Monday, March 02, 2009

Behind-the-scene story of Jack Ma in Stanford GSB

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group, was in Stanford GSB to give a speech to Stanford students and Silicon Valley engineers. I gave a welcome speech at the beginning, and asked Jack to do a MBA case with Stanford some time.

However, he didn't really like to do so. He told the audience: "all MBA have said are correct, but they can't execute it", or "professors are paid to speak". I respect a successful entrepreneur like him, but definitely he didn't realize the value of business cases. Chinese businessmen may think they are born to be successful businessmen, and don't have to learn from the history. Personally I don't think that's correct, a lot of business practices are the same from the old days to now. and hopefully people can learn from the experience to avoid making the same mistake.

Speaking of this, Jack is still an inspiring speaker.


Marc van der Chijs said...

It's a pity he does not want to do a business case, I think others can learn a lot from him. Don't really understand his logic - MBA's can't execute? Maybe Jack does not want to educate his potential competitors? Or does he feel he is so good that nobody can do something similar in the future. A pity.

I think his attitude explains why not many Chinese companies are successful (yet) outside China. It's partly for the same reason why foreign businesses fail in China. Chinese business people do not understand the thinking of non-Chinese, and the other way around.

Spam Bait said...

Does he know how to do a business case ?

The business environment, overwhelmed by the Chinese government, needs only guanxi to be successful, while guanxi can buy you a cup of coffee elsewhere. So Chinese pay attention to keep the government happy while business elsewhere have to keep the customers happy.

Marc van der Chijs said...

@spam bait You need a lot more than just guanxi to be successful in China. Competition is worse than anywhere else in the world, it's literally the survival of the fittest. But of course you also need a good dose of guanxi and I'm sure Jack know everything about that. Not sure if he knows what a business case is though :)

Amy G said...

ha, in fact, they did a case with a top university in east coast(you must know which one). But Ma didn't think the case they did is accurate.(He even refused to sign on the case at first).

To Marc, I would say his point is that MBA students need to be more "street smart". But without those academic business knowledge, I can't foresee how Alibaba can enter into global markets. You are right in saying it's hard for Chinese businessmen to understand non-Chinese, and in reverse. I asked the question, and he definitely avoided to answer the question directly.