For the Taiwanese companies whose factories were destroyed in the recent riots in Vietnam, advice from analysts all carries the same tune: think globally, act locally.
Earlier this month, Taiwanese manufacturers became collateral damage when an anti-China protest sparked by Beijing's placement of an oil rig in a part of the South China Sea in which Vietnam also claims ownership resulted in the destruction of scores of foreign-owned plants. Taiwanese manufacturers suffered the heaviest blow. According to the island's government, more than 200 Taiwanese factories were damaged and at least 18 were set on fire.
While the underpinning cause of the riots is still under investigation, one theory is that the rioters may have mistaken Taiwanese factories as Chinese ones. Others suspect that Vietnamese workers at the Taiwanese plants may have been angry with their managers, many of whom are Chinese.
For many analysts, the take-home message for the damaged firms isn't to beef up security or do more to distinguish themselves from the their Chinese counterparts; rather, they should create an atmosphere of collective responsibility by localizing their management team, said Winston Yu, chairman of accounting and consulting firm KPMG Taiwan.
Since around 2000, a number of Taiwanese companies have moved their operations from China to Vietnam as Chinese wages rise. And while the firms brought job opportunities for Vietnamese workers, many also brought their management staff from China.
The Chinese staff at the Taiwanese factories in Vietnam are far fewer in number but have greater authority and much higher pay compared with the Vietnamese workers.
According to James Wang, country manager of Ernst and Young Taiwan, a Vietnamese supervisor or department manager in a Taiwanese-owned factory makes $500 a month on average, while local, low-level staff earn around $150-$200 a month. A Chinese manager at the same plant who assumes a more senior role, makes $1,300-$1,500, compared with around $2,000 for a Taiwanese manager.
'The riots rattled Taiwanese investors' confidence in Vietnam, but given the country's affordability, close proximity to the China market, and a burgeoning domestic demand, pulling out is not an option,' said Mr. Wang.
Because the geopolitical tensions are expected to linger and leaving isn't in the cards, to minimize tension inside the company Taiwanese companies should restructure their operation style, starting with becoming more localized, he said.
The benefits of localization goes beyond cost-saving, it also 'creates a sense of stewardship and fosters synergy among the local hires,' said Mr. Yu.
Feng Tay Group, a major Taiwanese shoe maker whose clients include Nike, Bauer and Clarks, said it believes its efforts to localize staff helped its plant in Binh Duong--where two other Taiwanese factories were burned down--to escape rioters' wrath. Feng Tay's plant has one Vietnamese general manger, several Vietnamese supervisors, and no Chinese staff.
'Localization has been a top priority for us because we believe it's a way to boost morale among the local workers,' said Amy Chen, the company's spokeswoman. 'Besides, they are usually quite good at their jobs.
KPMG台湾所(KPMG Taiwan)的主席于纪隆(Winston Yu)说，工厂被砸的教训不是加强安保或采取措施，让自己与中国大陆的企业明确地区分开来，想反，台湾工厂应该通过管理团队本地化的方式，创造出一种集体负责的环境。
据安永台湾(Ernst and Young Taiwan)负责人James Wang称，在台资工厂，一名越南籍总监或部门经理的平均月薪为500美元，较低级别的越南工人平均月薪大约为150-200美元。同一家工厂里，职位更高的中国大陆籍经理月薪在1,300-1,500美元，而台湾籍经理月薪为2,000美元左右。
丰泰企业(Feng Tay Group)是一家大型台湾制鞋企业，客户包括耐克(Nike)、Bauer、Clarks等。该公司表示，相信推动员工本土化的措施帮助了其越南平阳工厂避开当地暴民的袭击。丰泰企业平阳工厂有一名越南籍总经理和几名越南籍总监，没有中方雇员。在越南平阳省，有两家台资工厂被烧毁。