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Designated Drivers: How China Plans to Dominate the Global Auto Industry Hardcover – June 19, 2012

30 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1118328859 ISBN-10: 111832885X Edition: 1st

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Designated Drivers: How China Plans to Dominate the Global Auto Industry + American Wheels, Chinese Roads: The Story of General Motors in China
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Designated Drivers How China Plans To Dominate The Global Auto Industry

China is an intricate economic ecosystem in which incredible growth and development has resulted from a combination of state-led planning and the measured management of market-oriented forces. Explaining how a formerly communist country—although still communist in name—can maintain an authoritarian political system while building globally competitive industries is difficult at best. But in looking at China's automobile industry, the picture becomes a little clearer.

In Designated Drivers, author G. E. Anderson—a well-known commentator and consultant on Chinese economics and the auto industry—delves deep into this country's automobile industry to shed some much-needed light on the nature of ownership, business-government relations, central-local relations, innovative capacity, and the perceived role of foreign players in China. Along the way, he offers an insightful analysis of the Chinese automotive industry and, in the process, reveals the overall political principles that drive economic decision-making at the top of the Chinese system.

Based on in-depth research, including over 100 interviews of professionals, academics, and government researchers with connections to China's auto industry, and filled with comprehensive case studies, Designated Drivers:

  • Explains how China was able to build a competitive industry from scratch while transitioning from a planned economy to one that is more market-oriented

  • Offers insights on various aspects of China's auto industry, including prominent mergers of the past decade, Chinese-foreign joint ventures, and the "independent" Chinese automakers

  • Illustrates the major determinants of success and failure in China's industrial planning model

  • Compares the start-up periods of the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean auto industries, with a focus on ownership, key institutions, technology acquisition, foreign involvement, and industry support and structure.
Engaging and informative, Designated Drivers puts the seemingly conflicting forces of China's unique political and economic systems in perspective. Whether you're interested specifically in the auto industry or economic development in general, you will gain valuable insights from the extensive analysis found here.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Designated Drivers

"China routinely launches new satellites into space. But the country has yet to develop a world-class car to call its own. This frustrates leaders in Beijing to no end. They want China to be the car factory for the world, yet cannot work around their own deeply contradictory policies. Greg Anderson expertly presents these complications in this highly compelling and finely researched book. If your business is China and autos, Designated Drivers is an indispensable guide to how the car business is shaped in the People's Republic of China."—Michael Dunne, President, Dunne & Company Ltd., and author of American Wheels, Chinese Roads

"In Designated Drivers, Greg Anderson manages to make sense of the complexity and contradictions of the Chinese automobile industry. Anderson is the first to capture the torturous three-way relationship among foreign multinationals, China's increasingly nationalistic industrial planners, and the ambitious and (sort of) independent Chinese carmakers. Anderson is an excellent storyteller, yet has his feet firmly planted on solid analytic ground. Highly recommended as an absorbing tale that provides real insight into the latest Chinese industrial heavyweights."—Barry Naughton, Professor of Chinese Economy and Sokwanlok Chair of Chinese International Affairs, University of California, San Diego

"China has become the center stage in the battle for dominance of the twenty-first-century global auto industry, and Greg Anderson distinguishes himself by providing a practical guide for navigating its complex structure. This book is essential reading for multinational companies seeking to compete in the largest automotive market in the world."—Bill Russo, President and CEO, Synergistics Ltd.

"More than a thorough accounting of China's automotive ambitions, Designated Drivers is a primer on the quintessential challenge China presents to the West across every sector: understanding the logic and forces at play in China's drive for national wealth and security. In tracking the motives and behavior of regulators and planners, locally and centrally controlled enterprises, banks, privately owned companies, and, of course, the foreign companies doing business in China, Anderson's book establishes the archetype for understanding Chinese industrial policy and how it affects all of us."—Janet Carmosky, CEO, The China Business Network

"CEOs, CFOs, and company boards will particularly like Designated Drivers because it gives real insights into how the Chinese government formulates industrial policy. This is what makes it special; it gives an inside-out view from the Chinese government perspective. If Western companies had this kind of information before going to China, they would literally save millions!"—Paul Denlinger, China start-up guy and publisher,


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 111832885X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118328859
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,191,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Author and consultant, G.E. Anderson is a specialist in finance and Chinese political economy who has been either living in or frequently traveling to China for nearly two decades. Through his consulting practice, Pacific Rim Advisors, he provides advice in political risk mitigation, business-government relations and business strategy to firms ranging from Silicon Valley startups to Fortune 500 multinationals with operations in East Asia.

Earlier in his career he held various positions in finance from commercial lending analyst to CFO, more recently serving as Finance Director for Charles Schwab's Tokyo-based joint venture. He also taught at university in Chengdu, Sichuan, PRC.

He holds a B.S. in Finance from Louisiana Tech, an M.B.A. from Golden Gate University, an M.A. in Asia-Pacific Studies from the University of San Francisco, and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Anderson's writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, HSBC's Week In China, Forbes China Tracker, and his blog, ChinaBizGov.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Paul Denlinger on July 31, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
While there are stacks of books about doing business in China written from the legal, business and cultural perspective, there are very few books which actually explain what's going on in the heads of the Chinese, especially the Chinese government officials who play the kingmaker role in China as to what businesses succeed and fail. Designated Drivers does a good job of explaining how the Chinese government really planned the rise of China very carefully, and has worked with western and Chinese business people to execute on that plan.

This book is unusual in that it can be read on two levels: on one level, it explains who are the major players in China's auto industry, the role of the government in deciding who succeeds and fails, and how China has succeeded and failed. But the astute reader will read it on another level: this reader will know that there is more to succeeding in China than just executing one's own plans, there are also complex relations with local and central government officials which need to be developed and curried. This book does a good job of explaining the mistakes many foreign companies made in the China market, and how smart local players were able to grow and replace them, even though the westerners had an enormous early advantage.

The author also implies that what has worked for the Chinese government is not a guarantee of future success, and that this is where new opportunities in China will come. In short, China is changing quickly, and all of the China players, including the government, will need to make adjustments.

If you are a business person who wants to learn from other companies' mistakes in China to shorten your learning curve in China, and lower your time and costs, then Designated Drivers is an excellent read which will help you and your company a lot in saving time and costs at your competitions' expense.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Wolf on December 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are waves of new books coming out about China, so much so that you could make a career out of reading them and still never catch up. But if you are going to read one book about how business really works in China, make this the one you read.

While Dr. Anderson focuses on the auto industry, what becomes evident not too far into the book is that what he is describing is the evolving dynamics of how government and enterprise interact in China. He explains the nature of the relationship between the central government and state owned-enterprises (SOEs), describes how local government-owned SOEs differ from their central-level counterparts, and offers unprecedented clarity about how the Party and the government view private Chinese enterprise (answer - they only like them to the extent that they support Party objectives.)

More important, perhaps, is the case Anderson builds for the future. Whatever the virtues and vices of state capitalism, China is clearly committed to a path that keeps the nation's business as much under government control as possible. There will be those who escape government oversight and succeed in spite of their ownership, but in a "pillar industry" like automobiles (and aerospace, banking, energy, and media, to name but a few), private enterprise is a temporary expedient.

This is, therefore, not just a book for those interested in cars or in China, but for anyone whose industry is likely to be disrupted by China as well. China will attempt to alter the global rules of capitalism to fit its own model on behalf of its pillar industries, and the automobile business looks to be the first of many examples. If you want to understand how China will change business in the world, you have to read this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kcorn TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was impressed by the details in this book, clearly revealing the extensive research of author G.E. Anderson. His efforts have provided a deeper perspective into the policies of Chinese automakers. He notes that learning about these Chinese policies also helped him understand U.S. business policies.

This is a "must read" book for anyone concerned by China's growing influence in the auto industry. While there is far too much information in the book to fully describe in a single book review, I hope some of the highlights shared here convince potential readers to get a copy of the book.

Anderson explores a wide range of topics and asks vital questions, including these:

1. How can China ignore basic assumptions (at least, U.S. assumptions) about industrial planning, heavy state ownership, fixed interest and foreign exchange rates while still achieving major economic growth - year in and year out? How can the U.S. achieve similar or even better results?

2. China's dominance should not be taken for granted nor discourage other auto makers. But how can the U.S. and other automakers develop innovations and strategies to offset Chinese automakers? Anderson stresses the fact that the U.S. can - and of course must - find ways to compete with China.

3. How has China gone from having essentially no passenger car production to building more cars than any other country in the world - and primarily from 1984 on?

4. How long will foreign automakers be welcome in China?

The author also points out China's key weaknesses as well as strengths, including state ownership (allowing more opportunities for those outside China to forge inroads into the auto industry).
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