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Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the China Production Game
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Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the China Production Game

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  676 ratings  ·  113 reviews
An insider reveals what can--and does--go wrong when companies shift production to ChinaIn this entertaining behind-the-scenes account, Paul Midler tells us all that is wrong with our effort to shift manufacturing to China. Now updated and expanded, "Poorly Made in China" reveals industry secrets, including the dangerous practice of quality fade--the deliberate and secret ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published December 3rd 2010 by Wiley (first published March 23rd 2009)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,414)
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Kate
Jul 29, 2009 Kate rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: business readers; global trade readers; narrative nonfiction readers
Shelves: nf
I was expecting something drier, with more statistics. In fact, this is a narrative of the author's experience as a business consultant working with importers from the US and manufacturers in China. It was a pleasant surprise, fast-paced and worth reading.

The ethics (or lack of ethics, to be truthful) and self-serving and/or delusional behavior of both parties in these relationships are on display here - although there are some detours into Chinese culture as well. The author believes he is maki
...more
Noladishu

I just finished Poorly Made in China and wanted to highlight some of my key takeaways in the book. The book recently made The Economist's Book of the year list (Book review - The Economist). Paul Midler has lived in China for over 15 years and worked as an outsourcing consultant for small-to-mid-sized companies on a range of products. He wrote the book because he was shocked at what he saw. The book was written as a response to the string of 2007 Chinese quality scandals (yes, it even it's own W
...more
Urban Sedlar
A shocking look into the Chinese manufacturing phenomenon. The stories described within shed light on the peculiarities of the Chinese character and culture, and at the same time reveal the true ugliness beneath: practically nonexistent business ethics.

The author lives and works in China--as an agent for the US importers; he mediates the entire process of setting up a business and intervenes whenever shit hits the fan, which seems to happen quite often. The book exposes many dirty strategies the
...more
Socraticgadfly
Author Paul Midler, a non-Chinese U.S. native, learned Chinese as an undergrad and eventually got an MBA. Not wanting a stereotypical U.S. finance job, he became a middleman in southeast China's economic heartland -- a middleman between U.S. importers and Chinese manufacturers.

First, many American companies dealing with China are just that -- importers. Their companies never made a thing in America. They're start-up or near start-up entrepreneurs, aglow at the idea of selling cheap made-in-China
...more
Nihkita
This book is great if you've lived in China just long enough to start to understand it and in turn hate it. Yes it’s about Chinese manufacturing but any lao wai will have common experiences even if they don't work in manufacturing or business or work at all. It’s got the culture of China, not the nuances, but things Chinese people do that add to the culture gap. This book had such a light tone about it too. It’s not telling you what to do or think its just telling you what happened. For once whe ...more
Joe
The author of this book worked as a facilitator in China, generally helping American importers and Chinese manufacturers come together. It's interesting, and is written by someone in the rare position of having experience and a good understanding of a variety of Chinese businesses and business deals, but I don't think there's really much new insight here for most people.

If the author has one point, it is this: a difference in assumptions about business practices and goals means that people often
...more
Taras
Interesting insight into "unique" manufacturing practices in China.

The author sounds like he was in love with chine during his undergrad, business school. With experience he became more bitter and started blaming his frustrations on oddities of Chinese culture. The narrative consists of typically hilarious vignettes on the clash of clashing cultures.


This book helps me understand the Chinese direct2consumer relationships on aliexpress better. I wish the author would consider the notion that oper
...more
Alex
A man recounts his adventures dealing as a middle-man for Chinese manufacturers and American exporters, comes to the conclusion that Chinese business practises are fundamentally corrupt, and offers little in the way of solutions. Midler's prose is at once propulsive and repetitive, with his impact being diminished by establishing several sets of Confucian ideals over and over. The section on the short term versus long term goals is particularly infuriating in this regard.

Midler offers no answers
...more
Jeanne
This book will make you never want to buy anything made in China again. After the fall of communism and the birth of capitalism in China, businesses have started to pave their way into world production. For many of the products sent to China for manufacture, the quality of the items is slowly chipped away to be pennies cheaper at every iteration until something collapses. Since quantities are so large, and the degradation of raw materials is so gradual, the cost savings is worth it to the manufa ...more
John Pombrio
I just found this book fascinating. The way the small factory owners put the squeeze on their customers, the product's quality, and the workers lives harks back to Ebenezer Scrooge or the old robber barons of yore. The complete lack of ethics, oversight, quality control, or environmental responsibility puts China in a poor position to maintain their growth.
The writing is well done in a narrative story following a few customers through the ordeal of moving production to China, finding a manufact
...more
Shawn  Stone
To satisfy the insatiable appetite for plastic crap at bargain prices, it’s no secret that the world’s multinationals look to China to mass produce their trinkets for minimum cost. With a cheap and infinitely replaceable labour supply, minimum government intervention and the ability to skirt environmental responsibilities, what appears to be a capitalist’s wet dream degenerates into a Faustian bargain whereby the Western rules of contract law, product quality and safety standards don’t apply. A ...more
Clare
This was such a page turner.... you wouldn't think so maybe from the subject matter it covers! But it reads a lot like a novel. I bought this in a Hong Kong airport and read half of it on an overnight flight. I had to stop myself from reading the rest because I had to show up at work the next day.

The only reason why I won't give this five stars is that it can tend to say the same thing over and over again. But it's a great book.

Who is it for? I'm studying town planning, and was coming home from
...more
Jeremy Segal
Poorly Made in China by Paul Midler is an eyewitness account how manufacturing and exports work in China. Paul Midler accounts how Chinese manufacturers always work hard to make an extra dollar by any means necessary. The factory owner convinces an importer to use his or her factory with low prices and quickly makes good quality products. When the manufacturer starts to get a lot orders though, the factory raises the prices for orders, but lowers the quality of the product. This game that manufa ...more
Eva
Super fascinating book! In short, the author, a Wharton MBA who serves as an on-the-ground liaison between Western importers and Chinese manufacturers, recounts his experiences with trying to make the process go smoothly. It's amazing to hear how Chinese business culture and ethics differ from ours, and, relatedly, how hard it is for the author and his importer clients to get their products manufactured as agreed upon. The manufacturers are always finding creative new ways to shave off costs and ...more
Aggy
I happened to stumble to this book in one fateful rainy afternoon after i was failed to escape Jakarta's traffic jam and find refugees on a tiny bookstore in some shady mall. With a very cheap price, i was drawn into the attractive title easily. I thought it's going to be another China-bashing book but it turned out really great. I feel like I was reading Midler's journal the same way old adventurers read marco polo's or colombus' (or redbeard LOL) journal. He took us into the twist and turn of ...more
Gannonwb
If you're coming to China to do busines better add this one to the list.....
Britton
This book is the most enlightening thing that I've read in years. Full of fascinating stories of how Chinese manufacturers manipulate the quality of their goods, with insights into what it means for us to get our stuff made as cheaply as possible.

The moral of the story is that you really shouldn't buy anything that says "Made in China" on it, but the reasons are surprising.

It also poses interesting questions about manufacturing in a global economy. Should we try to move manufacturing back to t
...more
Nailmouth
A first-hand account by an experienced middle man and 'fixer', Poorly Made in China recounts some of the dangers and frustrations the author experienced doing business with a country in which people are constantly negotiating, bargaining, and in some cases, directly trying to rip each other off.

An interesting and useful look at the country and its business practices, Poorly Made in China is also well-written and a thoroughly enjoyable quick read. Required reading for anyone planning to do busine
...more
Gina Rheault
A walk through cheap stuff made in China. Mostly it centers on a shampoo/soap supplier, making cheap stuff for consumers expecting cheap stuff. Funny, because the Chinese especially don't trust the consumable stuff made in China. I suspect the particulars differ from industry to industry. I would like to know the story of the higher end consumer manufacturing, say an iPod, a Miele vaccuum cleaner, and middle end like stoves and refrigerators. The cheap stuff (irons, toasters, appliances, many po ...more
Biblioworm
Книжку могу рекомендовать к прочтению - читается легко, написана с юмором.
И скорее всего в основном содержит достоверные факты о излагаемом аспекте современного Китая - взаимоотношениях западных заказчиков и китайских подрядчиков.

Не понравилось два момента. Во-1х автор рассказывает о приемах кривого ведения бизнеса в King Chemical, при этом он долго и плодотворно с ними сотрудничал в роли посредника-переводчика. Т.е. по сути сам участвовал в этом "обувании", причем, поскольку делал это в отноше
...more
Cwhk
I am working with Chinese companies for over 7 years in China. I agree with many points of the author Paul Midler but he is missing some important points and here is a key message:

Mattel's toxic toys scandal
I have seen customers who don't bother about quality certificates.
Push prices to the limit and leave controls away. The supplier who worked with Mattel at this time was Lee Der Industrial. I was lucky enough to meet one of their employees on a train back to Hong Kong.

Zhang Shuhong (Chinese:
...more
Kha Nguyen
This book is well-written and full of practical experiences of the author. The real life stories of the author are what made this book appealing and helpful. Although I have some experience living in China for a while, this book opens a totally whole new horizon for me about the reality behind all the cheap product 'made in china'. When I was in China, I and my friends were always surprised by the cheap prices of clothes, toys, shampoos.. you name it! To be honest, it was good to be able to buy ...more
Tim Jin
Unlike reading a feature article from WSJ on manufacturing in China and reading a commentary from an economist, you get a first hand look from Paul Midler doing business. I was afraid that it would be all about bashing the Chinese, but it's interesting on the cultural differences and the insightful views on what is going on in the factories.

We cannot really blame the Chinese at cutting corners at making the products that we use. Just look at your bath towels and most likely it is made in China.
...more
Catherine
I bought this book at the airport in Hong Kong after spending a month travelling trough China with a fantastic guide and tour group. It is truly insightful into all that is problematic in China. For a country that wants to be a player in the world economy they have such a long way to go. It feels that the Chinese people want to engage with the western countries and cultures but on their own terms which is great. I always felt that in china they had lost some of their interesting culture and have ...more
David Tendo
An absolutely fascinating read. Scary, thought-provoking and funny in equal measure. I initially thought it would just be China-bashing criticism and bias, but as you read it, you find that Midler actually has a lot of respect for the Chinese and the way they do things. It helps that he's a westerner who lives there, can speak the language and is fully immersed in the whole process; I think this makes his story more credible and makes him the perfect mediator for both sides of the story. I like ...more
David Vaughan
This account of a wholesale cosmetic company's factory representative's business life in Southeast China (Guangdong Province) during the 1990s and 2000s is accurate, amusing and informative. This is the other China Syndrome -- the manner in which cost and quality are balanced in the world's factory. Blessed with guts, eloquence and a business education, Paul Midler describes in fascinating detail what really goes on inside the buildings where our shampoo and hand creams are made. Or ... he would ...more
Thang Ly
This is a very well written, well informs, and, very well paced book. The author did an outstanding job of describing the business aspect of China mixed with his own personal experiences. I highly recommend this book to any International Business students because a lot of business has head oversea to setup in China; thus, this is a great book to get a better understanding about the Chinese culture. Some argues that this book only talks about South China and it should be taken as factual because ...more
Scott
This was very entertaining and somewhat shocking. I'm definitely staying away from any personal hygiene products that I notice are produced in China. I could care less about stuff like my iPhone as long it works... well except feeling slightly guilty about the number of suicides that took place while it was manufactured at Foxconn. For the most part this book just made me angry at the way the factory owners take advantage of their workers and how they take advantage of smaller American firms (or ...more
Ivan
Я привык что нон-фикшен пишут в позитивном ключе. Здесь же позитива минимум. Зато множество, не то чтобы вдохновляющих, фактах о производстве. Любой после такого станет с опаской смотреть на китайские товары)
Duncan
I really liked this book because I have absolutely no background in the manufacturing industry, but I'm always keen to learn how about how products are made in China. After all, most of us are using things that are made in China, like it or not.

It really opened my eyes to some of the things that are happening in China that I would have never imagined.

I like the story of how Bernie screw Sister back at the end.

It seems to me that a contract between an importer and a manufacturer is useless if on
...more
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“Somewhere along the line, Made in China began to sound like a bargain. (...)
When an importer told a retail buyer that an item was quoted at 65¢ and made in the USA, the buyer figured it could be purchased somewhere cheaper.

When the same product was quoted at 65¢ and was said to have been made in China the buyer figured it could not be found for any less.”
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