Sustainability of Pacific Online Limited (PCO) as a provider of the\ud multiple vertical web sites (MVWS) in China

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Lam, Wai Yan

In the past twenty years, China has undergone tremendous changes on all fronts: Economics, Commerce, Market, Technology, Society and People’s livelihood. With the changes has also come the challenge in terms of the management issues in both society and business. This thesis is an account of my experience in the management of the Pacific Online Limited (PCO) using the Multiple Vertical Web Sites (MVWS) business model told through an auto-ethnographic methodology. My purpose is to understand the key factors that will sustain PCO, its use of the MVWS business model and to present to the PCO Board my recommendations to take the company forward. In 2007, PCO was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (stock number: 543) with six vertical web sites. PCO was further expanded to seven vertical web sites in 2010 and as of July 29th, 2013, the market value of PCO was HK$3.7 Billion (GB£310.7 Million). Specifically, this research project will examine the topics of the interdependence of “Cooperation and Competition” in PCO; particularly on “how to foster the sharing and learning culture in PCO” and managing PCO which requires both cooperation and competition among management and employees in the company. In pursuit of this I will consider how to develop the PCO’s web sites and their dependence on the sharing and collaboration between business units at PCO which will also be studied and discussed. I have successfully completed this investigation and reported key findings to the PCO’s Board, These have been accepted and are in summary: 1. We have to tailor different reward schemes for employees in different vertical web sites as the maturity and growth potential of business units at PCO are at different stages and require different strategies, 2. We have to encourage the sharing of knowledge across business units, 3. Today, we have high employee turnover. Even though this is quite common in our industry in China, we have to find a way to retain our talented employees by providing career opportunities and advancements which will motivate and encourage them to stay with PCO, 4. We have to develop deeper information content and services in order to match PCO’s user needs and lifestyles. By analysing information on our user base, we could address the needs of users based on interest according to their lifestyles and life events such as decorating their homes, buying a home, buying a car, having a baby, dressing up and looking trendy and fashionable, buying or upgrading their computers or playing the latest games online. Langeveld (1965) as cited in Bell (2010: p. 584/4416 ) suggests that the aim of social research is not only to know facts and to understand relations for the sake of knowledge, these researchers want to know and understand in order to be able to act and perform better than they did in the past.
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