News & Highlights

  • JANUARY 2021
  • EVENTS

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
  • EVENTS

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
  • EVENTS

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
  • EVENTS

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

  • 2021
  • Working Paper

Auditor Independence and Outsourcing: Aligning Incentives to Mitigate Shilling and Shirking

By: Ashley Palmarozzo, Jodi L. Short and Michael W. Toffel

Multinational corporations (MNCs) hire auditors to assess their business partners’ compliance with quality, working conditions, and environmental standards. Independent third-party auditors are widely assumed to outperform second-party auditors employed and thus controlled by MNCs. Synthesizing literatures on auditor independence and outsourcing decisions, we compare how independence and control can affect auditor performance. Using proprietary data from a global apparel brand, we find that second-party auditors outperform independent third-party auditors, and that third-party auditors’ performance improves when MNCs concurrent source audits, using both second- and third-party auditors. However, both second- and third-party auditors perform better with more independence from the entities they audit—specifically, when auditing factories most recently audited by a different firm. These findings yield important insights for more effective monitoring of business partners.

  • December 2020
  • Case

Tencent: Combining Technology and Culture

By: Elie Ofek, Billy Chan and Dawn H. Lau

Tencent, one of the largest Internet conglomerates in China, had a vision to become a "Tech+Culture" firm. With dominant market shares in online games and social networking, it had built a vast Internet-based entertainment ecosystem, and was now focused on cultural asset development. Specifically, the company had an opportunity to develop a media franchise that was rich in Chinese cultural elements and had the potential to turn into a blockbuster franchise comparable with Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. Edward Cheng, the company’s vice president, had to decide how to launch the franchise – whether it should start with a game, movie, a streamed series, or something more innovative. He also had to consider how to promote Chinese culture and project the country’s image to a foreign audience.

  • 2020
  • Working Paper

Party-State Capitalism in China

By: Margaret Pearson, Meg Rithmire and Kellee Tsai

The “state capitalism” model, in which the state retains a dominant role as owner or investor-shareholder amidst the presence of markets and private firms, has received increasing attention, with China cited as the main exemplar. Yet as models evolve, so has China’s “state capitalism.” We argue that a resurgent party-state, motivated by a logic of political survival, has generated political-economic dynamics that better resemble “party-state capitalism” than familiar conceptualizations of state capitalism. We demonstrate this by examining three prominent manifestations of China’s unique model: party-state encroachment on markets; a blending of functions and interests of state and private ownership; and politicized interactions with foreign capital. Nevertheless, there remain deficits in the party-state’s hold over capital, some of which themselves result from Beijing’s logic of control. By probing the comparative and historical context of this evolution of China’s model, we suggest directions for further inquiry on the consequences of party-state capitalism.

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