Graduate Students

Anthropology

I. Joshua Dorfman

Graduate Student

Heroy Hall 407A

My current research focuses on how foreign entrepreneurs succeed in China. This study will become my doctoral dissertation, and seeks to understand how those not native to the culture deal with a variety of frustrations and have attained proficiency in the particularly opaque practice of negotiating value. Pearl S. Buck framed the problem: "Only white foreigners can be taken without argument... for they are such fools they do not know the proper price of anything, but let the silver run out of their pockets like water" (1931, p. 103). A visit to  Beijing's Silk Market offers an introduction into this difficulty. There are no price tags on anything, a feature found in one form or another across the Chinese variety of capitalism. Foreigners, depending on their in-country experience, may know that they should lower the initial price presented by the shopkeeper. However, only with a high degree of both language and cultural knowledge can outsiders even begin to overcome the uniquely challenging problem of asymmetrical information within foreign economic practices. The difficulties become greatly magnified when the negotiations move from t-shirts and Mao-kitsch to commercial lease agreements and business contracts, not to mention international diplomacy.

Year entered program:  2009

Region of Study:

East Asia, China

Website:

http://www.onethousandmillion.com