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Reader’s Review, September 2012

By John D. Baker

In the Shadow of the Dragon: The Global Expansion of Chinese Companies – How It Will Change Business Forever

By Winter Die and William Dowell with Abraham Lu
290pp. New York, N.Y.: AMACOM, 2012
Hardcover (USA) $27.95

Winter Nie is a leading expert on Chinese contemporary enterprises and a frequent consultant to multinational corporations in Asia, Europe and the United States. Ms. Nie was born and raised in China and pursued her graduate studies in the United States. She holds a PhD from the University of Utah.

Dr. Nie is a Professor at the International Institute for Managerial Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland. IMD is consistently ranked as one of the leading MBA programs in the world.

William Dowell has worked as a reporter for TIME magazine, ABC television and NBC radio as well as Public Radio Broadcasting. He knows Asia well, having spent almost eight years on the continent as a war correspondent, head of TIME’s Hong Kong bureau prior to the colony’s return to China, and a news reporter. Mr. Dowell is a resident of Geneva, Switzerland.

Abraham Lu was a research assistant and worked on this book while he was at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland. Mr. Lu now has returned to China where he lives and works.

In the Shadow of the Dragon explores the current shift of China’s largest corporations from their focus on a low-cost business approach to their new focus on global business. This transition, the authors assert, is the next step in a strategy which “from the beginning was to learn from the West, master the technology, and then develop their own products that took the technology further” (p.9). The authors present a strong case for the past, current, and future success of that strategy.

Additionally, the authors explain the mindset of Chinese entrepreneurs as greatly differing from their Western corporate competitors. Chinese business leaders, the authors insist, play-by rules extracted from the game of Go rather than from Chess as is done in the West, and therefore are more ready to adapt to unforeseen situations, gamble the fate of the entire company on a strategic decision, and to act rapidly on instinct more than their Western competitors (pp. xi-xii).

It is a timely and thought-provoking book that should have wide interest. For the negotiator, more-over, it provides a window into a series of critical negotiations between Chinese and Western corporations which illustrate a wide variety of strategic and complex attempts at negotiating critical agreements. Essentially, it contains a rich trove of recent and important international case studies on negotiation.

To illustrate the sort of negotiating situations you will find here, let me site a few cases examined in the book. These cases involve Huawei Technologies'(wireless switching systems) failed bit to upgrade Sprint Nextel’s wireless network (2010); TLC International’s (telephones and television sets) successful alliance with Europe’s Thompson electronics (2003); Lenovo’s (computers) acquisition and strategic alliance with IBM (2004); and Haier’s (appliances) failed bid to purchase Maytag (2005).

The reader will find also a wide variety of complex negotiations. Throughout these negotiations, issues often involve national security concerns, 3rd party pressures, lost business opportunities, trades of access to new technology for lower cost manufacturing capabilities, strategic alliances, fulfillments of market entry and exit strategies, and a host of other complex negotiation variable elements.

This is a valuable work, well-researched and important reading for students of complex negotiation as well as global interaction. This is a practical and thoughtful book, designed for both the negotiation trainer and the corporate manager to produce solid performance results.

Readers will be pleased to find that the authors have included a useful and detailed Index.

Highly Recommended.

John D. Baker, Ph.D.

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The Negotiator Magazine (September, 2012) Copyright © 2012 The Negotiator Magazine