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One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  531 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Companies from around the globe are flocking to China to buy, sell, manufacture, and create new products, but as former Wall Street Journal China bureau chief turned successful corporate executive James McGregor explains, business in China is never quite what it seems. One Billion Customers offers compelling narratives of personalities, business deals, and lessons learned, ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Free Press (first published October 1st 2005)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Rajat Tiwari
Author, through his unique positions in the growing China's economy of 90s to early 2000s, shares detailed information on how the Chinese bureaucracy functions. I picked up with the intent to know little about the nitty-gritties of how a chinese consumer functions. Though I did get a glimpse of this but this book largely about Chinese business history & derived learnings from it.
A decent read overall. 3/5 rating.

An anecdote about Chinese people's competitiveness which I enjoyed the most (don't m
Mystic Miraflores
This was an interesting book but I'm afraid the info is outdated by now. I actually don't have it anymore. I bought it for the office I was working at in 2005 and left it there with a colleague when I left to study Chinese for a year. That colleague moved on to another job and I never returned to that office after my sabbatical was over, so not sure where it is now. Wherever it is, I hope it is doing someone some good! ...more
Mack Flavelle
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great little book about doing business in China. General format is case studies, followed by analysis plus some maxims mimicked from Mao's Little Red Book format. A little too much padding but the case studies were both engaging to read and felt relevant to trying to do business in China as a foreigner, with the caveat that they generally weren't stories about or for small business. ...more
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book that shows a powerful insight into business and politics in the Middle Kingdom, while certain aspects of the book are outdated due to the constant change in China. There are still some great takeaways from this book. Thank you James McGregor!
Cheng Ming Daw
Apr 28, 2022 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
the views were absolutely personal and some statements were over exaggerated

I suggest the author to take closer look again. The 21centry has changed over 180 degree anywhere in the world not alone China.
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting perspective on Chinese business culture.
Nguyet Nguyen
After reading this book, I understand how much Vietnam and China alike in both culture and politics.
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
most of the suggestions are outdated, I guess. But this book is fully of anecdotes, which helped me connect a few dots in my memory.
Martin Chiu
Sep 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book to understand the psychology of how business is done in China
Interesting read on Chinese way of business.
Kristof Verbeke
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book goes very well together with poorly made in china and mr. China to further understand chinese cukture. Although many examples about the business life in china are given this book focusses a bit more on history and how history of the prc is still relevant today, especially in a business context. After each part an important short recap is given. Extremely handy.
Ashley Lauren
Feb 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I think James McGregor did an absolutely fantastic job in writing this book. As a novice to the Chinese system, I found his assessments both level-headed and helpful. I found his stories extremely engaging and continually as I was reading it, I found myself showing the cover to my roommates and saying, "This book is phenominal." I believe that this is a good read for anyone - I have no intentions of getting into business with China - at least not anytime soon - but even in the act of travelling ...more
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book even helps Chinese to understand their own society. As common people, there is no way we know about the details of theses big deals from newspaper. We saw what's happening around but we don't know why. I appreciate the author for sharing his unique experience and deep view about the market from a foreign investor's perspective.
Some advices of doing business in china is very interesting. MNCs should understand the environment more before they land on this absurd battlefield. A good bal
Decent book, lots of case studies. Unfortunately, it tries a bit to hard to boil the business mind down and oftentimes the metaphors are ridiculous. "Chinese business is like a dumpling..."

What this author tries so hard to do is find a root cause, something central to the Chinese business mind. Unfortunately, the Chinese like all societies work on a number of co-existing contradictions that can't ever make perfect sense and may vary from one person to another. Still, for anyone frustrated with h
Maria Nahlik
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very true, well structured, interesting readng.

Reading this book is important for anybody who wants to understand how China really works. An update would be interesting. The last ten years have opened China even more towards the west, and, although much of the fundamental typology described in the book still prevails, the world is getting (for the better or the worse) more and more uniform. The book is packed with interesting facts experienced first hand by the author, it is easy to read, captiv
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was probably the best book on China I've read so far. It may have been because it was the first book on China economics I read, but I don't think so. It was interesting, well written, contained lots of great insights, and very informative. It is 2 years old and on the China timescale that may make it outdated, but I would still definitely recommend it to anyone about to move to China or interested in the economics over here. ...more
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, business
This book is full of current Chinese gems such as "Being corrupt is not a big deal. Everybody is corrupt. But you can't be corrupt and be politically incorrect at the same time. You don't have to be clean as long as you are loyal to your political protectors above you. Honesty in China will always lose out to piety and loyalty." "The procurement process in China is usually corrupt at every level." Yucky society. Glad I'm not Chinese. ...more
I read this book for my international business management class. I loved the do's and do not's of business in China and the insights it held, but it was very detailed I think that 50-75 of those pages could have been cut out. A lot of repeating went on, and I know it was probably to illustrate multiple examples and all that but it just dragged the novel along for me, especially when then I had to condense 300 pages into 2 for the book report. ...more
Repeatedly mentioned corruption as part of doing business in China, like other business books on China. It talks about China as a market and not just a factory, unlike many other business books on China.

I had to read books on the subject for business school. It's not something I really enjoy reading about, so my star rating is not truly fair.
Eveline Chao
Jun 01, 2008 rated it liked it
Old (in lightning-fast China time, anyway) but great. Felt like reading a collection of quick, entertaining Harvard Business School case studies, but about companies in China. McGregor's palpable glee when he recounts the standoff between Reuters/Dow Jones and Xinhua, which he was directly involved in, was especially fun to read. ...more
James Cripps
Jan 06, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Way too boring. There is only one thing separating this from a one-star ranking, and that's the story about Lai Changxing, a thoroughly entertaining story about one of China's most notorious entrepreneurs. But the rest is either about BIG business or BIG government, neither of which is particularly relatable for the common person. ...more
Jerel Bonner
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
James McGregor's book was one of the early books written on how to understand and adjust your China business strategy based on "How China Really Operates".

One of the best parts of the book is his summary of each chapter interestingly titled " The Little Red Book of Business". These sections highlight the main ideas and action points of how to do business in China.
Oct 20, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Facts, facts, facts! I learned a lot about the backgrounds of some of the major players in the up and coming economic war. Although I did not agree with everything the author talks about, nor did I agree with the numerous spelling mistakes, this pretty much sums it up.
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a great book to learn about contemprary China. Not only about the Chinese business culture, but also about its history, its ideology and its people. The author's understanding of today's China is profound and accurate. Thumbs up! ...more
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Broad perspective blended with case analysis, delivered in an entertaining manner, painted an accurate picture of how business is conducted in China.
Oct 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Do business in China!
Oct 09, 2008 rated it liked it
A little too generic, but a fun read
Apr 14, 2009 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
China could be the next frontier to focus on
Stefan Martiyan
Read because I thought I might be doing business in China, which I haven't as of yet, but essential for any Westerner taking the risk of doing so. ...more
Yotam Gutman
Sep 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredible insight into China and its business culture.
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