Sealed Air Taiwan Case Analysis

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Case Summary:

The central issue Sealed Air Taiwan is currently facing is how to determine if the newly hired, Paul Huang, can produce the necessary sales results and whether he fits the mold for his position as sales manager. Historically, Sealed Air Taiwan was struggling with both stagnant sales and high operating costs. The branch was not adapting well to the Sealed Air’s established business model and there were even talks of shutting the branch down. Bob Kayser was brought in to turn things around and quickly realized that the problem this branch was facing was a cultural divide between Taiwanese beliefs and the current United States business model. After training and extensive work improving the sales team, Kayser was eventually able to start turning the branch around and making incremental improvements to sales and profit.

The issue that the branch now faces is that its leader, Bob Kayser, has been given a larger role at the firm and cannot devote as much attention to the Taiwan branch as he has in the past. The branch needs to find a suitable successor that can continue the growth process Kayser set in place. The question now is whether Huang is an appropriate replacement or whether the company should keep looking for the position and possibly promote from within. After a brief visit to the United States for an orientation session, there are already concerns that Huang is not a proper fit for the sales manager role and will not be the saving grace this branch needs.


Corporate culture: Sealed Air has operated under a unique corporate culture. They are not a company that operates under a strict set of rules and guidelines. They want to empower employees rather than suffocate them with quotas and metrics. Some of these characteristics, such as their lack of defined legalistic rules and the attention to family, worked well with the Asian culture. Others, however, such as their hands-off management style and shared decision making have shown to be a problem with certain Asian cultures. Sealed Air was trying to operate as a global company while promoting a very American dominated corporate culture.

National Culture: Sealed Air Taiwan, specifically, was having such difficultly because the parent company tried to take a successful American business model and move it overseas without any consideration of cultural differences. What had made the U.S. sales team successful was a very foreign concept to the Taiwanese employees and often went against years of their Confucian-style education, which taught them to respect authority without question and strictly abide by instruction. Kayser experienced problems in the beginning of his role as regional manager of China because he just tried to further enforce the American model. He thought if he could get the sales managers to think and work like the American sales representatives then the branch would share the same success as the American branches. Kayser was also at a disadvantage when trying to establish American ethics within the Taiwan branch. The Chinese corporate culture of bribing customers in order to make the sale was considered unethical by Seal Air standards and hurt their competitive advantage. Kayser only experienced success and growth after realizing that there was a legitimate cultural divide that made the American model not appropriate for Taiwan. Only when Kayser changed his management style to take into consideration this difference was he able to reach the Taiwanese employees and inspire them to become the sales representatives he was looking to create.


After Huang’s trip to the United States, Steinke is having doubts about his capability to fit the sales manager role. Steinke is defining a good sales manager as someone who is personable and able to inspire their sales representatives in a hands-on fashion. The problem with Steinke’s observation is that this is a very...
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