According to the Fortune 500 list American companies are down to rank 133 from 176 in 2005 representing an almost 25% decline in top spots. Most of the growth in top spots has come from growth markets like BRIC (Brazil,Russia,India,China). So the question is whether large US companies are doing enough to engage with growing markets? Probably US companies are less engaged when you consider being engaged for the long haul including the willingness to build on learning and knowledge gathered over time. It comes with our general impatience…just think of our driving behavior.
The next time you are on a highway and see a traffic build up – notice how many people get out at the next exit, just not willing to deal with the uncertainty and delay. This despite knowing that traffic snarls on highways never last very long unless there is a blizzard or natural emergency. And this behavior was there even when the GPS was not so common and folks had to rely on memory or trial and error to get to their destinations. People are simply unwilling to wait and therefore take the nearest exit ! While this trait of being "impatient" makes America great it is a kind of disadvantage in emerging markets when you compare with the competition.
For example, compare the tenacity of the Scandinavian companies in Asia with US companies and you notice that they have been around for decades and decades even when nothing much was happening in these markets. They built contacts, figured out how things work, recruited and trained locals and in doing so went on driving their costs down. Perhaps the very small size of their home country markets left them no option but to stick around in emerging markets despite all obstacles.
In contrast, and in a lighter vein, every American's ancestor left their home country because things moved too slowly but its now time to re-engage as parts of the old world Europe seems to regress while BRIC countries zoom forward. Re-engaging commercially with growth markets, means more patience in those markets, reclaiming US spots on the Fortune 500. ..with more jobs in the US.