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Chinese Management Vs. Western Management: Which one will Prevail?  



“China Huawei readies to take on iPhone”

(Bloomberg: Beijing, July 27, 2017)

Written by: Archan Mehta

Edited by: Asmaa Deraaz & Mona Timor Shehata

Publisher: Amira Haytham

Huawei Technologies is aiming to grow mobile shipments by only a modest amount in 2017, as it gears up to go head-to-head with the hotly anticipated 10th anniversary edition of Apple’s iPhone. The world’s number 3 smart-phone maker, which in 2016 declared it will someday surpass both Apple and Samsung Electronics in market share, is aiming at having shipments ranging between 140 million to 150 million units in 2017—up marginally from 139 million in 2016. It is also putting the finishing touches on its most powerful device yet, the Mate 10.

Huawei is the largest of a coterie of Chinese smart-phone makers that have grabbed global market share via affordable phones with premium specifications. Richard Yu, chief of Huawei’s consumer division, said that the Mate 10 will debut right around the time Apple is expected to to reveal its own flagship device, but will trump the iPhone in many aspects. Yu said in an interview: “We will have an even more powerful product. The Mate 10, which has a much longer battery life with a full-screen display, quicker changing speed, better photographing capability and many other features that will help us compete with Apple.”

There is a plethora of literature on Japanese style of management. But we know very little about Chinese management practices. China is known for its export orientation and there is a common understanding that China has succeeded in its economic growth through export earnings. The common notion for China’s success is that it has become a successful exporter through its low-cost manufacturing. But we have to unravel the causes behind low-cost production in China.

A significant force in the Chinese economy is its Township and Village Enterprises (TVE) owned and operated by village and municipal governments. They are significant players in China; but many of them have low technology and are poorly managed. China made a major shift in enterprise ownership and has faced the rigor of market forces. Though State Owned Enterprises were a new component in China’s industrial production, they became marginalized after economic reforms since 1976. SOEs accounted for just 25% of industrial output, though it is the government’s policy to retain SOEs in key industries. Many SOEs have been converted into joint stock companies.

Chinese management is collectivist in nature and this collectivism is part of the Confucian code of ethics. However, the new generation of Chinese managers are less collectivist and more individualistic. To that extent, the Confucian ethos is receding in Chinese management practices. The Chinese management has for centuries emphasized the values of gunaxi (relationships) and renquing (obligations) even in business transactions. These relationships put emphasis on reciprocity.

But in today’s Chinese management the ideas of obligations and reciprocity are crumbling before the forces of a market-oriented economy. The reciprocity, according to Chinese moral code, maintains trust between parties. A core value in Chinese management practices, which acts against the principle of free market forces, is the family-based collectivism. And the family in China is a core social unit. The business transactions in China are based on the quality of inter-personal relationships. Therefore, the Chinese believe in settling disputes through mediation rather than through court proceedings.

The Concept of a Contract

The Western world considers a contract to be an important instrument for guiding business transactions. The contract defines business relationships and obligations. It is a form of commitment for all parties, which enter into a contract. Contract is a type of agreement, which can be legally enforced and is a basis of adjudication in the case of disputes between parties.

For Western countries, business relationships and personal relationships are separate. As mentioned above, business relationships are governed by a contract. As for Chinese management, however, business relationships are part of personal relationships; they do not make subtle differences between the two. Chinese management, however, does not take “the contract” very seriously.

Instead, Chinese people are pragmatic and may interpret “the contract” to suit their interests when it is possible to do so. This does not mean that Chinese managers do not follow “the contract”; but they interpret the terms and conditions in “the contract” from their own perspective. Thus, “the contract” for the Chinese is not a gospel. For example, the dates mentioned in “the contract” for completion of work on delivery of goods may not be complied by the Chinese management in the strict sense of the terms. In fact, the Chinese consider the penalty attached to the delay in work as a dishonest practice of Westerners. Instead, the Chinese want a lot of flexibility in “the contract.” By contrast, “the contract” is a sacrosanct document for Westerners.

Short Term Vs. Long Term

The companies in the Western world usually take a short-term view of business. They want quicker profits to amortize their investment in business. This is quite in contrast to the Chinese management’s long-term view of business. Therefore, Chinese managers tend to wait for a longer time to spread their business over a larger area, which takes a long period of time. This is because the Chinese value harmony in their culture and Chinese management believes that spreading business in unnecessary haste will disrupt the society and economy.

This short-term view of business may disturb the several networks of relationships that Chinese management considers valuable. As mentioned above, human relationships or inter-connectedness is highly valued in Chinese business management and Chinese society. One may conclude from the above argument that Chinese people cannot run a successful business either in China or abroad. However, the post-1987 scenario in China has proved otherwise.

In fact, Chinese people are everywhere in South-East Asia as small business entrepreneurs. Chinese entrepreneurs control large portions of the economies of South-East Asia, which shows that Chinese can be superb managers and entrepreneurs. About 1% of the population of the Philippines is ethnic Chinese. Yet, the Chinese control 40% of the economy. In Indonesia and Thailand, both 4% and 10% Chinese respectively, they had controlled half of the business activities in these countries by 1996. In Malaysia, about one-third of the population was ethnic Chinese in 1996 but they control two-thirds of the economy. The same is true for Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, which have a majority of ethnic Chinese, and they control a major portion of the economies of these countries. Most Chinese entrepreneurs are former executives of SOEs in China, who identified an opportunity while working for the State and had the contacts to transform that opportunity into a venture.

Concluding Observations

Looking into the Chinese experiment in business management, we are faced with the dilemma of whether the Western way of starting and managing a business is the only way to be a successful organization. These strong points emerge in favor of Chinese management as compared to the Western style of management. Firstly, the Chinese take a long-term view of business and take time to spread their wings in world-wide operations. The Chinese proved their abilities in manufacturing, construction and railroad sectors. Secondly, the Chinese management style proves that it is indeed possible to build business enterprises while keeping human relationships in the center. However, Western management does not believe in the centrality of human relationships in business. Could there be a meeting point between these two cultures?

Thirdly, the Chinese people have built their business organizations on collectivist ethics and some type of centralization in the workplace. In contrast, the Western business practices are based on individualistic ethics and a high personal achievement orientation. Successful CEOs like Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are heroes in American society. However, such heroes are hardly mentioned in Chinese society because they attribute success to the collectivist culture, team-work and Confucian ethics. Is there a possibility of synthesizing the two systems for better productivity and work ethics? However, it may be added that corruption is rampant in both types of societies and we still do not have a clue as to how to make business practices either in the Western world or Eastern world free of corruption.


Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 – where balance, resilience and authenticity break the Mental Health Stigma



Written by: Cinzia Nitti

Globally, 2020 has been a year like no other. Coronavirus pandemic caused a massive business disruption; transformation has been key in supporting employees and catalyzing workplace changes. There was a rush to adapt and reinvent Business Models. Organizations had to rethink and reconsider how they deliver services and strengthen their Organizations through a forward-thinking Digital strategy. To be more agile and responsive in such uncertain times, we need to respond to challenges and adapt quickly to new scenarios by moving from rigid hierarchies to leaner and more flexible structures.

But what about Mental Health at Work, and why is it essential?

What’s the Office of the Future?

Within the Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021, HR Leaders tried to normalize the conversation about Mental Health by putting the topic first, enabling self-care and professional support, raising awareness, and building knowledge around its related issues. Nowadays, personal and work life are more intertwined than ever, so it becomes vital to create balance: the more employees feel free to talk about Mental Health, the more they can prevent struggle and breakout at the Workplace. HR leaders play a crucial role in making an IMPACT by pushing new solutions, promoting work-life balance, redesign workloads, and supporting their Teams.

In this general frame, Irada Aghamaliyeva (MENA Diversity, Inclusiveness & Wellbeing Leader at EY) affirmed: “Workplaces that are inclusive foster enhanced employee wellbeing; employees with high levels of wellbeing are more inclusive”. How can Organizations increase employees’ resilience and embed sustainable Leadership behaviors in the post-covid reality?

Dr. Irada Aghamaliyeva introduced the Mindfulness practice in the Workplace and highlighted its benefits on a large scale: improved wellbeing and resilience on a physical level; positive emotions, self-regulation, empathy and awareness of social dynamics; learning and innovation thanks to the implementation of flexible thinking, intuition and problem-solving processes. So breaking the stigma is possible, starting from personal wellbeing to sustain positive energy and fuel resilience.

About the Power of Empathetic and Authentic Leadership, Dr. Rima Ghose Chowdhury (EVP & Chief Human Resources Officers at Datamatics Global Services) stresses the importance of Leadership roles today. The virtual environment employees are working in, makes them more vulnerable due to a lack of balance between emotional and authenticity traits. Authenticity is the primary factor in effective leadership, regardless of the leadership style. Putting employees first as a strategic priority and hearing their voices to guide strategy; embracing agility to work more effectively in tumultuous time; including a multigenerational work-force: these are the key concepts within Dr. Rima’s motto “Empowering is to enable”. Through motivation and filling emotional support needs, the Empowering Teams Process leads to employees’ safety, esteem, and self-actualization. 

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. To know more about the FOW Future of Work Insights platform around the world, click here:

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The Wellbeing @ Work virtual Summit Middle East returns for its 5th annual event on 22-24 February 2021



The summit provides an innovative and experiential virtual learning opportunity for our audience of CEOs, benefit and reward business leaders and senior HR professionals. The information and knowledge gained from attending this event allow the opportunity to make strategic wellbeing and mental health decisions within an organization, supporting our mission to create more flourishing and thriving workplaces. Never before has the mental health and wellbeing of your employees been so important. The Wellbeing @ Work Summit includes keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and fireside chats alongside unrivaled networking with leaders across the Middle East using our AI-enabled matchmaking platform. This is far more than a webinar! An engaging 3-day event providing you invaluable insight and tools to create thriving workplaces.

Key Reasons to Attend:

  • An engaging AI-enabled matchmaking platform to make invaluable connections & host virtual meetings up to 2 weeks before the three-day festival
  • Learn how multinational organizations are creating workplaces where employees thrive in the new world
  • Campfire panel discussions informing workplace change & mental health solutions
  • Middle East-based employer case studies providing the secrets to employee wellbeing success
  • International experts bringing best-practice from across the globe
  • Invaluable networking with business leaders from across the Middle East

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. The design and implementation of a holistic wellbeing and mental health programme that delivers healthy outcomes and a more productive organization is paramount right now. 

In addition, the results of the extensive Middle East region-wide survey on wellbeing and mental fitness in organizations across the region made in partnership with Cognomie will be presented during the event.

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DECODING FUTURE HR: Global 24 hour virtual event | 19 and 20 January 2021



DECODING FUTURE HR: Today’s challenges are tomorrow’s trends and opportunities

Global 24 hour virtual event | 19 and 20 January 2021

The world in 2020 has changed to a ‘new normality’ but what’s that ‘new normality’ everybody talks about? Is it here to stay? How is it affecting us in our daily lives in the different versions of ourselves? As a customer, an entrepreneur, a parent, a friend…a worker…

Our job is a key part of our lives and we are indeed living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks and jobs, and changing the skills that organisations are looking for in their people. These momentous changes raise huge organisational, talent and other HR challenges. It has become clear that few organisations are likely to revert to pre-pandemic practices even after a vaccine is found.

Decoding Future HR 2021 is bringing you the ideology of how today’s challenges are becoming tomorrow’s trends and opportunities resulting in HR excellence.

Why you should attend:

  • Learn about the trends and best practices shaping future HR
  • Get valuable insights from expert speakers
  • Share ideas and research to help your organisation reach its goals
  • Understand what do employees want in ‘New Normal’
  • Develop new vision for HRBP and Centre of Expertise
  • Identify, integrate and understand stakeholders to create an intentional employee experience
  • Approaches and elements to leadership development.

Some of our confirmed speakers:

  • Tshepo Yvonne Mosadi , Human Resources Director, The HEINEKEN Company
  • Sarah Tabet, Global HR Director/ D&I Leader | Author for “Inclusion Starts with U”, Schneider Electric
  • Wadah Al Turki, Country Talent Manager KSA and Bahrain, IKEA
  • Lesha Chakraborti, Head of HR – EMEA, Travelex
  • Shaban Butt, Director HR & Administration, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Sajjad Parmar, Head of Rewards – APAC, eBay
  • Katey Howard, VP, Talent Management AMESA, Pepsico
  • Chen Fong Tuan, HR & General Affairs Director, Samsung Electronics
  • Prerna Ajmera, Senior Director, HR Experiences and Solutions, Microsoft
  • Václav Koranda, Vice President Human Resources / Member of the Board of Directors, T-System
  • Amy MacGregor, VP Employee Experience, Global HR, Manulife
  • Adwait Kashalkar, People Analytics and Programme Management Leader, APAC, Mastercard

Click here to view all speakers:

At Wisdom we remain positive that ‘normality’ will soon return and that we will be able to physically meet together once again as speakers, delegates and sponsors at our beautiful venues around the world. But meanwhile, life continues and we need to keep in touch and learn from each other. This 24-hour virtual event will be of great benefit and value to your businesses and its continued development during these challenging times. While this virtual event comes at a lesser cost, it provides for now a wider reach into an international audience, with flexibility of access to content as well as allowing you to have the same opportunity as at a face-to-face session for one-to-one business meetings. We look forward to welcoming you in January.

Date and time: 19-20 January 2021Where: Virtual engaging platform
  Further information and bookings:        Contact:   #WSDM_BI
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