Corporate portfolio management: Theory and practice
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Forty years after the introduction of the BCG growth-share matrix, some version of corporate portfolio management (CPM) is employed by most large multibusiness companies. But little is known about the current practices of CPM. Which processes have companies adopted, and which executives in a company tend to be the main participants? What are the major corporate uses of CPM? And how satisfied are today's companies with their approaches? To answer these questions, The Boston Consulting Group, in collaboration with Freiberg University in Germany, conducted a comprehensive global survey on the practices of corporate portfolio management that involved more than 200 senior executives at the largest companies worldwide. These survey responses were supplemented by interviews with 50 senior executives of global multibusiness companies as well as a systematic review of more than 100 major client projects that BCG conducted between 2004 and 2009. One major focus of the survey was the concept of “parenting advantage.” Defined in terms of a particular company being the best possible owner of a particular business, the concept offers a clear framework for identifying the four most important ways in which management can use the principles and methods of CPM to create value for its businesses: 1. Influencing strategy and improving performance through its distinctive capabilities and resources, including periodic evaluations of performance. 2. Identifying and increasing synergies. 3. Providing centralized functional leadership and cost-efficient services. 4. Monitoring and, when necessary, changing the composition of the portfolio of businesses. While fostering synergies and realizing advantage through centralization of functions and services were considered relevant by about half of the companies responding to the survey, the most important drivers of corporate value added by CPM were said to be the direct influence of the parents expertise and active portfolio monitoring. But even so, only 40% of recent divestiture decisions and 23% of recent acquisitions were said to be triggered by portfolio considerations, suggesting a significant gap between the effort put into CPM processes and their role in corporate-level decision-making.