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For Du Jingguo, president of Haier Asia, a lot had been achieved since Haier acquired Sanyo in Japan. Compared with the beginning of 2012, the year of the acquisition, employees' morale had been restored. People were generally motivated and saw a positive future for the company and their own careers. A new organizational structure based on the principles of self-managed units (ZZJYT) and the Rendanheyi principle had been created. Some units even functioned to some extent as microenterprises, a system promoted by Haier's visionary CEO, Zhang Ruimin. A strongly meritocratic compensation system, which reduced the fixed part of employees' salaries but offered potential for greater variable gains, had been implemented. The company had even opened a head office in Tokyo's city center and moved its research and development (R&D) center from Gunma (near Kyoto) to Kumagaya (about 70 km north of Tokyo). In July 2016, four and a half years after the acquisition, Du was pondering how to further integrate Haier Japan into the wider Haier platform to enhance its global efficiency, while at the same time enhancing its capability to serve the unique and extremely demanding Japanese market for home appliances. He was also conscious about the ongoing challenge to attract and retain the type of people that would help implement Haier's system in Asia.
The case is designed for teaching topics such as leading organizational transformation in a complex context, which involves both differences in national and corporate cultures following an M&A conducted a few years previously. The case will enable discussions on understanding cultural differences, the implementation of complex organization systems, the ongoing transformational process and journey, and the challenges related to this process.