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Made in China - Donald Sull

I didn’t enjoy this book.

Normally when I give a bad review, I have some things that I don’t like about it. But this book didn’t really do anything wrong.

The book attempts to give us westerners a glimpse into the Chinese economy, and the factors that have led to its growth. I don’t know much about Chinese economy, but after reading this book, I still don’t feel any more informed.

Generally the book reads just like a regular business book except that the businesses and people are Chinese. Basically, it’s discussing case studies.

To me, this is where the book falls apart, for the same reason that most business books fall apart: the Halo Effect.

The halo effect is what happens when we only look at OUTCOMES. This book reads like lists of things that businesses and people did right. The problem with this is, success and failure are both multidimensional. It is easy to look at success and list the things they did, but it is not necessarily accurate - other businesses can do the same things, under different circumstances, and fail. The Halo Effect can be hard to grasp, but it’s very important. I recommend the Halo Effect by Rosenzweig to fully understand this.

Because of the halo effect, I don’t believe this book has much value. It didn’t give me a solid understanding of the business landscape in China, and I don’t trust the lists of success tips to be anything more than wishful thinking produced by the halo effect.

The book tried. The writing was decent. The author has personality. But I didn’t get anything out of it.