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Wednesday, July 21, 2004

A guide to doing business in China via Mckinseyquarterly

One of the biggest hurdles is coming to terms with the real China, a land of great geographical, social, political, and industrial diversity. As a starting point, it's essential to cut through the thicket of misunderstandings and misinformation about doing business there. Clearing them up won't guarantee the success of investments, but it will at least increase the chances of getting the foundations right, particularly at a time when fears that the country's economy is overheated are further complicating decision making.China lends itself to sweeping statements. Here are a few making the rounds: China will be the next economic superpower; its economy is still state run; foreigners don't make money there; relationships count, so a partner is needed. These provocative claims can start a conversation, but they are hyperbolic, misleading, out-of-date, or just not true.Generalizations about China may be interesting conversation starters but are potentially dangerous distractions for companies considering investments there. The best advice is to focus on your own industry and operating issues. Performance in China varies greatly within industries, and the market operates on the winner-takes-all principle. The main concern is to become that winner by responding nimbly to fast-changing market dynamics and by relying as much as possible on skilled local managers, who are still rare in China. For companies operating in sectors that are not yet fully deregulated, the focus should be on creating a competitive advantage before the gloves come off. Merely transferring Western business approaches that fail to match China's reality won't work
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