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Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the Tactics Behind China's Production Game [Hardcover]

Paul Midler
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 April 2009
Poorly Made in China chronicles the experiences of an American working for a U.S. outsourcing firm in Chinese manufacturing and highlights the disturbing and dangerous practice known as "quality fade"––the deliberate and secretive habit of widening profit margins through a reduction in the quality of materials over time. The author argues that U.S. importers don′t stand a chance against factory owners in China who are savvier and who have little to lose by placing American health and safety at risk. A well–written and impassioned narrative, Poorly Made in China is one insider′s account of the quality–fade tactics used by China in seven industries, including health and beauty care, diamonds, and construction. Poorly Made in China will sound an alarm that all of America should heed. Paul Midler (Scottsdale, AZ) has been working with China for close to two decades. He created China Advantage, a services firm, to assist American companies with their business objectives in East Asia. The author earned his MBA from the Wharton School and is a Mandarin speaker.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons (23 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470405589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470405581
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.6 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 347,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Awards Best Book 2009 ( The Economist ) Best Book for Business Owners ( Inc. )  Great Finance Book of 2009 ( Forbes )  Best of 2009 Business Book ( Library Journal )  "Midler has upended a lot of the assumptions about this factory for the world." ( Forbes )  “A must–read for people engaged in mainland business.” ( South China Morning Post )  “Important, timely and entertaining.” ( Taipei Times )  “Most of the people in Mr. Midler’s position would not dream of disclosing what they see.” ( The Economist )  “Manages to be both instructive and entertaining.” ( National Review )  “A fascinating, funny and important book.” ( Asia Times )  “An invaluable book for anyone considering doing business in China.” ( Epoch Times )  “A lively dissection of the cultural clash.” ( Malaysia’s The Star )  “You won’t look at the label ‘Made in China’ the same way.” ( Toronto Now )  “His warning is worth heeding – is China listening?” ( Business Times )  "Plenty of laugh–out–loud moments." ( Financial Times )  “Strongly recommended.” ( Bangkok Post )

‘…provides an interesting alternative to the hagiographic view of globalisation...′ (Wilmott.com, September 2009). ‘…comes closer than any author to explaining the dysfunctional business culture behind such deadly product scandals…’ .  (Far Eastern Economic Review, September 2009).

From the Inside Flap

It was a world gone wrong, one in which manufacturers thought little of manipulating product quality levels in order to save the smallest amounts, where savvy foreign business leaders were made to feel in control while they were taken for a ride by their partners, where entire manufacturing facilities sometimes vanished right into thin air… Welcome to Poorly Made in China ! At the height of the boom export manufacturing, Paul Midler returned to East Asia, a recently graduated Wharton MBA. In the right place at the right time, he was sought out by a number of foreign companies who wanted help in navigating the new economy. The adventures came fast, as did the business and cultural lessons. Poorly Made in China is a dramatic romp through China′s export manufacturing sector, one that reveals what really goes on behind the scenes. The story follows the author from one project to the next, taking the reader through a diverse set of industries and revealing a number of challenges. An engaging business narrative told with doses of humor and insight, this true story pulls back the curtain on the rising Chinese economy, providing a closer look at the rough–and–tumble environment in which so many of our consumer products are being made. For those trying to make sense of why so many quality failures could come out of China at once, this book is an especially interesting read. Poorly Made in China is the tale of a modern–day gold rush and its consequences, the chronicling of a rising economic power and its path along a steep growth curve. Entertaining and eye–opening, the book highlights the extent to which culture affects business dealings, and the ultimate suggestion is that we may have more to be concerned about than product failures alone."

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Only the tip of the iceberg. 10 Jan 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wow. This book brought back many memories.
Paul Midler's experiences working with Chinese manufacturers is a highly amusing, yet factual account of the infuriating job that is outsourcing manufacturing to China. If anything, i would say that Paul has understated his subject for fear of being unbelievable.
I couldn't read this book quick enough, being in this business myself.
If anyone is presently manufacturing in China, or considering moving their manufacturing to China, this is a must-read.
There are huge HUGE opportunities for people who decide to outsource manufacturing in China, and to export to China. And these opportunities will only improve in the next decade. But beware. With great opportunity there comes great risk, unless you have excellent people on the ground looking out for you.
Read this book. Forewarned is forearmed.
Get yourself an excellent outsourcing manager. (This is where I give you my sales pitch, but i can't)
Great book, Paul. Thanks.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This book is a remarkably well-written account of the various (oftentimes nefarious) games played by Chinese manufacturers - especially when dealing with western clients.
Paul Midler narrates his various adventures as an intermediary between chinese bosses or factory owners and western CEOs or managers who are hoping to benefit from the "low cost" Chinese production environment.
He shows with clarity as well as humor how local factory owners and managers engage in various shenanigans, in effect engagin in a negative kaizen (i.e. continuous worsening) of product quality and features at the detriment of gullible clients.
This book is a must read for any person who is interested in what's happening in China today, particularly for those who have a business interest in that country.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you do business with China read this 19 Jun 2011
By Aloha
Points about book
1. Written by Wharton business school graduate.
2. Book is compilation of 22 chapters.
3. Book gives you insight how people in China do business and how they will lure you at first place for your business and after that how they will play tricks with you.
4. Writer of book explains different problems he faced while doing business with Chinese manufacture on behalf of his American Clients.
5. Book written is in very simple English.
6. Book explain what you can expect from Chinese suppliers or manufacturers when you do business with them it is not a complete list but yes it gives you idea that what you should look for and what you should check before making a deal or after making a deal.
7. Book also highlights a point, which I think whole world, know that why all things we use have line on them "Made in China "(answer is cheap and they make any thing you just name it.).
8. Book also highlight that Chinese manufacturers lack inventions and new product development, but they are good at mass productions and creating new factories out of nothing.

Over all this book is good read and I think must read if you do business with Chinese Manufacturers or suppliers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INTERESTING INSIGHT....... 18 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
....into the pitfalls and frustrations of doing business in China. Amusing for the disconnected reader but for anyone doing or thinking of doing business this currently evolving and largely unregulated manufacturing cauldron it must be a worrying and extremely 'off-putting ' tale.

However, the current edge this country has namely a mainly uneducated, unorganised, low expectation labour force enabling manufacturers to have very low labour costs, will surely not last for very long before costs begin to rise, above those of newly emerging Asian and African countries, thus negating China's price competitive effectiveness.

This coupled with increasing State regulation, and bureaucracy , particularly involving health and safety issues which are currently almost non-existent, will further dent China's world manufacturing supremacy. At some point the penny will drop, whether in time or not to retain it's current position, and manufacturing standards and reliability will improve. In the meantime the various almost farcical events so interestingly related by Paul Midler in this book will continue to befall those that choose to have their products made in China.

This book is not a definitive guide to doing business in this region but for those giving it consideration, it at least will put them on their guard as to where the pitfalls might lie, and for those like myself with not the slightest inclination to trade in the homelands of Confucius, it provides an interesting and light anecdotal tale.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most useful book of its type ! 20 Mar 2013
By Monty
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a MUST READ for anyone contemplating sourcing or otherwise doing business in China. If you are already there, OOPS, its possibly too late ! Unfortunately, this well crafted and easy to read volume very accurately depicts what you will be up against. Despite the warm eager welcomes you will receive from many companies, the reality of QUALITY FADE will already be on their mental agenda. They will execute this quietly, but quite expertly. Chinese companies are wonderfully creative long term strategic planners when it comes to squeezing blood from stones, your stones. They are also among the world's best at reverse engineering - anything !
On the flip side, if you can establish a permanent presence within the company with whom you have chosen to do business, then that is a good beginning. Your "presence" must be able to speak the language fluently, and be totally commercially self sufficient. They must be empowered to take meaningful decisions on the spot without requiring recourse to a boss back home. In the absence of that, the Chinese "partner" will ensure that the big boss back home spends a considerable amount of his time on a plane. CAVEAT EMPTOR !
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An Eye Opener
Its what I have always suspected about Chinese products. They know every trick in the book and I like many others have been victims. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Keith C. Pryce
5.0 out of 5 stars To be handed out at Shanghai airport as foreigners get off the plane
I used to keep a stack of Paul's books in my office and hand them out like candies to bright-eyed innocents who had just landed in China and were hoping to make a fortune from... Read more
Published 6 months ago by V Goldsilk
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read
I don't know which is worse - some of the tales told in this book or the fact that I know several people who work in the Chinese production industry who confirm that they are 100%... Read more
Published 10 months ago by A. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opening
Fascinating look from an insider's point of view at the state of the manufacturing industry in China today. Read more
Published 13 months ago by elephvant
5.0 out of 5 stars A buisness book that captivates with observations like Malcom Gladwell
Even if you are not manufacturing this is very interesting reading. Incredibly well written, snappy and entertaining. Read more
Published on 17 Oct 2011 by Bo McDonald
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs to give more proactive advice
Paul gives some good anecdotes into problems dealing with China suppliers. I have completed a project to outsource cosmetic brands to China and luckily we did not experience... Read more
Published on 7 Jun 2010 by K. S. Wykes
4.0 out of 5 stars Insight into Chinese business
An easy to readand excellent insight into Chinese business and manufacturing environment. Some amusing anecdotes.
Published on 28 Nov 2009 by R. Swan
4.0 out of 5 stars A fresh view of Chinese business practices
Paul Midler has got lots of hands-on experience about what business relations between Chinese manufacturers and US or European importers look like and feel. Read more
Published on 9 July 2009 by Peter Hidas
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