McDonald's Takes on China With More-Selective-Than-Harvard Hamburger University

By Daniel Fromson
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The McDonaldization of China is underway. Bloomberg News has a fascinating piece on the fast food company's efforts to penetrate the country, where fast food sales were up 12 percent last year, in part by offering training courses at its "Hamburger University," which admits less than 1 percent of applicants. McDonald's is still far behind KFC, the dominant foreign fast food brand in China, but it's hoping to remedy that by boosting its investment in the country by 40 percent this year.

The article opens with a look inside Shanghai's Hamburger University:

Zhou Xiaobu runs from one end of a table to another, grasping a piece of a puzzle she and her team are assembling as part of a leadership training exercise for McDonald's Corp. managers.

"Go, go, go," yells their Taiwanese teacher, exhorting them to work for the prize, a box of Danish butter cookies, for being the first to build the company's trademark Golden Arches. Above their heads is a sign that reads: "Learning today, leading tomorrow." The thick green binders stuffed with paperwork on each of the 31 students' desks indicate the next activity may not be as rousing.

This is McDonald's Hamburger University in China, and it can be harder to get into than Harvard.

Zhou's classroom, with its gray walls and carpet, is one of seven in the management training center occupying the 20th floor of the 28-story building on the outskirts of Shanghai that houses McDonald's China headquarters. The art consists of pictures of McDonald's products and equipment, such as a milk- shake maker from the 1950s.

The 1,565 square meter (16,846 square foot) facility doesn't have a pool or a gym and its one-room library holds books with titles such as "Just Listen," "Personal Accountability" and "None Of Us Is As Good As All Of Us: How McDonald's Prospers By Embracing Inclusion and Diversity."

Read the full story at Bloomberg News.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/01/mcdonalds-takes-on-china-with-more-selective-than-harvard-hamburger-university/70358/