Guanxi (The Art of Relationships): Tales of Microsoft in China


Date Thursday May 11th 2006
Time 4:00-5:00pm
Venue George E. Pake Auditorium

PARC Forum

Every company must innovate in order to survive today’s relentless competition. Increasingly, this imperative requires firms to turn to developing economies—and find ways to nurture the talent there that cannot, or will no longer, “come West.” In 1998, Microsoft blazed trails in China by establishing a pioneering research lab in Beijing that has since grown into a source of worldwide innovation. What has worked for the software giant, and what has gone wrong, including its recent battle with Google over lab founder Kai-Fu Lee? The answers, from two independent journalists and authors unaffiliated with Microsoft, shed light on the global future of innovation. As pundits rail about the “China threat” to U.S. competitiveness, we explore the true ramifications of China’s high-tech buildup—and the means by which it can be turned to competitive advantage.


Robert Buderi, a Research Fellow in MIT's Center for International Studies, is the author of two previous books about technology and innovation. Engines of Tomorrow (Simon and Schuster 2000), is an account of the evolution and current practice of corporate research. His acclaimed first book, The Invention That Changed the World (Simon and Schuster 1996), examined radar's impact on World War II and post-war science and technology and was part of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's Technology Series.

A former BusinessWeek technology editor and Vannevar Bush Fellow at MIT, Buderi also served as advisor to the British Broadcasting Corporation's Science at War documentary series and two History Channel programs about World War II. As editor in chief of MIT's Technology Review, Buderi led the magazine to numerous editorial and design awards and oversaw its expansion into three foreign editions (Italian, German, and Chinese), electronic newsletters. He speaks widely about emerging technologies and their impact and has been a regular guest of CNBC's Strategy Session and the Wall Street Journal Report.

Gregory T. Huang is a Features Editor at New Scientist magazine. He has covered many aspects of science and technology, including research and development in Asia, global innovation, and advances in computing, hardware, graphics, and applied physics. His writing has appeared in such publications as Wired, Nature, Technology Review, and The Atlantic Monthly's website. He was named a New York Times professional fellow in 2003.

Before becoming a journalist, Huang did research in a number of technical areas, including radar wave propagation at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, biomedical engineering at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, and robotics and computer simulations at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He has published twenty papers in scientific journals and conferences, given numerous talks at universities, companies, and professional symposia, and served on international technical committees on computing. He holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT.

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