Very interesting post over at the always scintillating Managing the Dragon blog. The post is entitled, “Managing the Dragon, the Book (Update 2)” and it is the transcript of an interview with Jack Perkowski, writer of the just released (to strong reviews) book, “Managing the Dragon.” Was there any way I could have written that sentence without saying “Managing the Dragon” three times?

Here are my favorite questions and answers:

What do you hope readers will take away from reading Managing the Dragon?

There are many lessons to be learned from the book. Above all, though, I hope that the book will demystify China for the readers. It is true- there is a shroud of mystery that surrounds China, and there is much about the country that is difficult to understand. A central theme of the book, however, is that China does have its own logic, and that if you take the time and use your experience, knowledge and common sense, you can figure it out. Once you do, doing business in China, or just making sense of the country, becomes a whole lot easier.


What do you think the biggest areas of growth in China will be in the future?

China’s development as the “workshop to the world” has been the principal driver of the country’s tremendous growth over the past 30 years. While there will continue to be opportunities in manufacturing, the development of China’s service sector will present some of the most interesting areas for growth in the coming years. Health care and education are two areas where Chinese will be spending more and more of their money. Also, the consolidation of wholesale and retail distribution, and the development of better logistics capabilities, to more efficiently get goods into the hands of consumers will be very attractive sectors in which to invest.

What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you before you started building your company in China?
As I reflect on my time in China, it is clear to me that every mistake I have made, I have made because I acted too quickly and did not listen hard enough and long enough. More often than not, I should have just slowed down and taken a deep breath, rather than giving in to my gut reactions and desire for short term results. Patience is definitely a virtue in China.


What are the biggest challenges today faced by people who wish to start a company in China?

The biggest challenge for anyone who wants to start a company in China is developing and empowering a strong local management team. Although there is a long list of problems that must be overcome when operating in China, dealing with them becomes a great deal easier if a good local management team is in place. Because China does not have the same legacy of treating management as a science that exists in more developed countries, there is a management gap in China. Filling that management gap will continue to be the major challenge in China for some years to come. That is why the book devotes so much time to this important issue.

Would love to hear from viewers who have read the book. In particular, do you think it a good primer for building a business in China/doing business in China?

  • Murray

    I love books like this. Tell me how business is done in China. Yeah, do it to me, baby. Tell me how it is. That’s the good stuff! The billion-dollar book title wasn’t enough of a clue, apparnetly. This is self-promotional nonsense, and in a short span of time, you’ll find it in the used book shops next to books on how you can get rich in real estate by flipping properties with no money down.

  • sruwart

    I’m with Murray above – surprised that CLB highlights these Q+As as particulary oinsightful. They strike me as blindingly obvious points many other people and pundits have made before – nothing at all new here. And education and healthcare as “interesting” opportunities is IMHO a huge, over-optimistic exaggeration or else just naïve. Yes. Big needs and problems there, but din’t expect to have an easy or profitable time operating in these ultra-politiczed sectors. The government has for the past several years put caps and regulations in place to restrict the fees/profits levied in both sectors, where squeaking out the tiniest margin on what’s considered a public good or right is viewed as profiteering.
    Hope there’s more to the book than that, otherwise I’ll just keep relying on CLB as my go-to business info source.

  • John F

    I’m curious to know why Tim Clissold did not provide a blurb for the book.

  • Let’s face it, the real reason why China is considered so “mysterious” is because not many non-Chinese speak the language. I always get a laugh when the China expert of the week proclaims to be a sagely transmitter of esoteric phenomenon. I.e. Did you know that the Chinese symbol for crisis is a combination of danger and opportunity? or: The Chinese have a concept called “face” and it’s very serious. and you can’t forget: Don’t ever wear white at any time, it’s the color for death…
    Books like this continue the “exotification” of China and don’t really break any new ground.

  • Murray

    I have a fantastic recommendation instead.
    DRAGON RISING by Jasper Becker.
    It a National Geographic book that includes some fantastic pictures of China. It has only five ratings on, but they are all five stars. Makes a good gift also, and the author says many accurate things about China.

  • Murray, I’ve got a couple more:
    Ok, I confess. I made those up. But there’s a good chance that one of those is actually sitting on a shelf right now. The titling process is a lot like those Madlibs games I played as kid. Remember Madlibs?
    _________ (adj.) CHINA, A ________ (verb, preferably: Rising, Threatening) _________ (animal noun, preferably: Dragon or Tiger): A NEW LOOK AT ___________ (noun, preferably a business cliche, bonus points for words like global, paradigm or outsourcing, try all three!)

  • Murray,
    Have you actually read the book, or are you just presuming?

  • sruwart,
    I will concede there is not all that much in this particular Q&A, but I do like the blog, which indicates this guy knows whereof he speaks. I also like how he admits to having made mistakes.
    Have you actually read this book or are you just judging it by its title?

  • John F.,
    Good question? Anyone?

  • Glen Wilkins,
    Have you actually read the book?

  • Murray II,

  • Glen Wilkins,
    That’s basically how I pick my post titles. Every chance I get, I use the verb “rising.” Not kidding. I do it at least somewhat tongue in cheek, but at some point, it also becomes a shorthand.

  • murray

    Jasper Becker’s “Dragon Rising” is a good book. I own it, and I’ve read it.

  • Glen Wilkins

    I wasn’t really taking aim at Jasper Becker’s “Dragon Rising,” which for all I know may be a fine tome as any, but rather I was taking a shot at the genre of books that perpetuate the myth of the “mysterious China.”
    Complicated? Yes. Fascinating? Yes. Frustrating at times? Yes. China is all of those things, but proclaiming China as exotic, out-of-reach and approachable solely through words of wisdom available at only encourages more ignorance. Gee, China is quite an enigma, why bother trying to figure out why?
    On the other hand, your encouragement to those interested in Chinese law just to roll up their sleeves and get started is great advice. We need more guidance and encouragement and less metaphor and business jargon.
    Just my 2 fen,

  • murray

    The bit about the “rising” is funny, not to worry.
    I am with you on your comments. Would not have recommend Becker’s National Geographic book if it were not on the mark. It’s a book you can give a friend or relative if you wanted them to see pictures of China, but also want them to find a more accurate view of the place. It’s unusual that NG would have put out a book like that.