McLean, in his debut, attempts to make China more appealing for investors and businesses looking to enter its marketplace.
China continues its unprecedented growth, and its untapped market has become an undeniable draw for multinational businesses. However, the country has been stigmatized by its intimidating role as a world power, its vilification by Western media and its reputation for prejudice against outsiders, among other issues. Seeking to assuage these fears, businessman McLean offers case studies of the successes and failures of companies like Google, General Electric, Best Buy and KFC in China. He also shares his own anecdotal experiences and understanding of how China’s long history has shaped the way the Chinese do business today. Outside entrepreneurs, he writes, will have to be patient and flexible, approaching business on China’s own terms and developing common-sense strategies able to adapt to the ways of an old country. McLean leaves the hyperbole at the door, taking an optimistic tone but not sugarcoating potential difficulties. The text provides a thorough, but not overwhelming, crash course in Chinese history and culture; it bolsters its commentary on China’s growth with useful, well-researched graphs. That said, the book says little about the issue of intellectual property protection and mentions the challenges of working with China’s many languages only briefly. Furthermore, it doesn’t fully address some of the thornier issues confronting China regarding human rights and ethical concerns; the book’s strongest argument—that the United States still struggles with the same shortcomings—will do little to win over readers who see China as a national villain.
An essential, if limited, resource which will appeal to international businesspeople as well as readers casually interested in China’s economic future.