Centers of Excellence Management within Multinational Corporations




Management, Leadership, Governance


As organizations expand geographically, and especially when expanding globally, they often find it necessary, or more effective, to develop Centers of Excellence (CoE). If properly structured these centers can reduce cost, improve efficiency, leverage organizational assets, and often improve levels of organizational innovation. This is the next installment in a series of articles started in the first issues of the JMI exploring these very challenging issues (Coughlan & Bernstein, 2015). In this installment the authors will specifically address issues surrounding leadership, integrated governance model, standardization, continuous improvement, business continuity, and managing through hard target metrics.  This article assumes that the CoE is past its initial startup phase and it operating at a full level of scale. In addition, this paper is focused on multi-national corporations (MNCs) where CoEs are internally operated – not outsourced to third parties - and more specifically on knowledge based CoEs.

Author Biographies

Tom Coughlan, Mercy College School of Business

Dr. Coughlan is currently an Associate Professor of Graduate Business and former Associate Dean at Mercy College School of Business. In addition, he is the Managing Editor of the Journal of Management and Innovation, a contract writer for Harvard Business Press – and holds or has held  adjunct faculty positions at the Sacred Heart University, University of Phoenix School of Business, Manhattan Institute of Management, University of Bridgeport, and the Weller International Business School in Paris.

His fields of practice include management, marketing, and e-business with a particular emphasis on the use of technology to create virtual proximity and increase levels of applied innovation within an organization.

In addition to his academic accomplishments, Dr. Coughlan has over 30 years of business experience as an entrepreneur, consultant, and a marketing / management professional. His past roles include:

- Member of the leadership team of a top 50 INC 500 firm where he ran the most profitable division

- Developed successful worldwide marketing campaigns for some of the worldΓÇÖs largest technology companies including IBM, Cisco, Computer Associates, and Oracle

- Extensive experience in commercial real estate, and professional service marketing

- Extensive original research in the fields of innovation and virtual proximity

Gary Bernstein, Mercy College School of Business

Gary Bernstein is an Assistant Professor in the School of Business MBA program at Mercy College since September, 2013.  Gary had been an adjunct business professor for most of the last 33, with 20 years at Mercy, as well as serving as a College Trustee for 6 years.


Prior joining Mercy College Prof. Bernstein had  32 years at IBM Corporation, most recently as VP of Finance Transformation and Talent Development from 2006 to 2013.  He was IBM’s global financial planning process owner.  Key was to create Planning Centers of Excellence in Minnesota, Slovakia, Malaysia, India and Mexico with 2500 Analysts.  He also managed the governance for all Finance shared services.  In addition he managed the IBM Finance Talent Development project office.


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