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Coca Cola Case

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The Coca-Cola Company is one of the most successful multinational enterprises. With operations in close to 200 countries and nearly 80 percent of its operating income derived from businesses outside the United States, Coca-Cola is perceived as the quintessential global corporation. Coca-Cola, however, likes to think of itself a "multi-local" company that just happens to be headquartered in Atlanta and that presents the Coca-Cola brand with a "local face" in every country where it does business. The philosophy is best summarized by the phrase "think globally, act locally," which captures the essence of Coca-Cola's cross-border management mentality. A dominant theme at Coca-Cola is to grant businesses the freedom to conduct operations in a manner that is appropriate to the market in which they are competing. At the same time, the company tries to establish a common mind-set among all its employees.

Coca-Cola manages its global operations through 25 operating divisions that are organized under six regional groups: North America, the European Union, the Pacific, the Northeast Europe/Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. Corporate human resources management (HRM) is charged with providing the glue that binds these various divisions and groups into the Coca-Cola family. The corporate HRM function achieves this in two main ways: first, by propagating a common human resources philosophy within the company, and second, by developing a group of internationally minded mid-level executives for future senior management responsibility. The corporate HRM group sees its mission as one of developing and providing the underlying philosophy around which local businesses can develop their own human resource practices. For example, rather than have a standard salary policy for all its national operations, Coca-Cola has a common salary philosophy, which is for its total compensation package to be competitive with the best companies in the local market. Twice a year the corporate HRM group also conducts a two-week HRM orientation session for the human resource staff from each of its 25 operating divisions.

These sessions give an overview of the company's HRM philosophy and talk about how local businesses can translate that philosophy into human resource policies in their own area. Coca-Cola has found that information sharing is one of the great benefits of bringing HRM professionals together. For example, tools that have been developed in Brazil to deal with a specific HRM problem might also be useful in Australia. The sessions provide a medium through which HRM professionals can communicate and learn from each other, which facilitates the rapid transfer of innovative and valuable HRM tools from region to region.

As much as possible Coca-Cola tries to staff its local operations with local personnel. To quote one senior executive: "We strive to have a limited number of international

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