U.S. businesses are expanding their presence into China to take advantage of the country's growing consumer base, improving infrastructure, trading centers and special economic zones. However, understanding the country's cultural, legal and regulatory differences can be extremely daunting. It takes vision, commitment and—in many cases—a guide.
By 2003 I had spent several years working for Mortenson Construction in the United States. As a Chinese national, I was struck by the differences between Mortenson and typical Chinese construction firms. The extraordinary capital spending in China resulted in an industry where many firms were driven by short-term gains without a long-term strategy for customer needs. By contrast, Mortenson (like many U.S. contractors) had endured several business cycles, served multiple segments and customers over long periods of time and had a more thoughtful approach based on quality and long-term value.