In Shanghai, the first stop of the one-week trip, the students were guests at Chinese branches of Swiss companies and were informed first-hand about how products have to be designed in order to survive on the Chinese market. Franz Badertscher, who also accompanied the students to China, reports: “Products are often too expensive or have extensive performance features that the Chinese market does not need and therefore unnecessarily push up costs. In addition to product design, communication in the Chinese market is very different, as experienced managers in China have shown us”.
Knowledge is used too little
Acquiring knowledge about the Chinese market and culture is one thing. Studies show, however, that it is much more difficult to bring knowledge from foreign markets into the domestic company. “Research shows that this knowledge is used too little in the company headquarters. Managers who return from a longer assignment abroad feel misunderstood – the probability that they will leave the company increases,” explains Udo Müller. This knowledge enables companies to take concrete countermeasures and strengthen employee loyalty.
Focus on economic development
Since the participants work in the areas of quality assurance, research & development, production and logistics in addition to their studies, the company visits were also geared to business operations and technology. During the visit to the renowned Tongji University in Shanghai, however, the focus was further expanded. “The visit taught our students to take a critical look at China’s overall economic situation,” reports Franz Badertscher. “Professor Zheng Han pointed out how the development of the gross domestic product of the past decades is to be evaluated – and also relativized the drama with which falling Chinese economic figures are reported.
“The visit taught our students to take a critical look at China’s macroeconomic situation.”
Franz Badertscher, Head of Studies MAS Industrial Engineering and Management
In addition to the tight visit programme, there was also time to visit the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China, to get to know everyday Chinese life and to revisit the economic and cultural inputs of the company visits during lively discussions among the participants. In the end, the insight that one of the top managers visited already anticipated in his presentation prevailed: “Regardless of whether a Swiss company wants to expand into China or not, every company has to think about how it wants to deal with China and Chinese products”.