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The Rodamas Group: Designing Strategies for Changing Realities in Emerging Economies

by Dr Marleen Dieleman and Mr Shawkat Kamal (MSc student) 

Published: 25/06/2009

The case narrates the story of the Rodamas Group, owned by the ethnic Chinese Tan family in Indonesia. The company started as a trading firm in 1951 and over time became a joint venture partner in manufacturing businesses with a range of mainly Japanese partners after Indonesia started to embark on an industrialization program in the late 1960s. In the 1980s, the company was slowly transferred to the second generation leader, and continued to grow and prosper until it became part of the top-20 business groups in Indonesia. The businesses included glass manufacturing (with Asahi), personal care products (with Kao), packaging (with Dai Nippon) and MSG production. The role of Rodamas in these partnerships was to deal with local regulations, hiring local personnel, and distributing the products in Indonesia. When the then President Suharto was toppled in the Asian Crisis in 1998, Indonesia underwent several drastic changes, including the transition to democracy. Its economy became more open, and foreign firms were allowed to operate in the country without having a local partner. In addition, several global business developments, including the tendency of multinationals to rely on lawyers and consultants, rather than local equity partners, threatened the Rodamas business model. In view of this, the current leader, Mr. Mucki Tan, is reconsidering the future of his company and weighing a few options. Students are asked to analyse the company and its environment, decide on a strategic direction and reflect on the consequences.

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