Irish Lawyer’s New Book: ‘A Boorish Affair:The West’s Treatment of Russia' a Primer on How ‘Not’ To Do Business in Russia

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Mary Kirwan, a lawyer on three continents, a cyber-security specialist and Russophile, offers tips on how to create successful businesses in the EU’s second largest consumer market

It is also advisable to have a long term strategic commitment to the market: Russians tend to view Westerners as inveterate ‘takers’ who give nothing back to the greater Russian community.

"It is entirely possible to do business in Russia without paying bribes or engaging in other corrupt practices,” according to Kirwan. However, she counsels against condescending to Russians. “We tend to believe that we always know something the Russians don’t. In my experience, however, that is rarely the case.”

According to an independent reviewer, "Mary Kirwan highlights long held negative perspectives of Russia. She comprehensively outlines how these perspectives have affected (and continue to affect) the relationships between western nations and Russia. An incredibly thought-provoking book. Also indispensable reading for anyone doing business in Russia in order to avoid common western cultural pitfalls. Highly recommended".

In her book, Kirwan presents the findings of research and analysis she conducted on Western media coverage of Russian affairs over a four year period, with special emphasis on the UK and US markets. She concludes that the predominantly negative coverage of Russia- and stereotyping of its people- has had a serious impact on foreign direct investment into the country and on Brand Russia more generally.

According to Kirwan, her analysis, supported by pre-eminent psychologist and sundry academics over the years, supports the hypothesis that the consequences of national character stereotyping and media bias can be severe.

“The avalanche of ‘bad news’ stories about Russia in the Western media creates the erroneous impression that Russia is a dangerous place, inhospitable to both tourists and business people alike. This fallacy is compounded by a steady stream of Hollywood movies, TV network shows, advertisements and popular fiction that depict Russians as Mafiosi, gold diggers and terrorists.”

In her book, Kirwan provides examples that add context to what she describes as an “unbalanced debate” about a complex country.

“Far from being an economic basket case, Russia has the lowest state debt among the G8, G20 and BRIC nations, low unemployment (max 6.6%, per official Russian statistics), and an extremely low individual debt burden, compared to Western nations: The debt burden carried by Americans is USD $35,576.70 per person, $34,408.27 in Britain, $54, 403.98 in Ireland- and $1,117.13 in Russia (according to the Economist’s Global Debt Clock).”
[ __title__ Global debt clock ]

Furthermore, according to Kirwan, "In 2011, 14.9% of Russians lived below the poverty level- compared to 15.1% of Americans (2010) and Americans score lower than Russians based on the CIA's World Fact Book income equality ratings."

Kirwan suggests that "opportunity knocks" in the vast Russian market for Westerners who look behind the headlines "to the fundamentals" and who choose to open their hearts and minds to a brave and resilient people".

' A Boorish Affair' is published by Createspace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing LLC, part of the Amazon group of companies.

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Mary Kirwan
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