Case Study

China Aviation Oil (A): All at sea

28 pages
September 2007
Reference: IMD-3-1888

The three-part China Aviation Oil (CAO) case series documents the overseas adventure – the rise, fall and subsequent restructuring and rebuilding – of a leading Chinese state-owned enterprise over the last ten or so years. The case is designed to address in an integrative manner issues commonly faced by (1) the increasing number of Chinese executives now playing in the international arena and (2) Western executives who have experience of working with Chinese companies and Chinese executives, or who would like to do so – either in China or their own marketplace. There have been many cases of multinationals going to China, where cultural differences have been blamed for things that did not work, for things that were not understood, or even for frustrations when working with Chinese companies and Chinese executives. However, the real questions are: Are we aware of other differences, e.g. financial and legal? Do we understand them and, perhaps more importantly, how we can work with them? The case series describes the first overseas restructuring of a state-owned Chinese company. As such, it provides participants with a totally different angle for looking at the dilemma of working with China: How to make things work outside China from a Chinese perspective.

Learning Objective

The case series has been designed to enable participants to gain a clear understanding of some broad issues, including: 1) The strategic considerations for a Chinese company wishing to expand overseas, and the key success factors. 2) The fact that many of the factors contributing to failure are similar and equally applicable to different business contexts – even though the types of failure might differ. 3) The need to be open-minded – the “rules of the game” are different inside and outside China. 4) The need for increased awareness and a better understanding of the differences – financial, legal, cultural and even moral. 5) The need to work with the differences rather than avoiding them.

Corporate Governance, Risk Management, Chinese Dimension, Oil, International Business, Cross-cultural Relations, Expansion, Corporate Restructuring, State-owned Company, Aviation
November 2004 to June 2007
Field Research
© 2007
Available Languages
Related material
Teaching note
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