profile decisions, people inside the company noticed more responsiveness to developments in Asia. As one Asian middle manager commented, “Now [with the CEO in Beijing] we can get prompt decisions and feedback from the senior management team.” Because the structural change improved communication channels, the senior leadership team interacted more often with Asian managers. As a result, it became more alert and receptive to opportu- nities in the Asian market. Indeed, senior managers became significantly more aware of developments in every region, not just China. Executives in surround- ing countries — notably Korea, Singapore, and Thailand — reported significant gains in senior management attention. Greater Subsidiary Contributions The physical presence of senior executives in Asia made it easier for local executives to establish credibility with them. As top managers interacted more with Asian executives, the top managers were more likely to appreciate the efforts made, obstacles overcome, and deals won. In short, senior executives got firsthand exposure to local executives’ competence and reliability. Increased credibility generated greater trust, which, in turn, expanded the unit’s influence and ability to make important contributions to strategic decisions. As Asian subsidiaries became more central to discussions, they gained self-confidence. Said one Eu- ropean IT manager, “We have started to see a real shift in how the team in Beijing works. They are pushing back more in development projects.… ‘ This won’t work in the Asian market. Have you tried that ?’” Richer Lateral Exchanges Within three years, the Amsterdam and Beijing offices were operating more or less as equals. For example, the group human resources director noted, “The increased presence in Beijing — especially the center of excel- lence — has given employees the feeling that they are part of one global organization, rather than one managed out of a single place.” Horizontal ties among peers across subsidiaries improved markedly. Suddenly, Asian executives gained easy access to “boundary spanners” — people who could connect them to networks in subsidiaries around the world. 7 And as network connections increased, Asia (particularly China) became more central to communication flows. In the words of an Asia-based business development manager, “The dual-core [headquarters] simply recognizes the way we work in a multicultural, multi-time-zone world.” It created a more integrated and efficient organiza- tion — one with more connections and tighter links.
64 MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW WINTER 2016 SLOANREVIEW.MIT.EDU G L O B A L B U S I N E S S Tighter Local Connections Irdeto’s strategy also led to improved communications with the outside world and improved perceptions about the com- pany. Our findings show that it generated more interactions with Chinese customers and, thanks largely to the presence of senior leadership team members, closer relationships with Chinese business partners. The fact that Irdeto had two headquarters, combined with the CEO’s move to Beijing, made a
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