Clearly outlining risk factors, as a foot note to the budget and business plan, is a smart thing to do in emerging markets regardless of whether a company encourages and rewards truthful communication or is infested with a culture of deceit. In both cases, senior management needs to be aware of the things that can go wrong.
There is no shortage of risks in emerging markets. Many companies active in them say that the single biggest risk affecting their emerging-market plans in the last decade was the unpredictability of currency devaluations. Managers at Sony say that they fear unpredictable recessions and unpredictable consumer behaviour.
In many countries, managers worry about political risks and the way they affect sales. In years of uncertain elections, for example, consumers' appetite for spending often shrinks. Perhaps the most worrying thing for many companies is that the list of largely unpredictable market threats is long, even in reasonably well managed emerging markets. The Mexico crisis in 1994 moved the country from a star to a short-term basket case in a matter of weeks, for no good fundamental reason.