Asia-Pacific companies turn to head-hunting>

People, not just products, are the key to success for firms operating in
the Asia-Pacific region, according to a Harvard Business School professor.

Michael Yoshino, a specialist in global management strategy, says there is
fierce competition to hire effective managers among companies in emerging
Asian markets. “Companies in different industries making different
products all compete in the human resources market,” Yoshino said Tuesday
in a speech to an international forum of executives and scholars in Tokyo.
The global business growth forum was conducted by the International
Consortium for Executive Development Research.

Yoshino divided companies in the Asia-Pacific region into two main groups
— regional, such as the Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian and Philippine
companies; and global, meaning companies from outside that region.
According to Yoshino, despite the fact that many of these regionally based
companies are family-run, their management should not be underestimated.

Many Southeast Asian companies founded by local entrepreneurs are now
being run by well-educated sons and daughters with significant
international experience, he said. “You should not have this notion that
the guy who started with the pushcart is still at the helm,” he said.

In addition, family-oriented management promotes company loyalty, and
local managers tend to have useful political ties to governments. However,
these regional companies have hired many Western expatriates to catch up
with the latest technology, Yoshino said.

Yoshino expressed the need for drastic changes in managerial mind-set for
Japanese companies trying to compete in the Asia-Pacific market. Government
protection in Japan has produced companies that are still very much
domestic organizations, according to Yoshino. Despite the fact that
Japanese firms have sent many highly skilled, knowledgeable executives
abroad, “unless the headquarters mind-set changes, internationalization
never really happens,” he said.

Yoshino cited corruption as the most crucial problem plaguing Japanese
companies. “The world standard requires transparency,” he said.
“Japanese management culture is still very eccentric.”

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