Just as there are reasons to get into global markets, and benefits from global markets, there are also risks involved in locating companies in certain countries. Each country may have its potentials; it also has its woes that are associated with doing business with major companies. Some of the rogue countries may have all the natural minerals but the risks involved in doing business in those countries exceed the benefits. Some of the risks in international business are:
(1) Strategic Risk
(2) Operational Risk
(3) Political Risk
(4) Country Risk
(5) Technological Risk
(6) Environmental Risk
(7) Economic Risk
(8) Financial Risk
(9) Terrorism Risk
Strategic Risk: The ability of a firm to make a strategic decision in order to respond to the forces that are a source of risk. These forces also impact the competitiveness of a firm. Porter defines them as: threat of new entrants in the industry, threat of substitute goods and services, intensity of competition within the industry, bargaining power of suppliers, and bargaining power of consumers.
Operational Risk: This is caused by the assets and financial capital that aid in the day-to-day business operations. The breakdown of machineries, supply and demand of the resources and products, shortfall of the goods and services, lack of perfect logistic and inventory will lead to inefficiency of production. By controlling costs, unnecessary waste will be reduced, and the process improvement may enhance the lead-time, reduce variance and contribute to efficiency in globalization.
Political Risk: The political actions and instability may make it difficult for companies to operate efficiently in these countries due to negative publicity and impact created by individuals in the top government. A firm cannot effectively operate to its full capacity in order to maximize profit in such an unstable country’s political turbulence. A new and hostile government may replace the friendly one, and hence expropriate foreign assets.
Country Risk: The culture or the instability of a country may create risks that may make it difficult for multinational companies to operate safely, effectively, and efficiently. Some of the country risks come from the governments’ policies, economic conditions, security factors, and political conditions. Solving one of these problems without all of the problems (aggregate) together will not be enough in mitigating the country risk.
Technological Risk: Lack of security in electronic transactions, the cost of developing new technology, and the fact that these new technology may fail, and when all of these are coupled with the outdated existing technology, the result may create a dangerous effect in doing business in the international arena.
Environmental Risk: Air, water, and environmental pollution may affect the health of the citizens, and lead to public outcry of the citizens. These problems may also lead to damaging the reputation of the companies that do business in that area.
Economic Risk: This comes from the inability of a country to meet its financial obligations. The changing of foreign-investment or/and domestic fiscal or monetary policies. The effect of exchange-rate and interest rate make it difficult to conduct international business.
Financial Risk: This area is affected by the currency exchange rate, government flexibility in allowing the firms to repatriate profits or funds outside the country. The devaluation and inflation will also impact the firm’s ability to operate at an efficient capacity and still be stable. Most countries make it difficult for foreign firms to repatriate funds thus forcing these firms to invest its funds at a less optimal level. Sometimes, firms’ assets are confiscated and that contributes to financial losses.
Terrorism Risk: These are attacks that may stem from lack of hope; confidence; differences in culture and religious philosophy, and/or merely hate of companies by citizens of host countries. It leads to potential hostile attitudes, sabotage of foreign companies and/or kidnapping of the employers and employees. Such frustrating situations make it difficult to operate in these countries.
Although the benefits in international business exceed the risks, firms should take a risk assessment of each country and to also include intellectual property, red tape and corruption, human resource restrictions, and ownership restrictions in the analysis, in order to consider all risks involved before venturing into any of the countries.
Dr. Sidney Okolo is a professor, consultant, strategist, and Africa expert. He is affiliated to several universities, the Managing Director of International Business Associates, a management consulting firm, and also the CEO of Global Education Support, an education assistance program.