In the competitive Chinese market, Western companies are losing the war for talent.
According to a 2017 report by Bain & Co and LinkedIn China, about a third of executives in Chinese companies moved from multinationals in the past five years. Only 10% of leaders of multinationals moved from local companies over the same period.
In 2012, Apple topped the list of the most attractive employers in China, according to global executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. But by 2017, Chinese companies had taken the top position in five out of six business sectors.
There are multiple reasons for the shift. Given the rise of Chinese tech companies like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, Chinese executives fear missing out on one of the world's mostcompelling growth stories as domestic companies become global players.
These executives can expect to move up the corporate ladder faster than if they remained atestablished multinationals.
There is a cultural dimension too: working in China for a Chinese company means not havingto explain the Chinese market to Western business leaders in order to get ahead.
To change this condition, Western companies must change the way they do business, startingwith developing a culture of agility and innovation in their Chinese operations.
Multinationals need to be less rigid and controlling from headquarters to allow local Chinesetalent to experiment.