The Global Management Challenge: China vs the World

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The Global Management Challenge: China vs the World

The global balance of economic power is shifting. Chinese managers are setting the management agenda for China and are poised to do so for the rest of the world, and managers in Europe and North America would do well to pay attention, according to a report commissioned by The Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).

This research has identified some significant differences starting to emerge between Chinese and Western managers, and provides some important lessons for us all to learn.

What Western managers need to learn, and learn quickly.

Know the competition

Our perception of Chinese managers remains rooted in the past. China is still seen by most managers as a society whose economic strength relies on low costs, long hours and tough management. In fact our research suggests that China is starting to develop a distinctive and highly effective management culture – sophisticated, very commercial, innovative and ambitious. Western economies risk losing out in the same way they did to Japan in the 1970s if we do not take the Chinese management challenge seriously, and react accordingly.

Get your priorities right

It is apparent from our research that Western managers do not necessarily practice what they preach. Overwhelmingly they subscribe to a management paradigm that emphasises positive features, such as getting things done, customer focus, good working relationships and communication. However, and very worryingly, the areas the British, French and US managers identifi ed as the most important are not the areas in which they felt they performed most strongly. It seems that we do the less important things well, and the most important things less well.

Invest in development

However, despite scoring our management practices the same or lower than the Chinese, we do not identify any clear management weaknesses or development needs. Meanwhile, despite scoring themselves highly, the Chinese stand out as being modest about their performance, identifying several weaknesses and areas for improvement. 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. In contrast with the Chinese, the UK management population appears under-qualifi ed, under-developed and less interested in improving their knowledge and performance.

Get ready for a new style of Asian management

Chinese management doesn’t appear to conform to simple cultural models, and clearly draws from Western – especially US – management theory and practice. However, there are some subtle but significant differences of emphasis and we need to be alert to an emerging Chinese way of managing (just as we had to learn about the Japanese way). We will need to learn from their different perspective and also to understand the potential impact this will have on future economic relationships.

· The global top ten characteristics of good managers

· Determination to get things done, and done right

· Good communication skills

· General knowledge, ability to learn and wisdom

· Takes responsibility for making things happen

· Has a positive and supportive relationship with people

· Management skills, leadership and control

· Customer-focussed

· Knows the business and its products

· Team-working skills

· Good at organising own and others workload

· Key Findings

Chinese Managers

According to managers from the UK, US and France, managers in China are: hierarchical and authoritarian in style, motivating their employees to work hard, performing tasks on time and on budget.

They are not: very innovative, caring or concerned with following rules.

According to managers from China, Chinese managers are: very concerned about following rules and procedures, good at motivating people and focused on getting the job done.

They are not: very authoritarian in the way that they manage people.

According to Chinese managers the top three characteristics of good managers are: knowledge, wisdom and the ability to learn; taking responsibility, team working skills.

The strengths of Chinese managers include: being customer focused; ensuring workplace safety; being honest ethical and having strong personal values.

Chinese managers were far more willing than their Western counterparts to acknowledge management weaknesses holding back development: communication and teamwork.

Chinese managers are better educated at first degree level and benefit from significantly more in-house training than their Western peers.

What Makes A Good Manager?

A global perspective

Taking the responses of the UK, US, France and China together the top three most important managerial attributes or characteristics are: a determination to get things done; good communication skills; general knowledge, and ability to learn and wisdom.

The least important (in the top ten) are: business knowledge; team working skills; the ability to organise workload.

French managers give significantly lower scores to their own managers, and managers from the UK, US and China.

Taking the responses of the UK, US, France and China together the top four attributes the managers actually possess are: very customer focussed; take decisions; ensure a safe workplace; are good team players. Note the mismatch with desired attributes.

An individual country perspective

Asked what makes a good manager, the UK managers favoured relationships, the French managers action, but neither the UK, US nor French rated knowledge and wisdom very highly.

UK managers are decisive, fairminded, relationship and safety conscious individuals, with a focus on customers and teams.

UK managers are less good at managing relationships, and in particular: helping with people’s problems; dealing fairly but firmly with poor performance; and managing individuals well.

French managers are tough minded team players, good at decision making and communication.

French managers, like their UK counterparts, are less good at managing relationships, and in particular: helping with people’s problems; dealing fairly but firmly with poor performance; and managing individuals well.

American managers are authoritative, innovative entrepreneurial problem solvers and decision makers.

American managers are less good at delegating and assigning tasks and motivating people and teams.

UK, US and French managers are not good at taking advantage of new production and operational systems to gain competitive advantage.

UK and French managers are not good at ensuring minimal impact on the environment.




Education in England

Education in England is overseen by the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Local authorities (LAs) take responsibility for implementing policy for public education and state schools at a regional level.

The education system is divided into Nursery (ages 3 - 4), Primary education (ages 4 - 11), Secondary education (ages 11 - 18) and Tertiary education (ages 18+).

Full-time education is compulsory for all children aged between 5 and 16, with a child beginning primary education during the school year they turn 5.

Students may then continue their secondary studies for a further two years (sixth form), leading most typically to A-level qualifications, although other qualifications and courses exist, including Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) qualifications, the International Baccalaureate (IB) and the Cambridge Pre-U.

The leaving age for compulsory education was raised to 18 by the Education and Skills Act 2008. The change will take effect in 2013 for 16-year-olds and 2015 for 17-year-olds.

State-provided schooling and sixth form education is free of charge to students. England also has a tradition of independent schooling, but parents may choose to educate their children by any suitable means.

Higher education typically begins with a 3-year bachelor's degree. Postgraduate degrees include master's degrees, either taught or by research, and the doctorate, a research degree that usually takes at least three years.

Universities require a Royal Charter in order to issue degrees, and all but one are financed by the state via tuition fees, which are increasing in size for both home and European Union students.

The Education Act requires parents to ensure their children are educated either by attending school or alternative means. Small but increasing numbers of parents are choosing to educate their children by means other than schooling. This style of education is often referred to as Elective Home Education, The education can take a variety of forms, ranging from homeschooling where a school-style curriculum is followed at home, to unschooling, where any semblance of structure in the educational provision is abandoned.







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