Lenovo Company is a Chinese brand working at personal computer development. During its global developing process, it goes through a lot including the rename store, strategic alliance with IBM, influences from globalization and so on. And under the leading of its president Liu Chuanzhi, it has a good performance in today’ international market.
Although, the leadership style of Liu Chuanzhi in Lenovo also owns some weakness, the contributions of Liu Chuanzhi’s leadership should be confirmed that he lead Lenovo to go through the thick and thin and enjoy a good reputation in the global market.
Besides the above, we have also developed a discussion on the role of gender difference in leadership style or an organization and the evaluation on two options for Lenovo on the organization chart part.
i) participating Leadership style
According to Hersey-Blanchard theory on the leadership style, there are four styles including styles such as telling, selling, participating as well as delegating (Daft 2010). And based on the story of Lenovo, its leadership style is defined to be the participating leadership style. And we will have a discussion in the following.
To begin with, Hersey and Blanchard defined the participating leadership that this style is established on the basis of share ideas and facilitate people indecision making. In another word, the readiness level of people namely the follower belongs to level R3 (Daft 2010). And in terms of readiness level of people in Lenovo, we can develop the following discussion. Most of Lenovo’s employees especially in the start of this company have a good working experience and competitiveness in the computer hardware field. And the representative figures are Yang Yuanqin and Guo Wei, who have a good knowledge in computer hardware aspects but were not so confident in the development of Lenovo. The reason for these capable people who were not so confident are that in the beginning of Lenovo, it was just a small company made up of only 10 people with only ￥20,000 initial capital. Such kind of weakness including lack of talents, capital, and market resulted in the unconfident of these talent people. (Zhao 2005; Murphy & Scharl 2007)
Moreover, during the developing procedures of Lenovo, there was an accident which contributed to nearly ￥ 3,000,000 loss. Such kind of accident also led to a low confidence and security level of people in Lenovo. Besides the two examples, another case even aroused a panic of employees in Lenovo towards its future development. In year 2004, Lenovo invested nearly $1.75 billion to buy in the personal computer department of IBM. Even in today, such a big deal of money isn’t a peanut for any big multinational company, let along in the year 2004. That’s why such kind of business activities made some of people in Lenovo felt panic towards the future of this organization especially the future of them. (Zhao 2005; Murphy & Scharl 2007)
In short, from the human resource profile of Lenovo, we can get that most people in Lenovo can be defined as talents while whenever in the start of this organization or developing road, many capable talents in this company are seemed lack of security and confidence, which are due to the reasons mentioned above. Such kind of readiness level of employees of Lenovo can be defined as level R3 that people are able but unwilling or insecure (Stefanović 2007).
And due to people in Lenovo are seemed to have the necessary skills, experience as well as knowledge but may somewhat feel insecure in their ability and lacking the high willingness, the Liu Chuanzhi, the president of Lenovo have been engaging in presenting opportunities for people in decision making and involvement in some big business activities to strengthen their confidence and improve their willingness to facilitate the organization to have a good performance. (Zhao 2005; Murphy & Scharl 2007)
For example, to mollify and calm down people’s worry and improve their confidence towards both the company and themselves in the beginning of Lenovo, Liu Chuanzhi empowered those people with important roles such as the upper management roles for people like Yang Yuanqin and Guo Wei to give them chances and stage to show themselves thoroughly so as to enhance their confidence and willingness to work hard. Such kind of leadership style is towards the low confidence level and willingness to motivate and enhance their confidence and wiliness to gain a better performance. And meanwhile, in terms of the money loss accident and purchasing IBM’s PCD (personal computer department), Liu Chuanzhi as the leader of Lenovo gave people many opportunities to share ideas, offer suggestions, remove misunderstandings to improve people’s confidence towards the organization and themselves and enhance their willingness to work effectively. (Zhao 2005; Murphy & Scharl 2007)
Generally speaking, based on the readiness level people in Lenovo, which belongs R3 and the leadership behaviors of Liu Chuanzhi, we can define the leadership style of Lenovo’s leader is participating leadership (Yukl 2005; Daft 2010)
First and foremost, the participating leadership facilitates Liu Chuanzhi to mollify and remove the emotion of diffidence, worries as well as pressures of employees in Lenovo who felt uneasy and diffident towards the future development and some business practices of this organization and themselves. Based on these open minded communication such as the method used by Liu Chuanzhi including open door policy, bamboo barrel principles and other kinds of practices, the true feelings and frankly suggestions from employees can be gained by Liu Chuanzhi, and the perspectives of this leader on the future development of Lenovo and the optimistic prospect of this company despite some current dilemma can also be addressed to employees. While the sufficient negotiation and idea sharing, Liu Chuanzhi is able to assist employees in Lenovo to overcome their worries and diffidence to make full use of their capability to facilitate the future development of Lenovo. (Cropanzano et al.2008; Zhao 2005)
Moreover, Harter et al. (2005) pointed out the other strong point of participating leadership of Liu Chuanzhi as the leader of Lenovo is its positive influence on improving communicating and decision making effectiveness in the company. For example, the open door policy and barrel principles advocating the balance of the organization structures including the production staff, quality assurance personnel, management team, financial staff, sales staff and after sell staff, implemented by Liu Chuanzhi as the participating leaders largely improve the communicating effectiveness and broaden the platform for employees to show their concern freely so as to work together to support the fast and healthy development of Lenovo. (Zhao 2005)
By and large, Liu Chuanzhi’s participating leadership style enables him to establish a relatively harmonious and friendly relationship with staff in Lenovo including both the management level staff and ordinary employees, which is so helpful to assist Lenovo to have a good performance.
Based on the perspective of Hogan et al. (2001) and the story of Lenovo Group, we conclude the weakness of Liu Chuanzhi’s participating leadership style.
One of the relatively obvious weak points of Liu Chuanzhi’s participating leadership style is its tendency in establishing and maintaining the relationship with employees in Lenovo rather than proper focus on the task structure designing and other related issues. In another word, as the leader of Lenovo, Liu Chuanzhi may be seemed to focus and emphasize too much on the people issue rather than the task issue. For example, Liu Chuanzhi are keen on improve the welfare of employees including the implementation of those practices and perspectives in Lenovo but when come to the task structure and relative issue, he did a little job, which have influence the global expansion of this brand. For example, although Lenovo is now a famous chinese personal computer brand in the world market, its products quality and design still can’t compete with other famous global brand such as Apple computer, Samsung, Toshiba and so on which may be partly due to the less concern on the task aspect of its leader. (Murphy & Scharl 2007)
What impacts has globalization had on this organization over the past five years. How is this likely to change over the next five years in your view.
i) Globalization and the past five years
During the past five years, due to the inevitable trend of globalization, Lenovo Group has resorted many strategies and business practices to meet both the challenges and opportunities offered by globalization. In the following, we will have a discussion on the impacts of globalization on Lenovo over the past five years including impacts on supply chain and strategic alliance (Spencer & Jane 2006).
a) Globalization and supply chain
Globalization has enforced Lenovo to adjust its supply chain more internationally and globally shown in the following.
To gain more customers and expand the market in the global market under the influence of globalization, Lenovo has adjusted its developing goals and clearly clarifies its strategy to the Lenovo people. At first, the management team of Lenovo have clarified the business targets of Lenovo in the global market is to build Lenovo a competitive global company with producing the award-winning products such as personal computers to customers all the world around under the full support of resources offered by its global teams. And meanwhile, the influence of globalization also enables and motivates Lenovo to figure out many practical and useful measures to facilitate the fulfillment of this goal such as the supply chain’s globalization. Figure 1.0 discloses the global supply chain established by Lenovo. From this figure, we get that Lenovo regards China mainland as its headquarter to direct the development of these overseas branches including United States bureau, New Zealand bureau, Norway bureau, Portugal bureau and Vietnam bureau and so on with support of effective cost and tax save policy. (Hu 2007; Dow Jones & Company, Inc 2006)
Moreover, Lenovo has also modified its global selling system via the resorting to high technology to enable 90% of its products to be purchased and delivered to customers directly with the cost saving from these middle men or agents. Till now, more than 20,000 customer locations in 100 countries are established by Lenovo to offer customers caring services from Lenovo people. (Spencer & Jane 2006)
Figure 1.0 International supply chain of Lenovo
b) International strategic alliance
Globalization also promotes Lenovo to make use many effective strategies to support its global expansion. Due to the large expense on products R&D, distribution, marketing such as advertising cost and so on, Lenovo has been establishing close cooperating relationship with companies all over world, which is defined as international strategic alliance (Griffin & Pustay 2010). Such kind of strategy enables Lenovo to share some useful information such as the customer preference in different regions and established distribution net works, resources and other benefits to make Lenovo and its business partners to gain mutual benefits and share some risks (Griffin & Pustay 2010). For example, Lenovo has built up a strategic alliance with IBM Company to ally some resources with each other including production line, marketing strategies, financial interests and products’ R & D achievements in the personal computer manufacture (Dow Jones & Company, Inc 2006).
By and large, with the promotion of globalization, Lenovo has adopted many useful strategies to facilitate its healthy development in the global market, which contribute a lot to this Chinese enterprise both from financial aspect and reputation aspect.
ii) Future impacts
As the influence of globalization become wilder and wilder which leads both the internal and external environment to force Lenovo to have more and deeper changes. In the following, we’ll have a discussion and predict these future changes related to Lenovo in its future on the basis of the influence of globalization.
In the first place, according to Burkhardt and Gerard (2006) as well as Daft (2010) that the demographic characteristics, fast development of technology, market development under the umbrella of globalization will lead to company to make adjustments on their products developing strategy. Based on this perspective and the situation of Lenovo, we predict that in the future Lenovo may make it more flexible and develop the diversified product developing strategy to enable itself to be more suitable and flexible to meet the requirements of the global market under the globalization. For example, more money and resources may be invested to support the product research and development to not only produce its feature products such as the personal computer but also product some other electronic products such as mobile phone, cooperation with some company to help them establish and maintain their website, related IT consumption products and so on as the big electronic Samsung does in the market. And in figure 2.0, there is a future products category for Lenovo, which may contribute a great flexibility and competitiveness for this organization to expand its business and gain a wider market share in the future. (Hu 2007; Kraemer 2002)
Figure 2.0 Lenovo’s future products categories
In the second place, besides the products diversification strategy may be used by Lenovo, it also predicts Lenovo may enhance its sales model to make it more diversified. As the reference to the successful experiences from these well developed companies especially as Samsung, Lenovo may adopt a sales diversification model. For instance, it is seemed necessary for Lenovo to transform its transactional model to a more comprehensive one which is established on the basis of network with relational customers to attract more potential customers. That is to say, Lenovo is more likely to develop its sales model to be a combination with both the transactional and rational model to not only save cost but also attract and maintain both old and new customers. (Kraemer 2002; Hu 2007)
Henry Mintzberg’s research indicates that diverse manager activities can be organized into ten roles. Describe how relevant three of these roles are in your chosen organization.
The leader of Lenovo plays the role as a leader based on the ten roles mentioned by Henry Mintzberg’s research. He demonstrates the leader role actively via guiding and motivating people in Lenovo to have a better performance and developing and effective communication for them (Daft 2010).
At first the open door policy promoted by Liu Chuanzhi as the leader of Lenovo has been so effectively for this organization to promote the communication effectivenss. This policy used by Liu Chuanzhi is a kind of direction and guidance for employees in Lenovo to show their ideas, suggestions and even some complaints directly and freely to their direct boss or even the leader without too many worries. and meanwhile, Liu Chuanzhi also offers proper and clearly direction to the Lenovo staff that he clarified the purpose of this open door communication policy to the people in Lenovo that is worked as a mechanism to assist them to show suggestions and disclose some inside problems to facilitate the healthy development of Lenovo. And the later success of Lenovo also proved the proper leader role played by Liu Chuanzhi to direct the employees in Lenovo.
Moreover, Henry Mintzberg (Cited in Daft 2010) as well as Jones el al. (2004) pointed out that as the leader it is necessary to have a view on the entire organization to give a proper definition of the company structure or working structure to employees so as to enable them to work more actively under the guidance. And for Liu Chuanzhi, he does a good job in this area. The introduction of the barrel principle for example, it indicates Liu Chuanzhi as the leader of Lenovo stands in the position of the entire organization that he points out the importance of the balance in the organization and uses this principle to manage people and their needs to facilitate rhe development and whole balance of Lenovo.
Based on the story of Lenovo and Henry Mintzberg’s theory, we can also conclude that the leader of Lenovo plays the role as a monitor as well.
Let’s take the open communication strategy of Liu Chuanzhi for example again. He is definitely a monitor of Lenovo Company when he implemented such kind of policy. And the open communication practice in Lenovo is to assist the communication especially the upward communication effectiveness in Lenovo. According to Daft (2010, pp.549), upward communication refers to the situation that message transmitted from the lower to the higher levels in the organization’s hierarchy.
As the function of the open door communication is to facilitate information about problems and exceptions, suggestions for improvement, performance reports, grievances and disputes, finial and accounting information to be delivered fast and timely to the upper management (Daft 2010). Liu Chuanzhi makes full use of the open door communication policy to monitor the entire operation of Lenovo Company via collecting information from ordinary employees depending on the motivation on the direct communication among employees and management staff. In short, Liu Chuanzhi learned from many successful companies to open not only his door but also the doors of middle level and upper level managers in Lenovo to get information including suggestions, complaints, and other perspectives from ordinary employees related to Lenovo. (Hu 2007; Spencer & Jane 2006)
As Henry Mintzberg’s description (Daft 2010), as a monitor, a leader resorts to every kinds of measure to collect useful information from employees via various measures and sources so as to have a proper evaluation on the performance of the organization. And the role of a monitor for a leader in an organization is to facilitate the company to implement necessary transformation or adjustments, settle problems, meet chances as well as carry out correct decisions depending on properly monitoring operation of the organization. On the basis of this perspective, we can get such a conclusion that Liu Chuanzhi plays the role as a monitor in Lenovo relatively successfully that he promoted the strategic alliance with IBM successfully via listening to suggestions and monitoring the operation direction of Lenovo via the open communication policy. (Hu 2007; Spencer & Jane 2006)
iii) Disturbance Handler
Henry Mintzberg (Daft 2010) pointed out the role of a disturbance handler is to carry out proper and correct strategies and actions when disputes or crisis occur to remove conflicts and assist the organization’s healthy development to better meet the crisis from environment. And referring to the story of Lenovo, we define another role played by Liu Chuanzhi as the leader of Lenovo as a disturbance handler.
At first, let have an example of Liu Chuanzhi in solving the brand name dispute. As all the Chinese people know that from the beginning of Lenovo Company, its English name is Legend which means tales of marvels to emphasize the wonderful user experience of this company’s products. But when expanding in the global market, Lenovo Company encountered a variety of problems due to its original English name – Legend, which had been registered by other company. In other word, it is illegal for this company to use Legend as its brand name in the global market. But changing the brand name of this company implied a big loss especially the customers. Because many old customers had kept in mind of the brand name of this organization, if change which may indicate a brand new or even strange brand for most customers who weren’t noticed the brand name change of Lenovo. And worse still many staff in Lenovo Company also showed pessimistic opinion towards the issue of brand name change. (Liu.2007)
While as a responsible disturbance handler, Liu Chuanzhi did a relatively perfect job without a doubt. He organized a series of staff meeting to discuss which new name is the most suitable with receiving suggestion from all parts to mollify the uneasy emotion of staff and win their supports. And finally the new name Lenovo was decided which was built on a combination of Legend and novo. The new brand name – Lenovo has a far more meaning which is aimed to not only maintain the previous fame of Legend but also show its honesty and its enterprise of innovation. And besides the carrying out of a new meaningful name, Liu Chuanzhi also designed a series of business campaign to promote this new name for Lenovo Company to make its gain a wider public awareness. And the later success of Lenovo in the global market proves that Liu Chuanzhi as the disturbance handler is so skillful in dealing with the disputes, and business dilemma for his company, which is outstanding and excellent. (Liu.2007)
Do you think gender makes a difference when it comes to leadership style? Use example(s) and literature to support your stand.
Recently, there are so many people even those professionals including scientists in social aspect, management consultants and business scholars have emphasized the issue on gender and leadership a lot. Some of people may support that the gender does make a difference when it comes to leadership style while some people may hold the idea that there is no difference in the gender when referring to the style of leadership (Groves 2005).
According to the survey conducted by Ali (2011), it indicated that female leaders have difference leadership style with male leaders in firms ranking in top 100 in Fortune.
A large number of results from many researches strengthen this opinion that women leaders in companies are intended to impact people including their followers and employees via a great care and concern on them compared to male leaders. And male leaders often concern themselves more than the concern for their followers and subordinates compared with female leaders. For instance, female managers or leaders are like to keep the wide benefits of the companies in mind in implementing business practices and activities. And they prefer to involve more people in the decision making and planning process for the companies with an emphasis both on the task fulfillment and relationship building and maintaining. Compared with these female leaders, male leaders may adopt more masculine measures and leadership style to lead their companies. They are more intended show out their self interests, work alone in decision making and plan with less concerns on employees’ interests. In another word, they are more task-oriented than female leaders. (Groves 2005).
Because of the difference on leadership styles from male and female leaders, different leaders’ behaviors are born. In terms of communication, there is a great difference due to gender difference. According to Tannen (1994 cited in Groves 2005) female leaders prefer a measure of close connection with connectivity in communication while male leaders prefer to show more task-oriented issues to employees when communicating. In another word, female leaders often adopt the intimacy oriented communication manners by negotiating a relatively complicated friendship network, reducing differences in order to reach expected consensus. And for male leaders, they are more independent in communication that is often aimed to build a certain kind of status so as to guild people what should do, how to do and other related information.
Anita Roddick, the Body shop’s founder, mentioned she operated the firm on the basis of a rather feminine alike rules and principles such as care, intuitive decisions making style, keeping in mind that give love to employees(Ali 2011). Different from the female leader Anita Roddick, a great many men leaders operate their firms on the basis of a more masculine alike rules and principles (Ali 2011). The leader of Haier Group, China for example has made a relative quick and independent decision when connecting with issues of products quality. When the refrigerator products in Haier had a quality problem, he just gave orders to employees to break more than 100 refrigerators despite it may bring a great loss to this company. Such kind of business practice made by the leader of Haier group was to maintain and protect the good image of Haier in the market and address the importance of product quality to employees, which reflects the leadership style and behaviors adopted by many male leaders to be more task-oriented alike style (Seijts 2006).
In short, the above mentioned examples and perspectives indicate the gender difference makes the style of leadership different that female leaders may have a more people oriented style while male leaders may have a more task-oriented leadership style (Groves 2005).
Besides the above idea, many people hold the idea that gender makes difference in leadership style. According to Cranfield (2005 cited in Ali 2011), there are no better or worse performance may be leaders due to the gender difference in his survey on evaluation male and female leaders in not only public sectors but also private sectors. And he also pointed out the differences in leadership styles and behaviors mostly resulting from leaders’ background such as education difference, culture difference, working experiences and other environment factors rather than the gender difference.
Frankly speaking, if managers have a relatively rich working experience, they may adopt leadership styles they regard as the most suitable one. At the some time, the culture difference, environmental presses and challenges may also differ one leadership style from the other. We will give some examples in the following to show this idea.
Primarly, let’s have a look at the leadership style of Leona Helmsley, wife of the owner of Helmsley Palace’s used. She practised a rater tyrannical leadership style in operating that organization with the assistance of some misbehaviors including evading tax, falsifying business records and so on, which resulted in a business failure of -Helmsley Palace which once was the world top one hotel. Howell Raines was the former executive editor of New York Times, who adopted the same leadership styles and behaviors as Leona Helmsley. As many of employees and subordinates of Howell Raines pointed out that he was an autocrat, who often practised rigorous management. Based on the two examples, we can get although the gender of the two mentioned leaders in the above is different, they had the same leadership style and similar behaviors which may result from the environmental issues and their background rather than the issue of gender. (Pfeffer 2004 cited in Ali 2011)
Moreover, the contingency leadership theory also told us that the effectiveness and performance of leadership styles are influenced by whether that style matches the current environment and situation of the organization. And according to this theory, the difference in gender may have nearly no influence on the leadership style and behaviors. For example, leaders and managers of an organization may choose different leadership styles based on this theory such as the telling style, selling style, participating style and delegating style. The participating leadership style of Haier’s leader is also due to the current situation such as the environmental issues and followers’ readiness level. And the female leader, Zhang Lan as the CEO of a famous Chinese chain restaurants adopts the participating leadership style as well, which is also because of the requirements of the current situation of her organization to improve the working morale and productivity of employees.(Seijts 2006)
In short, the above evidences and perspectives also indicate that there may no differences of leadership styles due to gender difference.
Draw an Orgnigram (Organization Chart) of the current structure. Show two other opinions for the structure and explain what the advantages and disadvantages of the new organization would be.
In the chart 1.0, we can see the current organizational chart of Lenovo Company, from which we can see that the leader of Lenovo has the supreme power in this organization, who monitors the entire operation and performance of Lenovo with the assistance of the CEO, several directors as well as the CFO. And under the CEO and CFO there are different departments and divisions to assist their job. For example, in the current Orgnigram of Lenovo, we can find out that there is seemed a lack of proper design on the management of different market region and the more focus on the new technology for a personal computer manufacturer. Based on the situation, we recommend a new organization chart for Lenovo with reference to Daft’s perspective on organization chart.
i) One alternative
According to Daft (2010), as the set of formal tasks and formal reporting relationships provides a framework for vertical control of the organization, the characteristics of vertical structure are portrayed in the organization chart, namely in the Orgnigram. And meanwhile, Daft (2010) also defined the organization chart as the visual representation of an origination’s structure. Based on this perspective, in the following we recommend an alternative organization chart for Lenovo as in chart 2.0.
Source: Lenovo 2011
The advantages of this suggestion on the new organization structure of Lenovo are in the following description.
At first, there are another 9 new divisions are suggested to add into the structure of Lenovo including mature market division, mobile international digital division, emerging market division, new technology division, strategy & operation division, Western European division, operation, mature markets division, North America division and so on. And these additions for Lenovo can share the risks and pressures of some departments which have a too many trifles to pay full attention to such as the marketing department which is responsible for all the marketing issues of Lenovo in the global market.
And meanwhile, with the assistance of these newly added divisions, such as the department in the charge of the mature markets and the department in the charge of emerging markets, these markets can be well evaluated and developed for Lenovo. And more detailed information on the markets such as the customers’ preference, market culture, purchasing habits, which may facilitate Lenovo to understand these markets better and operate its business in these regions much proper and effective. (Daft 2010)
Because every thing has two sides, besides the above advantages of the alternative, this alternative also has its disadvantage.
The new organization chart for Lenovo leading to the task distribution become more detailed and complicated, which may increase the financial load of Lenovo to afford these new departments’ operation including employees’ salary expense, new office and related resources’ expense. These expenses may enhance the financial pressure of Lenovo and lag its development when referring to the financial issue to a certain extent. (Daft 2010, Hu 2007)
Chart 2.0 Alternative 1 of organization chart for Lenovo
Source: Lenovo 2011
ii) The other alternative
Besides the shortage of the current Orgnigram of Lenovo, we have another suggestion for it as chart 3.0 show in the following.
Chart 3.0 The other alternative of organization chart for Lenovo
In the above chart 3.0, we modified most part of the original chart of Lenovo in chart 3.0 to simplify the relatively complicated structure which owns both advantages and disadvantages as the following discussion.
Compared with chart 1.0 the current organization chart of Lenovo, this chart is seemed more simplified and clearly to allocate the necessary and vital department of Lenovo clearly and effectively, which is built referring to the organization chart of Samsung (Kumar 2009). This new chart for Lenovo is very comprehensive to have a close focus both on the domestic and international market in the fields of marketing such as advertising campaign design and promotion, the production designing and distribution, new products’ research and development and so on, which may not only help Lenovo to simplify and standardize its business in the global market but also avoid some unnecessary expense via the help of more clear task distribution compared to chart 1.0.
The disadvantages of this new organization chart for Lenovo may arouse some resistance and misunderstanding of the new organization structure due to its relative big adjustments of the structure for the company.
At first, we have to admit the new organization chart may contribute to the standardization and simplification of the business operation for Lenovo in the future global business, while, the cost of changing may also lead to the failure of the business for Lenovo. According to Cummings and Worley (2005), the change in an organization may contribute to a certain amount of loss although it has good starting points for this organization, which is the same to Lenovo. If it doesn’t operation the new structure properly and skillfully, there will be a larger loss than gaining in the future.
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