Are Chinese Managers Better Than, Equal to, or Less Than Western Managers?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 14:05
Posted in category Uncategorized

It is a topic that has been debated in many a bar, and on many a blog.

The quality of Chinese management.

The Institute of Leadership & Management has just release a very interesting report (PDF Here) on Western and Chinese managers. Specifically, they set out to see just how far back Chinese managers were relative to international perceptions, and they found some interesting things.

Throughout the report, what I find most interesting is just how different the west sees the east vs. what the east really represents. Perhaps it comes down to where the interviews take place, or perhaps they just reached out to the saltiest of old China hands, but as you will see in the 15 page report, there is a huge gap.

For my part, everything is a work in progress, various industries are bound to see different levels of talent, and with almost 7 years of working in China with a wide variety of Chinese staffers, analysts, managers, and others, I have come to understand that there are always going to be a percentage (large or small) that will fit into any bucket.

That goes for the foreign talent as well.

In the end, the authors have 4 suggestions for western managers:

  • Know the competition: Our perception of Chinese managers remains rooted in the past.
  • Get your priorities right:It seems that we do the less important things well, and the most important things less well.
  • Invest in development: The Chinese managers we surveyed come across as well educated and far more ambitious than those in the West although we seem happy with mediocrity, they are not, and they are doing something about it.
  • Get ready for a new style of Asian management: We will need to learn from their different perspective and also to understand the potential impact this will have on future economic relationships.

Solid advice.

Read the report and tell us what you think.

Are the Chinese managers improving? Are they underestimated? Or is this just another study playing the statistical bell curve to its advantage?

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