Definition of global entrepreneur

Global entrepreneurship is a trait or characteristic in our definition of a global leader. Global entrepreneurs are professionals who use their global understanding and connections to identify transnational and cross-cultural opportunities and turn them into new value-creating initiative. While entrepreneurship usually means the creation of a new business, the scope of many global leaders' efforts go beyond business creation. Value creation obviously happens in established companies every day and many global leaders act as intrapreneurs pursuing opportunities from within an organisational context. Furthermore the term global entrepreneur recognises that not only businesses create new value - many global entrepreneurs operate from within the non-profit world establishing international social enterprises.

Global entrepreneurs typically create value in three distinct ways:

- The first is by tapping into commonalities – or convergence - between markets and cultures. This approach is common for organisations trying to bring a standard brand promise to diverse cultures, such as global brands Nike or McDonald’s. Alternatively it is companies like Intel that are bringing broadly applicable, convergent technological solutions to diverse communities.

- Conversely, global entrepreneurs may tap differences – or divergence - among regions in order to access distinct comparative advantages. Some IKEA products, for example, are designed in Sweden and assembled in China using African cotton and Polish plywood. 

- Global entrepreneurs also access networks and create value by building platforms that allow global exchange.  Hong Kong-based Global Sources, for example, uses a standard trading platform to facilitate exchange between suppliers in Asia and clients around the world. 

Example

Lalit Ahuja, director of Target India, acts as a global entrepreneur within the context of his organization. His effort have ensured that the advantage Target gains from its Indian operation is not mere low-cost commodity services and labor, although such activity is an example of tapping regional divergence. Ahuja’s work has also focused on creating shared platforms and network for high value activities.  According to Ahuja, in the companies he worked for prior to Target he found an obsessive focus on cultural difference.

“I spent a lot of time managing perceptions and educating people on both sides of the ocean on how to work across cultures,” he says. “It was unproductive and ultimately produced work that wasn’t relevant.” In building Target’s Indian headquarters he took a different tack. He placed the emphasis, not on cultural differences, but on forging a shared corporate culture with Target’s headquarters. In Ahuja’s words, it was critical that everyone who worked for Target was “the same shade of red". This common cultural platform ensures that the true value Target India is the ability it gives Target to pursue high-value initiatives 24 hours a day, handing projects between time zones across a shared cultural platform. The first major project undertaken by Target India, for instance, was leading the high profile redesign of a Target store in Arizona. [1]

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