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“China’s ability to reach its potential in the global economy depends entirely on world-class, strategic HR leaders” said Brian Renwick, Managing Partner, Boyden China Limited.
Brian discussed the findings of the soon to be released “The Boyden Report-China, Dominating the global economy: the impact on executive talent” with ACBC Victoria members. Boyden interviewed a number of prominent businessmen living and working in China to obtain their views.
China’s reengagement with the world is only a recent phenomenon. With limited interchange with the ‘outside’ it has grown and developed mostly on its own. Even the more established Chinese companies may only have 10-20 years of international experience. Therefore, any discussion of HR and management practices and trends in China must keep this in mind.
Three key points outlined in Brian’s presentation were:
Confucian principles and the top-down approach to management can have an impact on Chinese executives who are accustomed to the “dominant head’ of the organisation. Brian noted that there is a “lack of managerial executives who can interpret and implement strategy rather than just doing what the head of the company wants them to do.”
Furthermore, some Chinese executives are comfortable with the business culture in their own city but may not necessarily understand how to do business in other parts of China (that can be very different), let alone internationally.
Integration of a China subsidiary
To achieve a successful China strategy, some firms should look at establishing a second, equal headquarters in China. Further, by “entrusting and empowering” the Chinese leaders to implement strategy and make decisions on their own it has the potential to ward off local competition and retain highly qualified staff.
Growing the multi-cultural executive
These managers should not just be isolated in China, but be able to spend time in the global head office. This interchange should not be limited to the Chinese executives, with fluid exchanges between management at all levels between countries likely to be a positive for the company.
However, whilst progress is being made, especially on the Chinese side, Brian still felt that “it will take another generation to develop a multi-lingual, multi-cultural management cadre to implement China’s global strategy.”
ACBC Victoria would like to thank Brian Renwick and Michael Catlow for sharing their expertise and discussing the soon to be realised Boyden report with ACBC members.