When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

25 July 2006

USNews.com: IBM chief on the global role of corporations

In his satirical new book Rome, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the First Multinational Corporation, Stanley Bing humorously makes the case that the proto-capitalistic Imperium Romanum--with its bold takeovers, power-mad CEOs, and compelling brand--was the beta version of the globe-spanning Microsofts, General Electrics, and IBMs of today. Or perhaps more accurately, the Enrons and WorldComs of yesterday. While Rome Inc. had a great multicentury run, eventually it went out of business. One wonders if the feckless Emperor Honorius, watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill in A.D. 410, truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall.

Granted, IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano doesn't have to contend with Visigoths, Vandals, and other pesky barbarians. But like any modern CEO, he does have to deal with flash mob protests by antiglobalization advocates, company-bashing websites, protectionist legislation, and a high-velocity, Internet-connected world where the burgeoning Chinese and Indian economies spawn both profitable market opportunities and lethal competitors.

To succeed in this challenging global environment, Palmisano contends, IBM should be the last multinational corporation. Don't panic, Big Blue shareholders: He's talking evolution here, not extinction. In recent essays for the Financial Times newspaper and Foreign Affairs magazine, Palmisano went public with his big-think idea: The era of the multinational corporation is coming to a close.
USNews.com: IBM chief on the global role of corporations

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