William C. Kirby

Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration; T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies

Unit: General Management

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William C. Kirby is T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies at Harvard University and Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School.  He is a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor.  Professor Kirby serves as Chairman of the Harvard China Fund and served as Director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies from 2006-2013. 

A historian of modern China, Professor Kirby's work examines China's business, economic, and political development in an international context.  He has written on the evolution of modern Chinese business (state-owned and private); Chinese corporate law and company structure; the history of freedom in China; the international socialist economy of the 1950s; relations across the Taiwan Strait; and China's relations with Europe and America.  His current projects include case studies of contemporary Chinese businesses and a comparative study of higher education in China, Europe, and the United States.

Before coming to Harvard in 1992, he was Professor of History, Director of Asian Studies, and Dean of University College at Washington University in St. Louis.  At Harvard, he has served as Chair of the History Department, Director of the Harvard University Asia Center, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  As Dean, he led Harvard's largest school, with 10,000 students, 1,000 faculty members, 2,500 staff, and an annual budget of $1 billion.

As Dean he initiated major reforms in undergraduate education in Harvard College; enhanced Harvard's international studies at home and abroad; increased substantially financial aid in the College and in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; supported the growth of the Division (now School) of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and oversaw the construction of major new buildings in the Life Sciences, Engineering, and the Arts.  During his tenure, the Faculty expanded at its most rapid rate since the 1960s.

Professor Kirby holds degrees from Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and (Dr. Phil. Honoris Causa) from the Free University of Berlin and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  He has been named Honorary Professor at Peking University, Nanjing University, Fudan University, Zhejiang University, Chongqing University, East China Normal University, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, and National Chengchi University.  He has held appointments also as Visiting Professor at University of Heidelberg and the Free University of Berlin.  He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Publications

Books

  1. Can China Lead? Reaching the Limits of Power and Growth

    Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby and F. Warren McFarlan

    At the time of the American Revolution, China was the strongest, richest, and most powerful civilization in the world. The Great Qing Empire ruled China and dominated East Asia by a combination of power and cultural prestige. China's economy was the world's largest. China seemed without peer. Decline came fast. By 1900, China had been invaded, defeated, and degraded, first by Western nations, and then by Japan. An entire system of governance was blown away. In 1911, an imperial tradition of more than 2,000 years ended. After the subsequent disasters of world war and Maoist utopianism, China was an impoverished third world economy holding 20% of the world's population and barely 5% of its economic activity. Today China has again emerged as a great power. Beijing is once more the capital of a multi-ethnic empire that dominates East Asia. Foreign students flock to China to live, study, and work. New infrastructure of airports, highways, railways, electricity, and telecommunications dominate the landscape. It has a powerful government, appears respected in the world, and for the first extended time in modern history, it faces no real external threats to its security. China's resurgence has been driven by a combination of private entrepreneurship and top-down bureaucratic capitalism, by an unmatched and unchecked culture of engineering ambition, of rote learning and educational experimentation, of sophisticated tastes along with basic concerns with food safety. It is a country that is at once cosmopolitan and confused about what its new global roles should be. How will those conflicting strategies, shortcomings, and achievements play out in the future? How do we imagine this great and resurgent nation with its embedded conflicts and challenges will look in 2034? We examine successively the forces that have made China as we know it today, the history and role of the Party, its success in engineering and infrastructure construction, its challenges in planning and innovation, and the special things that a firm must do to compete successfully in the Chinese market. We conclude with China's approach to the global economy and our prognostication for 2034.

    Keywords: Economic Systems; Leadership; Power and Influence; China;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, and F. Warren McFarlan. Can China Lead? Reaching the Limits of Power and Growth. Harvard Business Review Press, 2014. View Details
  2. The Normalization of U.S.-China Relations: An International History

    William C. Kirby, Gong Li and Robert Ross

    Keywords: Relationships; History; China; United States;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., Gong Li, and Robert Ross, eds. The Normalization of U.S.-China Relations: An International History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006. (Also published as Cong jiedong zou xiang jianjiao [From Rapprochement to the Establishment of Sino-American Relations, 1969-1979.] (Beijing: Zhongyang wenxian chubanshe, 2004.) View Details
  3. Germany and Republican China

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: China; Germany;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. Germany and Republican China. Stanford University Press, 1984. (With new Chinese introduction and translation, published as Deguo yu Zhonghua minguo [Germany and the Republic of China], Chen Qianping, Chen Hongmin, et al., trans. (Nanjing: Jiangsu renmin chubanshe, 2006). First translated with new Chinese foreword as Jiang Jieshi yu Nacui Deguo [Chiang Kai-shek and Nazi Germany], Chen Jianping, et al., trans., (Beijing: Zhongguo qingnian chubanshe, 1994).) View Details

Journal Articles

  1. Why China Can't Innovate

    Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby and F. Warren McFarlan

    A look at how innovation is happening in China—from the top down, from the bottom up, through acquisition, and through education. Sheds light on the complexities of the issue, highlighting the promise and the problems China faces in its quest to become the world's innovation leader.

    Keywords: Failure; Innovation and Invention; China;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, and F. Warren McFarlan. "Why China Can't Innovate." Harvard Business Review 92, no. 3 (March 2014): 107–111. View Details
  2. Youxian de huobanguanxi: 1928 nian zhi 1944 nian Zhongguo yu Deguo, Sulian he Meiguo de guanxi [Limited Partners: China's Relations with Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States, 1928-1944]

    William C. Kirby

    自1928年国民党统治开始,中国第一次进入了其现代意义上的国际合作关系时期,寻求国际伙伴关系首次成为中国内政与外交政策的主要目标。20世纪30年代和40年代早期的中德、中俄和中美关系各自具有鲜明的特性。中德关系建立在两国领导人互相信任和经验积累的基础之上,某些意识形态上的类似是其得以发展的主要因素,但更重要的是互补的经济利益使国民党可以实现平等的合作。中苏关系和中美关系一开始就是为了增强双方对付共同敌人的力量而形成结盟的,之前都不具有恰当的合作机制,而意识形态是一个复杂的、不利于结盟的因素。在中苏关系中,结盟意味着从直接敌对状态转向谨慎的合作。而中美之间非国家层面上的合作既没有达到一个较高的水平,这些合作也不会自动强化双方的官方关系。当结盟机制仓促建立起来时,却缺乏坚实的结构基础。

    Keywords: History; China; Germany; Russia; United States;

  3. China, Unincorporated: Company Law and Business Enterprise in Twentieth Century China

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: Business Ventures; Law; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "China, Unincorporated: Company Law and Business Enterprise in Twentieth Century China." Journal of Asian Studies 54, no. 1 (February 1995): 43–63. (Reprinted in Capitalism in Asia: Sixty Years of the Journal of Asian Studies, edited by David Ludden, 29-50. Ann Arbor: Association for Asian Studies, 2004.) View Details
  4. Zhonghua minguo shiqide hezi he jishu zhuanrang [Joint ventures and technological development under the Republic of China]

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: Joint Ventures; Technology; Research and Development; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "Zhonghua minguo shiqide hezi he jishu zhuanrang [Joint ventures and technological development under the Republic of China]." Zhongwai shehui kexue [Sino-Foreign Social Science] (December 1987). View Details

Book Chapters

  1. Global Business Across the Taiwan Strait: The Case of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited

    William C. Kirby

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "Global Business Across the Taiwan Strait: The Case of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited." In Mobile Horizons: Dynamics Across the Taiwan Strait, edited by Wen-hsin Yeh, 178–208. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2013. View Details
  2. China's Republican Century: Leaders and Followers on the Mainland and on Taiwan, 1911-2007

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: History; Leadership; Government and Politics; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "China's Republican Century: Leaders and Followers on the Mainland and on Taiwan, 1911-2007." In Lun Minguo shiqi lingdao qingying [Leadership Elites in Republican China], edited by Lu Fang-shang, 22–32. Hong Kong: Commercial Press, 2009. (ISBN: 978-962-07-6426-4.) View Details
  3. The Chinese Party-State under Democracy and Dictatorship on the Mainland and Taiwan

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: Government and Politics; China; Taiwan;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "The Chinese Party-State under Democracy and Dictatorship on the Mainland and Taiwan." In Realms of Freedom in Modern China. Vol. 15, edited by William C. Kirby, 113–138. Making of Modern Freedom. Stanford University Press, 2004. View Details
  4. Images and Realities of Chinese Fascism

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: History; Government and Politics; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "Images and Realities of Chinese Fascism." In Fascism Outside Europe: The European Impulse Against Domestic Conditions In The Diffusion Of Global Fascism, edited by Stein Ugelvik Larsen, 233–268. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001. View Details
  5. The Two Chinas in the Global Setting: Sino-Soviet and Sino-American Cooperation in the 1950s

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: International Relations; China; United States; Taiwan; Soviet Union;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "The Two Chinas in the Global Setting: Sino-Soviet and Sino-American Cooperation in the 1950s." In Re-examining the Cold War: U.S. China Diplomacy, 1954-1973, edited by Robert Ross, 25–46. Cambridge: Harvard University, Asia Center, 2001. View Details
  6. Intercultural Connections and Chinese Development: External and Internal Spheres of Modern China's Foreign Relations

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; International Relations; Developing Countries and Economies; Globalized Economies and Regions; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "Intercultural Connections and Chinese Development: External and Internal Spheres of Modern China's Foreign Relations." In China's Quest for Modernization: A Historical Perspective, edited by Frederic Wakeman and Wang Xi, 219–248. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, Institute of East Asian Studies, 1997. (published first in Zhongguo xiandaihua wenti [Issues of Chinese modernization] (Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe, 1994)) View Details
  7. The Study of Modern China's Foreign Relations: Trends and Research Agendas

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: International Relations; Research; Trends; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "The Study of Modern China's Foreign Relations: Trends and Research Agendas." In Politik, Wirtschaft, Kulter: Studien zu den Deutsch-Chinesischen Beziehungen, edited by Mechthild Leutner, 385–406. Munster: Lit Verlag, 1996. View Details
  8. Chinese-American Relations in Comparative Perspective, 1900-1949

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: International Relations; China; United States;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "Chinese-American Relations in Comparative Perspective, 1900-1949." In Pacific Passage: The Study of American East-Asian Relations on the Eve of the Twenty-First Century, edited by Warren Cohen and Akira Iriye, 163–190. New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. View Details
  9. Traditions of Centrality, Authority and Management in Modern China's Foreign Relations

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: History; Governance Controls; International Relations; Policy; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "Traditions of Centrality, Authority and Management in Modern China's Foreign Relations." In Ideas and Interpretations in Chinese Foreign Policy, edited by David Shambaugh and Thomas Robinson, 13–30. New York and London: Oxford University Press, 1994. View Details
  10. Intercultural Contacts and International Relations: China's Relations with Germany, the Soviet Union and the United States, 1927-1944

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: International Relations; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Germany; China; United States; Soviet Union;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "Intercultural Contacts and International Relations: China's Relations with Germany, the Soviet Union and the United States, 1927-1944." In Deutschland und China, edited by Kuo Heng-yü and Mechthild Leutner, 225–252. Munich: Minerva Publikation, 1994. View Details
  11. The Chinese War Economy: Mobilization, Control, and Planning in Nationalist China

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: War; Policy; Government and Politics; Planning; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "The Chinese War Economy: Mobilization, Control, and Planning in Nationalist China." In China's Bitter Victory: The War With Japan, 1937-1945, edited by Steven I. Levine and James C. Hsiung, 185–213. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1992. View Details
  12. Minguo shiqi Zhongwai jingji jishu hezuo: Meigo zhanshi shengchan quwentuan huan Hua, 1944-1946 [Sino-foreign Economic and Technical Cooporation in Republican China: The U.S. War Production Mission to China, 1944-46]

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: History; International Finance; International Relations; Cooperation; Developing Countries and Economies; China; United States;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "Minguo shiqi Zhongwai jingji jishu hezuo: Meigo zhanshi shengchan quwentuan huan Hua, 1944-1946 [Sino-foreign Economic and Technical Cooporation in Republican China: The U.S. War Production Mission to China, 1944-46]." In Minguo dang'an yu minguo shi xueshu taolunhui lunwenji [Proceedings of the Conference on the Archives and History of Republican China], edited by Zhang Xianwen, et al.. Beijing: Dang'an chubanshe [Archives Press], 1989. View Details
  13. Technocratic Organization and Technological Development in China, 1928-1953

    William C. Kirby

    Keywords: History; Technology; Technological Innovation; Organizational Design; Developing Countries and Economies; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C. "Technocratic Organization and Technological Development in China, 1928-1953." In Science and Technology in Post-Mao China, edited by Denis Fred Simon and Merle Goldman, 23–44. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. China's Environmental Challenge

    William C. Kirby, Nora Bynum, Erica M. Zendell and Brittany Crow

    China faces enormous environmental challenges. This background note looks at the historical, economic and political origins of the environmental crisis that faces the world's fastest-growing economy.

    Keywords: Developing Countries and Economies; Globalized Economies and Regions; History; Crisis Management; Environmental Sustainability; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., Nora Bynum, Erica M. Zendell, and Brittany Crow. "China's Environmental Challenge." Harvard Business School Background Note 315-026, October 2014. (Revised November 2014.) View Details
  2. Teach For China and the Chinese Nonprofit Sector

    William C. Kirby and Erica M. Zendell

    Teach For China was founded in 2008 with the mission of expanding educational opportunity across China. By 2013, Andrea Pasinetti's lofty dream had taken flight: over 300 graduates from top American and Chinese universities were participating in its 2-year teaching fellowships in more than 87 rural Chinese schools. The organization had grown from a founding team of three in a shoebox office to an 80-person operation headquartered in Beijing with teams in six other locations across China. Teach For China adapted the model pioneered by Teach For America to meet the needs of the educationally under-resourced of rural China. Led by an American, could Teach For China reshape its international identity and become an enduring Chinese institution? Could Teach For China manage regulatory risks and challenge public and government skepticism of the still-nascent and highly volatile nonprofit sector? Would Teach For China be able to sustainably scale its model to truly end educational inequality in China?

    Keywords: nonprofit; China; education; Business and Government Relations; business and poverty; business and society; social enterprise; entrepreneurship; emerging market entrepreneurship; emerging market; NGO; Education; Entrepreneurship; Social Enterprise; Emerging Markets; Non-Governmental Organizations; Nonprofit Organizations; Education Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., and Erica M. Zendell. "Teach For China and the Chinese Nonprofit Sector." Harvard Business School Case 314-052, March 2014. View Details
  3. From Beijing Jeep to ASC Fine Wines: The Story of an American Family Business in China

    William C. Kirby and Erica M. Zendell

    In 1985, Don St. Pierre Sr. became President of Beijing Jeep, the troubled joint venture between American Motor Corporation and the Chinese government to build Jeep Cherokees in China. Just over a decade later in 1996, leveraging contacts from his time in the automotive industry, he founded ASC Fine Wines with his son, Don Jr. Despite many challenges, from building a distribution network from the ground up to Chinese Customs throwing Don Jr. in prison, the St. Pierres prevailed, and ASC was standing tall as China's number-one fine wine importer by volume and value in 2013. ASC had developed a reputation for quality of product and service, beating out the competition of private wine importers and state-owned enterprises. What lessons had this father-son team learned in their 20 years of doing business in China? Would ASC make the transition from being a family-run business to a part of Suntory Holdings and still thrive? Could ASC under its leadership continue to adapt to the changing market for fine wine in China?

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship in emerging markets; China; joint ventures; wine industry; auto industry; international entrepreneurship; international business; Exports; Chinese Manufacturing; Business and Government Relations; Ownership Stake; Strategy; Operations; Auto Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., and Erica M. Zendell. "From Beijing Jeep to ASC Fine Wines: The Story of an American Family Business in China." Harvard Business School Case 314-053, March 2014. (Revised July 2014.) View Details
  4. Wanxiang Group: A Chinese Company's Global Strategy (B)

    William C. Kirby, Nancy Hua Dai and Erica M. Zendell

    Supplements the A Case 308-058. With an almost forty-year history as a business in China, the Wanxiang Group has navigated through the significantly different political and economic changes in China to succeed as a global leader in the auto parts industry, and to develop into a broad business conglomerate. Beginning in 1994, when it first began its operations in the United States, Wanxiang started to expand its role as a parts supplier into a discerning acquirer of distressed companies in the U.S. While it saw acquisition as an exciting means for growth, company strategy at its Hangzhou, China headquarters also included vertical integration with a goal of developing a full-on electric car. Were these two goals divergent or complementary: mutually supportive or exclusive?

    Keywords: Business History; Global Strategy; Business Conglomerates; Vertical Integration; Goals and Objectives; Mergers and Acquisitions; Auto Industry; China; United States;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., Nancy Hua Dai, and Erica M. Zendell. "Wanxiang Group: A Chinese Company's Global Strategy (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 313-096, January 2013. View Details
  5. Kunshan, Incorporated: The Making of China's Richest Town

    William C. Kirby, Nora Bynum, Tracy Yuen Manty and Erica M. Zendell

    In 1980, the city of Kunshan was mere countryside, registering neither on the Chinese government's nor the international business community's radar. By 2010, Kunshan had become the richest city per capita in China and a global technology powerhouse, home to companies such as Foxconn, Compal Electronics, and Wistron. Kunshan's entrepreneurial, self-starting development combined with strategic location and high levels of local government support had been responsible for Kunshan's tremendous growth and success. How could it continue to grow at a rate to maintain its leadership among Chinese entrepreneurial cities? And would the founding of an international, joint-venture campus with Duke and Wuhan University keep the city of Kunshan innovative and ahead of the curve?

    Keywords: foreign investment; entrepreneurship; competition; emerging markets; FDI; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Innovation Leadership; Technology Industry; China; Taiwan Strait;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., Nora Bynum, Tracy Yuen Manty, and Erica M. Zendell. "Kunshan, Incorporated: The Making of China's Richest Town." Harvard Business School Case 313-103, January 2013. (Revised May 2013.) View Details
  6. Taikang Insurance: Standing Out In China's Crowded Insurance Market

    William C. Kirby and Tracy Yuen Manty

    As a joint-stock insurance company in China, with both state-owned enterprises and foreign firms as investors, Taikang Insurance was becoming a force in the industry. It not only competed with well-entrenched state-owned rivals, but it was also seen as an entrepreneurial upstart. With the insurance landscape in China growing increasingly competitive, Taikang has had to be innovative and strategic in its ability to maintain its place as the fourth largest insurer in China. Chairman Chen Dongsheng laid a strong foundation when he launched Taikang in 2006; what will he do going forward to enable Taikang to continue to stand out in a crowded field?

    Keywords: Insurance; Industry Structures; Insurance Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., and Tracy Yuen Manty. "Taikang Insurance: Standing Out In China's Crowded Insurance Market." Harvard Business School Case 312-109, January 2012. View Details
  7. Boardroom Battle Behind Bars: Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings—A Corporate Governance Drama

    William C. Kirby and Tracy Yuen Manty

    Despite widespread news of the incarceration of Gome Electronics' CEO, Huang Guangyu, Bain Capital felt they carefully undertook due diligence before making a significant investment in the company. The venture capital firm was confident that it and the current management could work together to revamp the fortunes of China's leading electronic retailer. However, it did not anticipate the power Huang had behind bars. As the majority shareholder, Huang managed to manipulate shareholder meetings and current management decisions and structure. Was this typical of an investment in China or did Bain Capital just find itself in a unique situation? What can future managers learn from this situation about corporate governance and ethical rules of business in China?

    Keywords: China; corporate governance; legal aspects of business; corruption; venture capital; risk; Corporate Governance; Crime and Corruption; Power and Influence; Risk Management; Business and Shareholder Relations; Venture Capital; Ethics; Governing and Advisory Boards; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Values and Beliefs; Private Equity; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., and Tracy Yuen Manty. "Boardroom Battle Behind Bars: Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings—A Corporate Governance Drama." Harvard Business School Case 312-025, August 2011. (Revised June 2012.) View Details
  8. Inner Mongolia Yili Group: China's Pioneering Dairy Brand

    Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan and Tracy Yuen Manty

    Setting up the goal to become one of the top 20 enterprises in the world dairy industry by 2010, the Inner Mongolia Yili Group had ambitious plans. As one of China's biggest national dairy companies, its main challenge was competing as a local company against joint-venture rivals who benefited from perks granted to "foreign" companies. To set itself apart, Yili focused on research and development and innovative ways to improve the industry. Proving that it could shift industry standards and lead a country not accustomed to dairy consumption, to a point where demand is outpacing supply, the Yili Group is making its mark to go global. As an Official Sponsor of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the Official dairy supplier of the games, it is betting that the brand can go further beyond China. Will the day that tykes from Topeka have a bottle of Yili milk in their hands be coming soon?

    Keywords: Global Strategy; Globalized Markets and Industries; Growth and Development Strategy; Brands and Branding; Competition; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, and Tracy Yuen Manty. "Inner Mongolia Yili Group: China's Pioneering Dairy Brand." Harvard Business School Case 308-052, January 2008. (Revised December 2011.) View Details
  9. Sealed Air China

    Regina Abrami, William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan and Tracy Yuen Manty

    With a 10-year history of doing business in China, Sealed Air was now betting on the country to help propel its growth as a global company. The company identified China as one of the initial investments in the company's Global Manufacturing Strategy that aimed to create efficiencies in its operations across the globe. As Sealed Air's new Shanghai plant starts production in 2008, will its almost $50 million investment pay off? Is 10 years of experience in China enough to know how China works?

    Keywords: Investment Return; Multinational Firms and Management; Growth and Development Strategy; Production; Manufacturing Industry; Shanghai;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina, William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, and Tracy Yuen Manty. "Sealed Air China." Harvard Business School Case 308-051, February 2008. (Revised December 2011.) View Details
  10. Appellation Shanxi: Grace Vineyard

    William C. Kirby, Michael Shih-ta Chen and Keith Chi-ho Wong

    Grace Vineyard was a rare family-owned, private winery in China that was set on establishing itself as a world-renowned, quality vintner. Judy Leissner, the second-generation company leader, was at a crossroads in how she wanted to grow the business that her father founded in 1997. Their wines were rapidly growing a strong following and had won international awards. How could the company capitalize on this success? Should Grace expand its operations to multiple Chinese provinces? Should Grace continue as a premium boutique winery serving a growing but ultimately limited niche market in China, or should it seek to make a mark internationally? Or should Grace respond to buy-out offers?

    Keywords: Family Business; Growth and Development Strategy; Family Ownership; State Ownership; Expansion; Food and Beverage Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., Michael Shih-ta Chen, and Keith Chi-ho Wong. "Appellation Shanxi: Grace Vineyard." Harvard Business School Case 309-075, January 2009. (Revised February 2013.) View Details
  11. Jiamei Dental: Private Health Care in China

    William C. Kirby and G.A. Donovan

    With the recent announcement from the Chinese government that the country's healthcare system was going to undergo reform, Jiamei Dental Chairman Liu Jia wondered what that meant for his 15 year-old dental clinic business. Founded in 1993, Jiamei Dental Medical Management Group ("Jiamei") rode the wave of China's rapid economic development and had become China's largest private dental chain with 84 clinics in Beijing and seven other major cities. But China was changing fast, and Liu acknowledged that Jiamei's ongoing expansion depended on many factors beyond its control, notwithstanding government reform, Jiamei was also faced with pressures from its private equity general partners. The year 2009 was shaping up to be a pivotal one for Jiamei. It had planned to open dozens more clinics during the year. At the same time, Liu was facing stiff competition from regional and international private dental clinic competitors, high-end private hospitals, and now possibly the government. These factors offered new complexities into the expansion plans of this entrepreneurial firm.

    Keywords: Private Sector; Economic Slowdown and Stagnation; Entrepreneurship; Governing Rules, Regulations, and Reforms; Policy; Health Care and Treatment; Private Ownership; Partners and Partnerships; Competition; Expansion; Health Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., and G.A. Donovan. "Jiamei Dental: Private Health Care in China." Harvard Business School Case 910-404, January 2010. (Revised December 2011.) View Details
  12. Esquel Group: Integrating Business Strategy and Corporate Social Responsibility

    F. Warren McFarlan, William C. Kirby and Tracy Manty

    Focuses on the experience of China's largest shirt manufacturer in managing various aspects of government relations in China. Identifies a wide variety of social initiatives it has undertaken.

    Keywords: Growth and Development Strategy; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Business and Government Relations; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Manufacturing Industry; China;

    Citation:

    McFarlan, F. Warren, William C. Kirby, and Tracy Manty. "Esquel Group: Integrating Business Strategy and Corporate Social Responsibility." Harvard Business School Case 307-076, February 2007. (Revised November 2011.) View Details
  13. International Agribusiness in China: Charoen Pokphand Group

    William C. Kirby, Michael Shih-ta Chen, Tracy Manty and Yi Kwan Chu

    The world's leading Thai agribusiness corporation and largest agribusiness investor in China, CP Group, is facing another crossroads in China as the country starts to undergo rural reform. The issues at hand for Chairman Dhanin Chearavanont is how CP can balance its place as a key investor in China's burgeoning agriculture market with its unstated obligation to also provide guidance and expertise in food safety, technology, as well as jobs for rural farmers while still competing against the growing cadre of international and domestic companies vying to grab share from its operations in China. Was rural reform going to help or hinder CP's position in China and was CP doing all it could to take advantage of these changes?

    Keywords: Business or Company Management; SWOT Analysis; Adaptation; Business Strategy; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Growth and Development Strategy; Competitive Strategy; Problems and Challenges; Rural Scope; Agribusiness; Change; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., Michael Shih-ta Chen, Tracy Manty, and Yi Kwan Chu. "International Agribusiness in China: Charoen Pokphand Group." Harvard Business School Case 910-418, February 2010. (Revised November 2011.) View Details
  14. CP Group: Balancing the Needs of a Family Business with the Needs of a Family of Businesses

    William C. Kirby and Tracy Yuen Manty

    As a second generation business leader, Chairman Dhanin Chearavanont took over the family agribusiness company and built it to become a major diversified conglomerate in Thailand and expanded the business in SE Asia and China. While growing the business, he and his brothers created a holding company to both maintain and separate the interests of the family with the growing business units. As a third and possibly fourth generation of Chearavanonts enter the company, how has Chairman Dhanin created a business culture that maintains the closeness of a family business with the strategic vision, innovations, and transparency of a professionally run company -- especially given the fact that many business units are public companies? This case seeks to outline the balance of a family business with the needs of a growing and competitive international conglomerate.

    Keywords: Agribusiness; Plant-Based Agribusiness; Family Business; Business Growth and Maturation; Business Conglomerates; Family Ownership; Growth and Development; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Thailand; China; Southeast Asia;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., and Tracy Yuen Manty. "CP Group: Balancing the Needs of a Family Business with the Needs of a Family of Businesses." Harvard Business School Case 312-059, September 2011. (Revised November 2011.) View Details
  15. China Mobile's Rural Communications Strategy

    William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, G.A. Donovan and Tracy Manty

    China Mobile was the world's leading mobile communications service provider with over 400 million customers. In some cities, its penetration rate was over 100%. With such huge successes, Chairman Wang Jianzhou was exploring ways to expand its customer base. Nearly saturated in the cities, China Mobile needed to broaden its base of subscribers. Wang believed that further investment in China's rural villages was a key strategy that would help the fuel growth for the future. Already deeply invested in the rural areas based on the company's participation in the government-mandated "Connect Every Village" project, China Mobile took advantage of this foundation and created new products and value-added services in order to make its mobile phone network more valuable to the lifestyles of China's rural population. However, the cost of connecting remote locations was high and was often not offset by subscriber fees or usage rates of these populations. Would this investment be relegated to a socially responsible project or would it pay off for China Mobile in the future?

    Keywords: Communication Technology; Investment; Rural Scope; Growth and Development Strategy; Service Operations; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Business and Government Relations; Telecommunications Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., F. Warren McFarlan, G.A. Donovan, and Tracy Manty. "China Mobile's Rural Communications Strategy." Harvard Business School Case 309-034, January 2009. (Revised May 2011.) View Details
  16. China Mobile's Rural Communications Strategy (TN)

    William C. Kirby and F. Warren McFarlan

    Teaching Note for 309034.

    Keywords: Rural Scope; Investment; Communication Strategy; Information Management; Government and Politics; Governance Controls; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., and F. Warren McFarlan. "China Mobile's Rural Communications Strategy (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 311-060, September 2010. View Details
  17. A Strait of Uncertainty: Taiwan's Development in the Shadow of China

    William C. Kirby, J. Megan Greene and Tracy Manty

    The "Taiwan Question" has been at the heart of politics in East Asia since 1950, when the Americans intervened in the Chinese civil war; or perhaps even since 1895, when Taiwan became part of the Japanese empire. It is a contested place that has played an important role in the story of modern China and modern Asia. Today, relations between the People's Republic of China (PRC) on the Chinese mainland, and the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, are improving rapidly. Taiwan investment in the mainland has played a major role in China's economic boom in recent decades. Investments, partnerships, study, travel, and marriage across the Strait point to a future of ever-greater interaction between two parties that brought Asia to the brink of war three times in the last half-century (1954, 1958, 1996). But what does the future hold? Will Taiwan thrive and yet maintain its autonomy as part of the broader economy of "Greater China"? Will economic integration lead, inexorably, to Taiwan's incorporation into the People's Republic of China? How might the global economic crisis affect any of this? To gain perspective on modern Taiwan, let us look first to its history.

    Keywords: History; Development Economics; Investment; Economic Growth; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Financial Crisis; China; Taiwan;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., J. Megan Greene, and Tracy Manty. "A Strait of Uncertainty: Taiwan's Development in the Shadow of China." Harvard Business School Background Note 909-408, March 2009. (Revised September 2010.) View Details
  18. Political and Economic History of the People's Republic of China: An Annotated Timeline

    Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby, Elisabeth Koll and F. Warren McFarlan

    Brief political, economic, and social timeline of China from 1949 to present to give context on and provide overview of modern Chinese history.

    Keywords: Economics; Government and Politics; History; Society; China;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, Elisabeth Koll, and F. Warren McFarlan. "Political and Economic History of the People's Republic of China: An Annotated Timeline." Harvard Business School Background Note 309-073, December 2008. (Revised June 2010.) View Details
  19. Sealed Air China (TN)

    Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby and F. Warren McFarlan

    Teaching Note for [308051].

    Keywords: Globalization; Investment; Growth and Development Strategy; Experience and Expertise; Market Entry and Exit; Production; Performance Efficiency; Factories, Labs, and Plants; Service Industry; China; Shanghai;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, and F. Warren McFarlan. "Sealed Air China (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 310-088, February 2010. View Details
  20. Wanxiang Group: A Chinese Company's Global Strategy (TN)

    Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan and Keith Chi-ho Wong

    Teaching Note for [308058].

    Keywords: Business History; Global Strategy; Business Conglomerates; Vertical Integration; Goals and Objectives; Mergers and Acquisitions; Auto Industry; China; United States;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, and Keith Chi-ho Wong. "Wanxiang Group: A Chinese Company's Global Strategy (TN)." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 310-089, February 2010. View Details
  21. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited: A Global Company's China Strategy

    William C. Kirby, Michael Shih-Ta Chen and Keith Wong

    After fifty-five years in the semiconductor industry, Morris Chang, founder and Chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), was seeing a change. After four decades of regular double-digit growth the industry was still growing-but now at a much slower pace. In 2004, TSMC entered the China market, the world's second largest for semiconductors, by building a fabrication plant in Shanghai. Was China the market opportunity in which TSMC could bet on for expansion, or should its strategy be to focus on new product development and innovation?

    Keywords: Investment; Globalized Firms and Management; Market Entry and Exit; Business and Government Relations; Expansion; Semiconductor Industry; Shanghai; Taiwan;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., Michael Shih-Ta Chen, and Keith Wong. "Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited: A Global Company's China Strategy." Harvard Business School Case 308-057, January 2008. (Revised June 2009.) View Details
  22. A Chinese Start-up's Midlife Crisis: 99Sushe.com

    William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan and Tracy Manty

    Now into their third year at the helm of an Internet start-up in China, Ken Pao and Bill Li were managing a totally different company (with a new name) from the one they first founded in 2006. Having changed their business model from a social networking site to an online gaming business came with new challenges. They hired almost an entirely new staff, cultivated new partnerships, and most urgently sought new funding. However, with three years of experience, they were no longer a "start-up" and now faced the ramifications of mid-life. What would it take to remain a viable competitor in China in a new industry?

    Keywords: Business Growth and Maturation; Business Model; Games, Gaming, and Gambling; Entrepreneurship; Venture Capital; Investment Funds; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., F. Warren McFarlan, and Tracy Manty. "A Chinese Start-up's Midlife Crisis: 99Sushe.com." Harvard Business School Case 309-060, January 2009. (Revised March 2009.) View Details
  23. Myths and Lessons of Modern Chinese History

    William C. Kirby and Brittany Crow

    China is an ancient civilization, but it is really a very young country. How we understand modern China is rooted in our understanding of history. Thus, the authors examine several myths surrounding important historical themes, including unity, economic and political isolation, the growth and development of capitalism, internationalization, and governance. Following the dispelling of these myths, the authors then examine several lessons of more recent Chinese history, exploring where this young country has been in its first century.

    Keywords: Economic Systems; Globalization; Government and Politics; History; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., and Brittany Crow. "Myths and Lessons of Modern Chinese History." Harvard Business School Background Note 308-065, November 2007. (Revised February 2009.) View Details
  24. Xi'an International University: The Growth of Private Universities in China

    William C. Kirby, Michael Shih-ta Chen, Keith Chi-ho Wong and Tracy Manty

    Huang Teng founded Xi'an International University (XAIU) as a private institute of higher education in 1992. Throughout its ensuing years, the school filled a niche and met the demand of students who did not test into one of China's public institutions. In 2008, it was seeking to grow by aggressively pursuing opportunities in other provinces and municipalities. Huang's plan was to franchise his university throughout China. However, in pursuing this strategy in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, China's largest cities, Huang was not receiving warm responses. Local officials feared XAIU would jeopardize the survival of locally run private universities, and competition among private universities was heating up as institutions from the United Kingdom and Hong Kong partnered with public universities to form joint-ventured "independent colleges." Buoyed by the success of XAIU, Huang was confident that despite these setbacks, his franchise model would work. But was an alternative plan of expanding into second- or third-tier cities compromising too much of the groundwork that had already been laid, would it jeopardize XAIU's funding opportunities, and finally, would it hurt the academic quality and integrity XAIU had built up at home?

    Keywords: Higher Education; Growth and Development Strategy; Private Ownership; Expansion; Education Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., Michael Shih-ta Chen, Keith Chi-ho Wong, and Tracy Manty. "Xi'an International University: The Growth of Private Universities in China." Harvard Business School Case 309-074, January 2009. View Details
  25. The Challenges of Launching a Start-Up in China: Dorm99.com

    William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan and Tracy Manty

    After graduating from Harvard Business School in June 2006, Ken Pao and Bill Li were ready to fully commit to the Internet start-up they had been working on since they first stepped foot on the business school campus. They moved to Beijing, rounded out their management team, received venture capital investment, developed joint-venture partnerships, and set key milestones to create a full-impact product launch for their social networking Web site catering to the college market. On the day of their launch, they faced a setback from China's Ministry of Education and were forced back to square one. Discusses the pluses and minuses of partnering with China's government ministries, the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, and the numerous opportunities available to entrepreneurship in China today.

    Keywords: Business Startups; Joint Ventures; Entrepreneurship; Product Launch; Business and Government Relations; Internet; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., F. Warren McFarlan, and Tracy Manty. "The Challenges of Launching a Start-Up in China: Dorm99.com." Harvard Business School Case 307-075, January 2007. (Revised December 2008.) View Details
  26. China Netcom: Corporate Governance in China (A)

    Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, Ning Xiangdong and Tracy Manty

    With its dual listings on the Hong Kong stock market and New York Stock Exchange, state-owned enterprise, China Netcom was mandated to meet the listing requirements of these exchanges. From this initial step, China Netcom's Chairman, Zhang Chunjiang, began a program that sought to further develop the company's corporate governance practices to meet international corporate governance standards. The company hoped that its commitment in developing a globally-accepted governance structure would help the capital markets and potential investors understand that the company was a true, modern corporation, even with the state as a majority owner.

    Keywords: Corporate Governance; State Ownership; Public Ownership; Financial Markets; Capital Markets; Telecommunications Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, Ning Xiangdong, and Tracy Manty. "China Netcom: Corporate Governance in China (A)." Harvard Business School Case 308-027, December 2007. (Revised December 2008.) View Details
  27. HNA Group: Moving China's Air Transport Industry in a New Direction

    William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan and Tracy Manty

    HNA Group, the parent company of Hainan Airlines, was positioning itself to go global and make a mark for itself as the largest private airline in China. Positioned squarely behind the "Big Three" state-owned carriers, Hainan Airlines sought to create a world-class business. Following modern management practices, keeping sharp attention to cost control and capital operations, making aggressive entries into international markets, and maintaining a special corporate culture, Chairman Chen Feng was confident these factors were the engine that would drive HNA's continued growth.

    Keywords: Global Strategy; Management Practices and Processes; Private Ownership; Competitive Advantage; Air Transportation Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Kirby, William C., F. Warren McFarlan, and Tracy Manty. "HNA Group: Moving China's Air Transport Industry in a New Direction." Harvard Business School Case 309-029, November 2008. View Details
  28. Wanxiang Group: A Chinese Company's Global Strategy

    Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, Keith Chi-ho Wong and Tracy Manty

    With an almost forty-year history as a business in China, the Wanxiang Group has navigated through the significantly different political and economic changes in China to succeed as a global leader in the auto parts industry and to develop into a broad business conglomerate. Beginning in 1994, when it first began its operations in the United States, Wanxiang started to expand its role as a parts supplier into a discerning acquirer of distressed companies in the U.S. While it saw acquisition as an exciting means for growth, company strategy at its Hangzhou, China headquarters also included vertical integration with a goal of developing a full-on electric car. Were these two goals divergent or complementary: mutually supportive or exclusive?

    Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Business Conglomerates; Global Strategy; Business History; Growth and Development Strategy; Vertical Integration; Auto Industry; Hangzhou; United States;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, Keith Chi-ho Wong, and Tracy Manty. "Wanxiang Group: A Chinese Company's Global Strategy." Harvard Business School Case 308-058, February 2008. (Revised July 2008.) View Details
  29. China Netcom: Corporate Governance in China (B)

    Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan and Tracy Yuen Manty

    Supplements the A case [308027]. With its dual listings on the Hong Kong stock market and New York stock Exchange, state-owned enterprise, China Netcom was mandated to meet the listing requirements of these exchanges. From this initial step, China Netcom's Chairman, Zhang Chunjiang, began a program that sought to further develop the company's corporate governance practices to meet international corporate governance standards. The company hoped that its commitment in developing a globally-accepted governance structure would help the capital markets and potential investors understand that the company was true, modern corporation, even with the state as a majority owner.

    Keywords: Management Teams; Corporate Governance; State Ownership; Standards; Globalized Markets and Industries; Telecommunications Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, and Tracy Yuen Manty. "China Netcom: Corporate Governance in China (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 308-091, January 2008. (Revised May 2008.) View Details
  30. Fiyta - The Case of a Chinese Watch Company

    Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, Luc R. Wathieu, Gao Wang, Fei Li and Tracy Manty

    Fiyta had long been on of China's foremost watch brands. However, as China's economy began to improve and the livelihood of many Chinese rose with it, their tastes began to change. Exposed to more luxurious foreign brands, many Chinese strived to purchase a Swiss or Japanese watch. How could Fiyta build up its brand image to a more sophisticated Chinese consumer? What marketing activities should it undertake to reinvigorate its brand? Is it meeting the needs of all segments of Chinese consumers? Should it?

    Keywords: Brands and Branding; Product Marketing; Product Positioning; Demand and Consumers; Consumer Behavior; Consumer Products Industry; Electronics Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, Luc R. Wathieu, Gao Wang, Fei Li, and Tracy Manty. "Fiyta - The Case of a Chinese Watch Company." Harvard Business School Case 308-025, August 2007. (Revised March 2008.) View Details
  31. Gome Electronics: Evolving the Business Model

    Regina M. Abrami, William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, Gao Wang, Fei Li, Tracy Manty and Waishun Lo

    After 20 years of expansion, Gome Electronics has become China's largest consumer electronics retailer. It has opened stores in almost every province in China, acquired some of its competitors, and went public in Hong Kong. However, it has begun to experience a slowdown in growth as sales per-square-meter have declined. The company is now being challenged to develop new ideas for growth, including experimenting with its product mix, renegotiating its relationships with suppliers, and developing new business models to maximize profitability.

    Keywords: Business Model; Distribution Channels; Growth and Development Strategy; Technology; Industry Growth; Marketing Strategy; Business Growth and Maturation; Product; Electronics Industry; Retail Industry; China;

    Citation:

    Abrami, Regina M., William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan, Gao Wang, Fei Li, Tracy Manty, and Waishun Lo. "Gome Electronics: Evolving the Business Model." Harvard Business School Case 308-026, August 2007. (Revised February 2008.) View Details
  32. Li & Fung 2006

    F. Warren McFarlan, William C. Kirby and Tracy Manty

    Describes the opportunities and strategy facing one of the most innovative global supply-chain companies, and the strategy it has chosen to deal with the expanding demand for its services. Li & Fung links thousands of factories in India, China, and elsewhere to nearly a thousand large retailers, primarily in the U.S. and Europe. It basically does the supply-chain job faster and more accurately with the aid of a sophisticated information system than anyone else.

    Keywords: Customer Value and Value Chain; Supply Chain Management; Distribution Channels; Global Range; Strategy; Information Technology; Service Industry; Distribution Industry; China; India; United States; Europe;

    Citation:

    McFarlan, F. Warren, William C. Kirby, and Tracy Manty. "Li & Fung 2006." Harvard Business School Case 307-077, February 2007. (Revised May 2007.) View Details

    Research Summary

  1. Current Research

    by William C. Kirby

    Doing business in China in the early 21st century

    Chinese companies and consumer markets

    Chinese Universities: Leaders of the 21st Century? 

    The enduring role of State-Owned Enterprises in China 

    Business, political, and cultural relations across the Taiwan Strait

    1. Received an Honorary Doctor of Humanities Honoris Causa in 2010 from Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

    12 May 2014
    Strategy + Business
    12 May 2014
    Harvard Business School
    08 Apr 2014
    The Business
    19 Feb 2014
    Harvard Business Review
    10 Jan 2014
    Harvard Gazette
    28 Sep 2012
    HBR Blogs
    30 Jul 2012
    Wall Street Journal