A lively, informative primer on recognizing and avoiding the cultural pitfalls Americans may encounter while doing business in China.

A Chinese human resources director is embarrassed and troubled by the lavish public compliments a company manager offers her. At meetings, the Chinese employees say little to nothing, frustrating their American boss who wants and expects their input. Such cultural misunderstandings are common and avoidable, contend authors Kelm (Hispanic linguistics/University of Texas at Austin; Brazilians Working with Americans, 2007), Doggett, a senior lecturer at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, and Tang, a senior product planner for Dell, Inc. In a familiar business text format, they offer eight case studies, each of which focuses on a particular cultural impasse, such as those mentioned above, that may stall American-Chinese business dealings. Each case study is followed by commentary from three American executives with much experience doing business in China, and three Chinese executives. The authors then offer some final comments along with topics and questions for discussion. While a few of the case studies tend to repeat the same message and the executives don’t always agree in their commentary, overall the format works well, offering broad lessons from particular scenarios. Simply put, China is different, and American executives, if they are to succeed in China, should recognize this. Millennia of Confucian influence have produced in China a strong sensitivity to the needs and feelings of the group. A public compliment, which Americans hand out like candy, may cause the Chinese recipient to worry that other colleagues may lose face and experience public humiliation. China is also a hierarchical society; though this is changing, one does not publicly challenge the boss. If Chinese are quiet at a meeting, it doesn’t mean they’re disinterested, only cautious, and may express themselves quite clearly one-on-one or in e-mails. Dozens of such insights and lessons are offered throughout the book, all leading to the conclusion that, in China, how the deal gets done is as important as getting it done. Essential reading for anyone heading off to do business in China.


Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-1463503680

Page Count: 146

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.


A well-constructed critique of an economic system that, by the author’s account, is a driver of the world’s destruction.

Harvard Business School professor Henderson vigorously questions the bromide that “management’s only duty is to maximize shareholder value,” a notion advanced by Milton Friedman and accepted uncritically in business schools ever since. By that logic, writes the author, there is no reason why corporations should not fish out the oceans, raise drug prices, militate against public education (since it costs tax money), and otherwise behave ruinously and anti-socially. Many do, even though an alternative theory of business organization argues that corporations and society should enjoy a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit, which includes corporate investment in what economists call public goods. Given that the history of humankind is “the story of our increasing ability to cooperate at larger and larger scales,” one would hope that in the face of environmental degradation and other threats, we might adopt the symbiotic model rather than the winner-take-all one. Problems abound, of course, including that of the “free rider,” the corporation that takes the benefits from collaborative agreements but does none of the work. Henderson examines case studies such as a large food company that emphasized environmentally responsible production and in turn built “purpose-led, sustainable living brands” and otherwise led the way in increasing shareholder value by reducing risk while building demand. The author argues that the “short-termism” that dominates corporate thinking needs to be adjusted to a longer view even though the larger problem might be better characterized as “failure of information.” Henderson closes with a set of prescriptions for bringing a more equitable economics to the personal level, one that, among other things, asks us to step outside routine—eat less meat, drive less—and become active in forcing corporations (and politicians) to be better citizens.

A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-3015-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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