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AseanAffairs Magazine November - December 2010



China in Spotlight
The emerging role of China in the 21st century is a focal point for conjecture and a certain degree of apprehension in the world outside of China. Is China an ally, a competitor, an adversary or perhaps all three?


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An interview with Wolfgang Lehmacher

Wolfgang Lehmacher
Former CEO
GeoPost Intercontinental
Wolfgang Lehmacher is a German business and the former President and CEO of Geopost Intercontinental , the La Poste global expansion vehicle. Lehmacher graduated in Business Administration and has held various senior management positions at TNT (1991-1999) and at French La Poste(1999-2010)

 Many changes have taken place in human resource management since the 1978 economic reforms. Would you please explain these to our international readers?

“The exponential growth of business in China since the late 1970s to the present has created various challenges and significant developments in terms of human resource management, in roughly three phases.

In the third and current phase which started in the early 2000s to the present, the theme has been heavy competition. Privately owned enterprises have become sizable, state owned enterprises have grown larger, and it is commonplace that in each industry more than two large foreign players exist who compete head to head. Based on the abundance of choice for employees, retention has become a core challenge. Foreign companies need to protect their staff from being hired not only by other foreign competitors but by state owned and private Chinese companies as well.”

 Is the lack of educated professionals in business still a problem in China?

“China is currently moving from a production- based economy to an innovationbased economy, which requires new skills and knowledge. At this point, two classes of imperatives to improve talent exist. The first imperative to develop this can be classed as organic. Various Chinese commitments have been made to liberalize education by removing barriers on foreign education which existed previously. This has allowed local talent to be developed on par with foreign standards, with increasing participation rates for secondary and tertiary education.

The second imperative to develop this can be classed as inorganic. Over the last ten years, a wave of Chinese returning to China has been witnessed – bolstering the talent available.”

Is the emphasis on technical skills over business skills still a problem in China?

“This area represents a huge development and optimization potential for Chinese companies. For those Chinese enterprises having international expansion ambitions, business acumen and skills will be paramount. Internationalization requires that the entire approach to business needs to be reviewed and various questions answered – outside of the operational competencies which employees hold specific to their profession and industry.”

Is there still frequent “poaching” of key personnel by other foreign companies in China?

““The ‘war for talent’ is not a Chinese phenomenon and can be witnessed in almost every single developed and fast growing economy. China recently ranked high among those countries where people often changed their job – a shift from the traditional single corporation loyalty which is prevalent in Asian economies. This shift in attitude is opportunistic in nature, and a rational response to the employment potential which exists in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.”..........................



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