Subject area: Emerging Economy, Business Internationalization
Region: Eastern Europe (Belarus), European Union, United States
Industry: Fire and smoke protection
Decision Maker: Dmitry Bratanov, Director for Development and co-founder
Dilemma: Dmitry Bratanov, Director for Development and co-founder of FireDoors—a company producing antismoke and fire-protection curtains for public spaces—was convinced that, after the economic crisis in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region in 2014–2016, the company needed to expand to other markets in order to secure profitability and sustainability.
However, Bratanov was puzzled whether FireDoors should (a) incorporate and open an office in the United States to manage further expansion from there; (b) incorporate in Lithuania and enter the neighboring markets of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland as a European company; or (c) continue in the CIS countries and gradually move toward connected Western and Asian markets. Moreover, the co-founders were not in agreement on an expansion strategy.
“FireDoors: The Belarusian Company is Going Global ” as a BE-EDGE Project
Investment in Personal Capital: Elucidating the Core as a Pro
Radzivon was a young researcher, fresh from completing his Ph.D. in European Union. Back in his home country Belarus, he worked as a Research Associate at the Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center (BEROC). He was interested in establishing his presence in the consulting industry. Radzivon defined his specialization as internationalization of local businesses, and the role of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial education in private sector development.
Juiya Ivy, was an executive professor of strategy and international business at Northeastern University, Boston, USA. Originally from Belarus, Julia was interested in giving back to her country and keeping roots alive.
Investment in Social Capital: Developing Trustful Connection
The process of working on the case, allowed the authors to develop trustful connections with the top-managers of the company, especially with Dmitry Bratanov, co-founder of the company. Julia and Radzivon learned the history of the company, its operations, and values, as well as strive of its founders for business growth and product customization for the needs of each market under consideration.
Concurrently with the field study, the authors benefited from secondary sources research and collected rich data on the industry and markets under consideration. Key sources included The World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, ICSC: International Council of Shopping Centers, International Association of Fire and Rescue Services.
They wrote a company story that empathized with the company’s efforts for the growth and circumstances of the contexts that the company had to deal with. Such a coherent company story, full of the market and industry data, impressed the company founders and developed trust in Radzivon and Julia as people who took the company to their heart.
Investing in Professional Capital: Generating Value
In order to make a decision on the dilemma, the authors compared and contrasted the external environments of the US vs. EU vs. CIS regions in order to define the best match between market opportunities and the company’s strengths. They revealed that instability on traditional well-studied regional markets impelled a company to international expansion, while mostly negative country image made one mull over opening an office and registering in a more benevolent jurisdiction.
For the recommendations, the authors displayed, that different developed markets provided different opportunities and brought different risks for a company, which would require different sets of resources, capabilities, and competitive strategies. The authors suggested one of the options under consideration as more powerful for FireDoors, and supported that recommendation with an appropriate global strategy and market entry mode for FireDoors’ expansion.
Presence in the market:
Mr. Bratanov was highly impressed with the quality of analysis and recommendations and was touched with the ability of the authors to “get it” regarding the multilayer complexity of internationalization of businesses in Belarus. The project also became a stepping-stone for Radzivon’s establishing his presence as an expert in the local consulting market of Belarus.
“Working on the case of an export-oriented Belarusian enterprise has increased my understanding of business owners’ motivation and concerns related to new market entries. I ascertained that my academic knowledge and competencies are quite relevant to the business challenges that SMEs face in different development stages. Even when the FireDoors case had been completed, the owner continued communicating with me as a peer looking for unconventional insights. All this has definitely made me more self-confident as a business consultant’.”
Finally, the case has been published in the SAGE Business Case Collection and is often selected by faculty from around the world.