IOI's Global Challenge: Moving Up the Palm Oil Value Chain
Malaysian palm oil company IOI Corporation Berhad (IOI) developed from a plantation company in Malaysia to become a vertically integrated manufacturing company with a range of higher value manufacturing businesses across Asia, Europe, and the United States. The rapid expansion into what the chief executive officer (CEO) called a "mini-multinational" placed greater demands on IOI and its leadership. The CEO had struggled to simultaneously achieve growth, innovation, control, and coordination, and the company had experienced a sustainability crisis in 2016. In early 2017, the CEO needed to decide whether to approve an ambitious growth strategy-proposed by IOI's specialty oils and fats team, which led most overseas operations and handled IOI's most innovative products-to be achieved by 2025. While he was eager to expand IOI and strengthen its position as a widely admired Asian family multinational, he also needed to weigh the constraints. He could not risk growing the company faster than the leadership's ability to control it. Marleen Dieleman is affiliated with National University of Singapore.