The war for talent never ends. Middle managers in China? Good luck finding them, let alone keeping them. Assembly line workers in Central Europe? They’re well-educated and hard-working: Trouble is, every company wants them. The cubicle warriors of Bangalore? They get the job done—if they stick around. I For corporations, managing this widely scattered, talented, restive, multicultural workforce has never been harder. This Special Report, written to coincide with the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, brings readers to the front lines of the struggle. It delves into IBM’s (IBM) effort to reinvent the way it gets tasks done around the world, follows a Nokia (NOK) manager as he recruits a workforce from scratch in Transylvania, meets a restless generation of IT workers in India, and hears from the corporate road warriors who never, ever stop traveling.
These and other stories make a simple but powerful point: The old way of managing across borders is fading fast. In the first half of the 20th century, the globalization of business was based on the British colonial model. Headquarters, functions, and capital were in one place, with managers dispatched to run regional operations like colonies. In the second half of the 1900s, companies adopted the multinational model, replicating their home country operations in other places where they did business. Country units rarely dealt with other divisions in other markets.
Today, global corporations are transforming themselves into “transnationals,” moving work to the places with the talent to handle the job and the time to do it at the right cost