The corporate culture of Haier takes the concept of innovation as the guide, strategic innovation as the foundation, organizational innovation as the protection, technological innovation as the approach and market innovation as the goal (Liu, 2011). Therefore, the core spirit of Haier’s corporate culture is innovation. Haier has always believed that enterprises cannot be afraid to take risks, but they should learn to carefully observe processes and changes, and then implement reforms timely. Accounting for its innovative spirit, Haier realizes its transformation from pyramid organizational structure to a flat organizational structure, which shows its ability to be initiative to respond to environmental changes. By summing up the experience, using practices and implementing the relevant measures. Haier has adapted to the environment in organizational change.
Haier takes every action on terms of customers, take the initiative to understand their customers, make them feel satisfied, and expected customers’ future needs (Gao, Ye and Huang, 2012). All the managers in Haier agree that those who can meet the individual needs of the customers would be the last winner. On the basis of this, Haier breaks that the service is limited to after-sale, and becomes the first enterprise to establish an exquisite service, which refers to offer the most intimate human care.
The adaptability of corporate culture is also measured by the company’s ability to take external signals as a good opportunity to encourage innovation and absorb new knowledge. Before, sales of washing machine were a big problem in summer because the operation of the general washing machine required a large number of water, electric and time. Then, Haier took the opportunity to improve its technology on the basis of research and developed China first “instant wash” washing machine. There is a logical link between organizational learning ability and enterprise environmental resilience, and in order to be consistent with the environment, the enterprise must learn to forget and re-learn skills based on past behavior.
4. Assessment of the effect of the adaptive culture on environment on the basis of dimensions and functions of the culture. On the basis of the analysis above, Haier possesses innovative spirit, humanized service and outstanding learning ability, which are the measurements of adaptive culture and has helped Haier to overcome many external challenges when facing a turbulent environment.
The international financial crisis had a large influence on different enterprises. As the Chinese largest appliance enterprise, Haier actively dealt with the difficulties and took an innovative attitude to response to the crisis, and then created a great harvest in the cold “winter” (Sun, 2011). Although enterprise overcapacity, vicious competition and substantial decline in exports gave a heavy attack to other companies, Haier survived because of the adaptive culture. Taking advantage of the innovative thinking of the corporate culture, Haier repositioned its market entry point as the following: building a high-end brand image overseas and stepping into rural communities in China through innovation.
In 2011, the Haier Group’s global turnover arrived at 150.9 billion Yuan, with more than 80,000 employees in 17 countries around the world, and spread more than 100 countries and regions all over the world (http://www.haier.net/en/, 2011). The financial crisis demonstrated the adaptability of the innovative thinking of Haier to the unflavored environment. Haier aimed at the market, insisted on the innovative road and provided personalized products to customers on the basis of offering solutions to the problems encountered by users. In the case of the downturn in the global market, an innovative culture helps Haier to change its mind and establish a unique mode different from others, which indicates the successful implementation of innovative corporate culture and its guiding role in an emergency.
There is a hammer in the showroom of Haier’s corporate culture. This hammer punched the quality awareness of employees, punched a “defective product is a useless product” concept and punched a world brand in the minds of customers—Haier. In the age of materials shortage, 76 refrigerators Haier punched contributed the formation of the sense of quality and service concept: Customer is God; therefore the enterprise must provide qualified products to meet customer needs (Hawes and Chew, 2011). Haier has encountered many difficulties about product quality and finally got through the trouble smoothly, which benefits its service concept to put customers in the first place and indicates its cohesion.
For instance, due to engine aging, Haier washing machines sold in Japan were involved in smoke incidents; therefore, the products of Haier were questioned by communities. In such adverse circumstances, Haier chose to recall many washing machines and offered a free inspection and parts replacement (Williamson, 2010). In order to safeguard the interests of its customers and adhere to the concept of customer first, Haier sacrificed its own short-term profits without hesitation so the company won the trust and support of consumers when facing difficulties.
According to the recalling behavior, the cultural concept of the customer first has been deeply rooted in the staffs’ awareness of Haier and the interests of customers would be the eternal goal that a company should strive to achieve. Such cultural ideas effectively responding to external challenges and changes and united in face of difficulties help Haier to achieve reputation and credibility and constraint employees’ disingenuous behaviors when getting into trouble.
In the era of the Internet, the users have enough information to grasp the product features and prices, continue to compare and bargain until the consumers find the best that meet their individual needs. It is necessary to point out that the initiative right rests in the hands of customers. In the fiercely competitive situation, the general simple innovation has been unable to meet the need for enterprises to achieve a breakthrough development, changes and challenges in this age of the Internet inevitably motivate enterprises to adjust their strategy and management mode. In order to adapt to the needs of the times, Haier regarded the Internet challenges as an opportunity to learn some competitive skills and motivate its employees to progress as the times goes, and set up to explore and practice in business model innovation (Li, 2012).
When the global environment of white appliance was transferring, Haier strived to adjust its layout. Only in Southeast Asia, Haier acquired Panasonic’s Sanyo, two R & D centers and four manufacturing bases, which effectively enhance the competitiveness of Haier in the Southeast Asian market (Li, 2012). This process of self-growth and self-fulfillment made Haier get better market outcomes in an unflavored condition. As to Haier, all kinds of challenges are excellent opportunities to grow. It is this ability to actively seize the opportunities when facing external challenges that assist Haier to achieve high growth and high value-added in the contrarian. Thus, it is worth noting that the ability to learn skills and self-adjustment in challenges is an important factor to establish adaptive culture, which has helped Haier to realize its prosperity.
Through the analysis, it is agreed that the adaptability of the corporate culture including its innovative spirit, services concepts and learning ability are important in the long-term development of an enterprise. The adaptive culture is the sole and intangible assets of the company and has helped Haier to overcome many difficulties in a complex environment. It is can be concluded that the construction of corporate culture has something to do with the developing scale and the influence of the company.
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