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MGT520 - International Business - Lecture Handout 10

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Legal Systems:

  1. The legal environment of a country is of immense importance to international business. A country's laws regulate business practice, define the manner in which business transactions are to be executed, and set down the rights and obligations of those involved in business transactions. Differences in the structure of law can have an important impact upon the attractiveness of a country as an investment site and/or market.
  2. Control over property rights are very important for the functioning of business. Property rights refer to the bundle of legal rights over the use to which a resource is put and over the use made of any income that may be derived from that source. Property rights can be violated by either private action (theft, piracy, blackmail, Mafia) or public action (governmental bribery and corruption, nationalization). Lack of confidence in a country’s fair treatment of property rights significantly increases the costs and risks of doing business.
  3. The Country Focus on Corruption in Nigeria shows how a country that has huge natural resources can still remain poor when its political leaders conspire to damage its economic activity for their personal gain. High levels of corruption can naturally lead to a significant reduction in economic activity.
  4. Intellectual property rights (patents, copyrights, and trademarks) are important for businesses if they are to capitalize on what they have developed. Firms like Microsoft, Levis, Coca-Cola, or McDonald’s would have little reason to invest overseas if other firms in other countries were able to use the same name and copy their products without permission. The management focus article on drug patents in South Africa illustrates the issue well. By allowing the purchase of AIDS drugs from the cheapest source, the South African government was attempting to avert a health crisis. In doing so, it created a violation of international property rights that may take many years of court action to settle.
  5. Different countries have different product safety and liability laws. In some cases US businesses must customize products to adhere to local standards if they are to do business in a country, whether these standards are higher or just different.
  6. When product standards are lower in other countries, firms face an important ethical dilemma. Should they produce products only of the highest standards even if this puts them at a competitive disadvantage relative other producers and results in not maximizing value to shareholders? Or should they produce products that respond to local differences, even if that means that consumers may not be assured of the same levels of safety in different countries? One serious example I use involves the flame retardant nature of children’s pajamas. In many countries restrictions on the level of flame retardency are very low and even nonexistent, and it is perfectly legal to manufacture that product without protective standards. Should international firms continue to manufacture to higher protection levels, with resulting increased costs that may put them at a competitive disadvantage?
  7. Differences in contract law force firms to use different approaches when negotiating contracts. In countries with common law traditions, contracts tend to be much more detail oriented and need to specify what will happen under a variety of contingencies. Common law tends to interpret legal statutes according to the past decisions and rulings of courts. The United States uses a common law system. Under civil law systems, contracts tend to be much shorter and less specific since many of the issues relating to contracts are covered in the civil code of the country. Under common law, ownership is established by use; under civil law, ownership is determined by registration. Therefore, another firm may register a product first and prevail in a bid for ownership, even though the competition had been using the product for a long time but had failed to register it.

  8. Read more: MGT520 - International Business - Lecture Handout 10

MGT601 - SME Management - Lecture Handout 45

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The role of government as a facilitator of business and its interaction with business support institutions is imperative for the establishment of a mutually beneficial relationship for the growth of the sector. SME promotion is an important issue for many government departments and central offices. For example, the Ministry of Labour plays an important role in shaping the labour market policy of the state. Similarly, in order to gather information on the health of the SME population the role of Federal Bureau of Statistics, the Ministry of Finance, and planning division is pivotal. Other ministries and divisions such as Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Science & Technology also influence the situation of our SME. Provincial and local governments also take their share in responsibility.

However, there is an existing lack of coordination and regular information exchange mechanism among institutions, which constrains their collective ability to deliver in the SME development process. As a result of the Government’s recent efforts, two institutions Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) and SME Bank were created.

The responsibility for facilitating SME policy development now lies with SMEDA, which is attached to the Ministry of Industry and Production (MOPI). SMEDA is responsible for creation and coordination of Government policy for the SME sector. Parliament, naturally, is responsible for monitoring policy and its implementation.

One of the major reasons for the lack of coordination is that SMEDA has not been provided with a formal mechanism to initiate, coordinate, monitor and evaluate initiatives undertaken for SME development, which fall outside of its own scope of activities.

Therefore, cross-departmental and stakeholder consultations, resulting in the preparation of our national SME policy are our key to success. Regular information exchange mechanism and networking needs to be developed amongst our public and private sector institutions. There is a strong need to devise such an information exchange mechanism and redefine the role of institutions, specifying their functions in order to avoid duplication of efforts and allowing the best possible usage of resources.

Under the SME Sector Development Program it is expected that SMEDA