Here at Source, the consultants we interview for our annual report on China’s consulting market consistently tell us that China is different. In this year’s round of interviews, we decided to ask consultants what they mean exactly when they say “different”. A lot of the challenges they mentioned will actually sound pretty familiar to anyone working in big, global markets: Clients are demanding end-to-end solution delivery; innovation; and firms that have an intimate understanding of the local language, culture, and business and political climate. So far, so normal.
But not everything consultants had to say seemed quite so mundane. Once they started talking about the unique segmentation of China’s market—the market is divided into multinational corporations (MNCs), privately owned enterprises (POEs), and state-owned enterprises (SOEs), all of which have different needs and working styles—and the exceptionally demanding nature of China’s client base, a picture began to emerge of a market that is substantially different from any other that we research. And it quickly became clear that there is, indeed, something very different about China.
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