This introduction is a guide to the reader through the papers in the special section on "Competing in China: Local Firms, Multinationals, and Alliances". These papers develop useful insights for business scholars and practitioners, based on the analysis of problems and situations that businesses competing in China have encountered. Three common themes run through the papers. First, although competing in the often rapidly-changing conditions in China is challenging, managers can work on different aspects to enhance and retain their firms' flexibility and innovativeness. Second, the institutional environment in China, from government regulation to the style of doing business, presents some important differences from that in the West; and foreign firms operating in China need to understand these differences. Third, the cultural differences in particular are key barriers or opportunities for foreign companies to understand and leverage so that they can operate most successfully in China.
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