James McGregor, former chief executive of Dow Jones’ China business operations and founding partner of BlackInc China, described business management as China’s Achilles heel and praised Fordham’s Beijing International MBA program (BiMBA) as a unique solution to the country’s problem.
“In trying to mix the ways of business in the West and the ways of business in China, and then finding a mix in developing management systems that are uniquely Chinese, [Fordham] is way ahead of the game,” said McGregor during an Oct. 27 lecture in the McNally Amphitheatre on the Lincoln Center campus.
McGregor, who has lived in China for more than 15 years, said the problem with most new businesses there is that the leaders do not take time to manage them. The average lifespan of a Chinese company is five years, he said, because once entrepreneurs find success in a business, they move on to the next opportunity. This tendency to constantly move forward and strive for more, however, is a trademark of the Chinese culture, and a staple of their economic success, according to McGregor.
“The Chinese people are very hardworking, very talented and very coded by their own society and history to work hard and get things done,” said McGregor, author of One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China (Free Press/A Wall Street Journal Book, 2005). “They are very focused on getting ahead. Economic development is a sense of national purpose.”
McGregor encouraged the business students in the audience interested in working internationally to move to China because of its recent economic boom and the potential the country offers for future business opportunities.
“It is the country of my lifetime, and I’m old,” said McGregor. “It’s going to be the country of your lifetime even more so.”
McGregor’s presentation was part of the Hazen Polsky Foundation Business Lecture Series. The biannual event brings prominent figures in business and economics to Fordham every year to address students, faculty and alumni. Last February, New York Times OpEd columnist and award-winning economist, Paul Krugman discussed President Bush’s private-account social security proposal.
Fordham is the degree-granting institution for the BiMBA program, which was created in 1998, by Peking University and a consortium of 26 American Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States that provide the program’s faculty. The curriculum, taught mostly in English, includes courses in cross-cultural negotiation, business ethics and entrepreneurship. BiMBA is the first foreign MBA degree in Beijing to be approved by the Chinese government.
Fordham’s Graduate School of Business Administration was established in 1969 and has been recognized nationally for the quality, innovation and comprehensiveness of its programs, which prepare graduates for global competition. The school’s part-time MBA program is ranked 19th by U.S. News & World Report.