Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Managing crises overseas

The growing interest in investment abroad means that many of the world’s largest companies are continually moving into new areas offering a broad range of opportunities.

Growth for US and UK companies in oil, gas, mining and construction continues, as do the areas of manufacturing, telecommunication, retail and financial services. The fastest growing new development areas are China, South America and Eastern Europe.

As companies go global, the threat to the security of people, technology, information and assets gains in impact. Doing business in foreign countries does have crisis connotations and can mean a life or death difference for an organisation.

Dealing with the problems of a changing political arena, threats of bribery, sabotage, vandalism, theft, having to deal and negotiate with irrational customers in distant locations, being faced with problems of armed intrusion or trespassers and the growing international problem of drug abuse, are all threats that need to be recognised and planned for.

A crisis in another country often does not fit into any known framework. The organisational response, therefore, has to deal with the problem of finding people to manage the problem at the same time as anticipating the escalation factor and providing support for the most exposed aspects of the business.

There is simply little time for planning, organising, equipping or training once the crisis is imminent.

Importantly, the crisis management approach needs to ensure that the various operations and projects of an international operation are in a constant state of readiness and that crisis teams know what to do and how to do it.

Basically, the objectives of any plan should be to protect the company’s people and assets. International operations crisis management objectives:

1. Protect the life of employees and their families.
2. Protect assets and earnings by restoring normal operations rapidly.
3. Protect the local community and environment.
4. Minimise damage to corporate reputation.
5. Retain effective relationships with government of the country

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