Survey Finds Global Companies Lack Strong Technical Leadership

Hoboken, N.J.
In a just-completed survey of Fortune 500 companies operating in accelerating economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (the so-called “BRIC” countries), a team at Stevens Institute of Technology has found that continued, accelerated corporate growth may be hampered by insufficiently trained technical personnel failing to meet international standards.

“International companies in China and elsewhere must recognize that selection, retention and development are interrelated,” said Stevens Professor Richard Reilly. “Otherwise, accelerated growth experienced recently may be faced soon with a technical talent wall.” Reilly, who headed the Stevens team, collaborated with Peter Dominick and Michael Ryan of Stevens' Howe School of Technology Management.

Respondents said that leadership programs in these countries were mostly informal, often mimicking those at headquarters. Technical leadership in emerging markets, they claim, is largely pursued passively, without global or local support.

The Stevens survey also discovered frequent conflict between local and headquarters management, with emerging executives often given insufficient latitude to operate independently in their markets.

The study revealed that international companies are losing new hires at an alarming rate in China and elsewhere. Employees are departing for many reasons: Some claim that chief among them is that global companies often do not pay enough attention to the cultural needs of local staff, nor do they provide sufficient training or motivation to retain them.

The survey of about a dozen global companies operating in accelerated economies was conducted as part of the newly launched Stevens Institute for Technical Leadership. The Institute offers a certification program to employees worldwide as well as assessment, feedback and coaching for technical staff.

Stevens offers management and technical degrees in Beijing in collaboration with two leading Chinese universities, Beijing Institute of Technology and Central University of Finance and Economics. These graduate programs were awarded the prestigious Sloan Foundation teaching and learning prize this past fall. Stevens also provides leadership development and consulting to multinational firms in China. 

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