The Next Generation of Global Management in China, India, and the United States (Part 1)

Posted on October 15, 2008

The Next Generation of Global Management in China, India, and the United States (Part 1)

The Next Generation of Global Management in China, India, and the United States (Part 1)

Post by Ernest Gundling, Co-founder & Managing Partner, Aperian Global.

Companies are constantly looking for an edge in an increasingly competitive global business environment. Most employers agree that attracting, retaining, and developing the best talent is one of the most important business initiatives for their future success. There are few topics of more critical importance than the “next generation of management” in China, India and the United States.

Next Generation: General Definitions

This article focuses on managers in China, India and the U.S. since it is widely accepted that these will be three of the most influential countries in the global economy in the next ten to twenty years. Each will face serious management challenges in the future, and all share a crucial role and responsibility in cultivating the world’s future management talent.

Defining the “next generation” of management in China, India, and the U.S. can be challenging because there are many factors to consider. For the purposes of this article, we have chosen to work with the following general definitions of “next generation” in each country.

China: 20-35 years old (mostly focused on Mainland Chinese born after 1978, when China’s “open door policy” initiatives began under Deng Xiaoping)

India: 20-35 years old (focused on Indians entering the workforce after the early 90s, when major economic reform measures were implemented)

U.S.: 25-40 years old (partial overlapping of “X and Y Generations”)

To further define the “next generation of management” of this article’s focus, they tend to have at least an undergraduate education (or close equivalent) and will typically be working for medium to large global corporations.

Convergence – A Closer Look at the Similarities

The Next Generation of Global Management in ChinaIn contrast to the generations that have preceded them, the younger generations in the U.S., China and India have several notable similarities. These similarities have been influenced by macroeconomic global trends that have brought them closer together in recent years.

These trends include: the convergence of countries and business to a more open and interconnected global business environment; the pervasive influence of technology (especially the Internet); and other social and political changes that have accelerated market development, improved living standards, and further integrated certain rapidly developing countries.

Similarities Between the Younger Generations in China, India and the U.S.

  • Significant Role and Influence of Technology in Professional and Personal Lives
  • Growing Concern and Awareness of Environmental Risks and Preservation
  • Increased Prosperity Compared to Parents’ Generation
  • Challenges to Work/Life Balance Based on Busier Lifestyle and Environment

The Next Generation of Global Management in United States It is difficult to conclude what exactly these similarities will mean for individual behaviors, skill development, and this generation’s ability to effectively manage and lead. Even the above “similarities” will differ in how they manifest themselves and affect individuals and groups within each country. In general, this next generation of management will be more flexible, more comfortable with technology and its applications, more effective at multi-tasking, and more aware of the challenges and opportunities for sustainable development than previous generations in the workplace.

Technology, in particular, has played an interesting role in influencing the younger generations in these three countries. The rapidly growing and modernizing economies in China and India have seen great advances in computing, mobile devices, and the Internet that have served to leapfrog infrastructural barriers. This exposure to a wider range of information and resources, and new methods and environments through which to interact may be rewiring the cultural values of this next generation on a deeper level.

Divergence – A Closer Look at the Differences

The increasing globalization of business certainly brings the younger generations in China, India, and the U.S. closer together. However, there are still different demographic, economic, and sociopolitical conditions within each of these countries that will likely influence the development of unique attitudes and behaviors. Below we will outline the key areas of divergence.

Regional Shifts of Higher Skilled Jobs

Over the last 10+ years, the U.S. has watched a growing number of research, accounting, and analytical jobs migrate to India, China, and other emerging countries with skilled and lower cost talent pools. U.S. workers are sometimes asked to train these new workers in India or China, and if they still have their job, they are asked to collaborate with and sometimes lead these workers in India or China. How employees in the U.S. react and adapt to this trend will play into the shaping of the next generation of U.S. management.

The Next Generation of Global Management in IndiaConversely, in India and China, the increase of higher skilled jobs in several Tier I and Tier II cities in both countries has created a different kind of management challenge for global corporations. The intensifying competition for the best resources has resulted in a higher turnover rate within this younger generation. Companies are losing or gaining talent based on salary, career development opportunities, work/life balance, and other evolving factors. Members of this emerging generation have different criteria for job satisfaction than their parents, and it is critical that global companies better understand this trend and adapt accordingly.


Traditional contrasts between learning styles in China, India and the U.S. remain to some degree. While different from each other in many respects, China and India have both had more “rote learning” systems when compared with the U.S. This has helped the Chinese and Indians in several areas of their education and professions, but when these young and talented employees are asked to join a U.S. or European company with a different approach to innovation and R&D, maximizing their talents can be challenging. Innovation can be tapped and nurtured in many ways, but most companies have not yet “cracked the code” on how to maximize the innovative capacity of these talent pools. In the U.S., the education system may instill a greater comfort with some of the practical and situation-based problems that one will face in a changing and competitive work environment. However, graduates of this system can sometimes lack the discipline and technical skills that have helped propel China and India’s workforce over the last ten years.

Convergence/Divergence – Changes Alike

The areas of convergence and divergence across these populations represent significant workforce changes and, for those who are paying attention, should spark robust conversation and a change in direction for global talent development efforts. In Part II of this article, posted next month, we will continue to address this topic and provide examples of current practices and practical recommendations on how to more effectively manage and develop this next generation of management.

Aperian Global offers a variety of training solutions to help leaders gain a deep and actionable understanding of the cultural differences that are present when operating in other nations. We invite you to learn more about our Global Leadership Development solutions and how we can help you achieve success across borders.

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