Firms that specialize in the design, construction, and start-up of turnkey plants are common in some industries. ''In a turnkey project, the contractor agrees to handle every detail of the project for a foreign client, including the training of operating personnel''. At completion of the contract, the foreign client is handed the "key" to a plant that is ready for full operation - hence, the term turnkey. This is a means of exporting process technology to other countries. Turnkey projects are most common in the chemical, pharmaceutical, petroleum refining, and metal refining industries, all of which use complex, expensive production technologies.

* The know-how required to assemble and run a technologically complex process, such as refining petroleum or steel, is a valuable asset. Turnkey projects are a way of earning great economic returns from that asset.
** The strategy is particularly useful where FDI is limited by host-government regulations. For example, the governments of many oil-rich countries have set out to build their own petroleum refining industries, so they restrict FDI in their oil and refining sectors. But because many of these countries lacked petroleum-refining technology, they gained it by entering into turnkey projects with foreign firms that had the technology. Such deals are often attractive to the selling firm because without them, they would have no way to earn a return on their valuable know-how in that country.
* In a country with unstable political and economic environments, a longer-term investment might expose the firm to unacceptable political and/or economic risks (e.g., the risk of nationalization or of economic collapse).

Three main drawbacks are associated with a turnkey strategy:
* The firm that enters into a turnkey deal will have no long-term interest in the foreign country.
** This can be a disadvantage if that country subsequently proves to be a major market for the output of the process that has been exported. One way around this is to take a minority equity interest in the operation.
* The firm that enters into a turnkey project with a foreign enterprise may inadvertently create a competitor.
** For example, many of the Western firms that sold oil refining technology to firms in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Gulf states now find themselves competing with these firms in the world oil market.
* If the firm's process technology is a source of competitive advantage, then selling this technology through a turnkey project is also selling competitive advantage to potential and/or actual competitors. 
Thu, 05 Jan 2012 11:42:57 GMT
Thu, 05 Jan 2012 11:42:57 GMT