- Global Brands: The Evolution of Multinationals in Alcoholic Beverages
This is a book about the world's leading brands and multinationals in the alcoholic beverages industry since the 1960s, and about the importance of brands as prime drivers of the global process of cross-border mergers and acquisitions that has affected businesses worldwide in the last decades. At a time when there are so many general books about globalization, a work that focuses on the complexities of globalization in a single economic sector provides a wealth of information and analysis that is to be warmly welcomed. In addition, as Geoffrey Jones and Louis Galambos indicate in the preface, the book provides compelling insights into the endurance and relevance of family ownership in international businesses nowadays, and about the legacy of history on current corporate strategies.
Teresa Da Silva Lopes is a well-known researcher who has devoted the last fifteen years of her professional career to the study of entrepreneurship and intangible assets in the alcoholic beverages sector. Her own academic training and job experience in several countries has allowed her to understand the cultural complexities of globalization, and the book has probably benefitted from the wide horizons and the international scope of her research. Strongly influenced by Edith Penroseś theories about the growth of a firm, Da Silva Lopes has written an excellent book that highlights the competitive advantages of branding and advertising for growth. Also, following John H. Dunningś ideas about the role of ownership, location, and internalization in the internationalization processes of firms, she presents an original essay about which of these determinants had a key role in the development of multinationals in alcoholic beverages.
Da Silva Lopes' major contributions in this book are manifold. First of all, she inverts conventional wisdom and examines not only the role of brands in the life of firms, but also the contribution of firms to brands. She highlights the existence of enduring and "forever young" brands that outlive the firms that originally created them to develop [End Page 166] independent lives. Second, she combines in a very interesting way theoretical concepts from international business, marketing, and entrepreneurship theory, with a wealth of empirical evidence coming from written sources and extremely interesting oral interviews with owners and managers of multinational firms in the alcoholic beverage industries. She presents several interpretative models to understand the diverse role that concentrated or dispersed ownership has at a global scale in businesses. She also challenges assumptions that in order to grow, firms need to abandon or increase distance between owners and managers. As she clearly indicates, in some sectors, like the one she studies, the commercial knowledge and the social capital of family owners of firms may be a major contribution to help the growth of firms that may be adopting radical and modern innovations in production and organization to become multinationals. This is a major finding that calls for similar studies about family owned multinationals in other sectors. Another major finding the book presents with a dynamic and historical approach is the importance that alliances and cooperation had in worldwide distribution in the alcoholic beverage sector, which challenges assumptions about the relevance of competition among multinationals in global markets. Last, but not the least, Da Silva Lopes uses a definition of brands that considers them as public intellectual property, and not just private intellectual property ("as a legally defensible proprietary name, recognized by some categories of consumers as signifying a product with dimensions that differentiate it in some way from other products designed to satisfy the same need," p.5). This is coherent with the historical analysis she provides about the endurance of some brands across decades, and confers greater historical value to brands as internal intangible resources of a firm than usually granted in studies of sectors where brands have a prominent role.
Da Silva Lopes has gathered, from very scattered sources of information, data for seventy-five firms: twenty-one from North America, seventeen from the United Kingdom...