Mark Greeven

Professor of Innovation and Strategy and CEO of IMD China

Mark Greeven is Professor of Innovation and Strategy and CEO of IMD China. He draws on a decade of experience in research, teaching, and consulting in China to explore how to organize innovation in a turbulent world. He was named on the prestigious Thinkers50 Radar list of 30 Next Generation Business Thinkers in 2017.

Greeven has collaborated with innovative Chinese companies (including Ping An, Alibaba, Pinduoduo, and Haier) and entrepreneurial multinationals (including Bayer, Evonik, Johnson & Johnson, Daimler, Nestlé, Richemont, and Swiss Re) to explore novel ways of organizing, accelerating corporate innovation, enabling digital business transformation, and designing business ecosystems to thrive on uncertainty. He is a fluent Chinese speaker.

There is a growing consensus that the ecosystem structure used so successfully in China represents the future for many organizations around the world that are seeking to reduce complexity and spark collaboration.

He is the author of three books in this field. His 2018 work Business Ecosystems in China: Alibaba and Competing Baidu, Tencent, Xiaomi and LeEco, which has a cover endorsement by renowned venture capital investor Tim Draper, explores the application of a business ecosystem approach in the Chinese context and offers insights and practical lessons on leading, creating, and disrupting markets for corporate executives and professionals in global business.

This was followed in 2019 by Pioneers, Hidden Champions, Change Makers and Underdogs: Lessons from China’s Innovators, which provides an insider’s view of China’s under-the-radar, globally competitive innovators. The book has a cover testimonial from Henry Chesbrough, Adjunct Professor at University of California, Berkeley.

His 2021 book The Future of Global Retail decodes China’s retail revolution to help global retail and innovation executives understand its implications for the rest of the world. The publication, co-authored with Winter Nie, Yunfei Fang, and James Wang, has a cover endorsement from Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, Executive Chair of the LEGO Brand Group.

At IMD, he is Director of the Building Digital Ecosystems program that was launched in partnership with Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. As Dean of IMD China, he is also responsible for the school’s activities and outreach in the country. Greeven is a founding member of the Business Ecosystem Alliance, a research associate at China’s National Institute for Innovation Management, the Center for China and Globalization and the Center for Global R&D and Innovation.

Findings from his research have been featured in international academic journals, such as Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, European Management Journal, and Asia-Pacific Journal of Management, as well as in global media such as Forbes, the Financial Times, Wired, CNN, Bloomberg, Fast Company, Dialogue, LSE Business Review, The Business Times, Le Temps, Nikkei Asian Review, The Telegraph, South China Morning Post, and China Daily.

Before joining IMD in 2019, he held faculty positions at Zhejiang University in China and the Rotterdam School of Management in The Netherlands.

Selected publications
Book
The future of global retail: Learning from China's retail revolution
China’s new retail revolution will completely transform how the world thinks about retail and digital innovation. But is the world ready yet? In this book, the authors share an insider’s perspectiv...
Published 27 September 2021
Article
Why some retailers are thriving amid disruption
A crisis reveals as much as it devastates. Retailers that were struggling before the coronavirus outbreak are now crumbling. And yet, a mortal blow to retail has not been felt universally. Some com...
Published 29 June 2020
Article
How autonomy creates resilience in the face of crisis: One Chinese manufacturing giant quickly rebounded from coronavirus. Here’s what you can learn from its org chart.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of the global supply chain and, in turn, many companies’ organizational structures. In their pursuit to become ever more efficient, bear fewer cos...
Published 9 June 2020
Article
In a crisis, ecosystem businesses have a competitive advantage
Companies like Alibaba Group or Recruit Holdings create advantages by leveraging partnerships, investments, and alliances to continuously adapt their offering to a changing customer base. We call t...
Published 23 April 2020
Book
Pioneers, Hidden Champions, Changemakers, and Underdogs: Lessons from China's Innovators
Chinese innovators are making their mark globally. Not only do such giants as Alibaba and Huawei continue to thrive and grow through innovation, thousands of younger Chinese entrepreneurs are poise...
Published 7 May 2019
Article
Understanding China's next wave of innovation
In recent years, a handful of Chinese companies have emerged as global innovators and have garnered a lot of attention. This group includes online retail giant Alibaba, appliance maker Haier, searc...
Published 1 April 2019
Book
Business ecosystems in China: Alibaba and Competing Baidu, Tencent, Xiaomi and LeEc
We cannot afford to miss the remarkable rise of Chinese business ecosystems. Alibaba and their peers Baidu, Tencent, Xiaomi, and LeEco showcase unprecedented growth and success in China and are exp...
Published 6 September 2017
Academic publications
Book
The future of global retail: Learning from China's retail revolution
China’s new retail revolution will completely transform how the world thinks about retail and digital innovation. But is the world ready yet? In this book, the authors share an insider’s perspectiv...
Published 27 September 2021
Article
Technological capabilities development model in Chinese energy service companies
This paper investigates the energy service companies (ESCOs) in China from the perspective of technological capability (TC) development. The conventional capability development model of manufacturi...
Published 1 January 2022
Article
Getting the numbers right on China’s actual overseas investment: The case of the Netherlands
This study assesses the quality of Chinese outbound FDI data. In our case study of the Netherlands, we checked the data quality of the often-used Orbis/Amadeus database and its data source, the Dut...
Published 1 April 2017
Article
Six paths to Chinese company innovation
Based on two multi-year research streams involving extensive interviews with both Chinese and Western companies in China, this paper provides a perspective on the emerging paths of Chinese company ...
Published 1 March 2021
Article
Does one size fit all?: The governance mode and strategic position of cluster innovation platforms
Despite its significant role, governments encounter a policy dilemma how to intervene in the economy to promote industrial cluster upgrading while not foregoing market driven innovation. This paper...
Published 1 January 2012
Article
Mobile telecommunication standardization in Japan, China, the United States, and Europe: Comparison of regulatory and industrial regimes
The process that leads to standardization in the mobile telecommunication industry has changed considerably over time. Where it was first a national process, it has gradually changed into a more gl...
Published 1 May 2017
Article
Economic governance, dual networks and innovative learning in five Chinese industrial clusters
This paper explores the link between governance mechanisms and innovative learning in industrial clusters. We employ a grounded theory approach, investigating five manufacturing clusters in China. ...
Published 1 December 2016
Article
Towards understanding the business environment for innovation in China
In this paper, we develop a working theory for understanding the effect of the business environment in an emerging economy on innovation. We focus on the private sector in China. We propose that te...
Published 13 February 2013
Article
Standards battles in China: Opening up the black box of the Chinese government
Research on standards battles primarily focus on battles that occur in developed economies. In this research we focus on standards battles in China. In particular, we analyse two cases in which, in...
Published 30 April 2013
Article
LED standardization in China and South East Asia: Stakeholders, infrastructure and institutional regimes
LED is now becoming the new standard in lighting solutions in developed countries. However, in developing countries, it is not yet used on a large scale. One of the reasons is a lack of established...
Published 1 May 2017
Insight for Executives
Article
Why innovators in China stay close to the market
Look at the electric shavers on offer from Philips at stores in New York, London, or Tokyo, and one will seem much like another. But go to Shanghai, or a smaller Chinese city like Yantai, and you’l...
Published 13 September 2022
Article
Innovation at the two sessions 2022
The 2022 Two Sessions, the annual sessions of China's top legislature and political advisory body, concluded Friday, March 11. From an innovation perspective, there are some noteworthy takeaways.
Published 11 March 2022
Article
Learning from the locals: How to innovate in China
By engaging with local start-ups that understand customers’ pain points, Western multinationals can provide innovative products and services for the Chinese market. China represents a huge growth m...
Published 7 March 2022
Article
How China’s retail revolution puts consumers’ needs at the center
China’s retail revolution draws on convenience and technology to fulfil customer needs in innovative ways.
Published 24 January 2022
Article
China’s leveraging of technology to reinvent retail can serve as inspiration for other Asian markets
By putting the consumer’s needs at the center, China’s retail companies have rethought the value chain and reinvent the retail model, delivering a greater and more relevant retail experience to con...
Published 9 December 2021
Article
China’s retail revolution: Innovations which could change the way the world shops
China’s dominance in manufacturing has made it the factory of the world. The subsequent economic growth enriched an ever-expanding middle class, and the country’s retail industry has quickly adapte...
Published 17 November 2021
Article
How large companies can learn from small businesses
The best small companies are paragons of speed, agility and customer centricity. Decisions are taken quickly in small, close knit, like-minded groups; bureaucracy is cut to the core. Small size, ea...
Published 7 November 2021
Article
Celebrity selling: Are CEOs set to revolutionise retail?
On June 11th, 2020, William Ding, the founder of NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES, a leading internet technology company in China, whose businesses cover online games, online education, and e-commerce), must ...
Published 14 October 2021
Article
Grow an ecosystem to cut complexity and boost your business
The level of complexity and uncertainty in today’s global economy, and even within our own organizations, can feel overwhelming. Learning to create and orchestrate ecosystems can help.
Published 5 October 2021
Article
Why companies must embrace microservices and modular thinking
Companies that embrace remote work — which is here to stay — can also drastically reduce their coordination costs through modular organization. Spotify announced earlier this year that it would com...
Published 1 September 2021
Article
How Chinese retailers are reinventing the customer journey
The Economist opened 2021 with a cover story headlined “Why Retailers Everywhere Should Look to China.” It’s not hard to see why. China is both a large and a fast-growing retail market—worth about ...
Published 1 September 2021
Article
Chinese fashion giant Shein has taken over the world. It has just met its match
f you’re a regular on TikTok, you might be familiar with the cult of Shein, the online fashion retailer. Under the hashtags #shein and #sheinhaul, users post short clips of themselves flaunting the...
Published 15 July 2021
Article
China's Shein has taken the womenswear world by storm. Now what?
If headlines are anything to go by, the Chinese startup generating the most excitement these days isn't in ride hailing or addictive short videos but rather the venerable trade of selling women's c...
Published 12 July 2021
Article
Managing new business school ecosystems: Do’s and don’ts
Business schools should be at the forefront of supporting businesses in finding their way into the future. Therefore, when business realities change, so too do the realities for business schools an...
Published 1 July 2021
Article
With Tokopedia merger, Gojek will take Indonesia by storm
In May 2021, Gojek and Tokopedia, Indonesia’s leading ride-hailing and ecommerce companies, respectively, announced their decision to merge and create the biggest technology group in the world’s fo...
Published 1 July 2021
Article
A Flash worth a billion
At the start of June, Bangkok headquartered delivery firm Flash became Thailand’s first unicorn. After a fund-raising round that added US$150 million to its coffers, the four-year-old company said ...
Published 23 June 2021
Article
Is fast fashion going out of fashion fast? Look east for answers
Shein’s super-charged rise has lessons for fashion retailers around the world.
Published 16 June 2021
Article
Why talent management is crucial in transforming business models
Renewables trailblazer Orsted and tobacco giant Philip Morris have transformed their business models – fueled partly by HR best practice. Companies seeking to reap the benefits of building a sustai...
Published 2 June 2021
For a glimpse of the future of retail, look at what’s happening in China
Video
For a glimpse of the future of retail, look at what’s happening in China
IMD Professors Winter Nie and Mark Greeven identify the five stages of development in the Chinese retail market that will allow your company to ride the country’s retail revolution.
Published 9 April 2021
Article
Globalization has rallied during the pandemic – here’s what that means for leaders
Covid-19 does not, as many detractors believe, sound the death knell for globalization. In fact, the pandemic is its saving grace — and there are big implications coming down the pipeline for leade...
Published 29 March 2021
Article
Alibaba already disrupted retail and finance. Next up? Logistics
The business of moving boxes around China is anything but boring these days. Cainiao Smart Logistics Network last month reported faster revenue growth than any other specified part of Alibaba Group...
Published 23 March 2021
Article
How Tencent, that other Chinese Big Tech giant, is beating a path to a trillion dollars
Tencent is poised to join the trillion dollar club. After a whopping 11 per cent rally in stock price and an equally whopping tumble of about 5 per cent last week, the question is whether we are se...
Published 4 February 2021
Article
What an Alibaba-owned start-up can teach us about innovation
The impediment to the growth of e-commerce is no longer consumer demand, which has soared in the past year as many shoppers have been unable or unwilling to visit brick-and-mortar stores due to the...
Published 19 January 2021
Article
Jack Ma: China’s spat with billionaire is part of bigger push to control big tech – Silicon Valley could be next
Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma has allegedly fallen out with the Beijing government. Several recent articles reported that Ma offended the Chinese authorities by delivering a speech in Shanghai i...
Published 6 January 2021
Article
US$200b IPO for Ant will be a cheap buy
The stock market continues to stampede away from the real economy. The US Federal Reserve is keeping near-zero interest rates and increasing its holdings in securities. All that liquidity has pushe...
Published 8 September 2020
Article
Retail in China has exploded with online sales agents. Now Walmart wants in
Kevin Mayer has stepped down as chief executive of TikTok just months into the job. The CEO left after Trump said he’d shut down the video app unless it sold its US business to an American firm in ...
Published 4 September 2020
Article
Ping An's rainy day policy isn't insurance
With the coronavirus pandemic sickening millions and disrupting economic activity worldwide, insurers across the globe have seen policy sales stagnate even as claims rise. Market volatility has mea...
Published 3 September 2020
Article
Inside the Chinese companies vying to produce the world’s first coronavirus vaccine
For all its innovative prowess, China has generally lagged other countries in developing vaccines. But that appears to be changing with the race for a coronavirus vaccine, with Chinese companies po...
Published 27 August 2020
Article
2020 is shaping up to be a rough year for Huawei
2020 is a challenging year for all businesses but Huawei has been hit especially hard – even though it continues churning out cutting-edge smartphones like the P40 Pro+. The company is tapping on t...
Published 9 July 2020
Article
Why some retailers are thriving amid disruption
A crisis reveals as much as it devastates. Retailers that were struggling before the coronavirus outbreak are now crumbling. And yet, a mortal blow to retail has not been felt universally. Some com...
Published 29 June 2020
Article
Counterattack revelation : What could Western brands learn from these Chinese retail companies?
The resilience of certain companies in the face of the coronavirus stems from a simple fact: they quickly changed their traditional business models almost overnight. The examples of these companies...
Published 29 June 2020
Article
How intelligent is your AI?: Ask these four questions to tell if your AI solution is really AI.
In a world where buzzwords come and go, artificial intelligence has been remarkably durable. Since it first emerged as a concept in the 1950s, there has been a relatively constant flow of technolog...
Published 22 June 2020
Article
How autonomy creates resilience in the face of crisis: One Chinese manufacturing giant quickly rebounded from coronavirus. Here’s what you can learn from its org chart.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed the fragility of the global supply chain and, in turn, many companies’ organizational structures. In their pursuit to become ever more efficient, bear fewer cos...
Published 9 June 2020
Article
‘Two Sessions’ didn’t mark a U-turn in China’s green economy push
The year 2020 has proven to be more turbulent than anyone could have expected, and it is only June. While in February we asked if 2020 would be the year of China’s global green leadership, hoping t...
Published 5 June 2020
Article
What’s happening with contact tracing?
New Zealand’s last hospitalized COVID-19 patient headed home on May 27. It was also the fifth consecutive day the country reported no new coronavirus cases. Meanwhile, in the US, long-shot technolo...
Published 4 June 2020
Article
In a crisis, ecosystem businesses have a competitive advantage
Companies like Alibaba Group or Recruit Holdings create advantages by leveraging partnerships, investments, and alliances to continuously adapt their offering to a changing customer base. We call t...
Published 23 April 2020
Leading in turbulent times webinar series: The ecosystem advantage
Video
Leading in turbulent times webinar series: The ecosystem advantage
Leveraging partnerships in disruptive times, to survive and to thrive.
Published 14 April 2020
Leading in Turbulent Times webinar: To be or not to be?
Video
Leading in Turbulent Times webinar: To be or not to be?
How Chinese companies thrived under pressure
Published 3 April 2020
解读中国下一波创新浪潮
Video
解读中国下一波创新浪潮
Mark J. Greeven教授对中国下一波创新者的观察
Published 10 May 2019
Understanding China’s next wave of innovation
Video
Understanding China’s next wave of innovation
IMD Professor Mark J. Greeven, along with Imperial College Business School Professor George S. Yip, and CEO of GSL Innovation Wei Wei recently carried out research on the next wave of innovators fr...
Published 18 April 2019
Article
Understanding China's next wave of innovation
In recent years, a handful of Chinese companies have emerged as global innovators and have garnered a lot of attention. This group includes online retail giant Alibaba, appliance maker Haier, searc...
Published 1 April 2019
Article
Digital China is coming to Europe
European companies need to act fast to define the best strategies to connect, partner or compete against Chinese players, write Mark Greeven and Paolo Cervini.
Published 24 April 2018