China

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Global Competition With AI in Business: How China Differs

AI’s largest and most enduring contributions will be in non-technology sectors, and many of them will come from China. Buoyed by the country’s latest five-year plan and enabled by centralized data, Chinese companies are investing aggressively in AI and adapting their business models to make the most of AI’s potential, but unclear business cases and bottlenecks due to lacking technical capabilities hinder adoption.

The Changing Face of Innovation in China

The art of bian lian — or “face changing” — is integral to Sichuan opera: A main character changes masks to avoid capture by foes. The transformation is quick and surprising, the new face clearly different. In the theater of business, Chinese performers are undergoing a rapid transformation of their own as they seek to evolve from backroom producers to the world’s leading face of innovation.

Why High-Tech Commoditization Is Accelerating

Technology-intensive product manufacturers, automakers, or white goods makers used to be able to capitalize on their longstanding engineering and design leadership to cement their positions. But that’s no longer the case. Today, young upstarts in many product segments, especially from China, can develop world-class design and production capabilities in a short period of time. In some cases, they are closing gaps with long-established incumbents and becoming market leaders within a decade.

Can IT Be Too in Sync With Business Strategy?

IT alignment can produce inertia — unless it’s accompanied by the right culture. Sure, closely aligning IT with the rest of a company’s strategy can cut costs and improve the ability to collect data, facilitating the creation of early-warning systems and operational dashboards. But a less regimented approach has its place, too, allowing responses to changing business and economic conditions that are swift and creative.

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Why China Is the World’s Innovation Role Model

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There’s a lot of talk of trade tensions between the U.S. and China, but there’s another way to think about China: as an innovation role model. “Anybody involved in international business needs to treat China not just as a place to sell, but also as a place to learn,” wrote Edward S. Steinfeld and Troels Beltoft in MIT Sloan Management Review in 2014. China, they argued, is “becoming the best place to go if you want to learn how to make ideas commercially viable.” Three years later, this is truer than ever.

Fighting the “Headquarters Knows Best” Syndrome

Belief that headquarters knows best can be damaging to the long-term success of a company operating in global markets. One company’s solution: a decision to operate out of dual headquarters, in the Netherlands and China. “No longer a prisoner of its home base, the top team was viewed as mobile, agile, and geographically dispersed,” write Cyril Bouquet et al. “The company was able to make more effective resource-allocation decisions informed by diverse thinking and divergent points of view.”

The New Mission for Multinationals

Something strange is happening as globalization marches forward: Increasingly, powerful local companies are winning out against multinational competitors. Some 73% of executives at large multinational companies say that “local companies are more effective competitors than other multinationals” in emerging markets. To compete effectively, multinationals need to let go of their global strategies and embrace a new mission: Integrate locally and adapt globally. That means becoming embedded in local distribution, supply, talent and regulatory networks as well as in the broader society.

Integrated Reporting: Corporate Disclosure for China’s "New Normal"

The “new attitude” in China toward sustainable economic growth depends upon thoughtful management of six types of capital: natural resources, human resources, financial capital, manufacturing infrastructure, intellectual capital, and social relationships. Integrated reporting looks at the performance of all six types of capital and how the performance of each element is related to one another. The challenge for China: developing partnerships with business to make it work.

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MIT Sloan Conference August 29: Growth Opportunities in Latin America and China

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August 29, 2014, MIT Sloan School faculty with expertise in Latin America, China, energy and the global economy present their research and engage in discussion with business leaders about the business challenges and growth opportunities in Latin America and China in 2014 and future. The presenters look at economic and political uncertainty, risks of deflation, fluctuating commodities prices and energy issues. They also compare and contrast the ways of doing business in both marketplaces.

The Surprising Effectiveness of “Assembly Line” Innovation

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Unconventional approaches to innovation are speeding up new product development, making R&D faster and cheaper. In China, companies are embracing an industrialized approach to research that allows them to complete projects as much as two to five times faster than they did before. “These developments have potentially huge implications for how companies should think about global competition and whether they need to rethink and reengineer their established innovation and product development processes,” the authors write.

Asia Pulp & Paper and Greenpeace: Building New Directions, Together

When two organizations are on opposite ends of the spectrum with regard to sustainability issues, it may seem like there’s no hope of ever reaching agreement. Such was the case when Greenpeace and Asia Pulp sat down to negotiate a truce after Greenpeace’s hard-hitting campaign to change Asia Pulp’s forestry practices, which Greenpeace saw as destroying endangered rainforest habitat. But as Asia Pulp’s Aida Greenbury explains, it’s possible even for two polar opposites to find areas of common ground and work together for sustainable business practices.

Do-It-Yourself Leadership Training in China

In recent years, China’s economy has grown so rapidly — and changed so much — that demand for skilled business managers exceeds supply. A gap between Chinese companies’ unwillingness to invest in training and young managers’ hunger for an opportunity to learn may create an opening for companies with a strong tradition of employee education. Can leadership self-development programs help address that gap?

From the Editor: Innovation and China

In today’s global economy, there aren’t many large companies that can afford to ignore China in their plans for growth. The Summer 2014 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review features a special report on China, with insights about how to learn from China, what the future may hold for the Chinese economy — and how to do business in China despite the challenges of protecting intellectual property there.

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Innovation Lessons From China

China is becoming the best place to learn how to make ideas commercially viable, even as many multinational companies are growing increasingly wary of doing business there because of concerns about unfair competition and theft of intellectual property. Chinese companies excel at cost reduction, accelerated product development and networked production — and know how to assess what they can do and quickly find partners to fill the gaps.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Ming Xia.

Protecting Intellectual Property in China

“By operating in China, overseas businesses expose their intellectual property to risk,” write Andreas Schotter (Ivey Business School at Western University) and Mary Teagarden (Thunderbird School of Global Management). “But deciding to stay away entails the even greater risk of missing opportunities to acquire knowledge that is critical for competitiveness across a wide range of global markets.” To protect their IP, companies need to control and manage their IP vulnerabilities proactively.

What’s Next for the Chinese Economy?

After a period of remarkable growth, China faces substantial challenges. There is evidence that China is hitting the wall of diminishing returns with a growth model that relies heavily on exports and investments in fixed assets and infrastructure. It is harder to grow a country’s economy after the country has attained “middle-income status,” and the author argues that China needs both political and economic reforms to move to the next stages of its development.

Accelerated Innovation: The New Challenge From China

Chinese companies are opening up a new front in global competition. It centers on what the authors call accelerated innovation — that is, reengineering research and development and innovation processes to make new product development dramatically faster and less costly. The new emphasis is unlikely to generate stunning technological breakthroughs, but it allows Chinese competitors to reduce the time it takes to bring innovative products and services to mainstream markets. It also represents a different way of deploying Chinese cost and volume advantages in global competition.

MIT Sloan Management Review Launches Chinese Edition

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MIT SMR has launched a Chinese edition of its magazine and website, in partnership with local publishing firm Shanghai Li Han Technology Information Management Co. Ltd. Building on MIT SMR’s English language content, translated into Simplified Chinese, the publication will be enhanced by localized content relevant to business leaders and academics in China. The Chinese edition will bring MIT SMR’s premier content to the Chinese management and business community.

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