News & Highlights

  • JANUARY 2021

Virtual Case Discussion with Professor Elie Ofek

On January 14th, Harvard Center Shanghai organized a virtual teaching event featuring a newly-published HBS case, “Tencent: Combining Technology and Culture,” authored by Professor Elie Ofek. Professor Ofek led the discussion, soliciting differing views from participants to explore the key questions in the case. Participants discussed how Tencent, one of the largest internet technology conglomerates in China, created a new initiative to expand into the cultural content business, and how it faced the challenge of developing a blockbuster media franchise akin to Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. More than 110 people attended the event including HBS alumni, faculty from business schools in China, and practitioners from the cultural sector.
  • October 2020

24 Hours of Harvard

Worldwide Week at Harvard showcases the breadth of Harvard’s global engagement through academic and cultural events with global or international themes. On October 7th-8th, 2020, Harvard broadcasted 24 Hours of Harvard, which featured 24 consecutive hours of around-the-clock and around-the-world events and activities. As a part of the event, Harvard Center Shanghai founding faculty and management team unveiled the century-long engagement between Harvard and China over a 45 minutes video. The program starts with an early history of Harvard’ relationship with China from 1879 with Ge Kun-hua’s journey to Harvard, as the first Chinese teacher at Harvard. It continues to describe the programs and activities of Harvard Center Shanghai in the first decade after its opening in 2010, marking an important step in Harvard’s long engagement with China and Asia.
  • July 2020

HBS Executive Education China Alumni Sharing Sessions

On July 10th, 2020 HBS Executive Education hosted the first hybrid event after COVID-19, which was the start of SELP China Alum Experience Sharing series. Over 80 alumni attended each of the first two sharing events, with about 30 at Harvard Center Shanghai and the rest attending on Zoom. The hybrid model allowed alumni to meet with one another and to participate from a distance. Speakers of the events are experts in their field and shared business insights on a variety of topics including strategies to cope with the crisis and business recovery. Charlie Liu (SELP8) addressed the current China executive talent pool, business trends post-COVID in China, and new leadership competencies for the VUCA age. Jimmy Qian (SELP8) presented challenges and opportunities in the semiconductor industry for Chinese companies to move towards self-reliance in computer chips.
  • May 2020

HBS MBA Class of 2022 Online Welcome Event

On May 17, HBS Greater China Club and Harvard Center Shanghai co-hosted a virtual welcome event for newly-admitted students with current MBA students and HBS alumni. The HBS Greater China Club panel shared valuable experience and practical tips regarding life at HBS. Eight alumni representatives from Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong reflected on what they have accomplished after graduating and how the MBA program contributed to their accomplishments. The event ended with a Q&A aiming to help new students build a foundation for life at HBS.

New Research on the Region

  • April 2021
  • Case

The Mahindra Group: Leading with Purpose

By: Ranjay Gulati and Rachna Tahilyani

India headquartered Mahindra Group is a multibillion-dollar federation of companies operating across the globe. It is ahead of its time in articulating its purpose and mapping its values something it had first done at inception and then refreshed yet again as ‘Rise’ in 2011. Over the past decade, it has cascaded the essence of ‘Rise’ as a purpose through the organization. The idea was to “challenge conventional thinking and innovatively use all their resources to drive positive change in the lives of stakeholders and communities across the world to enable them to Rise.” As its senior leadership team contemplate Mahindra’s future, they wonder how they should balance the ‘Rise’ philosophy with a focus on financial returns that is critical for the group, especially in the aftermath of the health and economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and a leadership transition at the group.

  • 2021
  • Working Paper

The Emergence of Mafia-like Business Systems in China

By: Meg Rithmire and Hao Chen

A large literature on state-business relations in China has examined the political role of capitalists and collusion between the state and the private sector. This paper contributes to that literature, and our understanding of the internal differentiation among China’s business elites, by documenting the emergence of a particular kind of large, non-state business group that we argue is more akin to a mafia system than any standard definition of a firm. Drawing on large-N descriptive data as well as deep ethnographic and documentary research, we argue that mafia-like business systems share organizational principles (plunder and obfuscation) and means of growth and survival (relations of mutual endangerment and manipulation of the financial system). Understanding the particular moral economy that underlies mafia-like business systems and their interactions with the state challenges methodological foundations of research on China’s political economy and helps explain recent conflict between high-profile business people and the state.

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