Blog 1: The Organisational Culture of Alibaba



(Source: Alibabagroup 2017)


East & West

Compare with Eastern culture and Western culture reveal on business management, the assumption and nature thought are entirely different.

Eastern culture is passive toward nature. People tend to adapt to nature and be in tune with each other. They view groups as more important than individuals. However, Western culture tends to be an active mastery of nature and concentrates more on individuals (Schein 1984).


Here the company I want to talk about, which combines the advantages of eastern and western’s value.

Alibaba, a Chinese IT company with 27,000 employees, is now one of the worlds largest e-commerce corporations.

Jack Ma, the CEO of Alibaba, is an energetic leader. He is known as a transformational leader who really does well in stimulating employees’ initiative and minimizes the distance between boss and employees meanwhile develop staffs base on his own value (Zhao 2015).

When you look at Alibaba and some typical western technological companies, they carry a familiar idealism. Nowadays, some people are still sceptical about tech companies’ ambition to change the world. But these companies still believe what they are doing is meaningful.


(Source: Alibabagroup, 2017)

There are very Chinese things too. All the staffs in Alibaba are treated equally like family members. If you look at Western companies they usually have about two co-founders, well Alibaba had 18 co-founders.

Another example that reflects Alibaba’s organisational culture is Jack Ma conducting a mass wedding ceremony every May for his employees.

The trusting bond that was built over time between employees and policies can really have an immensely positive impact on the performance of the employees in the long run (UBC 2014).


Alibaba is the market leaders in e-commerce globally.

But the average annual growth of the market between 2016 and 2018 is predicted to drop to less than 20 percent which means the online shopping population in China is about to reach its ceiling (ChinaDaily 2016).


(Source: Alibabagroup, 2017)

Another problem that burdens Alibaba is the counterfeit goods sold on its e-commerce platforms. The lack of consumer confidence in the quality of Chinese-made products is becoming one of the biggest obstacles for the company’s strategies of the overseas market (Nikkei, 2017).

Since the Alibaba Group is a market leader right now, though it is not perfect, the only one it needs to defeat is itself. The management team of the company need to focus not only the Chinese market but also the oversea.

They need to learn from other international e-businesses (like Amazon) or seek for cooperation and alliance for the getting economies of scale and resource sharing in order to obtain the competitive advantage.

In addition, a culture of “Self-correction” need to be created.

All the employees should have the fairness to express their actual evaluations and to criticize the organisation’s strategies, different departments, and even the senior managers of the company through a 360-degree feedback platform. I believe this measure will be a good way for Alibaba to “correct” itself

If a company wants to have a sustainable development, the leaders should be open to diverse criticisms and new ideas.

The “self-correction” organisational culture will make Alibaba easy to catch up the trend of the world and discover new business opportunities.


Schein suggests a view of organisational culture based on distinguishing three levels of culture, from the shallowest to the deepest: artefacts and creations; values; and basic assumptions (Mullins 2016). Alibaba’s culture shows that Jack Ma does care about his employees. As a result, they become more motivated to devote themselves to the company’s future. Obviously, Ma is trying to evolve his organisational culture to Level 3.


(Source: Alibabagroup, 2017)

Through the case of Alibaba, I have gained a deeper perception that a people-orientated organisational culture is an indispensable element for a group to succeed. A great organisational culture should combine the advantages of East and West.




7 thoughts on “Blog 1: The Organisational Culture of Alibaba

  1. Hi Nick,
    I like your blog, it’s very good to introduce the Chinese company to others. but I think more information about Jack Ma’s personal experience should be presented.
    Good luck in UK.

    Qiu An


    1. Hi Q,
      thank you for your advice, I think I will take it and press a new version later.



  2. Hi Nick
    It is very interesting to choose Alibaba. I think it will be better if you explain more about the differences between the organisational culture between East and West.

    See you next month


    1. Hi Yannis,
      thank you for your advice. I will try to point out more details between these two cultures later.
      Have a good day~



  3. Hi Nick,
    Thank you for your blog. If you are a leader in the future how will you use the advantages of both East and West org culture to manage your team?



    1. Hi Ewing,
      that’s a very good question. The style from East and West are different but they both got unique charming parts. The western culture focuses more on individual abilities and personalities, while the eastern one focuses more on teamwork or the interests of collective. However, the best way for me ,as a future leader, is to combine their advantages.
      I will encourage the members in my team to give full play to their own professional skill and extend their individuality, but at the same time be on the same page with the target of the team.
      It is not easy to do but I will try my best to learn more management skill and build a perfect team in the future.



  4. Hi Nick,
    I like your English writing, it very easy to read.
    However, I hope you can explain more on why you choose Alibaba to explore.



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