Managing The Dragon: More To Know. More to Learn.

international lawyer

Lost Loawai just reviewed the book, Managing the Dragon, with excellent insights that also apply to doing business in China today. Per Lost Loawai:

1. The book’s author, Jack Perkowski, was keenly aware there were different ways to do things in China, and he did not try to force down only one vision “because that’s the way that it’s done in America”.

2. Perkowski did not try to negotiate from a superior position, but instead negotiated as an equal partner committed to China’s long-term growth.

3. Perkowski has a curious mind and is always willing to learn.

4. Perkowski and his family now live happily in China, which in the eyes of the Chinese government and many Chinese, shows his commitment to the country’s development.

If I had to pick one word to describe those who succeed in international business (and international law), that word would be :curiosity.” Those who succeed are more curious than judgmental. They want to know how things are done in the foreign country and they want to fully understand it. Only then do they start analyzing and judging. The unsuccessful businessperson (and international lawyer) instantly deems the foreign way inferior without really taking it in.

The review rightly states that “Perkowski shows that China is really not that mysterious, but it takes time to learn and understand how it works. If one is willing to make that investment, then one day, you will get a good return on your investment.”

It then issues a few relevant caveats against expropriating Perkowski’s strategies wholesale:

If there is only one warning I would make, it is that many of the strategies and scenarios Perkowski outlines work well with highly capitalized manufacturing businesses. He had an advantage in dealing with Chinese officials because he had $150 million to invest. For smaller investors say, in the service sector, it would be quite different. Also, after joining the WTO in 2001, Chinese regulations have opened up considerably for non-Chinese investors. As for joint ventures, very few companies consider them anymore, so they are mostly off the table.

Yes again. Paul is right to note how Perkowski had enough capital to garner the assistance of Chinese officials and many small companies going into China simply do not. Paul is also right to note how very few companies consider China joint ventures today, simply because WTO has made it so that entity structure is required much less often. However, I will note that Perkowski himself counseled against joint ventures in most situations.

UPDATE: ThinkChina just came out with a very positive review of the book as well.

3 responses to “Managing The Dragon: More To Know. More to Learn.”

  1. I think that Perkowski, who by the way is giving a talk in Philadelphia on April 1st titled, “How I am building a billion dollar business in China” (the chutzpah!), but it should be noted that not only did he come with a heap of cash, he also walked into an industry/sub-industry that really wanted his company. The automotive in China is desperate for this kind of entrepreneur – an ex-Western executive that is willing to bank on China, transfer technology, relationships, and most importantly standards approval processes. Let’s say for example that he took that $150 million and wanted to start wildcatting in Xinjiang or compete with the miners in Shanxi. I hardly think he would have had as much success. But therein lies the mastery of his move – he realized the opportunity – that gaping hole that needed to be filled – in his industry because it did in fact exist and he took advantage of it. All those other things are certainly important, but fortune is when the preparation meets the opportunity.

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