Raving reviews are coming in from Shaun Rein´s The End of Copycat China: The Rise of Creativity, Innovation, and Individualism in Asia, this time from the Financial Times. “An intriguing book, with many interesting anecdotes, mini-case studies, and interviews.”
The Financial Times:
Such cases – for which Rein gives a few more examples from companies such as Tencent, Huawei or Xiaomi – have to show that a communist or developing country background can be as fertile of a ground for innovation as any other. Indeed, the innovations Rein puts forward use the flaws of communist China to their advantage, rather than to be paralyzed by them.
For sure, Rein is not alone in his view that Chinese companies are getting to the innovation phase. Consulting firm BCG this year put four Chinese companies (Lenovo, Xiami, Tencent and Huawei) in its annual list of the world’s most 50 innovative companies.
In the later chapters of his book Rein comes up with a number of fields in which we can expect to see Chinese innovation, such as health care, healthy living, or tourism. In each of the fields, Rein shows that with increasing demand from Chinese consumers, innovative solutions are likely.
But are the examples of a handful of companies enough to prove the bigger picture? Or is innovation in China still the exception, rather than the rule? After being convinced by Rein’s appealing storyline in the first few chapters, the reader is left wondering just that. While we are prepared to accept that some Chinese companies have innovated to a significant extent, we are less ready to believe that this means that the longstanding habit of copying is dead, as the title of the book suggests.
Yet Rein’s is an intriguing book, with many interesting anecdotes, mini-case studies, and interviews. If you discount the author’s obvious self-interest in writing it (he is, after all, the founder of a consulting group helping Chinese and foreign companies succeed in the Chinese market), you will be pleasantly surprised by the author’s fluency, and the “teachable moments” that arise from his writings.
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