Rather than struggle to adapt to the Chinese cultural environment, firms from the UK and elsewhere are better advised to hone and refine existing managerial and technical expertise, argues Dr Jos Gamble, of Royal Holloway, University of London. A fluent Chinese speaker, he interviewed management and staff in eight Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, as well as key people in the UK and Japan.
His findings also dispel claims that foreign retailers offer only ‘dead-end’ jobs in their Chinese subsidiaries. On the contrary, he says, such organisations can provide workers with significant opportunities to prosper and improve their skills. Rising prosperity and a rapidly commercialising economy have transformed China into the world’s most important emerging market. Multinational retailers have rapidly built up their presence since foreign participation was allowed in 1992.
By conducting case studies of UK and Japanese retailers and their off-shoots in China, Dr Gamble set out to examine how these global organisations transfer management practices and retail concepts to their overseas subsidiaries. In China, the main approach of the Japanese and UK firms was to try to replicate the store procedures, employment relations and customer service standards of their parent company.
For both customer service and people management, this meant that companies often reflected their home country practices, so they were different from each other, as well as from local Chinese norms and practices.
However, the study found that, in some ways, retailers did diverge from practices back at home.
Japanese firms, for instance, took on far more women supervisors in China compared with their stores in Japan. And a UK multinational followed local practice with its use of large numbers of sales staff employed by product suppliers rather than directly by the stores.
Dr Gamble said: “These findings indicate that while it is possible to transfer culturally innovative practices, those that run counter to institutional features - such as the nature of the local labour markets - are much harder to implement.” Japanese companies were more prescriptive and detailed in their way of dealing with customers than the UK-owned stores, which encouraged workers to adapt behaviour they used in everyday life.
Said Dr Gamble: “The Japanese approach to customer service was particularly innovative in the Chinese context. Whilst, initially, local customer response was quite negative, it rapidly achieved acceptance as a form of ‘best practice’.” Most employees believed that their jobs would improve their skills level and employability, contradicting widely held concerns about ‘de-skilling’ of labour in the service sector.
Contrary to expectations, a UK firm examined for the study provided at least as much opportunity in this respect as Japanese companies.
And there were high levels of satisfaction about foreign retailers’ human resource techniques. Even people in apparently menial and ‘dead-end’ jobs, such as checkout staff and warehouse workers, felt that their jobs provided learning opportunities and chances for self-improvement
Dr Gamble said: “Most of the world’s major global retail firms are desperate to grab a slice of the largest and most rapidly growing emerging market. All the evidence suggests that, whilst it may be necessary to adapt to some extent to local conditions, time-tested management practices actually translate well across cultures.”
Danielle Moore | alfa
Microtechnology industry is hiring – positive developments of past years continue
09.04.2018 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik
RWI/ISL-Container Throughput Index with minor decline on a high overall level
20.03.2018 | RWI – Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung
Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.
Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...
The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.
Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.
An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.
Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...
Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...
Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...
13.06.2018 | Event News
08.06.2018 | Event News
05.06.2018 | Event News
18.06.2018 | Earth Sciences
18.06.2018 | Process Engineering
18.06.2018 | Life Sciences