No Niche Seems Too Small for China’s Haier Group

It’s not easy getting a handle on Haier. It makes more freezers, refrigerators and washing machines than anyone else–but it also churns out thousands of other products from cellphones to robots, defying the standard wisdom about focus. The group maintains a murky corporate structure built on large state-owned stakes, but management experts from Harvard Business School to Kobe University extol Haier as a model for private-sector companies.

Haier’s iconic chairman, Zhang Ruimin, is just as difficult to categorize. In person he’s passionate

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