First-time author Tadla delivers an eclectic volume that may be of use to North American businessmen.
Even at well under 200 pages, How to Live & Do Business in China is a sprawling work that is part-memoir, part-travelogue and part-primer on Chinese culture. Tadla writes of his experiences as a 61-year-old Canadian adjusting to Chinese norms while serving as a consultant to a U.S.-owned, Chinese-operated commercial production company. He struggles at first, hindered by his Western prejudices, but eventually achieves what he calls a change in paradigm and meets with success. As a first-person narrator, the author is a likable fellow with a rough-edged yet generally readable writing style. As he contrasts Western and Chinese approaches to just about everything–likening the cultural differences to the difference between left- and right-brained thinking–Tadla includes personal anecdotes to illustrate his points. Discussing Chinese medicine, for instance, he relates his apparently successful efforts to beat back prostate cancer using a method blending Western and Eastern approaches to health care. The book is organized somewhat haphazardly, and the author tends to run off on tangents, a few of which–a touching tribute to his late wife, for one–stray from the thrust of his work. Most of his observations, however, prove useful in illuminating Chinese standards to Westerners otherwise unfamiliar with the territory. Several sections–an overview of Confucianism, an essay on the crucial concept of "guanxi," a description of the Chinese haggling process–may help ordinary tourists and businessmen. The author mangles a sentence here and there, and he unsettlingly glosses over Chinese human-rights abuses while lauding the government’s ability to get things done, but altogether this is a friendly, handy beginner's guide to navigating the society of a vast, ancient country.
Short, wide-ranging and serviceable.