When Haier took over GE’s Appliances, US management feared the future. But the Chinese takeover is very different from the American style, they discovered. Western firms are victim of their traditional viewpoints, tells IMD-professor Bill Fischer, who studied Haier’s very different corporate style, to AP.
Haier has tried to speed up product development by using the internet to ask potential customers for suggestions and feedback, an approach taken by Chinese smartphone brands. The company says a new appliance can go from drawing board to market in as little as one year, down from more than three years.
CEO’s Zhang Ruimin’s management changes “are more impressive than we see anywhere,” said William A. Fischer, a professor at the IMD business school in Switzerland who has followed the company for a decade. He co-wrote the 2013 book “Reinventing Giants: How Chinese Global Competitor Haier Has Changed the Way Big Companies Transform.”
“He trusts his employees to play more of a leadership role,” Fischer said.
He said a group of European executives he took to Haier headquarters two years ago refused to believe its decentralized style could work.
“I was struck by how daring Haier was in their thinking. And the people I was working with were hostages to very traditional ways of working,” said Fischer.
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