BCG-Wharton Report: A Worthy Read

Perched 9 Floors Above the Hutong
1320 hrs

I have hardly in the past to nail the folks at Wharton when I felt they were wrong about issues in China, so in all fairness I need to compliment them when they get something right.

The recent report by the Boston Consulting Group and Knowledge@Wharton on Overcoming Challenges in China Operations has come up with some very poignant conclusions that are worth reviewing in detail. While it pussyfoots around some critical issues in the name of political correctness (they stopped just short of saying that most Chinese managers aren’t ready to take the top local job in MNCs, as an example) and there are some notable omissions, they come up with a set of of “uniquely China” observations about MNCs who have succeeded in China.

It’s hard to argue with things like:

1. Giving China high visibility at headquarters;
2. Personal CEO involvement and regular visits by the CEO to China;
3. Clear, bold targets;
4. Give China a high priority regardless of what it would be assigned under normal internal systems;
5. Create China-specific products;
6. Bring the entire value chain to China, including R&D;
7. Nurture managers for the long term;
8. Emphasize government relations and public relations;
9. The China operation is given a genuine “value-added” role in the organization; and
10. Make China a global or regional center for key responsibilities.

Clearly, these alone won’t make an MNC successful in China, but they’re a good start.