Huawei – internationalisation with foreign executives

Rising degree of internationalisation

Huawei, headquartered in Shenzhen, China, is already an internationalised company by several measures. One of them, the geographic dispersion of economic activity (GDEA) is significant in Huawei’s case as the company operates in more than a hundred countries and has research & development centres in some. Another measure, Huawei’s ratio of foreign sales to total sales (FSTS) is also high, as is typical for telecommunications-network equipment suppliers. Researchers utilise such measures to establish the degree of internationalisation (DOI, Sullivan 1994).

However, other measures of Huawei’s DOI, such as foreign assets to total assets (FATA) and foreign employees to total employees (FETE) are significantly lower. In particular, the number of foreign executives in its local headquarters is small in comparison to other globally dispersed telco suppliers. As is well-known from research, the appointment of foreign executives in local organisations (FELOs) is a rare phenomenon. Lately, however, this is beginning to change. In contrast to other Chinese companies such as Qoros, which is built with foreign executives, Huawei appoints FELOs slowly and steadily. The company already employs thousands of workers, sales people, engineers and researchers in its foreign subsidiaries, and has recently begun to add a small number of foreigners to is local operations. This, in turn, differs from its appointment in previous years of a few politically well-connected and high profile individuals in the US, UK and Australia — a strategy primarily aimed at alleviating political and security concerns in those markets.

Research on foreign executives in local organisations (FELOs) in academic journals: Further Reading