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Why companies fail in emerging markets: Be flexible

Unwillingness to change long-standing practices is probably one of the largest obstacles to success in emerging markets. Different markets require a temporary or even lasting departure from the ways in which a company is used to operating. Rather than saying "We don't do this anywhere in the world", several carmakers gave up their long struggle to find local partners and extended their operations to include sales and distribution of their products. This flexibility was driven by the realisation that they would not succeed without fully committed partners. By taking control, they were able to establish lasting and sustainable market leadership quickly. Such flexibility does not have to be costly; it just has to be creative. When Ford could not find a distributor in Bulgaria it asked its German distributor to do the job. Two years later (while competing carmakers were still searching for good local partners), Ford had a dominant market lead.

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