The Case Centre’s top 40 bestselling cases

Thirty-third place - Lincoln Electric in China
The case
Case: Lincoln Electric in China Lincoln Electric in China
Authors: Ingmar Björkman and Charles Galunic
Institution: INSEAD
Ref: 499-021-1
Date published: 1999

China-based Jeffrey Kundrach, one of a small army of professionals dedicated to transplanting Lincoln Electric’s operations overseas, had to prepare for a visit from Lincoln’s President in Asia, Michal Gillepsie. Kundrach felt it was time to develop the management and labour practices of Lincoln Electric (Shanghai) Welding Co. Ltd. The US company, Lincoln Electric, was renowned for its compensation scheme, viewed by many pundits as the reason for the company’s longstanding dominance in the marketplace. But would the same systems work in China? This case enables students to analyse and understand the difficulties and challenges involved in using the same management and human resource policies in different countries and cultures.

The authors

Charles Galunic is Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD.

Ingmar Björkman is Dean of Aalto University School of Business.

The teacher

Christina ButlerChristina Butler is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management at Kingston University Business School, London. She explains why the case is so suitable for a diverse range of students who will go on to work in a global environment.

I came across this case after searching on The Case Centre’s site for prizewinning cases that incorporated the topics of both organisational behaviour and international management. It appealed to me because it clearly contrasted two cultures’ reactions to a number of phenomena. Today, we are teaching diverse student populations and the materials we use need to reflect that. Students will be working in a global environment and so they need to think about management challenges taking place in a cross-cultural global context.

MBA students

I use Lincoln Electric with my MBA students, mostly as a class discussion case. I have used it about five times now, and will be using it again this coming academic year. The case is ideal for exploring and contrasting leadership, performance management, and organisational cultures in American and Chinese contexts.

Thoughtful solutions

Students’ reactions still surprise me. The case really seems to get students thinking about the practice of management in a positive and deep way. They often come up with very thoughtful solutions to the transfer of practice from one place to another. The case works so well because it provides just the right amount of detail that doesn’t overwhelm my students but still allows for a complex discussion.

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