In 2002, the Academy of Arts and Design at Tsinghua University organized andhosted the Tsinghua International Design Management Symposium. This was thefirst international symposium on design management held in China. The symposiumgathered together leaders in the design field, including Earl Powell, Dieter Rams, PatrickWhitney, Harald Leschke and Tetsuyuki Hirano. Over 200 participants acrossChina and overseas joined it. The symposium accentuated international collaborationbetween colleges. In 2002, together with eight schools, Tsinghua University andUniversity of Salford, UK, initiated the Asia Link-Design Management Network program,which was funded by the European Union.Figure 26.3 Lenovo computer design development process from 1997 to 2005.Design and Design Management in China 429The design market in China grew rapidly after 1999. One of the reasons was keenmarket competition, which increased the demand for newly designed products. Theother reason was that overseas design companies began to enter the Chinese marketsto develop joint businesses with the big companies, such as the start up of collaborationin design between Lenovo and the American design company Ziba. In this periodof time, the rapid emergence of the mobile phone market has also nurtured many designhouses, which specialize in providing full services from styling design to
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mockupsfor the IT industry.At the same time, the capacities in all aspects of manufacturing further advancedin China. More multinational companies began to set up production for the more sophisticatedand precise products.In 1993, Motorola was the first multinational company to set up a R&D centre inBeijing. Numerous foreign companies followed. According to research by the UnitedNations Conference on Trade and Development in 2004, among the worlds 700 �largestmultinational companies, thirty-five percent had R&D setups in China. This percentagefalls just below that of the US and UK (Shi Xing Hui 2006).However, in the joint-venture companies in China, design is often caught up ininternal conflicts. From Chinas perspective, instead of systematically �importing foreigndesigns from joint partners, they wish to develop more suitable products for thedomestic market and strengthen their own innovation ability. But foreign partneringcompanies are not willing to develop products in China. They stipulated that alldesignand development has to be done abroad. Some do not even allow the Chineseteam to be involved in their design and development processes. Design became asource of discontent between the joint venture partners because of values, intellectualproperty rights and different interests of the parties. For these reasons, the progress ofdesign was stifled. As an example, the Volkswagen Santana model produced in Chinahas taken over fifteen years to upgrade.
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