Posting in Education
Signs of innovative spirit sprout up within the long-suppressed business culture of China.
"Silicon Valley" isn't just a region of office parks stretching between San Jose and San Francisco, California -- it's a state of mind, a passion for innovation and unconventional and non-conformist thinking.
So Lara Farrar of CNN asks the question: can managers and employees in a highly conformist society such as China learn to think the Silicon Valley way?
There are huge barriers to growth of more free-spririted thinking and capitalism in Chinese society, Farrar observes. "Businesses in China revolve around perplexing power structures, where innovative thinking is often stymied, partly by an education system that prioritizes rote memorization over creative thinking, and partly because employees are afraid of offering input that might insult the intelligence of their boss."
Yet, the business culture within China has been rapidly evolving -- thanks to an influx of foreign companies, Chinese citizens returning from education abroad, and the pervasiveness of the Internet. Members of Generation Y in China -- those now in their 20s and entering the workforce -- also are driving change in some places.
"Most who work in fields related to management studies in China say that offices are becoming more democratized with traditional power structures fading away where employees are equals and ideas can be shared and criticized openly.... Not only white collar workers but even blue collar workers are expecting more fair status, more learning opportunities.... 'The older managers, the command-and-control style management, that was in the past,' [said Elisa Mallis, an executive coach at Management Development Services Ltd. in Beijing]... In Zhongguancun, a technology hub in Beijing, it does seem that change has happened almost overnight. Only a couple of years ago, debates especially among foreign executives and investors working there complained of the dearth of innovation and lack of skilled entrepreneurs in China. Now there are more start-ups than ever, with some growing into major companies with operations overseas."
Is the command-and-control style of management -- considered counter to innovation in North America and Europe -- breaking down in China? Can Silicon Valley's free-spirited innovation be exported to China? Granted, with Internet censorship and heavy-handed government regulations, China has a long way to go until free-spirited hubs of innovation really flourish. But things are sprouting.
Aug 27, 2012
While innovation and a willingness to accept failure are important in Silicon Valley, just as important are the financial institutions and mentoring available to start-ups. The culture of venture capitalists and more recently angel investors provides the seed corn to make start-ups possible. The best VCs also provide valuable mentoring and connections to talent and resources to their investments. Communist China in contrast has a hard time providing start-up funding.
Someone mentioned Chinese students here in North America. There are thousands of them here in British Columbia and they are generally hard working. In co-op programs at our universities and in industry those co-op students are encouraged to be creative and they are. Without the old time fetters of older communism these kids are real dynamos. It's nothing to do with bad genes, it's purely direction from the top that has stagnated Chinese innovation. I think that as many of these young potential entrepreneurs return home we will see more and more new business and new products. It must be an interesting time for them. We (my wife and I) had a pair of brothers from China who had board and room with us. Both went to college here, one continued on to university. The one who went to university went to work for a cell phone company and then transferred back to China. People coming here and acquiring a technical education and working knowledge of English have a much better time finding good working opportunities back in China. Anyway, I wish those hard working souls all the best. I know that our society is slowly slipping into the murk because many would rather play video games than get out and work hard. It's the same old story of getting what you pay for, in our case what you work for.
Most Chineese have been "programed" to work as bees in a hive. But theres enough Chineese "Western" transplants to change that and bring the "Masses' into Modern Thinking. However Is That A Good Thing ??? As everything over there, TIME Will Tell. Great Article.
Innovation, especially technological innovation, will be stifled in this country if decisions like that reached in the Apple-Samsung case continue. The USPatent Office has no business issuing patents that stifle innovation and competition--which the Apple (and some of the Samsung) patents clearly do.
Communism as economics was a brief interruption of Chinese culture. There was a merchant class in China long before Columbus mistook the Caribbean for Indonesia. Everyone didn't get instantly tossed into a giant commune in '47 & things started getting back to normal in '89. Now there's a generation of adults for whom the Cultural Revolution is part of history.
For thousands of years Confucianism ruled China. While Confucianism has a positive view of human beings, It promoted a large bureaucratic class wedded to strict rules on how things should be done and who should be promoted. A thousand years ago China was the world's technological leader, but many historians believe that Confucianism was a big reason why China fell behind.