New Book Explores Challenges Facing China Today and What It Means for Doing Business There

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Lauder Institute professor publishes essential business book on China; draws on 30+ case studies of Chinese firms as they navigate China’s evolving political and economic landscape.

The Wharton School’s Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania today announced publication of a new book from Wharton School Senior Fellow and Lauder Institute Professor, Regina Abrami, with William C. Kirby, and F. Warren McFarlan of Harvard Business School, entitled CAN CHINA LEAD? Reaching the Limits of Power and Growth (Harvard Business Review Press).

To explain how China got to where it is today, CAN CHINA LEAD turns the conventional story of the China miracle on its head. Instead of telling the story of how the Chinese government lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, it emphasizes the role of the individual – and how Chinese workers, farmers, and entrepreneurs helped themselves out of poverty, once given a chance. At the same time, the book also considers the reasons that led the Chinese Communist Party to push for institutional change in specific directions, now resulting in potentially unsustainable patterns of economic growth and rapidly growing levels of economic inequality.

“China has reached a critical transition stage,” says Dr. Abrami. “Anyone wanting to do business there needs to re-think old recipes for success, and consider instead what value they bring to the China market. Offering jobs is no longer good enough.”

“This is a must-read for anyone doing business in China today and anyone interested in the leadership challenges that China will face going forward,” writes William V. Hickey, retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sealed Air Corporation in his review.

George Yeo, Singapore’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs writes, “The authors doubt that China can lead the world, admitting that China may not have any such ambition in the first place. Analyzing the country’s deep contradictions, this book will teach you how business is done in China – and it does so brilliantly.”

Tom Lee, Hughes M. Blake Professor of Management at the Foster School of Business, University of Washington and former President of the Academy of Management declares it, “One of the best books on China that I’ve read in a very long time.”

The book is published by Harvard Business Review Press and is available for purchase where books are sold, including Amazon:

Regina Abrami is a Senior Fellow at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Director of the Global Program at the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies, and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Political Science. Prior to this, she was a member of the Harvard Business School faculty for eleven years and chair of its inaugural international immersion program.

William C. Kirby is the Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration, at Harvard University. He is the Chairman of the Harvard China Fund and has served as Director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. He is an honorary visiting Professor at Peking University, Nanjing University, Chongqing University, Zhejiang University, East China Normal University, Fudan University, the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, and National Chengchi University.

F. Warren McFarlan is a Baker Foundation Professor at Harvard Business School as well as the Albert H. Gordon Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus. He is concurrently a guest professor at Tsinghua University and co-director of the school’s China Business Case Center.

About the Lauder Institute:
The University of Pennsylvania’s Lauder Institute, founded in 1983, combines a world–renowned Wharton MBA with a Master’s in International Studies. Knowledge acquisition in language, culture, history and politics, a two-month overseas immersion program, and completion of a field-based Master’s Thesis all prepare Lauder Fellows for the ever-evolving global economy. Graduates join the diverse, supportive and committed worldwide Lauder community – continuing a nearly 30-year tradition of international business leadership. The Lauder Institute also offers an MA/JD joint degree. For more information, visit

About the Wharton School:
Founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. With a broad global community and one of the most published business school faculties, Wharton creates economic and social value around the world. The School has 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students; more than 9,000 annual participants in executive education programs; and a powerful alumni network of 92,000 graduates.

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