Academic journal article Journal of International Technology and Information Management

When Google Meets Xiaomi: Comparative Case Study in Western and Eastern Corporate Management

Academic journal article Journal of International Technology and Information Management

When Google Meets Xiaomi: Comparative Case Study in Western and Eastern Corporate Management

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Nowadays, who doesn't know 'Google'? When one hears a question about something without knowing the answer, the most frequent phrase one would refer to is: why don't you 'google' it? Google Inc., one of the multinational computing and technology titans in the world, is increasingly renowned for its laissez-faire corporate management and bounteous company benefits. A 2014 survey, jointly undertaken by Universum and The Wall Street Journal (at http://read.universumtop100.com/), among college undergraduates, MBA students and career professionals, ranks Google as the Number-One employer in America in 2013 where these individuals would like to work. Fortune Magazine (2014, at http://fortune.com/best-companies/) also ranks Google Number-One of the 100 best companies to work for in 2013 and 2014. So, why are young talents and professionals attracted to Google? How is Google different from other companies? As stated in Alsop (2008), college students see Google as a rapidly-growing tech-pioneering company. From its cool corporate image to its unconventional office environment -which is energetic, liberal, and multicultural--Google upholds its philosophy of valuing ability over experience (i.e. de-emphasizing the seniority-based standard) and deprioritizes formal education to be all-embracing and non-hierarchical, visionary and revolutionary (see Worstall, 2013). CBS News calls Google the Whimsical Idea Factory, where employees are encouraged to be creative and self-developed, and to cultivate the work-life balance: a collegiate lifestyle which promotes the blended enjoyment of work and play (see Blakely, 2008).

Beijing Xiaomi Technology Co., Ltd., known as Xiaomi Inc. or Xiaomi, although relatively new and not well known to the West, is a fast-growing technology company headquartered in Beijing, China. Xiaomi is known for pioneering mobile phone operating systems through Internet services, and designing and developing consumer electronics. Its startup founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jun Lei, aspires to be "the Steve Jobs of China". He carefully cultivates the image of Jobs, even in his attire, by wearing jeans and black shirts, and is ambitious in creating his tech-dominion--eventually into one of the World's Top 500 Best Companies (see Venture Data, 2012, at http://www.venturedata.org/?i447901 The-milletTechnology-Lei-Jun-500-of-the-world-to-do-a-fan-of-the-company). Some Western media (e.g. The New York Times, 2013 and Motherboard, 2012) ironically, have nicknamed Xiaomi the "Apple of the East" (Barboza, 2013; Estes, 2012). Although its current smartphone market share (around 3%) in China still lags behind those of the Samsung Group (19%) and Apple Inc. (5%), Xiaomi's goal of strengthening its share in the Chinese market and westernizing business in the U.S. and Europe has been evident and has attracted global human capital who were formerly top employees of Microsoft, Motorola, Google, and other IT companies around the globe (see Shu, 2013).

Flat management, a relatively novel managerial archetype derived from the West, emphasizes a work environment filled with liberty, flexibility, and collegiality. It de-emphasizes organizational hierarchy but innovative nurturing (Kastelle, 2013), as it is observed in the corporate management of both Google and Xiaomi (see Blakely, 2008, Alsop, 2008 and Bao, 2013). Based on the ethical teaching of Confucius, known as Wu-Yu, namely morality/virtue, wisdom/intellectual, physical ability/sportsmanship, groupism/cooperation, and aesthetics/elegance, this study reflects how flat management is practiced and embedded in both Google's and Xiaomi's business. It is newfangled and undocumented elsewhere; it uncovers the managerial similarity and idiosyncrasy of both companies in hopes of providing qualitative analysis to benefit (international) business practitioners who may consider adopting flat management as new managerial standards in their organizations. …

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