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CHINA IN SPOTLIGHT
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AseanAffairs Magazine November - December 2010
CONTENT • ASEAN TRADE
ASEAN AVIATION • ASEAN TRAVELLER
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• ASEAN TALK • CHINA IN SPOTLIGHT

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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                               CHINA STILL AWAITING TRANSFORMATIVE LEADERS
“Peter Drucker was wrong – at least in his predictions about Chinese business leadership, says Strategic Management Prof. Binsheng Teng of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business

BINSHENG TENG
   Binsheng Teng is associate dean and Associate professor of Strategic Management at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business.He is also a Tenured Professor of Strategic Management at George Washington University.An authority on strategic alliances,Professor Teng serves on the editorial board of International Entrepreneurship and management Journal.

In the 1990s, Austrian economist Peter Drucker predicted that within the next 10 years, China would be producing its own management luminaries. These new leaders would generate innovative strategies and new frameworks for thinking about business, he said. Regrettably, we have yet to see the emergence of the high-level thinkers Drucker envisioned, and I’m relatively pessimistic about the near-term outlook.

In November 2009, I took Cheung Kong’s EMBA class to Japan for a trip. With great interest we visited Kyocera, a company founded by Kazuo Iwamori, one of Japan’s so-called “four sages” of management, whose business ideas are grounded in the basic notion of mutual respect. I was struck by the similarity between his principles and the traditional Confucian concepts of benevolence and charity. Sadly, we don’t yet see these ideas reflected in Chinese business models. Instead, entrepreneurs and top managers are driven to maximize profits for themselves, both on a personal and a corporate level. Such are the current realities of modern business culture in China.

To be sure, we should approach the situation with an element of humility. We still lag behind other markets on many fronts, and we need to take gradual, practical steps to bridge the gap. We need to work on resolving problems within our legal and regulatory systems, while at the same time strengthening corporate ethics. Only then can we really focus on better business practices.

Our current state of affairs doesn’t inspire optimism. From my standpoint as an academic who concentrates on corpo- Peter Drucker was wrong – at least in his predictions about Chinese business leadership, says Strategic Management Prof. Binsheng Teng of Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business rate strategy, at present there are very few enterprises in China that factor ethics into their corporate strategies.

>>YET AS A RESULT OF VARIOUS UPHEAVALS IN OUR SOCIAL HISTORY, THE DEVELOPMENT OF CORPORATE CULTURE IN CHINA HAS BEEN SEVERELY DISRUPTED A NUMBER OF TIMES OVER THIS PERIOD.<<

But one such example I have found is Hi-min Solar Energy Group, which has a remarkably enlightened approach to doing business. Hi-min president Huang Ming has said the company’s mission is to develop a profitable business out of a technology that helps protect the environment and by extension, benefits humanity. Both the business and administrative sides of the company operate on this principle. I believe leveraging socially beneficial technology to create profitable business is an incredibly valuable endeavor. If more business leaders began to employ this approach, it could set a powerful example for other Chinese companies.

It’s important for companies to create positive environments, and this represents the first step towards broader changes. But for businesses to truly transform their cultures, we need powerful entrepreneurial leadership.

Consider Japan’s so-called “four sages,” of whom Iwamori is one. Each of these business leaders basically made his name in the 70s. At the time, Japan was twenty years into its post-war development, but taking a longer view, the country’s theories of modern business can be traced back to the Meiji Restoration. So basically, business models in Japan can be said to have over 100 years of continuous and unbroken development and progress..................... 

 

 


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