If the 21st century is an era in which all global business leaders must become China-hands or lag behind their competitors, The China Executive defines the essential qualities and skills required of such China-hands. Filling the gaps between a business school education and the China business reality, The China Executive is also a definitive text for business school students, in particular MBA students, around the world.
Since 1979, China has attracted over US$500 billion foreign direct investment. Yet making an investment in China is not only the biggest business phenomenon, but also the most challenging business
task in the world. In this landmark book, Dr Wei Wang, a leading expert on China investment with extensive managerial work and international experience, and intimate knowledge of both Western and
Chinese cultures and histories, tackles this phenomenal challenge right at its heart. He shows that the key reason for the many failed or under-performed China ventures is that foreign investors have
been conducting a "love affair" with China, with a deep understanding of China giving way to the attraction of a market of 1.3 billion people. To succeed, foreign investors should aim to live a
"family life" with China, emphasising building a long-term relationship and a capacity to weather the ups and downs in the relationship.
By examining Sino-Western joint ventures, the most complex and challenging of all business arrangements that are in a sense an engagement of 2,500 years of almost oppositely developed Western and Chinese civilisations, The China Executive provides an inside-out, human-centred perspective on what it takes to achieve business success in China: from stepping into the networked society, reading the dynamics of the China market, approaching and selecting a partner, and negotiating with a potential partner, through to bridging communication gaps, training local staff, leading the Chinese, and balancing managing and leading. Packed with anecdotes, pictures, and above all, wisdom, the book is easily accessible and highly practical.
Using China as a reference point, The China Executive also illuminates the limitations of the Western view of business, and offers existing and potential executives worldwide the definitive guide to developing a global view of business in the 21st century, including the integration of results and relationships, of analysis and intuition, and of competition and co-operation. The book concludes that the secret of global business success lies in taking a higher worldview by combining a Western things-oriented, divided worldview with a Chinese human-centred, integrated worldview, and mastering global business by combining modern Western management excellence with ancient Chinese leadership wisdom.
Business Voice, the CBI magazine, September 2006: "Wang offers sound advice to business leaders planning on making the long march east… [A] timely, well-informed book."
China-Britain Business Review, September 2006: "Systematic and eminently sensible… [A] helpful exposition of the need to balance Western and Chinese business methods."
Financial Management, the CIMA magazine, Dec-Jan 2006/07: "[Wang's] advice...is extremely worthwhile... [The book] would be a valuable reference guide "
Amazon.com, 31 October 2008, review by Joseph J. West, Dean, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA: "I am now in my 6th
year of running an enterprise in Tianjin, PRC. I wish I had had this book in the beginning, it would have saved a lot of grief. I can vouch for its usefulness to the manager entering China for the
first time or anyone else, even an "old China hand" such as I. This is one of two books I highly recommend for anyone interested in doing business in China. I have ordered a book for both of my
associate deans." [FIU is the first American university to partner with the Chinese government to deliver university education in Tianjin.]
Lord Powell, KCMG, President of China-Britain Business Council: "Dr Wei Wang's new book, The China Executive, emphasises the vital importance, in China, of identifying and working towards common business goals. He advises Western business people how to broaden their cultural horizons so that they can successfully balance Western and Chinese business methods while, at the same time, developing the sound Western management practices which China needs in order to compete globally. As the Chinese economy continues its astonishing growth, this and much other helpful advice, which Dr Wang gives to those seeking to succeed in China, is to be greatly welcomed."
Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, University of Southern California, and Author of Leaders: "An important and timely book about a topic that will be of interest to all global leaders."
Geir Boe, General Manager, Jotun China: "Most executives planning to invest in China or having invested in China would be attracted by the concept of the book. The book should have a good market."
Dr Peter Chang, President and CEO, Clean Asia Renewable Energy, and Former President and CEO, Asia Power: "The book will be appealing to many who are in the business circle investing or interested in investing in China. With his deep understanding of both Chinese and Western cultures and first-hand experiences of running joint ventures in China, the author presents in the book background, reasoning, analysis and history and philosophy of managing a successful 'family life' when investing in China."
Dr Wei Wang is currently managing director of 2W China Investment Consulting Ltd, a British-based, China-focused, global company specialising in helping companies in all parts of the world make a successful investment in China, which also runs the global online forum on China at www.TheChinaForum.com
Previously, Dr Wang had been at the core of developing a number of Sino-Western joint ventures in China for a multi-billion dollar British multinational, and was managing director of a US$25 million dollar pharmaceutical joint venture. His first-hand experiences covering the whole process of making an investment in China, his ability to see things simultaneously from both Western and Chinese perspectives, and his broadly based education in both China and the West including a PhD in manufacturing engineering and an MBA from Loughborough University make him eminently qualified to tackle this immensely multidisciplinary and highly challenging subject.
An MBA graduate, originally from China, joined a multi-billion pound sterling British multinational in the late 1990s to assist its senior executives to make multi-million dollar investments in China. He had been involved in the whole decision-making process, consisting of assessing business opportunities and potential partners in China through to establishing and operating a US$ 25 million pharmaceutical joint venture business.
With vivid accounts of what he had experienced, he reveals that it is human intuition - including the pain and the joy as well as the misery and the hope - that makes up the very fabric of business. In the end, it is a story that shows why business conducted on the basis of partner attraction and for the sole purpose of making money is self-defeating, and why successful business is done not only through people but also for people.
The principal objective is to help students understand the nature of business, in particular with reference to doing business in China. The other objective is to help them develop an appreciation of how business school-taught concepts and tools might be applied to the messy reality of business.
Networking, market research, business alliance, negotiation, business case, management, leadership, business strategy and worldview
Late 1990s; China, the UK, and the starch industry
The case can be used in two ways. One is for classroom discussion, aimed at developing an understanding of the key issues involved in doing business in China. First, students are given time to read the case on their own. Then, they are asked to talk about the issues they have identified. Finally, the teacher summarises the key issues for the class.
The other is to use the case as part of an individual/group project. First, students are asked to read the case and identify the issues involved. Second, they are recommended the book The China Executive, from which they are required to put the identified issues into context and develop more effective actions were they in the MBA graduate’s position. Finally, they are required to write a project report and/or make a presentation.
About the Authors
Prof Alan Barrell DBA FRSA, Entrepreneur in Residence, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
Dr Wei Wang, Managing Director, 2W China Consulting Ltd