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Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the Tactics Behind China's Production Game | [Paul Midler]

Poorly Made in China: An Insider's Account of the Tactics Behind China's Production Game

It was a world gone wrong, one in which manufacturers thought little of manipulating product quality levels in order to save the smallest amounts, where savvy foreign business leaders were made to feel in control while they were taken for a ride by their partners, where entire manufacturing facilities sometimes vanished right into thin air... Welcome to Poorly Made in China!
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Publisher's Summary

It was a world gone wrong, one in which manufacturers thought little of manipulating product quality levels in order to save the smallest amounts, where savvy foreign business leaders were made to feel in control while they were taken for a ride by their partners, where entire manufacturing facilities sometimes vanished right into thin air... Welcome to Poorly Made in China!

At the height of the boom export manufacturing, Paul Midler returned to East Asia, a recently graduated Wharton MBA. In the right place at the right time, he was sought out by a number of foreign companies who wanted help in navigating the new economy. The adventures came fast, as did the business and cultural lessons.

Poorly Made in China is a dramatic romp through China's export manufacturing sector, one that reveals what really goes on behind the scenes. The story follows the author from one project to the next, taking the reader through a diverse set of industries and revealing a number of challenges. An engaging business narrative told with doses of humor and insight, this true story pulls back the curtain on the rising Chinese economy, providing a closer look at the rough-and-tumble environment in which so many of our consumer products are being made. For those trying to make sense of why so many quality failures could come out of China at once, this book is an especially interesting read.

Poorly Made in China is the tale of a modern-day gold rush and its consequences, the chronicling of a rising economic power and its path along a steep growth curve. Entertaining and eye-opening, the book highlights the extent to which culture affects business dealings, and the ultimate suggestion is that we may have more to be concerned about than product failures alone.

©2009 Paul Midler; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    John Kingston, WA, United States 04-13-10
    John Kingston, WA, United States 04-13-10 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hours of jaw dropping amazment"

    Midler is direct, pulls no punches and leaves you with a clear understanding of the hows and whys behind all those news stories you hear of yet another recalled product that was made (poorly) in China. I can truely say, I could'nt put it down and listened every moment I could until the end. Having just investigated a the recall of a life-protecting and China-made spring for Scuba Diving that corroded in salt water, this book made it all clear as to the likely scenario.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Praetor Israel 12-03-11
    Praetor Israel 12-03-11
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    "Fascinating look at what "Made in China" means"

    Midler worked as a consultant to firms, mostly American, wanting to manufacture in China, and served as a translator/mediator/man-on-the-ground for his American employers. As such he often discovered the ways the Chinese factory owners play various quality games to increase their profits, regardless of contracts, previous understanding, or even what we view as basic safety and quality standards.
    His book provides a fascinating view into what goes on in such factories, and the different point-of-view the Chinese manufacturers have of things, both economic and cultural, which make dialogue often difficult and frustrating.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which was very ably read by Midler himself (a reasonable choice, as he often mentions and explains Chinese words and phrases).

    I found only two issues with this book - first, the points he makes are sometimes repetitive, making the same observation twice or more. Some judicious editing would have removed these instances. Second, being mostly a collection of different experiences, the book feels disjointed at times. Though every tale serves a purpose, and Midler ties them together reasonably well, it doesn't feel continuous enough.

    These points are minor, though, and did not seriously affect my enjoyment of this enlightening work.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JoAnn Mequon, WI, United States 03-04-11
    JoAnn Mequon, WI, United States 03-04-11
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    "Really enjoyed this"

    This is more of a memoir than a nonfiction information book. I was really expecting it to be dull but it was fun and fascinating. The author discusses his personal experiences with Chinese manufacturing and his job facilitating the manufacturing. I learned a great deal including how factories can hide worker abuse, why purchasers of goods cannot up and change manufacturers, and how products are changed at the factory to make the manufacturing cheaper despite how the product turns out. Also, I learned why its not as easy to check for bad chemicals and ingredients that might have been substitutued by the manufacturer. This is a good book

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    03-23-10
    03-23-10 Member Since 2002
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    "Insightful but curtailed"

    An informative as well as interesting book about some current and future crucial international issues, but, in some way, it feels incomplete, as if the author has left - either deliberately or unconsciously - something out of the picture.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Hobart, IN, United States 03-12-10
    Gary Hobart, IN, United States 03-12-10 Member Since 2003
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    "Most important book on importing from China"

    My small company has been navigating the China landscape for several years. It is a difficult terrain at best. If you are currently or are considering doing business in China then this book is an absolute must. The author's insight into the inner workings of China are sobering and anyone working with China needs to understand the experience Mr. Midler has achieved. I cannot recommend this book highly enough....get it, devour it, learn from it!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 07-01-13
    Kim Spokane, WA, United States 07-01-13 Member Since 2009

    Addicted to audiobooks & podcasts. 5 Stars=I Loved It, 4 Stars=Enjoyed it Thoroughly, 3=Kinda Good, 2=Bad/Boring, 1=Complete Waste of Credit

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    "Snore"

    Unless you're looking to do business in China or you are super interested in manufacturing this book probably won't interest you. I will say that it rates #1 as the best book to fall asleep to because the narration is very calming and pleasant. I wasn't expecting much and this book delivered that and much less.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    norton charlotte, NC, United States 08-31-10
    norton charlotte, NC, United States 08-31-10
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    "Must read before shopping"

    What a great story. The author leaves nothing unanswered. I feel like I took a trip to China with a friend that knows his way around. Anyone who plans to be alive in the next few decades should read this. This book is not just for those planning to do business in China but for anyone who use manufactured goods at all. I can't wait for a part two.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    hh pdx United States 10-28-13
    hh pdx United States 10-28-13 Listener Since 2003

    hh01

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    "a view from 2013/2014 of this important book"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Highly recommended. Easy listening of important lessons.


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to this book awhile ago, but decided to revisit it now in 2013/2014 to see if my take might be enriched by the passage of time. The book's stories still hang solidly, and indeed, I had a new insight I wasn't ready for during my first listen a few years ago: many American business owners embraced the idea of China as a solution to their domestic problems, but actually traded familiar and frustrating problems for unfamiliar, incomprehensible, and equally frustrating foreign problems. Rather than see their profits dwindle due to understandable domestic issues, it seemed better to struggle against dwindling profits while swimming in a pool of exoticism (which turned out to be a business culture of pure sociopathy cloaked in "grass is greener" mystique). America lost twice. We lost jobs and we lost that fantasized financial boon that was going to provide tons of cash to benefit American infrastructure, business ventures, education, etc. And perhaps, given the penchant of Chinese manufacturers to use ANYTHING cheap in a sneaky bait and switch game, we gained an exposure to toxins unlike anything we could have imagined just 20 years ago. Other liabilities also abound: just last month, my glass shower door exploded. It turns out that the manufacturer of the hinges (in China) dumbed down the product to the point where it simply could not do the job right and it failed in a spectacular way. Fortunately no one was in the shower at the time. If I had been cut head to toe (tempered glass does indeed cut deeply when it explodes), who in China or here in the US would have known or cared? Thus, we have allowed the sad state of this foreign, sociopathic culture to become our own. Myopic businessmen run after a dollar waved in front of their faces (then jerked away last minute) and plunge off the cliff, taking us all with them. Perhaps if Americans can develop a new, better work culture, businesses will find it appealing to come home again. Yes, in all this doom and gloom, there is hope. Listen to this book now and don't just see what you can learn about how Americans have gladly submitted to being humiliated internationally, but see what opportunities come to mind. Then, pursue them.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin casper, WY, USA 04-03-13
    Justin casper, WY, USA 04-03-13 Member Since 2006

    Being a heavy equipment operator with long night shifts, good books are essential to me.

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    "Great insight"
    Where does Poorly Made in China rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is different than most books as most true stories are so this is a great insight to its subject.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Poorly Made in China?

    The tricks that all the factories use to manipulate their customers


    Have you listened to any of Paul Midler’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no, I was satisfied though


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    unseen profit


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 07-21-12
    Tim United States 07-21-12 Member Since 2010

    Not a mainstream reader.

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    "Cutting Corners"

    Unlike reading a feature article from WSJ on manufacturing in China and reading a commentary from an economist, you get a first hand look from Paul Midler doing business. I was afraid that it would be all about bashing the Chinese, but it's interesting on the cultural differences and the insightful views on what is going on in the factories.

    We cannot really blame the Chinese at cutting corners at making the products that we use. Just look at your bath towels and most likely it is made in China. Consumers wants lower cost in products and companies wants to maximize profit margins. Sadly, these objectives cannot be meet when it says, "Made in USA."

    As commodity prices rise, the Chinese has to charge according to meet their margins. They only have the upper hand when it comes to labor. People are like robots over there. If the worker is working too slow, they can replace them within seconds with another Chinese to fill the line and keep producing products.

    In the 80's South Korea was notorious of cheap goods and counterfeiting poorly made products, but look at them now. They are surpassing the Japanese in electronics and even in the automotive industry. "Made in China" will have a different stigma as the country progress. The Chinese can make good products, when companies are willing to pay for it, such as Apple. Like the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for." This is true in any business, not only in China.

    As China becomes more industrialized, this reading material will be a history of accuracy what the country used to be.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 36 results PREVIOUS124NEXT
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  • David
    Loughton, United Kingdom
    9/5/11
    Overall
    "Unusual and thought provoking...!"

    Certainly a must listen to for anyone contemplating finding manufacturers for their goods in China. What we realise is the Chinese are a completely different culture to ours in the west and play the business game to their own set of rules - and the rules frequently change as they go along!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. Russell A. Everitt
    South Africa
    4/14/13
    Overall
    "Thought provoking and eye opening."

    The best insight and most eye opening details of the pleasure of trying to do business in China.

    I know, I tried and failed. Hats off to those who survived!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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