Contrasting Leadership of Zhang Ruimin and Ren Zhengfei as They Face Selection of Their Successors



Recent research suggests that the leadership of Chinese companies does not seem to follow conventional western leadership theories and practice as they increasingly emerge as serious global competitors. This paper contrasts the leadership of two iconoclastic Chinese companies – Haier, and Huawei. The analysis is based on longitudinal qualitative historical analyses from founding to the end of 2015. Both companies have become global leaders in their sectors at a record time when compared with their competitors in White Good (in case of Haier) and in Telecommunications Networks and Smart Phones (in case of Huawei).  Both leaders have imprinted themselves on their companies but they differ in their basic values, vision of organization and beliefs in how to organize. Both companies have unique founding conditions, followed a different growth journey and are not government owned. But each has some government affiliation. The central question of this paper is to compare and contrast the succession dilemma that the founders face at both companies given the different organizations and culture that both leaders imprinted on their companies.