Doug Guthrie, Thunderbird School of Global Management

Chinese Co - optation: Doing Business in the Era of Xi Jinping
Doug Guthrie


Winter 2020
Lecture Time: 
Friday, February 14, 2020 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
Lecture Location: 

R0220 Ross School of Business


The cost of doing business in China today is a high one, and it is paid by any and every company that comes looking to tap into its markets or leverage its workforce. Quite simply, you don’t get to do business in China today without doing exactly what the Chinese government wants you to do. Period. No one is immune. No one. As someone who has lived and worked in China, advised companies about investing there, and quite happily been described as a China bull, I have struggled to accept this fateful conclusion in the era of Xi Jinping. Like some other China Bulls, I had believed the early promises of Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Zhu Rongji about China’s fair and open future, open markets, the emergence of a rule of law system. To be clear, I am still very bullish on the strength and trajectory of the Chinese economy – China *will* continue to grow and it *will* surpass the US as the largest economy in the world. However, the current era is just a much darker period for everyone, including Multinational Corporations (MNCs). There is no free lunch for doing business in Xi's China – especially for technology companies. China *will* get its pound of flesh as the cost of operating there: you get to operate here and gain access to the the most innovative supply chain in the world and world's largest marketplace; and China gets what it wants in terms of benefits to Chinese economy and society (as defined by the Chinese Government). Based on three decades of China research — including thousands of interviews — and, most recently, my time as an executive for Apple in China (2014-19), this talk attempts to lay out what my views on how China has co-opted the business community in the era of Xi Jinping.

Recording & Additional Notes

Recording unavailable.

Doug Guthrie has spent his career researching, writing, teaching and advising companies about two topics:
organizational development, where he has focused on issues of leadership, organizational culture and corporate
social responsibility; and the Chinese economic reforms, where he has focused on the intersection of economic
and political forces that lead to successful economic development models. From 2014-19, Guthrie was a
Senior Director at Apple, based in Shanghai China, where he led Apple University efforts on leadership and
organizational development in China. Prior to joining Apple, from 2010-14, Guthrie was Dean of the George
Washington School of Business, Vice President for University China Operations, and Professor of
International Business. Prior to GW, from 1997-2010, Guthrie held faculty positions at NYU’s Stern School of
Business, where he was Professor of Management and Director of custom Executive Education, and NYU’s
Faculty of Arts and Sciences, where he was Professor of Sociology and the Founding Director of the
University’s Office of Global Education. He has held visiting Professorships at several business schools,
including Kellogg, Harvard, INSEAD, Stanford, Columbia and Emory. He served as Director of the Business
Institutions Initiative at the Social Science Research Council (1999-2003) and was Academic Director of the
Berlin School of Creative Leadership (2008-11). His research has been recognized by numerous grants and
Guthrie received an AB in East Asian Languages (Chinese literature) from the University of Chicago and MA
& PhD degrees in organizational sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. Fluent in Mandarin
Chinese, Guthrie studied in Taipei, Taiwan, during his undergraduate years and conducted PhD research in
Shanghai, China. He has authored and edited numerous books, academic articles, popular articles, and reports
on Chinese economic reform, leadership and corporate social responsibility, and economic development in
American cities.