Conquistadores in China, ECCH Ref No. 204-14-1

This case set is easily teachable, and can be used along with my book, China UnCovered: What you need to do b usiness in China, Pearson, 2010.In 2002, China became the world’s number-one recipient of inward foreign direct investment (FDI). One of the major attractions was China’s entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in December 2001. Spanish firms, which had previously had a major focus on Latin America, participated in the general enthusiasm. The case presents the experience of three Spanish companies with operations in China. What are the problems and opportunities which they confront, and what lessons may be learnt? The three companies operate in different business sectors, and therefore have rather different experiences and insights. The case text is supplemented by a documentary based on direct interviews with the managers concerned. Sensitivity to local conditions is the prime teaching objective. The exercise is to ask students to explore the types of problems facing an inward investor coming to China. The case questions are are to draw lessons from the case regarding: (1) entry into China and market penetration; (2) maintenance and build up of position in China; (3) what firm characteristics would most help be competitive in China; and (4) dealing with the direct and indirect impacts of the political environment.

About Jonathan Story, Professor Emeritus, INSEAD

Jonathan Story is Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy at INSEAD. Prior to joining INSEAD in 1974, he worked in Brussels and Washington, where he obtained his PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He has held the Marusi Chair of Global Business at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and is currently Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Graduate Schoold of Business, Fordham University, New York. He is preparing a monograph on China’s impact on the world political economy, and another on a proposal for a contextual approach to business studies. He has a chapter forthcoming on the Euro crisis. His latest book is China UnCovered: What you need to know to do business in China, (FT/ Pearson’s, 2010) ( His previous books include “China: The Race to Market” (FT/Pearsons, 2003), The Frontiers of Fortune, (Pitman’s, 1999); and The Political Economy of Financial Integration in Europe : The Battle of the Systems,(MIT Press, 1998) on monetary union and financial markets in the EU, and co-authored with Ingo Walter of NYU. His books have been translated into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Arabic. He is also a co-author in the Oxford Handbook on Business and Government(2010), and has contributed numerous chapters in books and articles in professional journals. He is a regular contributor to newspapers, and has been four times winner of the European Case Clearing House “Best Case of the Year” award. His latest cases detail hotel investments in Egypt and Argentina, as well as a women’s garment manufacturer in Sri Lanka and a Chinese auto parts producer. He teaches courses on international business and the global political economy. At the INSEAD campus, in Fontainebleau and Singapore, he has taught European and world politics, markets, and business in the MBA, and PhD programs. He has taught on INSEAD’s flagship Advanced Management Programme for the last three decades, as well as on other Executive Development and Company Specific courses. Jonathan Story works with governments, international organisations and multinational corporations. He is married with four children, and, now, thirteen grandchildren. Besides English, he is fluent in French, German, Spanish, Italian, reads Portuguese and is learning Russian. He has a bass voice, and gives concerts, including Afro-American spirituals, Russian folk, classical opera and oratorio.
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