Posts Tagged ‘China’

Diminishing differences between East and West businesses

Posted on: October 20th, 2010 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Lynda Gratton is Professor of Management Practice at London Business School, and writes regularly on the future world of work at her blogsite. She does a lot of work internationally, and is currently completing a global research project on key issues related to the future of work.

Her latest blog deals with perceived differences between how “west” and “east” businesses are run and managed. She makes some excellent points, indicating that on one hand multinational companies are becoming more and more alike, but that there are still such distinctive local business practices that it is almost impossible to generalise in any meaningful ways about global business practices. Read her blog entry at her site, or an extract below.

Asia and the West Differences?

The four reasons why it’s a tough question

As I move back and forth from Europe and the USA, to Singapore and India – one of the questions I encounter is ‘what are the differences between Asia and the West?’ The subset of this broad question is– are employees different (more cooperative, more skillful, more educated, more determined?) – are leaders different (more authoritarian, more inward looking, more specialized?) – are companies different (more hierarchical, more global, more innovative?) This question becomes ever more crucial as we look forward to the next couple of decades.

This question of Asia and the West arose again as we launched the Pan-Asian Hub of the Future of Work Consortium in Singapore this week. With over 50 people at the launch and another 60 expected at the London launch in November, this is a great crowd to play this question through.

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Don’t look now – it’s China, but not where you expect her

Posted on: June 6th, 2010 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Whenever people talk of China’s role in the world, there are normally two thoughts that spring to mind. China is fast ‘colonising’ the developing world, building key strategic relationships with resource countries around the world. And, manufacturing jobs in the developed world are being taken over by Chinese factories, thus hurting (or destroying) manufacturing employment in other countries.

Both these things may be true. But there is another reality as well. Realising that logistics (transport of both resources and final product) is expensive (and often dangerous), China is increasingly looking to offshore its factories. Add to that a dwindling talent pool in China itself. They may have many millions of unskilled hands at their disposal, but China does not have limitless supplies of skilled engineers and managers. China is taking its factories to the world.

I heard today of a large Chinese car manufacturer that has signed a deal with Egypt that will build factories in the North African country, and employ many tens of thousands of Egyptians. And then, a recent Fortune magazine carried the cover story about China building factories in South Carolina, and employing American workers in their hundreds. Read the story here, or an extract below.

This is not the China you know and fear. This is a new step for China. It really IS going to be China’s century, isn’t it. Now where is that Mandarin phrase book?? Ah, zhè shì shén me? xie xie.

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Don't look now – it's China, but not where you expect her

Posted on: June 6th, 2010 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

Whenever people talk of China’s role in the world, there are normally two thoughts that spring to mind. China is fast ‘colonising’ the developing world, building key strategic relationships with resource countries around the world. And, manufacturing jobs in the developed world are being taken over by Chinese factories, thus hurting (or destroying) manufacturing employment in other countries.

Both these things may be true. But there is another reality as well. Realising that logistics (transport of both resources and final product) is expensive (and often dangerous), China is increasingly looking to offshore its factories. Add to that a dwindling talent pool in China itself. They may have many millions of unskilled hands at their disposal, but China does not have limitless supplies of skilled engineers and managers. China is taking its factories to the world.

I heard today of a large Chinese car manufacturer that has signed a deal with Egypt that will build factories in the North African country, and employ many tens of thousands of Egyptians. And then, a recent Fortune magazine carried the cover story about China building factories in South Carolina, and employing American workers in their hundreds. Read the story here, or an extract below.

This is not the China you know and fear. This is a new step for China. It really IS going to be China’s century, isn’t it. Now where is that Mandarin phrase book?? Ah, zhè shì shén me? xie xie.

(more…)

You're going to have to change your management style

Posted on: March 17th, 2010 by admin-kablooey No Comments

I spend a large part of my year in conversation with managers working hard to try and understand today’s younger workforce. The pain they’re feeling is palpable. The evidence of change is overwhelming. Making the necessary changes, at times, seems impossible. The hope is that the challenges are being interrogated and slowly but surely acted on.

Business Week has a great article called, Working with China’s Generation Y. It’s a well written article that does a fantastic job describing a younger workforce entering today’s business world in China.

In urban China, Gen Y is a group of exceptionally talented people. No other generation in Chinese history has received such high-quality education for so many people. Chinese Gen Ys are single children born under China’s one-child policy. According to studies such as those by Posten and Falbo of the Guttmacher Institute, China’s solo children perform significantly better academically than peers with siblings. These single children have grown up in traditional extended families (including four grandparents and two parents), under pressure since kindergarten to pass entrance exams. This means that the child’s educational performance has been a top priority for six adults.

The article describes the different approach of this younger set and the challenges that face today’s managers (Baby Boomers and Generation X).

For Gen Y, the good boss is like a kung-fu master who stays in the background, teaching through small hints. The good boss is highly available to his employee and has trust in them. He is balanced and nonemotional. He knows how to share his skills without talking much but rather expresses himself in the right dose, at the right time and place. It is not about telling workers what to do but waiting for the right time to drop by their desk and ask: “Have you asked yourself X? Perhaps you might have tried Y?” Difficult to achieve? Yes, but it is important to show Gen Y why they should respect their boss—and then they will.

I often get the sense that the current set of managers are caught between the reality that they will have to adapt their management style, but also hoping (pleading) that this younger set will do the the adapting, instead of the other way around. Attachment to ‘how it’s always been done’ is a powerful anchor for many managers not wanting to do the work required to make the necessary changes.

Bottom line is that change is required in order to ensure a successful business into the future. It may take some time, but it will have to happen. Today’s younger set will not, and can not change sufficiently. For one, they don’t have a view of ‘how it’s always been done’. They only know who they are, and are going to need those older than them to do the shifting.

You’re going to have to change your management style

Posted on: March 17th, 2010 by admin-kablooey No Comments

I spend a large part of my year in conversation with managers working hard to try and understand today’s younger workforce. The pain they’re feeling is palpable. The evidence of change is overwhelming. Making the necessary changes, at times, seems impossible. The hope is that the challenges are being interrogated and slowly but surely acted on.

Business Week has a great article called, Working with China’s Generation Y. It’s a well written article that does a fantastic job describing a younger workforce entering today’s business world in China.

In urban China, Gen Y is a group of exceptionally talented people. No other generation in Chinese history has received such high-quality education for so many people. Chinese Gen Ys are single children born under China’s one-child policy. According to studies such as those by Posten and Falbo of the Guttmacher Institute, China’s solo children perform significantly better academically than peers with siblings. These single children have grown up in traditional extended families (including four grandparents and two parents), under pressure since kindergarten to pass entrance exams. This means that the child’s educational performance has been a top priority for six adults.

The article describes the different approach of this younger set and the challenges that face today’s managers (Baby Boomers and Generation X).

For Gen Y, the good boss is like a kung-fu master who stays in the background, teaching through small hints. The good boss is highly available to his employee and has trust in them. He is balanced and nonemotional. He knows how to share his skills without talking much but rather expresses himself in the right dose, at the right time and place. It is not about telling workers what to do but waiting for the right time to drop by their desk and ask: “Have you asked yourself X? Perhaps you might have tried Y?” Difficult to achieve? Yes, but it is important to show Gen Y why they should respect their boss—and then they will.

I often get the sense that the current set of managers are caught between the reality that they will have to adapt their management style, but also hoping (pleading) that this younger set will do the the adapting, instead of the other way around. Attachment to ‘how it’s always been done’ is a powerful anchor for many managers not wanting to do the work required to make the necessary changes.

Bottom line is that change is required in order to ensure a successful business into the future. It may take some time, but it will have to happen. Today’s younger set will not, and can not change sufficiently. For one, they don’t have a view of ‘how it’s always been done’. They only know who they are, and are going to need those older than them to do the shifting.

Capturing the Asian Opportunity

Posted on: December 11th, 2009 by Graeme Codrington No Comments

S+B (Strategy + Business) is a great ezine from Booz & Co. This week’s edition focuses on where multinational companies might want to focus as the recession draws to an end and an upturn begins. And the place to look is probably Asia – if you have a clear focus. Read their article at their website, or an extract below.

Capturing the Asian Opportunity
Economic recovery in China, India, and elsewhere in the region could be the strongest source of sustained global growth for years to come.
by Andrew Cainey, Suvojoy Sengupta, and Steven Veldhoen

In September 2008, the global financial crisis hit Asia like a tidal wave, flooding in from the U.S. and Europe. Within weeks, Asian GDP growth rates began to tumble: China’s annual growth rate dropped from 13 percent in 2007 to about 9 percent in 2008, India’s slipped from 9 percent to below 6 percent, and Singapore’s plunged from 8 percent to less than 4 percent. Underlying these stark statistics were significant declines in exports. In March 2008, China and India had boasted year-over-year export growth rates of more than 30 percent; nine months later, both were well into negative territory. Foreign direct investment in these countries, and in Korea, Japan, and the nations of Southeast Asia, fell significantly as well.

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1989 – a year that changed everything (everywhere)

Posted on: November 9th, 2009 by Graeme Codrington 2 Comments

Today is the twentieth anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down.

In just a few weeks, we’ll also celebrate twenty years since the Velvet Revolution (Prague, 17 November), the execution of Nicolae Ceausescu (Bucharest, 25 December), the release of Nelson Mandela (Cape Town, 11 February, 1990) and the stepping down of Pinochet in Chile (March 1990). So far this year, we’ve seen twenty year anniversaries for Tiananmen Square (Beijing, 5 June), Ayatollah Khomenei’s chaotic funeral (Tehran, 6 June) and the Baltic Way (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania; 23 August) – all political revolutionary moments that changed their countries.

Add to that, the culture-defining events of Lockerbie, Hillsborough, the invention of the HTTP that forms the foundation of the Internet, the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and the debut of The Simpsons, and you have quite a year! That was 1989 (and a few months on either side of it, for Lockerbie, and Mandela and Pinochet).

In my studies of generational theory, it’s common to come across a variety of definitions of who fits into which generation. Different authors, desperate to prove their research credentials, define the start of “Generation Y” as anything from 1978 to 1996. Most go with 1984 – defined such because children born in 1984 or later graduated high school in the new millennium (hence the other name for this generation: “Millennial kids”). Yet, to me, 1989 is a much better cusp year.

The worlds before and after 1989 were very clearly different. That is why 1989 holds such an important place in my mind – it marks a real change in human history. It will be remembered forever. If you want to reminisce with me, you might like the following links:

Cement Usage

Posted on: June 21st, 2008 by admin-kablooey No Comments

Here’s a link worth following. It contains a few images of cement usage around the world by the big users. China’s usage for the past 4 years is staggering.

We all know this, but seeing it in this particular format leaves you with your mouth hanging wide open. It certainly did for me.

I’ve not been to China. I can’t imagine what must be going on to be using this kind of volume?