Alibaba's Values Dilemma

Guo Bai, Geng Liu

Research output: Other contributionCase Studies


This case starts by exploring the brief history of Alibaba from 1999 to 2020 from the perspective of strategy and values. The case shows how a company's strategy and values are mutually interdependent, but each retains a degree of autonomy. Values are based on and then applied to the implementation of strategy. The case next describes how Alibaba used values to influence and check employee behavior. It highlights Ali’s unique value-centric rules, organizational structure, and value-based KPIs while describing the company's evolution toward a more flexible approach concerning values. It links this evolution to the company's different development stages. The case concludes by specifying the challenges Ali faced and would face in enforcing and popularizing its values, namely (i) business expansion was bound to dilute Ali's values; and (ii) business diversification would introduce other business cultures. The main purpose of this case study is to identify potential solutions to these challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2021

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Case type

Field Case

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Published by

China Europe International Business School


  • Alibaba
  • Corperate Culture
  • Innovation Management
  • Strategy
  • corporate culture
  • values

Case studies discipline

  • Organizational Behavior
  • Operations & Management Science
  • Strategy

Case studies industry

  • Information, Media & Telecommunications
  • Others
  • Retail Trade


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