One of the fundamental challenges facing companies of all sizes is determining how to organize and staff their operations. This task becomes even more complex when a company decides to do business across national borders.
A small business owner may start out as the only employee in his or her company. In this case organization and staffing simply involves the efficient allocation of the owner’s time and attention to the various tasks associated with the business. As the company grows, more employees will probably be hired. When this occurs, it is useful to explicitly look at how tasks can be allocated across employees in a systematic way. As the company grows still larger, it is often useful to begin organizing the company into departments.
In many cases, a company’s early moves overseas involve reacting to an apparently random or unexpected overseas business opportunity. At first, such business may be conducted anywhere in the organization on an ad hoc basis. As a company extends its operations overseas, it takes on additional complexity as decisions have to be made which address global and local product design, local responsiveness to individual markets, cross-border financing, etc. As the international side of the business grows, many companies conclude that a reorganization of some type can better handle the current international business demands, and better position the company to take full advantage of international opportunities as they arise. In the following section, several common international organization structures are briefly described.