On 20th February 2016 the British Prime Minister David Cameron announced that an in/out referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union would be held on 23rd June in the same year. The die was cast for an extraordinary period of British, European and even global economic history which combined political chaos with a prolonged state of Brexit stasis in the UK and unprecedented uncertainty for businesses from around the world operating in the UK and the EU.
Within this emerging and dynamic context the Outside Fortress Europe initiative was launched by Colin Edward Egan to build upon the research of the already established Strategic Management Think Tank, an organizational discussion forum and nascent publisher exploring global business and marketing strategies in developed and emerging markets. The resulting publications provide a collective ‘sequel’ to the Economist Intelligent Unit/Addison-Wesley commissioned 1993 book, Inside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Single Market, co-authored by Colin Edward Egan and Peter McKiernan. That text explored the contrasting strategies of Japanese, American and European companies as they prepared for the formation of the European Single Market which came into effect on 1st January 1993, the UK being one of twelve countries within the newly-created trading bloc, the European Union.
The old and the new publications – the ‘In’ and the ‘Out’ – are profiled below along with links to further information relating to Outside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Global Market, a book written for an experienced, inquiring manager audience and/or an MBA/post-MBA/DBA/PhD readership.
This is followed by an introduction to the titles of the five BiteSized Fortress Europe Volumes, derived from Outside Fortress Europe (the ‘Parent Book’) but adapted for a practitioner/functional-specialist readership and ideal for a Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) / Strategic Business Unit (SBU) management audience.
All of the Outside Fortress Europe books provide evidence-based principles, frameworks, processes and methodologies to guide the inquisitive manager in developing and leading the Intelligent Company, regardless of its size, sector or country-of-origin.
The European Single Market & Global Business Strategy
In 1992 this book was commissioned by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)/Addison-Wesley as the then twelve European Community member states prepared for the European Single Market which came into effect on 1st January 1993.
The text examined the principles of global business strategy alongside a discussion of the political and economic processes involved in the creation of the European Single Market. It also presented case studies demonstrating how American and Japanese companies were proactively preparing for the new market environments they were facing. With few exceptions, notably German companies (and especially smaller Mittelstand firms), European companies were cumbersome, excessively parochial and wasted way too much organizational energy on seeking market protection (hence the ‘fortress’ title) rather than competing aggressively.
To view the ‘back cover’ description of the book along with an example of the acclaim it received please click/tap the icon of its front cover above/left.
Twenty-five Years Later
The Outside Fortress Europe Collection
Twenty-five years later it seemed appropriate to reflect on the UK’s momentous decision to leave the now enlarged twenty-eight Member State European Union. The country had elected to embark on its new international trade adventure in the context of a markedly different global business environment which had evolved since the excitement of the infamous ‘1993 Process’ towards greater European economic integration which had begun in the late 1980s.
This ‘sequel’ to Inside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Single Market was published in December 2018 and updated and revised in October 2019 as Brexit events and EU processes bobbled along, apparently aimlessly. The principal focus of the book is to cover a broader range of subject areas than would normally be found in a single management or business studies textbook, the intention being to provide a cross-functional, multi-disciplinary perspective on the challenges of ‘organizational life’ and strategy development in a highly competitive and complex global business environment. Its discussion relates to companies from all countries, all sectors and of all sizes.
Please click/tap the ‘Outside Fortress Europe’ book cover icon above/left for a brief description of the text and an overview of its contents. A link is also provided to a detailed Table of Contents which can be read in a new browser tab/window and/or downloaded as a PDF document.
The Outside Fortress Europe project
As the Outside Fortress Europe project progressed a key observation was the extraordinary lack of preparedness of UK companies for whatever Brexit would be ultimately determined. There seemed to be a ‘wait and see’ attitude amongst businesses as the political process for implementing Brexit following the delivery of the essential Article 50 notification to Brussels meandered along its long and winding road to who knew where. Or when. Or how. Or if.
But regardless of political contrivances and controversies, ‘waiting and seeing’ is not a good platform upon which to build a long-term effective and efficient global business strategy for any organization, regardless of country-of-origin, business sector or company size. Companies should be preparing now for exploiting the opportunities which international business developments might bring as new trade deals are struck, while at the same time building barriers against the looming threats from an uncertain and nervy customs relationship with the EU. There will be one: hard, soft or, most likely, fudgy. And British companies pursuing purely domestic business strategies should bolster themselves for the fierce competitive winds that those newly negotiated international trade agreements will bring to the UK market: after all, ‘free trade’ is a two-way street.
In Outside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Global Market and the ‘offspring’ BiteSized Fortress Europe Volumes derived from it (see below), we explore the series of simultaneous discontinuous changes and events that arose in an extremely short period of time during the 1990s, a turbulence unknown since the Second World War and one which has defined the contemporary ‘digital’ era of global competition and disruptive business processes.
Following the general election of 12th December 2019, there has been a definitive break in the long-running Brexit stasis and the UK left the EU on 31st January 2020. Like all messy divorces, there will be an uncomfortable transition as the former partners find their feet (and their friends) in its aftermath. But long before then, companies should have their strategies, plans and contingencies in place; and that challenge is exactly what the Outside Fortress Europe publications aim to address. We discuss the theories, concepts, frameworks, processes and tools which will guide smart managers building intelligent companies towards current and post-Brexit global business strategy success.
Outside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Global Market was published in December 2018 in anticipation of Brexit occurring on 29th March 2019. A limited-series weekly commentary, the Global Business Strategy Blog, was published from 1st March through 3rd May 2019. It combined extracts from Outside Fortress Europe with analysis of international business issues and global strategic management challenges which appeared in the business news headlines during each week. Seven academic essays focusing on globalisation, competitive strategies and organizational change were also drawn from the book and posted in unabridged form. A peer-reviewed compilation of selected posts and four essays was created and is presented in this site within the GBS Blog Album tab on the Main Menu.
The BiteSized Fortress Europe Series
The BiteSized Fortress Europe Series is based upon extended Chapter extracts from the ‘Parent Book’, Outside Fortress Europe: Strategies for the Global Market, by Colin Edward Egan.
Volume One is broader in scope than those which follow and is written for a wider audience keen to understand the complexities which frame the Brexit discussion and to examine its recent historical context.
Volumes Two to Five of the BiteSized Fortress Europe Series cover more specific dimensions of global business strategy, thus allowing the reader to focus on a topic or theme which most closely matches their interests and/or business speciality. The books have been adapted for a practitioner/functional-specialist readership and are ideal for a Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) / Strategic Business Unit (SBU) and entrepreneurial management audience.
Please explore the information presented within the ‘Global Strategic Management’ category of the Nexus Knowledge tab on the Main Menu for recommended ‘events’ (courses/seminars/masterclasses/workshops/think-tanks/webinars etc.) related to the individual Volume titles.
Each BiteSized Fortress Europe Volume is a ‘stand-alone’ book but the progression from Volume One to Volume Five has a linear narrative and full cross-referencing between them and to the Parent Book is provided throughout the Series.
Titles in the BiteSized Fortress Europe Series
This BiteSized Outside Fortress Europe Volume opens in 1987 and progresses with markets in turmoil, greed in the ascendency (a sign of things to come), walls falling, curtains opening, Germany reunifying, China emerging, the USSR collapsing, George Soros rupturing the UK’s monetary policy, the fractious 1992 process limping towards a European Single Market and all of this within four years.
As the decade progressed the Chinese dragon fiercely roared and its economy soared. Japan wilted while Asian tigers South Korea and Taiwan flourished. The US quietly blossomed. The much-maligned and misunderstood WTO didn’t exist in anything like its current ‘independent guardian’ of multi-lateral rules-based free trade until 1st January 1995. This book chronicles these cataclysmic events and draws lessons for companies developing global business strategies in turbulent market environments. In the current frenzied and polarised political context businesses should have their strategies, plans and contingencies in place for a post-Brexit free trade competitive landscape regardless of which deal is negotiated: hard, soft or fudgy.
Please click/tap the ‘Ten Years…’ book cover icon above/left for further details and its Table of Contents.
Analysing Global Markets and the Intelligent Company
This BiteSized Fortress Europe Volume opens with a contemporary classification of global markets which reflects the dramatic developments in international business and trade in the first two decades of the twenty-first century. We explore market dynamics, comparing the characteristics of established and emerging markets and outlining the implications of these for companies developing long-term, competitive global business strategies. We also examine how companies might address the challenges of disruptive technologies and business processes by exploring principles of innovation and entrepreneurship. We present a Framework for Profitable Growth and provide insights into how this can be used for risk assessment and risk mitigation.
Please click/tap the ‘Analysing Global Markets…’ book cover icon above/left for further details and its Table of Contents.
Strategic Marketing and Global Brand Management
In recent years the rise of global competition, the emergence of new technologies and the prevalence of continuous innovation have combined to redefine the external business environment for most companies. These market dynamics have given customers unprecedented value and choice. In such conditions of Consumer Sovereignty companies must develop a sharp strategic focus and bring marketing to the fore in their organizations.
In this BiteSized Fortress Europe Volume we demonstrate that an approach built upon the creation and implementation of effective marketing strategies can considerably improve business performance and profitability. We also explore the nature and meaning of brands and examine the role of brand management in driving profitable growth and contributing towards Stakeholder Value, i.e., consumers, channel partners, employees, suppliers etc. Creating effective Value Propositions which, along with effective Marketing Communications, provides the foundations of global brand management.
Please click/tap the ‘Strategic Marketing…’ book cover icon above/left for further details and its Table of Contents.
A Practical Framework for Global Business Strategy Success
The Practical Framework for Global Business Strategy Success we present in this book is a logical, structured and systematic approach to designing and implementing successful global business strategies. We discuss the conceptual backdrop, academic debates and prescriptive insights of the international business discipline with reference to the information requirements essential to maximise the inherent value which the Practical Framework offers for savvy strategic managers.
This knowledge can be deployed to translate the strategic objectives of the intelligent company into operational, customer-focused, competitively differentiated international marketing plans. Students of global strategy and international marketing managers will benefit from understanding and applying: (i) a practical framework which has a logical process flow of key stages and, within this, (ii), a ‘go-to-market’ planning process backed up by proven methodologies, frameworks and tools for successful global business strategy implementation.
Please click/tap the ‘A Practical Framework…’ book cover icon above/left for further details and its Table of Contents.
This book opens with a critical assessment of the ‘excuses’ that many companies put forward to ‘explain’ poor business performance rather than making an honest evaluation of their own organizational maladies and/or lack of competitiveness.
Theories of strategy, competition and organization are then presented followed by an exclusive practical framework and management process for measuring the turbulence of markets and the identification of strategic priorities, including those threats or opportunities which may not be imminent but loom large on the radar screen for the next cycle of the external strategic audit.
The global business strategy literature is rich in research which demonstrates that the successful management of internal organizational capabilities and competencies explains superior and sustainable external market competitiveness. The key question relates to whether such organizational capability can be configured by management to deliver success in global business strategy. A strategy which cannot be executed is not a strategy at all and we provide an exclusive practical framework for undertaking a comprehensive internal implementation audit.
Please click/tap the ‘Implementing Global Business Strategy’ book cover icon above/left for further details and its Table of Contents.
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