Stepping into a new era

Localisation strategy for Dutch architecture firms to improve their competitiveness in China

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Since China's open door policy and with its rapid urbanisation process, modern China has been known as the “testing ground” for foreign architects, including Dutch architecture firms. The architecture practices that firms did in China have enriched their company portfolio as well as increased their international reputation. For years, being a foreign company in China had natural advantages because of huge market demand and kind clients. However, after China has experienced crazy urbanisation, with strong influence of global architecture, both the government and the citizens desire to address their emphasis on traditional culture and localised architecture. Since then, foreign firms lacking an understanding of Chinese culture have encountered development bottlenecks. Meanwhile, the rise of local enterprises and the influx of enterprises from other countries have also increased the development pressure of Dutch architecture firms. Facing the current challenges, Dutch architecture firms operating in China urgently need to improve their localisation strategy to adapt to the market changes and enhance their competitiveness.

This research accesses and integrates the existing literature, thus establishing the theoretical framework that guides the empirical analysis. Through multiple case studies and interviews, this qualitative research aims to systematically understand the localisation strategy of Dutch architecture firms in China. The localisation performance of three firms with different levels of reputation are investigated. The findings suggested that the localisation level and firm performance are relevant while also influenced by other factors, such as reputation and branch office’s function. The study concludes with practical recommendations for further reference.