Fortune Makers analyzes and brings to light the distinctive practices of business leaders who are the future of the Chinese economy. These leaders oversee not the old state-owned enterprises, but private companies that have had to invent their way forward out of the wreckage of an economy in tatters following the Cultural Revolution.
Outside of brand names such as Alibaba and Lenovo, little is known, even by the Chinese themselves, about the people present at the creation of these innovative businesses. Fortune Makers provides sharp insights into their unique styles--a distinctive blend of the entrepreneur, the street fighter, and practices developed by the Communist Party--and their distinctive ways of leading and managing their organizations that are unlike anything the West is familiar with.
When Peter Drucker published Concept of the Corporation in 1946, he revealed what made large American corporations tick. Similarly, when Japanese companies emerged as a global force in the 1980s, insightful analysts explained the practices that brought Japan's economy out of the ashes--and what managers elsewhere could learn to compete with them. Now, based on unprecedented access, Fortune Makers allows business leaders in the United States and the rest of the West to understand the essential character and style of Chinese corporate life and its dominant players, whose businesses are the foundation of the domestic Chinese market and are now making their mark globally.
The case brings readers to February 6, 2009 just after Lenovo, China’s largest PC maker, had replaced its American CEO — the third time in the five years since Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM’s PC business. The leadership shakeup was seemingly caused by the worsening condition in Lenovo’s key target market and the disastrous financial loss that followed, but the deeper causes actually lay within Lenovo. Lenovo had undergone the trickiest internal challenges that a globalizing Chinese company could experience: retaining international executives during a time of severe financial distress, integrating two companies with different cultural roots, changed power relations on the Board, the awkward relationship between a Chinese executive Chairman and a foreign CEO.
The case includes four video clips of case author’s interview with Liu Chuanzhi, non-executive Chairman of Lenovo’s Board of Directors, the protagonist of the case. The first two clips contain Liu’s answers to the first two assigned case questions (see Section 2: Suggested Assignment Questions). The third and fourth video clips can be used for the discussion of question 3 and show Liu discussing his view of the Board’s role, and his thoughts on making Lenovo “a family business without family ties” from a governance perspective.