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Corporate development refers to the planning and execution of a wide range of strategies to meet specific organizational objectives. The kinds of activities falling under corporate development may include initiatives such as recruitment of a new management team, plans for phasing in or out of certain markets or products, considering a partner for a strategic alliance, establishing relationships with strategic business partners, identifying and acquiring companies, securing financing, divesting of assets or divisions, increasing intellectual property assets and so on. There is no formula for "corporate development" and the activities encompassed are often the role of the CEO or other executives or experienced business consultants.
There is no one tried and true formula for the process of corporate development. The actual structure of the corporate strategy will depend greatly on the current circumstances of the company and the area where the development is desired. In most cases, the process will not be of short duration; corporate development is usually a process that takes place over an extended period of time and may be adjusted or refined as the project moves forward.
One of the manifestations of corporate development has to do with reshaping the management arm of the corporation. This may involve a process of phasing certain management positions out of the existing structure or creating new positions in an effort to strengthen the management team. As part of this type of approach, corporate development may also demand that one or more current managers are released from the company and replaced with people who possess skills required to move the company forward. When this is the case, the corporate development team will handle the functions of recruitment and evaluation of potential hires.
Growing the company
The process of corporate development can also be applied to the task of growing the company through mergers and acquisitions. In this scenario, the project development will involve identifying potential target companies for acquisitions or unions resulting in a new and more aggressive corporation. The team will consider all possible outcomes from any given potential merger or acquisition and attempt to project if the action is likely to result in positive growth or could possibly impair the company permanently.
Depending on the status of the base market, corporate development may also look at shifting away from a shrinking consumer market while seeking market share in a different consumer market with newer products.For example, many typewriter manufacturers during the 1980s and 1990s slowly phased out their core business and began to focus more on computer parts and accessories as a way to continue operations.
Need for specialists
Particularly in larger companies, corporate development is provided as a charter for a particular executive or team. In these cases, the opportunities and initiatives are numerous enough to justify specialists, instead of being delegated to the office of the CEO and line of business executives. When focused on product or financial issues, corporate development executives often have MBA, CFA or CPA credentials. Often the internal corporate development executives come from a legal or investment banking background, due to the complex contractual and valuation issues associated with many transactions.