Jack Ma and Alibaba’s corporate culture

Jack Ma and Alibaba's corporate culture

The Chinese management style is very different from that of the West. However, Jack Ma’s point of success is knowing how to blend these two cultures perfectly to bring success to Alibaba.

In the latest article about the success of Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, we can’t help but mention the role of one person. It’s its founder, Jack Ma.

Jack Ma is the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The company currently has 27,000 employees with a market capitalization of $215 billion. And to succeed, in addition to his particular personality, Jack Ma has built a very good management system for this company.

From 0 to 27,000 employees

The Chinese management style is very different from that of the West. However, Jack Ma’s point of success is knowing how to blend these two cultures perfectly to bring success to Alibaba.


Porter Erisman, former vice president of Alibaba and author of the book Alibaba’s World, is the lucky person who witnessed Alibaba’s growth from just 45 employees to its current giant size. In his book, Porter highlights 6 particular points of management style and culture that have contributed to Alibaba’s success, including:

1. What is Alibaba’s goal? What are Alibaba employees focused on?

2. Patience is what helped Alibaba beat eBay.

Attractive jobs

3. Team strength: Chinese management style is different from that of the West.

4. If you had to choose, would you choose to hire a team of “stars” or people who can work as a team?

5. Employees make mistakes and Alibaba handles them.

6. Don’t lose talent just because you put them in the wrong position.

What are Alibaba’s key points and objectives?

Our (Alibaba) goal is to create a platform for businesses. We simply want to create jobs for entrepreneurs. For Alibaba, customers are even more important than profits.

See also  Lessons from Apple's 'unbeatable' executive recruiting strategy

“Jack Ma always reminds us to make sure that users of Alibaba’s websites make money. Only when they make money will Alibaba be profitable. Jack Ma is very good at motivating people to pursue common goals and not to do what he wants. We always try to achieve our goals company, so as not to please Jack Ma.”

Alibaba eagerly hit eBay’s weakness

Alibaba knows that eBay investors have no patience – a key point if they want to break into the Chinese market. That’s why they made many plans, putting pressure on eBay, making Wall Street investors believe that the Chinese would never spend a cent on this website. This is what helped them survive.

At the same time, Alibaba created the C2C service TaoBao in China: the main KPI of the management team is to create workload for TaoBao users. At the beginning, Jack Ma told employees that they needed to create “X million jobs” this year. “If the revenue exceeds the current target, I will fine you. Because it means you are trying to earn more money on the website. »

Mixed culture of East and West

Jack Ma was originally a teacher and this greatly influenced his management style. He is “very open but when necessary, he is also very strict”. Jack Ma is considered the ideal leader for inexperienced employees: his goal is to help them become great managers. »

If you look at Alibaba, you can clearly see that the management style is more team-oriented than in the West. A typical example is that Western companies often have 2 founders while Alibaba has up to 18. “Chinese companies can manage their management teams better than Western companies, which tend to be more individualistic. »

No need to recruit an all-star team

The important thing is to find a team of collaborators who can work well together instead of recruiting a team full of stars with great CVs. “Alibaba tested a team of employees with MBAs and good CVs. However, they don’t work well together. »

See also  How to get promoted to general manager?

How are employee errors handled?

When Porter joined the company, he brought with him Western management philosophy to perfection, but Jack Ma made Porter change. He said Alibaba employees always joke: “Western managers analyze a lot but don’t do much.” Meanwhile, the Chinese value action and results more than analysis.” As the saying goes: say less and do more.

“Jack Ma once told me, Porter, I will never get angry if you make a mistake, but I can’t accept you not doing anything. If you make a mistake, it doesn’t matter. But if you do nothing, you will be replaced. »

Don’t lose employees just because you put them in the wrong position

When Porter worked at Alibaba, his title changed eight times in eight years. After each year, the management system will be modified according to the needs of the group. Just like a football team uses substitutions depending on the offensive state of your team.

A very good cultural characteristic of Alibaba is that if you work at the company but feel that it is not the most suitable position, Jack Ma will happily allow you to move to another position. Even if you play a less important role, you remain with the company. »

For example: When a co-founder was made head of sales in Shanghai, I thought he was probably the worst salesman in the office, which could have meant the end of his career. But Jack Ma found an area he excelled in and was put in charge of the company’s Chinese website. And he quickly joined the ranks of managers and won the title of “employee of the year”.

It’s very difficult to continue on the same path and not succeed. In such a case, most companies will lay off employees. But it’s a shame to lose a talented employee just because of a bad placement.

Therefore, one of Alibaba’s core values ​​that everyone always remembers is “openness to change”.

Headhunting service - Headhunting

HRchannels – Headhunter – Premium recruitment service

Source: Collection of Young Intellectuals/Young Startups

Back To Top