Whirlpool Corporation's Global Strategy
This case deals with Whirlpool Corporation (Whirlpool) and its global expansion, which was driven by Whirlpool's objective of becoming the world market leader in home appliances. Beginning with the purchase of a majority stake in an appliance company owned by Philips, the Dutch electronics firm, Whirlpool purchased a majority stake in an Indian firm, established four joint ventures in China, and made new investments in Latin America. By the mid-1990s, serious problems had emerged in Whirlpool's international operations. In 1995, Whirlpool's European profit fell by 50% and in 1996; the company reported a $13 million loss in Europe. In Asia, the situation was even worse. Although the region accounted for only 6% of corporate sales, Whirlpool lost $70 million in Asia in 1996 and $62 million in 1997. In Brazil, Whirlpool found itself a victim in 1997, and again in 1998, of spiraling interest rates.
This case can be used to examine the concepts of global industry and global strategy and the related question of how globalization impacts competition. The appliance industry produces products that are used in every country. Is it a global industry? Will the industry evolve like the automobile industry to the point that there are a small number of international firms present in all major markets? Or, will the industry remain a collection of local industries?