martes, noviembre 01, 2011

Conociendo al próximo vecino

China va camino de ser una de las dos potencias hegemónicas. Sólo existen discrepancias acerca de cuánto tiempo tardará en llegar a ésto: todavía existen múltiples puntos débiles que pueden cambiar este camino cada vez más imparable: grandes desequilibrios sociales, una estructura política explosiva, conflictos nacionales y religiosos puestos en sordina, economía y finanzas difíciles de gobernar, riesgos probables de crisis monetarias o inmobiliarias...
Pero si el futuro próximo implica un hegemonismo chino creciente, un ejercicio importante sería prefigurarse cómo un predominio tal impactaría en nuestros propios "ecosistemas". ¿Cómo sería un mundo con hegemonía china? ¿sería uno mejor o peor que el que conocemos? Si nos atenemos a los rasgos conocidos de China, probablemente será peor.
Existen innumerables evidencias, algunas tan tajantes como las políticas de libertad de opinión, o las políticas sociales y laborales, que nos dicen que si el suyo fuera el consejo universal, mal andaríamos...Pero existen otras más sutiles, pero tan importantes o más que estas gruesas diferencias. Christopher Thomas, en Forbes, habla de la cultura de liderazgo en las empresas chinas, explicables en una sociedad históricamente basada en la burocracia, y lejana a las preferencias y expectativas occidentales.
Thomas resalta algunas características propias de la empresa china, sea la sucursal de una empresa extranjera o una local:
La distancia de beneficio entre el máximo dirigente (the boss) y el resto, aún siendo personal calificado:
The most desirable place to be in an organization is to be the boss. The benefits always flow upstream. China is minting more millionaires (and billionaires) every year, yet the average starting salary for a college graduate has not increased for seven years (while housing prices have essentially tripled).  Statistics showed that students who graduated college this year were paid, on average, only $44 more per month than migrant workers with an eighth  grade education.  Look at the salaries at the Chinese division of major technology firms: an entry-level IT, coding or product assembly job pays less than the same job in the U.S., but the China country-level general manager or manufacturing executive most likely makes substantially more than his U.S. counterpart.  This is both cause and effect of the “paradox”:there are very few leaders who are facile in both the domestic Chinese and the global environment, and this lets them grab the lion’s share of the benefits and protect their positions.
El compadrazgo:
Whether it is the local arm of a U.S. tech giant or a local turnkey engineering team, every Chinese organization I have studied tended to be built on loyalty, rather than merit.  The key criteria for constructing an organizational structure or choosing a staff is to use bands of personal and professional loyalty to protect the leader’s position and to ensure strong subordinates cannot maneuver around or remove a leader.
 El soporte de la disensión:
In every U.S. tech company, the maverick, the brilliant outsider, the outspoken contrarian, has a welcome and often well-liked place in the hierarchy.  Leaders know this person keeps them honest and brings ideas to the team.  In China, there is no upside, no cultural support, and thus no place for mavericks (those with inherent entrepreneurial personalities leave to start something new). No one will disagree with the boss at a staff meeting, no underling will say “no” when given a task, even if it is impossible to accomplish (they simply will not do the task and hope someone else takes the fall). No one will speak up with a direct answer when asked “why did this project fail.” This trait is tremendously effective when the strategy is correct and the marching orders clear, but it puts enormous strain on an organization when the path is wrong.
El compadrazgo geográfico:
The leaders of both local companies and the China branches of Western companies tend to hold the same passport.  If the big boss holds a Taiwanese passport, his lieutenants most likely will be Taiwanese as well. As a local startup design firm CEO commented about the head of a one major U.S. semiconductor vendor, “there is no way a local Chinese president will ever put a Hong Kong Chinese in his inner circle.” Or as another said about a state-owned enterprise vice president who was born and bred in Beijing but spent 10 years in America, “you think he has any real power at that company, he has a U.S. passport!  He’s window dressing.  They’ll never listen to him.”
La cultura del miedo:
You can never underestimate how difficult it is to simply “survive” in China.  The rules are vague, the stakeholder list huge, the demands varied, the pace of change exhausting, the possibility of a rival or employee stealing your idea or IP nearly certain, and the number of rivals high. A loss of position means losing so much more than a title. Leaders manage as if danger is everywhere, because often, it is. As a friend at a major hardware vendor once said of his boss who had weathered 10 years at the helm, “We all know he is ineffective, but he managed to stick around while everyone else is gone now. He survived. That’s all that counts.”
China representa casi un quinto de la población del mundo, y será hegemónica: intervendrán en los asuntos locales de sus socios extranjeros, conspirarán, divulgarán su cultura, exportarán sus dirigentes, presionarán con pretensiones propias del dominador...¿Esto es lo que tendremos?

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