People perceive large companies in different ways. Some of those perceptions are good and some are not so good. Sometimes the bad perceptions arise purely from a lack of information. Robert Dudley (CEO of BP) reminds us sometimes even companies perceived to be foreign can in fact be more US based than people imagine. Dudley responds to interviewer Paul M. Barrett on this point (“The Interview Issue” Bloomberg Businessweek 8/12/13–8/25/13, pp. 68–69):
“We’ve been America’s largest energy investor, and over the last five years we’ve invested $55 billion in energy, far more than any other company. People call BP a foreign company—we’re a global company. We’ve got more employees, more investment, more assets in the U.S. than any other country.” (p. 68)
I appreciate Dudley’s point and it is a good one. BP has been making and is making a significant investment in the US. The perceptions and the realities remind me of the situation with Toyota. Although Toyota is based in Japan, many people do not realize the extent of Toyota’s involvement in the US. Consider these facts: In the US alone, Toyota built 10 plants, invested $19.5 billion, produced 20 million vehicles, and purchased $27.5 billion in parts and materials. You can call Toyota a foreign company (and rightly so) but do not ignore its US footprint. Dudley reminds us of this important reality.
As globalization has proliferated, it has also reduced the divide between here and overseas. That divide becomes less important. Companies are going to spend money wherever it makes good business sense. The good news is the world keeps getting smaller. That means more places are making good business sense.
Finally, in spite of all our good intentions and efforts toward alternative energy, Dudley reminds us how important oil will remain to our total energy strategy:
“If you laid out the map of energy demand and the kinds of energy that’s produced and where the world’s going, most people are really surprised. Today about 2 percent of the world’s energy is produced by alternative energy. And it’ll be up to only 7 percent by 2030. That’s a big jump in percentage, but in terms of running the engines of the world and transportation, that’s going to be a small part of the answer.” (p. 69)