By Max Clarke

Asian Firms “turbo-charging” growth and winning war for talent through innovative application of uniquely Asian values to unlock individual and organisational potential, says new CIPD research.

The fact that strong economic growth has been maintained in China and Hong Kong, while Western economies have been hard-hit by the financial crisis, can in part be explained by the way in which many of the best Asian firms have displayed a creative approach to corporate culture that has not always been matched by their European and North American competitors. This is one of the conclusions of a major new piece of research which draws on 27 case study organisations across the region. The research comes from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Bridge, the CIPD-owned leadership and organisation transformation specialists.

The research, launched today at the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM) conference in Hong Kong, argues that growth in many successful firms across the Asia Pacific region is being “turbo-charged” by a new breed of insight-led human resources (HR) teams who have positioned themselves at the heart of business strategy, and are leapfrogging best practice amongst their Western counterparts by adopting a uniquely Asian approach to HR “next practice”.

Launching the research, Jackie Orme, Chief Executive of the CIPD, said:

“We’ve been struck by the way many of the most successful firms we’ve looked at are combining a relentless ‘can-do’ drive for growth with traditional values that place a premium on the family and the community, and which often successfully appeal to a higher order purpose. This approach is helping these firms to win the fierce ‘war for talent’ in the region.”

The 27 case study organisations that lie at the heart of the research include:

· Standard Chartered Bank

· Shui On Construction and Materials Ltd

· China Mobile

· MTR Corporation Ltd

· Ngong Ping 360 Ltd

· Founder Group

Drawing on findings from the case study organisations, the research builds a picture of a uniquely Asian approach to HR built on four corners of “next practice”:

· Performance — Where organisations are facing up to the challenge of identifying and tackling underperformance in high-growth business, when strong organisational performance can all too easily mask poor individual performance.

· Community — Where organisations are harnessing strong Asian values such as family, community and respect and applying these in a business context, but are also adapting these values to recognise the different approaches of new generations entering the workplace.

· Purpose — Where organisations are positioning themselves to win the fierce “war for talent” in the region by creating organisational personalities that successfully inspire a “higher-order” sense of purpose.

· Insight — Which in many ways ties together aspects of the other three cornerstones. The insight-led approach we’ve identified sees HR functions combining a deep knowledge of the wider market context and the key drivers of commercial success with their rich understanding of the internal culture and people dynamics to turbo-charge growth. The insight these HR functions are delivering provides a unique perspective on what it will take for their individual organisation, at this particular point in its evolution, to grow in a truly sustainable way.

Jackie Orme added:

“From our research, it is clear to us that there is much the Western organisations we are more familiar with can learn from their counterparts in Asia. Putting growth at the heart of the way they think about business, and backing the few big bets necessary to deliver that growth is one. But perhaps most striking for us is the value of balancing an aggressive drive for success with a long-term sense of corporate and community purpose. This is in contrast to the often more individualistic Anglo-Saxon business model.

“It is no surprise to us that forward thinking and energetic HR teams are playing a strong role in driving growth in many of the firms we have studied. In a region where human resources can often be an emergent and under-rated function within the business, these cases of ‘next practice’ that we have identified are overtaking more orthodox and established ‘best practice’ approaches to HR seen in the West. In the process they are undoubtedly leading the way for any HR function anywhere in the world that wants to place itself at the forefront of efforts to deliver superior organisational performance.”