A great lesson in China and business. Too many times the assumptions of the outsiders is far from reality in China. I have learned many, many times over that my assumptions and expectations, when based on previous “real world” experiences, are wrong inside China. An amazing experience to relearn with the perspective of how it really works in China. I love learning from a different perspective because it really is that different.
If Tolstoy had written a history of foreign corporations in China, it might have started something like this: “Companies that succeed in China do so for similar reasons; every company that fails, fails in its own way.”
Since China opened up to foreign investment in the late 1970s, some of America’s most powerful corporations have gone confidently into the People’s Republic, only to stagger out a few years later, battered, confused, and defeated.
It’s not because the businesses were incompetent. Many of the biggest failures belong to the Fortune 500: Mattel, eBay, Google, Home Depot. All of these have thrived in markets around the world, but not in China.
Some suffered from a lack of flexibility, or a failure to localise. Others fell because of bad timing, or a superior local competitor. While the causes are as varied as the industries themselves, a pattern…
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