Tesco, trouble at an eastern mill

Trouble brewing at Tesco’s retailing venture in China – the Taiwanese operated Hymall hypermarket chain. As Tesco has taken a more upfront role in the operation so the division of labour appears to be Englishman doing strategy (with little knowledge of China); Taiwanese doing local management (with little knowledge of management) and Mainland Chinese staffing the stores (with little experience of service sector work).

The problem is building racial resentment at worst and some serious cross-cultural cock ups at best – the Taiwanese think the English don’t know what they’re doing in China (correct); the Mainland Chinese staff think the Taiwanese managers look down on them (correct); the English think the Taiwanese are bad managers (correct). The whole thing appears to be a recipe for disaster for the state-controlled union hovering in the wings to create a PR disaster for Hymall (and consequently Tesco) with highhanded foreigners exploiting Chinese workers.


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