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Duane Helliloid's article for Businessweek, "Pizza Hut Wants to Roll its Dough in Africa", tackles a common theme: the failure of American businesses to adequately study prospective foreign markets before investing in operations. When Pizza Hut first decided to pursue the vast African market, it neglected to study the diverse cultures and traditions of that diverse continent. The result was poor performance and lost investments. By ignoring local tastes, including the role of economics in influencing consumer preferences, the pizza chain incorporated practices that were alien to the African market. For instance, it was ignorant of the fact that the prevalence of cheap and plentiful chicken and the absence of a tradition of "dining-out" among many of the indigenous peoples were both inimical to the standard corporate business model that emphasized more traditional (from the American perspective) tastes and dining preferences. The failure of its initial venture into the African market led to a retrenchment, with a subsequent effort more appropriate to the diversity of the market and the uniqueness of local cultures and practices.
The theme of Helliloid's article, as noted, is common. The history of American corporate practices in foreign markets has resulted in numerous examples of those companies' failing to understand the nuances of those markets. Pizza Hut was just the latest to catch on.
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