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OLD WISDOM IN NEW SHOES: AN INNOVATIVE WAY TO BUILD INCLUSIVE SMALL BUSINESS

Reference No. 18/002 Publication Year 2018
Author(s) Steve Yang, Minyi Huang
Company Myshoes
Industry Footwear Manufacture
Geographic setting China
Functional Area Innovation/ Entrepreneurship;Strategy/ General Management; Global / Chinese Culture

Synopsis

This case study is based on a medium-sized shoe manufacturing company in Wenzhou, China. The case study can be used in two different ways for teaching Master courses in oriental philosophy and inclusive innovation. In terms of oriental philosophy, the case shows how the company’s founder and CEO’s belief, especially Daoism, has influenced his management style, such as in employee empowerment, decentralised organisational structure and steady corporate growth. The case allows students to critically review the company’s management style and apply their knowledge of Daoism and related oriental philosophy theories to analyse the pros and cons of the company’s corporate governance.

In terms of inclusive innovation, the case shows how a SME (small and medium enterprise) can achieve inclusive innovation without sacrificing its business benefits. In this case, the company has not only provided job opportunities for those people from cities in Inland China with low disposable income but has also created a career path for them to grow within the company. As this inclusive innovation perspective is not clearly identifiable in the case and the supporting facts are mentioned in different sections, it requires students to transfer and apply their diagnostic and creative skills to find out, think creatively and make recommendations to the company’s future strategy. 

Learning Objective

This case can be used to teach inclusive innovation and oriental philosophy courses on the master and MBA levels. Students can apply their knowledge of oriental philosophy theories to undertake a critical evaluation of a company’s management styles and corporate governance. They can also consolidate and extend their knowledge of inclusive innovation by identifying and critically reviewing related evidence from different parts of the case study, and learn to make an informed judgement on its future strategy.

The teaching objectives of this case study are to:

• Provide an opportunity for students to critically review, consolidate and extend their knowledge of oriental philosophy theories.

• Make a critical evaluation of advantages and disadvantages of applying an oriental philosophy theory to corporate governance.

• Enable students to apply their knowledge of inclusive innovation to diagnosing complex corporate social responsibility issues in a real-world setting.

• Encourage students to think outside the box and make an informed judgement on complex strategic issues and communicate their recommendations in a proper way to business audiences.