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Inside Chinese Business : A Guide for Managers Worldwide Hardcover – March, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


"This book usefully provides relevant material on culturally inspired behavioral patterns and offers guidelines for how to deal with them." -- Foreign Affairs, May 1, 2001

From the Back Cover

"An understanding of Chinese culture is an essential ingredient of success for any Western business in China. Ming-Jer Chen is an acknowledged expert on international management with a great ability to interpret Chinese attitudes, mores, and business philosophy. His book provides valuable guidance for anyone wishing to play in that potentially huge market."
-Maurice R. Greenberg, Chairman and CEO, American International Group, Inc.

"The strategies, rules, and practices for doing business in modern China are in constant flux-the underlying Chinese culture is the only enduring feature. Packed with up-to-date case examples and practical suggestions, this book sheds new light on the powerful Chinese culture and its shaping influence on business in Asia."
-Tony Perkins, Managing Partner, McKinsey and Company, Beijing

"I have practiced these strategies and techniques throughout my business career. This book is a must-read for any Western businessperson doing business in China-and for any Chinese businessperson who wonders why he has difficulty communicating with his Western counterparts."
-Zhang Ruimin, Founder and CEO, The Haier Group, People's Republic of China

"Chen's book is a window on business in the future. By showing how Chinese business practices and insights can enrich companies in developed markets, Chen challenges the reader to look beyond his or her own models. This is one of the lessons of globalization: Change must result from cross-fertilization. The ease with which Chen navigates the business and cultural terrains of China and the West are an invaluable and lasting contribution to scholarship today."
-Klaus Schwab, Founder and President, The World Economic Forum


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; First Edition edition (March 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578512328
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578512324
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By znpm on August 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
For anyone who has spent time in China (Hong Kong and Taiwan), or has read a book or two on business in Asia, much of the book will be simplistic to the point of being boring as it covers issues of "face", familial loyalty, reciprocity, etc. The impact of the Asian financial crisis is taken into account, but not the Nasdaq fall and subsequent worldwide tech slump. I imagine the author is just the victim of unfortunate timing, but several Asian tech companies, now dead and buried, are praised for their ability to navigate crises. Whoops.
There are lessons to be learned from a study like this, but the book strays dangerously close to the sort of blind fawning westerners saw of Japanese business in the late 80s and early 90s, before economic realities revealed the woeful shortcomings of Japan, Inc.
I have just begun reading another book, "The Coming Collapse of China"; while (so far) quite insular and anecdotal, it does provide a counter to what's quickly become an over-hyped view of China's future in global business.
I was expecting far more from "Inside Chinese Business", but perhaps the author will follow-up this work with a more in-depth study.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Steven Patterson on September 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I found this book a real disappointment, especially considering the author's apparent qualifications. It amounts to little more than a book report on other published sources and I actually see no evidence of "inside" information at all here. The author doesn't seem to have done a single personal interview for the book, which is unfortunate.
What's worse is that the book takes a chauvinistic approach to doing business with the Chinese. The essential advice here is that Western business people should never say no to Chinese counterparts and should accommodate them in every way possible. After doing business in Hong Kong and Guangzhou for more than 15 years, I fully understand the importance of "saving face": but this book advocates the kind of kowtowing that got many American companies into deep trouble in China...providing everything for their partners and losing their shirts. I am sure the author had honorable intentions but the point of view taken in this book is quite naive...if not dangerous.
That said, Inside Chinese Business is a quick and enjoyable read. If you have never read anything about Chinese business practices, it could be a useful introduction. Just take it with a grain of salt.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Professor Chen draws on a cultural perspective to help Western business people understand how to work with Chinese customers, suppliers, and partners. Those who have known Chinese business people will find they know most of what is here. Those who have read much Chinese history and philosophy will find little new here also. People who know almost nothing about the unique qualities of Chinese business will find the book a good starting point in learning more. As far as the book goes, it is very well done. The book would have been even more valuable in educating Westerners by also looking at case histories of the most successful relationships in depth that Western companies have achieved and included interviews with key Chinese and Western executives.
The book focuses on explaining the differences among the overseas Chinese, those Chinese who have always lived in the PRC, and those who have returned to the PRC from abroad. As a context for these explanations, you get a smattering of history (China was once the most advanced nation, still considers itself a cultural leader, and is concerned about being exploited by foreigners), belief systems (how Confucius overlays family and social relationships), and strategic thinking (the indirection of Sun Tzu).
The book has outstanding sections on developing business relationships, communicating with Chinese business people, and a discussion of the differing purposes of Chinese (support the family) and Western businesses (support the shareholders).
Professor Chen also points out the many ways that traditional Chinese and current Western practices are being combined by the best overseas Chinese companies.
I found the many tables that made the comparisons explict to be good summaries of the book's key points.
Read more ›
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Very little in this book is original. Even the title is borrowed from "Inside Chinese Organizations" written earlier by Kai-Alexander Schlevogt (a sound empirical study)! The style, emphasis and content is very similar to "New Asian Emperors" by George Haley and Chin Tiong Tan (a much better written book with a more complex grasp of the terrain of Chinese management).
The author does tackle some concepts such as "face" etc., but these provide very little insights for any but the most extreme novices.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Terence Callahan on October 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Given the build up for this book, I found it very disappointing. It completely ignores the fact that most American companies have failed in China -- precisely following the strategies the author advocated! If you know very little about China, and have eaten at a Chinese restaurant a couple of times, this book should provide an easy introduction. Otherwise, pass on it! I would much rather recommend "New Asian Emperors: The Overseas Chinese, their Strategies and Competitive Advantages" by George T. Haley et al. for a more complex understanding of business culture in the region.
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