Another great post by Tim Johnson, this one on whether NGOs compromise their positions in order to get something done in China. This is quite interesting since the usual argument is whether MNCs have made some sort of deal with Beijing to get their ventures approved. I never would have extended this to the NGO sector – kudos to Johnson for doing so.
Now, one can easily argue that while in China one has to operate by the laws and realities of China. That is an argument big companies often make, Yahoo included. Greenpeace activists would probably be thrown in a labor camp for boarding a coal ship, and their local offices shut down. My inkling is that these are the kinds of pragmatic choices that not only private companies but also nonprofit groups make on entering China.
As I wrote recently (Leave Yahoo Alone), I am quite sympathetic to MNCs over here, and not just because they make up the majority of my clients. What are you going to do as an MNC, either do business exactly the way you do at HQ (and fail miserably in China) or follow local rules and business customs? Most enterprises do the latter.
I enjoy watching interviews with former government officials. The retired guys are honest and tell you the way things really operate. When asked about decisions that were made that obviously went against long-held policy positions, former officials usually say “Well, you have to compromise in government. If you make a deal today and vote for something you don’t like 100%, then maybe you will have the chance to do something really positive a year later.” That’s life, folks.
Same with MNCs or NGOs here. Compromise and get done what you can. At the same time, remember that some lines should not be crossed and that minimal standards need to be established, recognized, internally communicated, and upheld.
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