According to the Operation Managers textbook, “Operations managers have the difficult task of ensuring that goods and services are created and delivered successfully to customers.” (Collier &Evans, 2000). When done on a global scale, operation managers encounter many obstacles when overseeing the supply chain. Building relationships with different suppliers is important. Globally, this can prove difficult because of cultural barriers. Operations managers also have to take into consideration international shipping on a mass scale. Another obstacle is adhering to different rules and regulations for each country.
Many things change when dealing with different countries around the world. Operation managers need to have an understanding and awareness of these different obstacles in order to be successful on such a mass scale. Being able to communicate across cultures is extremely important. In order to be able to conduct business, managers first need to know how to communicate.
Language is very important in order to do this. The ability for managers to speak the languages of their international business relationships is an invaluable skill. However, one may consider having translators on staff to handle business negotiations with their foreign counterparts. Many foreign countries like India or South Korea teach English as a second language. While this benefits American operation managers, it shows a greater level of commitment having managers or the point of contact who can speak the language of their foreign business relations.
Formalities for operation managers when coming in contact with the suppliers also need to be considered. What is true in one culture may not be true for the other culture. For example, in the Chinese culture, forming relationships with one another is an important part of business. However, in the United States, people tend to be less personal. Operation managers may need to contact the suppliers of cultures such like the Chinese, more often. (Newman, 1996).
Another example, in Middle Eastern cultures shaking hands is only respectfully done with the right hand. These find it rude and disrespectful to extend greetings with the left hand. Pointing at someone with the index finger is also considered extremely rude in some cultures, even in a casual manner. To point, a manager should use the entire hand with an open palm (Locker 2006). Shipping between countries is another difficulty for operation managers. It takes time to transport materials or goods to the correct locations.
Managers have to coordinate shipping routes to ensure that the product reaches the destination in a timely fashion from moving raw materials in, and transporting finished goods out. They also have to choose the most efficient and cost effective mode of transportation. For example, while air transportation is faster, it is more expensive and more weight restrictive that cargo boat transportation. (Collier &Evans, 2000). Another aspect of shipping is to ensure all the proper nomenclature is labeled on the cargo. Both languages should be included on the label. Also, both standard and metric units should be included as well. Different governments have different regulations to follow.
For example, United States pharmaceutical companies are subject to more stringent testing by the Food and Drug Administration. However, imported prescription drugs are often poorly made and, in recent years, have slipped through the cracks of the FDA. This oversight has placed low quality, potentially deadly drugs in American medicine cabinets. Mistakes like this have enraged consumers but could have been avoided given the proper guidance from operation managers on the supply and manufacturing ends of the chain (Asia News, 2004). Embargos between countries limit operation managers on where they receive products or materials, or where they can ship their goods or materials.
The United States currently has a trade embargo with Cuba. So, no exchanges can be made between these two countries. Managers also have to adhere to the Environmental regulations of each country. Tragedies, like the Exxon, Valdez oil spill, have caused governments to have strict regulations on tanker vessels and on their crews (Cleveland, 2008). Managers must take these laws seriously not only to protect their financial investments, but to practice sound ethics as well. Operations managers have different obstacles to overcome when overseeing an international supply chain.
Cultural differences, and shipping between countries are all major issues for these managers to be aware of in the industry. People around the world have different backgrounds. One must learn about these cultural differences in order to successfully conduct business. International shipping takes time, money and a skilled coordinator to run smoothly. Finally, companies must abide by the different government regulations that pertain to the transactions. Having a firm grasp of these aspects are essential to run a successful business in these days of globalization. References
Asia News. (2004, November 14). Every Year 190,000 People Die of Improper Prescription Drug Use. Retrieved June 08, 2008 from http://www.asianews.it/index.php.
Cleveland, Cutler. (2008). Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. Retreived June 08, 2008 from: http://www.eoearth.org/article/Exxon_Valdez_oil_spill.
Collier, David; & Evans, James. (2000) Operations Management: Goods, Service, and Value Chains.
Locker, K. O. (2006). Communicating across cultures. In K. O. Locker, Business and Administrative Communication (pp. 293-310). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.
Newman, K. L., & Nollenk, S. D. (1996). Culture and congruence: The fit between management practices and national culture. Journal of International Business Studies.