Winter Nie

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change and Managing Director of IMD China

Winter Nie is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change and Managing Director of IMD China. She teaches on IMD’s flagship Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) program and served as IMD’s Regional Director of Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania until 2019. Her expertise lies at the intersection of change management and leadership, with a focus on strategy, team dynamics, and change initiatives. She has a deep understanding of how people at different levels in an organization react to change and how leaders can effectively manage resistance and organizational dynamics.

Nie says companies are always dealing with tensions in relation to their external environment, strategic direction, or internal capabilities, and that there are no perfect answers that always apply – everything depends on the individual company’s situation, purpose, strategy, and positioning – but she is able to help leaders skillfully navigate through these tensions into the future.

There is no such thing as a perfect organization or perfect leader. However, self-awareness is the foundation of effective leadership. If you view yourself as a work in progress, there are always things you can improve on.

She is trained in psychodynamics as well as business, holding a Tavistock Consulting Advanced Certificate in Decoding Group Dynamics and certifications in several psychometric instruments on leadership and organizational development, so a lot of her work focuses on top management team dynamics. She helps business leaders to improve team dynamics where necessary, but also to identify situations where problems may have their roots in the strategy or external environment rather than the dynamics of the team.

Nie is also able to guide companies through organizational transformation and change initiatives, believing that the only way to keep up with the unrelenting pace of change in the world is to constantly learn, unlearn and relearn, with openness, courage, and humility.

She is particularly well equipped to provide support on strategic initiatives in areas such as customer centricity, moving from products to solutions, and operational/service excellence, and she has in-depth knowledge of doing business in emerging markets, low-cost competition, and innovation culture.

Nie works with companies who want to embark on organizational transformation at the individual, team, and organizational levels, looking beyond surface rationality into the unconscious forces below that shape the direction and speed of change. She also supports companies with senior leadership development, including work with both Western and Chinese companies on CEO and senior executive succession. Her advice is always anchored in the organization’s goals and business requirements and leverages her keen observations of team dynamics and individual behaviors and insights into human nature.

She has worked with many global companies in a wide range of industries, including engineering and technology, service and consulting professions, fast-moving consumer products, banking and finance, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, gaming, and the internet, and sits on the boards of Singaporean software company Opsis and Chinese e-commerce group Valuesense.

She is the author of several books and articles in academic and practitioner-oriented journals.

Her 2021 book The Future of Global Retail: Learning from China’s Retail Revolution provides a roadmap to help global retail executives prepare for the decade ahead, drawing on lessons on innovation, purpose and agility in emerging markets. Nie and co-authors Mark Greeven, Yunfei Fang and James Wang call this framework the “Beyond” Value Chain Model.

Her MIT Sloan Management Review article Rethinking the East Asian Leadership Gap showed how the difficulties experienced by many multinationals in identifying managers with leadership potential in East Asia are more to do with prevailing Western views of leadership than about available talent.

Nie’s 2012 book In the Shadow of the Dragon: The Global Expansion of Chinese Companies – and How It Will Change Business Forever provides insights into subtle yet powerful strategies used to gain market dominance, key players’ approach to going global and the Chinese way of innovation, and her 2009 title Made in China – Secrets of China’s Dynamic Entrepreneurs explains how multinationals can compete or work with Chinese entrepreneurs.

Before joining IMD in 2006, she was a tenured Associate Professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management in the United States.

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
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
Book
Made in China: Secrets of China's dynamic entrepreneurs
China's rapid economic growth has made it a vital market for the biggest multinational corporations, most of which have invested heavily in China. Yet those corporations face their toughest competi...
Published 28 January 2009
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
Invisible costs of offshoring services work
Offshoring service work is an accelerating trend. While the cost-savings from offshoring service work are usually clear, operating at a distance also brings with it certain ‘‘invisible costs.’’ The...
Published 1 January 2008
Article
Revisiting customer participation in service encounters: Does culture matter?
Service customers expend significant effort through a variety of behaviors, before, during, and after encounters, to increase the likelihood of satisfactory service experience or to salvage failing...
Published 1 January 2003
Article
A framework for strategic service management
A service framework is needed to foster strategic thinking in services. This paper introduces the service process/service package matrix to meet that need. The important feature of the service proc...
Published 1 January 1995
Article
TQM across multiple countries: Convergence hypothesis versus national specificity arguments
The authors provide conceptual clarity and new empirical findings for the question of whether or not TQM is universal in its applicability. At the conceptual level, the authors reposition and refra...
Published 1 January 2005
Article
Waiting: Integrating social and psychological perspectives in operations management
Waiting time is an important issue in service operations management because of its impact on customer satisfaction and operations capabilities. This paper examines waiting time from a social and ps...
Published 1 January 2000
Article
CRM: Profiting from understanding customer needs
Customer relationship management requires the alignment of three building blocks: insight into customer decision-making, information about customers, and information-processing capability. However,...
Published 1 October 2004
Article
How professors of operations management view service operations?
This study empirically tests assumptions that underlie operations management (OM) scholars' belief that service operations should be managed differently. Respondents were self-classified into manuf...
Published 1 November 1999
Insight for Executives
Report
Making a paradigm shift in leadership development
As highlighted in this report, the realities of a tsunami of change and uncertainty has brought into sharp relief a critical number of leadership skills and attribute that are essential components ...
Published 26 May 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
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
The pandemic compels many to return to basics
Companies that succeed over the long term tend to have one thing in common: They stay focused on getting the basics right and fine-tuning the “controllables.” Rather than rushing to reimagine your ...
Published 29 January 2021
Article
Rethinking the East Asian leadership gap
The difficulty Western companies have identifying managers with leadership potential in East Asia says more about prevailing Western views of leadership than it does about available talent.
Published 16 May 2017
Article
Why America would lose a trade war with China
Trump’s abandonment of existing U.S. trade agreements would accelerate China’s displacement of America as the world’s leading economic power. Both China leading economic experts hope that won’t hap...
Published 22 December 2016
Article
This new approach to lending uses 'Pain Point' investing to fund small business
Chinese bankers face a dilemma. Most banking in China has traditionally depended heavily on corporate clients. Given China’s transition to a slower, more sustainable, growth rate, fluctuating curre...
Published 21 July 2016
Article
Why policy makers and business leaders need to adjust for single-digit growth In China
It is increasingly clear that China’s “new normal” presents dramatic opportunities and challenges. It follows that senior executives at multinationals working in China as well as policy planners in...
Published 7 March 2016
Article
Here's why China laying off 1.8 million workers is actually good news
China has handled mass layoffs in the past. In the five years following the Asian financial crisis in 1998, at least 28 million workers lost their jobs. But China wasn’t as integrated into the worl...
Published 3 March 2016
Article
Beyond economy, China's social dynamics are changing
Economic growth has created various divisions throughout China and as more and more multinational corporations try to expand into a newly sought-after mid-tier segment (thanks to the new middle cla...
Published 21 January 2016
Article
Why panicked investors are wrong about China's 'new normal'
With more news from markets in China, the world seems to be waiting for doom and gloom. And it isn’t the first time. When the Shanghai stock exchange index went into a precipitous dive last summer,...
Published 20 January 2016
Article
HR challenges: Why one-size -fits -all doesn't work in China
China’s rapid evolution to global financial powerhouse is creating a heightened demand and HR challenges for talented Chinese executive candidates and white-collar administrative staff. Gone are th...
Published 1 June 2015
Article
The qualities one most needs to do business in China
A potential market of 1.3bn customers is seductive. But how to best enter the market? Patience is not going to carry the day. If winning is indeed the goal, multinational companies hoping to enter ...
Published 12 October 2011
Article
I cinesi non sono bravi soltanto a copiare: Chi non ci crede è in pericolo
Published 2 August 2011
Article
Il terremoto in Giappone ha sconvolto anche la gestione delle aziende
Il terremoto, lo tsunami e l'incidente nucleare che hanno devastato il Giappone hanno fatto suonare in tutto il mondo un campanello d'allarme sulla fragilità del sistema globale di approvvigionamen...
Published 21 April 2011
Article
Case study: Zappos
The story.¦Since the online shoe retailer was founded in 1999, the Zappos brand has extolled its "wow" customer service positioning and a distinct corporate culture.¦The challenge.¦Tony Hsieh, the ...
Published 16 February 2011
Article
Pechino è lungi dall'aver espresso tutto il potenziale...
Published 18 January 2011
Article
Why Chinese businesses invest abroad
Hummers and Saabs in the hands of the Chinese? The thought of Saab, a global symbol of Sweden, and Hummer, the epitome of America’s love of big, calling China their home would have seemed unthinkab...
Published 1 June 2010
Article
Not all of them are as smart as Lenovo
Amid the most severe economic downturn in decades, almost all of the big names in the international M&A arena are tightening their purse strings. China, however, continues its global spending spree...
Published 1 October 2009
Article
The rapid rise of Chines privately-owned entrepreneurs
While much is known about large Chinese State-owned enterprises, little is known about privately-owned, entrepreneur-driven counterparts  or POEs, although their contribution to GDP in 2005 was 50...
Published 29 April 2009
Article
Made in China: Secrets of China's dynamic entrepreneurs
China’s economy has experienced a transformation in the last 30 years, from total reliance on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and collectives to a mixed economy where private enterprises are gaining...
Published 7 January 2009
Article
Reaping the business value of IT
If people ask senior executives and managers as it is done in executive programs at IMD whether their companies are extracting the expected business value of their investments in IT, the overwhelmi...
Published 1 November 2007
In the Shadow of the Dragon
Book
In the Shadow of the Dragon
China’s vision of its place in the world is evolving fast. For the last fifty years, Western companies have dominated the international marketplace and have generally played by the same rules. But ...
Published 1 January 2000
Making a paradigm shift in leadership development
Report
Making a paradigm shift in leadership development
The last two years have been among the most challenging for leaders who have had to lead through immense upheaval and uncertainty. They have had to embrace reinvention on a mass scale and maintai...
Published 1 January 2000
The global expansion of Chinese companies - and how it will change business forever