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Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the China Production Game Paperback – January 11, 2011


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Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the China Production Game + 42 Rules for Sourcing and Manufacturing in China (2nd Edition): A Practical Handbook for Doing Business in China, Special Economic Zones, Factory Tours and Manufacturing Quality + Doing Business In China: How to Profit in the World's Fastest Growing Market
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; Revised and Updated Edition edition (January 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470928077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470928073
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Awards

Best Book 2009 (The Economist)

Best Book for Business Owners (Inc.

Great Finance Book of 2009 (Forbes

Best of 2009 Business Book (Library Journal

"Midler has upended a lot of the assumptions about this factory for the world." (Forbes

“A must-read for people engaged in mainland business.” (South China Morning Post

“Important, timely and entertaining.” (Taipei Times

“Most of the people in Mr. Midler’s position would not dream of disclosing what they see.” (The Economist

“Manages to be both instructive and entertaining.” (National Review

“A fascinating, funny and important book.” (Asia Times

“An invaluable book for anyone considering doing business in China.” (Epoch Times

“A lively dissection of the cultural clash.” (Malaysia’s The Star

“You won’t look at the label ‘Made in China’ the same way.” (Toronto Now

“His warning is worth heeding – is China listening?” (Business Times

"Plenty of laugh-out-loud moments." (Financial Times

“Strongly recommended.” (Bangkok Post)

From the Inside Flap

It was a world gone wrong, one in which manufacturers thought little of manipulating product quality levels in order to save the smallest amounts, where savvy foreign business leaders were made to feel in control while they were taken for a ride by their partners, where entire manufacturing facilities sometimes vanished right into thin air… Welcome to Poorly Made in China!

At the height of the boom export manufacturing, Paul Midler returned to East Asia, a recently graduated Wharton MBA. In the right place at the right time, he was sought out by a number of foreign companies who wanted help in navigating the new economy. The adventures came fast, as did the business and cultural lessons.

Poorly Made in China is a dramatic romp through China's export manufacturing sector, one that reveals what really goes on behind the scenes. The story follows the author from one project to the next, taking the reader through a diverse set of industries and revealing a number of challenges.

An engaging business narrative told with doses of humor and insight, this true story pulls back the curtain on the rising Chinese economy, providing a closer look at the rough-and-tumble environment in which so many of our consumer products are being made. For those trying to make sense of why so many quality failures could come out of China at once, this book is an especially interesting read.

Poorly Made in China is the tale of a modern-day gold rush and its consequences, the chronicling of a rising economic power and its path along a steep growth curve. Entertaining and eye-opening, the book highlights the extent to which culture affects business dealings, and the ultimate suggestion is that we may have more to be concerned about than product failures alone."


More About the Author

Paul Midler graduated college with a concentration in Chinese history. Following a career spent in China, he detailed his misadventures in manufacturing in "Poorly Made in China," a book that has been called a must read for anyone doing business in China today.

Customer Reviews

You must read this book if you do business in China.
Lana Diaz
Midler is an insider--a businessman who spent many years in China as a middleman between U.S. distributors and Chinese manufacturers, and his book is a revelation.
British Mystery Buff
This book will open your eyes if you want to do business in China and if you are already there you cannot help but agree with everything he says.
Man from New York

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Max Salvo on September 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Doing business in China and visiting factories there, I have witnessed many of the tactics that the author describes. While reading this book, I thought to myself over and over - "How True!".

My business experience in China is limited to one type of industry that has nothing to do with any of the industries listed in this book. Finding out that the Chinese employ the same tactics in completely different manufacturing settings was a wake up call for me. I believe the manufacturing arena in China is a type of "business culture" that is not fully understood in the West.

My experience has been dealing with small factories. We were not ordering hundreds or thousands of containers. These larger operations may be different (but I doubt it).

After reading this book I started thinking about how I once bought an item that was made fairly well. I bought the same item a year or so later and noticed a few things seemed to be made of less quality. Then another purchase a year or so later showed the item was barely worth owning. The quality had degraded in such a way that I decided to never buy again. This book explains how this happens when dealing with manufactures in China.

I recommend this book to anyone involved with doing business in China or someone who just wants to be educated on the subject.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Man from New York on July 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have done business in China since 1986. I know from experience how tricky and dangerous it is, especially for the newcomer. Curiously Mr. Midler refers to suppliers in Shantou (Canton Province) and I too have many suppliers there. Apparently this behavior amongst the Chinese is across the board no matter what product you work with. And they don't care no matter what threats or promises you make. I actually had one supplier who told me he would no longer sell to me because "you complain too much"! No loss to me, easily replaced you can be sure. Communists or not, the almighty greenback is king in China but as Mr. Midler makes very clear, it is not going to get you what you think you contracted for. Something close, maybe, but not right on target. The Chinese screwed up so many of my shipments that I got the distinct impression that the translaters were interpreting my directions, not translating them. So I spent years learning to speak Mandarin. I am totally fluent now, have often been mistaken for being Chinese on the telephone by those who had not yet met me. No matter, I told them straight out what I wanted in their own language and STILL they basically did it wrong to shave off a few bucks to their advantage. I could never understand that way of thinking, in America we keep the customers happy to perpetuate our business with them, we do not consistently antagonize them. This book will open your eyes if you want to do business in China and if you are already there you cannot help but agree with everything he says. Pay close attention, he knows what he is talking about. They will go behind your back and try to deal directly with your customer, they will yes you to death and then do whatever they please without any regard for you or your customer.Read more ›
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Renaud ANJORAN on May 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. I control the quality of shipments in China myself, so I recognized many situations that I previously encountered. The book is peppered with excellent insights about Chinese culture. It is also often funny, and it is very easy to read.
I would specifically recommend this book to people who are curious about the manufacturing environment in China. They will discover a whole new world.
The only downside is that the book only describes situations where importers are unprepared and fall in the traps of unscrupulous Chinese suppliers. It is not perfectly representative, but it does a great job explaining why so many quality issues originate from China.
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48 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Ronald D. Mccallister on April 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Midler weaves his thoughtful and timely commentary in a provocative and thoroughly enjoyable format, using personal anecdotes and experiences to support significant conclusions regarding American business with China. As China rushes to expand trade, it is repeating many of the same mistakes made by U.S. manufacturers in our economic development. Midler's tales of aggressive cost reduction methods recalled the 'Muntz TV,' fabled in engineering circles for its approach to cost margin improvement: parts would simply be deleted until the TV barely functioned. The quality problem is less cultural than a reflection of intense cost competition. It demonstrates the need for China to develop consumer protection laws, OSHA-like rules, and stringent quality control if it intends to expand export trade with developed nations. Equally important, it demonstrates that American consumers need to insist that adequate standards and regulations be imposed on imported goods, from China and other `low-cost' sources.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Michael Cole on December 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
There's something rotten in Southern China's manufacturing belt, but foreign importers are so lazy and bedazzled by the red-carpet treatment that nothing's being done to fix the problem.

A handful of noteworthy books have been published in recent years that attempt to weigh the impact of the world's intoxication with "made in China" products. Financial Times reporter Alexandra Harney's The China Price, an expose of the human cost associated with China's competitive advantage, readily comes to mind. More recently, Paul Midler, who for years worked as a consultant and go-between for American importers who descended upon China like sailors to a siren, explores another aspect of the ambiguous relationship -- the corporate machinations.

This isn't to say that Midler's book, Poorly Made in China, doesn't have a human element to it. Quite the contrary. Its pages are filled with individuals who truly come to life as they make their first excited steps in China, are courted, get deceived, become disillusioned and, quite often, resignedly do whatever it takes to keep their businesses running. The entire book is human theater, a well-paced and entertaining tale of egos hurt and ridiculous retribution, such as when the author, who perhaps had dug a little too deep, suddenly found it impossible to get a ride back home from the factory.

Despite the many cunning factory chiefs and wide-eyed foreign importers who form the dramatis personae in this book, Poorly Made in China has surprisingly little to say about the fate of the Chinese workers who have made it possible for China's giant wheel to start turning. We witness a brief, and ultimately pointless, public demonstration, and a handful of workers make the odd appearance, but the focus clearly isn't on them.
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