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Guanxi (The Art of Relationships): Microsoft, China, and Bill Gates's Plan to Win the Road Ahead Hardcover – May 9, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Many CEOs dream of tapping the future buying power of China's population, but Bill Gates had something else in mind with the creation of Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA) in 1998. Gates hoped that by setting up MSRA and funding it to the tune of over $100 million, he would buy some Chinese good will and gain access to the brightest minds available to help Microsoft compete against rivals Google, Sony and Nokia for dominance in internet search, digital entertainment and software for mobile devices. According to Buderi (Engines of Tomorrow; The Invention That Changed the World) and technology writer Huang, this investment has paid off handsomely, although there isn't a lot of wow factor to their descriptions of the innovations yielded. After long build-ups on hiring talent and meals toasting future success, the reader learns that among these new products are a Chinese dictation system, a water simulation for Xbox video games and a "universal pen" that can capture handwriting and incorporate it into computer documents. Despite its title, the book contains relatively little on the art of relationships with China, coming across instead as a hymn praising Microsoft's foresight in exploiting early the Chinese market.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Buderi and Huang weave the fascinating tale of Microsoft's research lab in China, which opened in 1998. They were given unprecedented access to those who created the lab, interviewing the numerous "players" and living among them in order to present a firsthand story of the creation of Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA) and its success in developing guanxi--or skillfully building mutually beneficial relationships, which is fundamental to business success in China. The focus of the book is one year beginning in November 2004, when the lab was at the center of Microsoft's competitive battle with Google, Nokia, and Sony. As China explodes economically, this story of Microsoft's strategy and efforts there make a compelling case study, and this book serves as excellent public relations. As Ya-Qin Zhang, vice chairman of Microsoft China, stated, "Asia will be a key battleground in the next five, ten years. Competition helps you focus, innovate, move more efficiently." Indeed, the company is clearly poised to meet those challenges. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Printing edition (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743273222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743273220
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,780,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James Benson on October 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Microsoft's PR Department couldn't have written thicker, more syrupy, praise for Microsoft. Guanxi is the chinese word for mutually beneficial relationships, it's a complex concept that involves respect, reciprocality, and a certain deference to the person with more authority. It is not covered in this book. Rather, this is a book that paints a super happy face on a long process and smooths out or ignores the rough edges. I recommend doing an Amazon search on Guanxi and reading some of the other books on business in China, like the China Dream, if you want a clearer picture of Guanxi. If you want the Disneyfied version of Microsoft's research lab, this is the book for you.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By mike partington on May 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I met Buderi and Huang on their book tour, and couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. What a tale they tell, as they show how Microsoft early on, embraced the world of talent coming up through Chinese universities and turned it to the company's advantage. I especially like the stories of how young Chinese researchers just out of university found themselves in Redmond, presenting for Bill Gates.

China is hungry and rich in talent, not just markets, and this book shows why.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Doug on May 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As someone keenly interested in China and the future of innovation, I gobbled up this book almost as soon as it was out. I was not disappointed. In a usually fast-moving narrative, peppered with funny stories and telling anecdotes, Buderi and Huang dive down into rich detail about the creation and evolution of Microsoft's incredibly successful Beijing research lab, and how despite several stumbles it has improved relations with Chinese government and academe. A revealing lawsuit with Google accentuates the end of the story, as Google hires away the original star behind the lab. Readers will come away with a much deeper understanding of what it takes to compete in emerging nations like China.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Williams on April 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I liked the book. For several reasons: first it is a good read, well written, fast paced and interesting on several levels.

The first is chronological (how the books is structured), a history of Microsoft's research involvement in China. The second is a window into some things about the culture in China and how it is different than Western. this is the title of the book-guanxi. The third is a higher level, how do you encourage innovation, how do you harness the best in a culture to corporate culture and making money, how do you do good research in a field like computers, constantly changing, with lots of very bright, motivated people working in it.

It is a good book, worthwhile to read for a number of reasons, the least of which is that these topics will impact everyone on earth to a greater or lesser extent over their lifetimes, just a matter of survival.

The final feeling i have is that my kids simply can not compete with chinese kids, not for educational motivation, not for desire to get ahead and do good while making lots of money. it is a wakeup call to American education and political structures that the primacy of American scientific research and the engine that it has been driving the economy is no longer restricted to smaller percentages of the world population but is now literally global.

if you are 1 in a million, there are 1300 of you speaking Chinese maybe 5 speaking english as a first language.
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By Gustavo Bottan on January 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It is a little outdated by now.
I was looking for more Guanxi related aspects of doing business with China
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