Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sign in | Create Account

Guanxi (The Art of Relationships): Microsoft, China and Bill Gates's Plan to Win the Road Ahead

05/24/2006 4:30 PM 26-100
Robert Buderi, Founder, CEO, Editor in Chief, Xconomy; Gregory T. Huang, '92, PhD '99, Features Editor, New Scientist; Co-author, Guanxi (The Art of Relationships) Microsoft, China and Bill Gates' Plan to Win the Road Ahead

Description: After Microsoft decided to set up a research lab in China in 1998, authors Bob Buderi and Gregory Huang tagged along to find out how one of the West's leading corporations tackled innovation and partnership with a developing economic giant. Says Buderi, -We tried to tell the story through the eyes of the people involved. We went to parties with them; played basketball with them.We hope in the process we've drawn out lessons of doing business with any emerging nation, in ways that are more fun and memorable than any management treatise.”

Microsoft, say the authors, went at the problem of opening up the China market in a way that was a departure for most Western companies. Instead of focusing on sales or cheap manufacturing possibilities, Bill Gates imagined tapping into China's vast pool of talented computer science students and harnessing their energy in a way that would be mutually beneficial to Microsoft and China. He visited China's top leaders repeatedly over the years, building a relationship and opening doors. He practiced Guanxi, a Chinese term that conveys trust and mutuality. Says Huang, the -most important principle is that relationships must be nurtured over time. They can't be bought or rushed.”

Microsoft found the perfect person to head the venture _ Kai-Fu Lee, who became one of the key characters in Guanxi. Born in Taiwan and educated in the U.S., Kai-Fu understood how to sell Microsoft's idea to Chinese officials and academics. He recruited the cream of the crop, says Huang, and hired senior staff to mentor young talent. There were bumps along the way: Brilliant as they were, young recruits, says Buderi, -were used to following specific instructions and wouldn't dream of taking off on their own course.” This sparked a crisis in the lab, leading to much longer training times.

Within a few years, the lab built up five core areas of expertise, in speech recognition, multimedia, graphics, wireless, and search, and began pumping out world-class papers and patents.

Paradoxically, note the authors, Microsoft's success has inspired imitators, most notably Google, which snapped up Kai-Fu Lee to launch a similar lab in China. Vicious lawsuits notwithstanding, the authors believe -Microsoft had a nice run, but things will get better now with competition.”

Download this video at Apple's iTunesU site

Host(s): Office of the Provost, MIT Libraries

Comments (0)

It looks like no one has posted a comment yet. You can be the first!

You need to log in, in order to post comments. If you don’t have an account yet, sign up now!

MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated almost 3 years ago

Created
December 13, 2011 12:48
Category
Tags
License
All Rights Reserved (What is this?)
Additional Files


Viewed
2087 times

More from MIT World — special events and lectures

How Much Do We Differ From Others and When Do We Know it?

How Much Do We Differ From Others a...

Added almost 3 years ago | 00:56:13 | 1583 views

Navigating the Future

Navigating the Future

Added almost 3 years ago | 01:04:00 | 1443 views

The Tough Get Growing: How to Succeed in a Down Economy

The Tough Get Growing: How to Succe...

Added almost 3 years ago | 01:32:00 | 4727 views

Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance

Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance

Added almost 3 years ago | 00:55:39 | 2352 views

Voices from New Orleans: Design and Planning Diaspora

Voices from New Orleans: Design and...

Added almost 3 years ago | 01:21:00 | 1918 views

Celebrating Science and Engineering Breakthroughs I

Celebrating Science and Engineering...

Added almost 3 years ago | 01:37:00 | 4201 views