging markets. The resulting publications provide a collective ‘sequel’ to the Economist Intelligent Unit/Addison-Wesley commissioned 1993 book, Inside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Single Market, co-authored by Colin Edward Egan and Peter McKiernan. That text explored the contrasting strategies of Japanese, American and European companies as they prepared for the formation of the European Single Market which came into effect on 1st January 1993, the UK being one of twelve countries within the newly-created trading bloc, the European Union.
The old and the new publications – the ‘In’ and the ‘Out’ – are profiled below along with links to further information relating to Outside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Global Market, a book written for an experienced, inquiring manager audience and/or an MBA/post-MBA/DBA/PhD readership.
This is followed by an introduction to the titles of the five BiteSized Fortress Europe Volumes, derived from Outside Fortress Europe (the ‘Parent Book’) but adapted for a practitioner/functional-specialist readership and ideal for a Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) / Strategic Business Unit (SBU) management audience which this website addresses.
The European Single Market & Global Business Strategy
Colin Edward Egan and Peter McKiernan (1993).
Inside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Single Market
In 1992 this book was commissioned by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)/Addison-Wesley as the then twelve European Community member states prepared for the European Single Market which came into effect on 1st January 1993.
The text examined the principles of global business strategy alongside a discussion of the political and economic processes involved in the creation of the European Single Market. It also presented case studies demonstrating how American and Japanese companies were proactively preparing for the new market environments they were facing. With few exceptions, notably German companies (and especially smaller Mittelstand firms), European companies were cumbersome, excessively parochial and wasted way too much organizational energy on seeking market protection (hence the ‘fortress’ title) rather than competing aggressively.
Twenty-five Years Later
The Outside Fortress Europe Project
Twenty-five years later it seemed appropriate to reflect on the UK’s momentous decision to leave the now enlarged twenty-eight Member State European Union. The country had elected to embark on its new international trade adventure in the context of a markedly different global business environment which had evolved since the excitement of the infamous ‘1992 Process’ towards greater European economic integration which had begun in the late 1980s.
This ‘sequel’ to Inside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Single Market was published in December 2018 and updated and revised in October 2019 as Brexit events and EU processes bobbled along, apparently aimlessly. The principal focus of the book is to cover a broader range of subject areas than would normally be found in a single management or business studies textbook, the intention being to provide a cross-functional, multi-disciplinary perspective on the challenges of ‘organizational life’ and strategy development in a highly competitive and complex global business environment. Its discussion relates to companies from all countries, of all sectors and of all sizes.
Please click/tap on the ‘Outside Fortress Europe’ book cover icon above/left for a brief description of the text and an overview of its contents. A link is also provided to a detailed Table of Contents which can be viewed in a new browser tab/window and/or downloaded as a PDF document.
the British business manifesto
Colin Edward Egan (forthcoming)
British Business Manifesto: Strategies for Profitable Growth
Rugby: Strategic Management Think Tank
As the Outside Fortress Europe project progressed a key observation was the extraordinary lack of preparedness of UK companies for whatever ‘type’ of Brexit would be ultimately determined, especially amongst SMEs who received only partial government support or guidance. Such support has focussed excessively on short-term compliance and operational issues at the expense of understanding the strategic challenges and required solutions for sustainable business strategy success and profitable growth.
Extensive management research, including numerous meta-analysis studies which statistically examine data from a number of independent studies of the same subject, has proven that a deep understanding of the following areas of management theory and practice can significantly contribute to long-term global and domestic business strategy success, as this British Business Manifesto site demonstrates:
- Business environment sensitivity: identifying opportunities and off-setting threats
- Analysing global and domestic markets: customer insights and competitor intelligence
- Innovation and entrepreneurship: strategies for profitable growth
- Strategic marketing: selecting and serving target market segments
- Strategic brand management: building and sustaining a competitive edge
- Integrated marketing communications: managing customer relationships
- Planning processes for business strategy success
- Building customer-focused organizational capabilities: exploiting strengths and identifying weaknesses
Please click/tap the SME Business Strategy tab of the Main Menu for deep insights into the subject and topic arenas which each of these broad management areas embraces.
Following the referendum of June 2016, there seemed to be a ‘wait and see’ attitude amongst many businesses as the political process for implementing Brexit after the delivery of the essential Article 50 notification to Brussels meandered along its long and winding road to who knew where. Or when. Or how. Or if.
But regardless of political contrivances and controversies, ‘waiting and seeing’ is not a good platform upon which to build a long-term effective and efficient global business strategy for any organization, regardless of country-of-origin, business sector or company size. Companies should be preparing now for exploiting the opportunities which international business developments might bring as new trade deals are struck, while at the same time building barriers against the looming threats from an uncertain and nervy customs relationship with the EU following the post-Brexit transition period. There will be one: hard, soft or, most likely, fudgy. And British companies pursuing purely domestic business strategies should bolster themselves for the fierce competitive winds that those newly-negotiated international trade agreements will bring to the UK market: after all, ‘free trade’ is a two-way street.
Be careful what you wish for. International trade is a two-way street…
Please click/tap the ‘Strategic Management Think Tank’ icon to the left/above to access this blog post essay from The Global Business Strategy Album. This curated compilation of essays and blog posts features in the outsidefortresseurope.eu website, the companion site to britishbusinessmanifesto.com.
The GBS blog post essay referred to above was published on 4th February 2020, the fourth day of the post-Brexit ‘new new world order’ following the UK’s exit from the European Union. While it drew attention to the lack of strategic preparedness of British businesses for the competitive threats lurking within the framework of international trade agreements, especially those from the SME sector, the tone of the essay was optimistic, concluding that companies had the opportunity to develop the necessary capabilities for success during the post-Brexit transition negotiations and beyond. And then the Covid-19 tsunami landed, locking companies down precisely when they need to be ramping up.
Without a doubt, the immediate priorities for SMEs as the Covid-19 Lockdown is eased and businesses begin to breath will be operational in nature, not strategic in the way in which we present the British Business Manifesto book and strategic management events. But for British manufacturers especially, traditional and new rivals will have a head start. Regarding the former, the legendary German Mittlestand
Following the general election of 12th December 2019, there has been a definitive break in the long-running Brexit stasis and the UK left the EU on 31st January 2020. Like all messy divorces, there will be an uncomfortable transition as the former partners find their feet (and their friends) in its aftermath. But long before then, companies should have their strategies, plans and contingencies in place; and that challenge is exactly what the Outside Fortress Europe and British Business Manifesto publications aim to address. We discuss the theories, concepts, frameworks, processes and tools which will guide smart managers building intelligent companies towards current and post-Brexit global and domestic business strategy success.
The 20:20 Vision tab on the Main Menu presents brief details of books planned for publication by Colin Edward Egan in 2020/2021. His resumé and a LinkedIn CV profile – available for download – are presented within the Colin Edward Egan tab of the Main Menu.
Global Trade. Click/tap the image to enlarge it.