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"The Spanish presence abroad is still below their potential"

Interview to Alfonso Ortega Giménez, professor of Private International Law at Miguel Hernández University of Elche


Alfonso Ortega Giménez, professor of Private international law at Miguel Hernández University of Elche and author of Plan de internacionalización empresarial. Manual práctico (Business Plan internationalization. Practical Handbook) says that the only solution to the crisis for many Spanish companies is strengthening its position in international markets. In this interview, Ortega explains the key factors that ensure the success of the internationalization process.

- Why Spanish companies should go to foreign markets?

- Internationalization and openness to foreign markets are probably the most important changes experienced by the Spanish economy in the last thirty years. Currently, and increasingly, many Spanish companies are in process of internationalization. For some time they detected the enormous benefits that the pursuit and consolidation of new markets give to the business organization. Even so, the Spanish presence abroad is still below its potential. In fact, the output to foreign markets from its many variants represented the only solution for many Spanish companies to the serious global economic crisis, which struck our country with a particular virulence, becoming the key of the company to survive to a fall in domestic demand in a changing and challenging environment, where stagnation would only achieve its collapse and rambunctious failure in this increasingly globalized world.
Globalization is transforming the planet. Be out of reach is practically impossible. Its effects have resulted in the need to conquer international markets by very many companies around the world and should be carried out by our companies. We must be aware that globalization and internationalization are linked, justifying output to international markets.
    The progressive opening of borders on the movement of goods produced by the management of the World Trade Organization (WTO); reducing prices of international transport; the huge transfer of information and knowledge throughout the world in the era of new technologies and communication in which we live; the decrease in the documentary procedures for crossing borders, whether in the EU area or in third countries, require the internationalization of the Spanish company and the search for new foreign markets that demand our products and services and that, in turn, lead to the expansion of our business horizon, the successful development of the enterprise and wealth creation for the added value it entails, encouraging the socio-economic growth of our environment, so necessary in modern times.

- What are the main issues to consider when starting the internationalization plan?

- Before planning access to international markets, it becomes essential to conduct business analysis that allows us to learn about different capabilities in terms of production, product and/or service, available resources internationalization, etc. In short, the internationalization plan will provide answers to a number of issues that will serve to successfully plan access to international markets: What are we trying to achieve with the business internationalization? We must know our level of expectations, our aversion to risk, time horizon to achieve our goals, for example. Do we have the necessary skills to succeed abroad? That is, if we have a good product and/or service marks, appropriate supply chain, support structures, etc. Do we have the talent to manage the expansion? It means if we hold sufficient technical and human resources to achieve the objective.

- What you should know and analyse about markets that want to address?
- A thorough knowledge of the market which we are going to direct is fundamental, both in cultural, economic, regulatory, geographic, country risk, etc. Therefore, market research and adaptation of business structure to international markets, with the costs that this entails, is essential.

- In short, how can you undertake the internationalization of the company with guarantees of success?
- The process of internationalization from its multiple variables implies that the company makes a deep and abiding change. There should be a consistent mind-set toward that goal. This change in attitude has resulted in the involvement of multiple technical resources at our disposal and should be responsible for all human resources of the company and not just the owners, managers and executives it. The implementation of processes, organizational structures and techniques that require the internationalization process involves the commitment of the entire business organization.
    Access to foreign markets therefore requires prior knowledge of the markets, our product, the structure of our company, our competitive advantages; meet our resources, among others. Therefore, the internationalization of success is one that is planned, properly executed and controlled through a comprehensive internationalization plan.
    Only with internationalization plan that includes on one hand the strategic thinking process developed with global mind-set for international markets and, secondly, an operational vision that permits the company to implement the process and make it happen, we will be able to address foreign markets with guaranteed success. With international planning we know the barriers, our weaknesses and threats, in as well as our strengths and opportunities, which make us strong to introduce these coveted markets in an energetic way and steadily. It is not a matter of chance or intuition. Success depends on previous preparation and sufficient strategic and operational planning embodied in a comprehensive internationalization plan.

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