There were lots of interesting debates about "new thinking around innovation and future development of enterprises in China.” With almost three decades of sustained economic growth and orchestrated government support for advance technology research resulted in a large talent pool (but still not large enough) and many are well trained by foreign univerisities and companies.
China has made impressive achievement in many areas including network technologies, article physics, structural biology, genomics, human space exploration, supercomputing and high-speed rail which is part of China's centrally designed and state-led innovation model. Moving towards a more innovative economy is one of the main challenges facing China's President Xi Jinping. He understands what is important for China to sustain prosperity and development. China has developed a range of policies to create "indigenous innovation" to reduce dependence on foreign countries for advanced technologies including government procurement, competing technology standards, and requiring technology transfer from multinational corporations in return for access to Chinese market. Is this enough?
At the same time there is more proof that the western style of management is becoming more and more less effective and sometimes even becoming a barrier to innovation reform. To achieve China’s vision and development goal, China must produce and support innovators whose ideas and execution will enable China to create greater and broader economic wealth beyond manufacturing, infrastructure and real estate development. For most companies in China I've talked to, they are a long way from understanding what it takes to make innovation real beyond basic R&D and to compete outside of its demestic market.
China’s innovation cannot just rely on progress in science and technology but in both education and research; the most crucial piece is to be able to own the core technologies and design applications (let me stress – technology alone is not enough, without design), which China is still reliant on foreign companies. The most important strategy is to acquire innovation skills as a core capability so China’s companies will be less dependent on foreign IP and can create ecosystem of technologies that local companies can build upon.
Innovation goes beyond idea generation but also commercialization. It requires a new level of thinking and cross-industries and collaborative-competition that is currently not happening in China. Currently, the model of business education doesn’t deliver on innovation training as they basically modeled after the west.
Most of today's Western style of management and business problem-solving is primarily made up of prescriptive remedies still very much rooted in decades-old conceptual frameworks, developed in the 80’s as a response to pressing events then. They not only have long outlived their usefulness for Fortune 500s, they were not designed to handle today’s unprecedented pace of continuous disruption nor are they irrelevant when applying in emerging economic power such as China which has a very different historical, political and cultural values as well as a unique operating environment and a well deserved national aspirations.
My guess is that 80% of what they teach in business schools MBA’s curriculum today are not applicable for managers in China. Despite managers in China being thirsty for management development training, the net results are less to be desired. In short, we are beyond the point of questioning the effectiveness of western management practices; we need a China approach to management. Or perhaps China should take on the role to reinvent management.