Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sign in

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.

MIT World — special events and lectures

MIT World — special events and lectures

Category: Events | Updated 8 months ago

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


Viewed
6040 times

More from MIT World — special events and lectures

The International Development Fair: The Human Factor at Work in the World

The International Development Fair:...

Added over 4 years ago | 00:35:14 | 4956 views

Neurobiology of Memory: How Do We Acquire, Consolidate and Recall Memory

Neurobiology of Memory: How Do We A...

Added over 4 years ago | 01:02:00 | 4569 views

Education Across Borders: The India Perspective

Education Across Borders: The India...

Added over 4 years ago | 00:51:28 | 10756 views

The Last Time I Saw Bali

The Last Time I Saw Bali

Added over 4 years ago | 01:20:00 | 2720 views

Innovation: Are You A Predator or Are You Prey?

Innovation: Are You A Predator or A...

Added over 4 years ago | 00:52:53 | 9064 views

Placing Your Bets: Where Will the Smart Money Land?

Placing Your Bets: Where Will the S...

Added over 4 years ago | 01:27:00 | 2953 views